The Ford Super Duty pickups offer a pair of stout engines and can tow bumper-pull trailers that weigh up to 18,500 pounds or 24,700 with a fifth-wheel setup. Their bold, broad exteriors are backed up by cabs that are attractive, functional and comfortable. Platinum and King Ranch models are downright luxurious. The F-450 pickup that shares cab and wheel sizes with the F-250 and F-350 remains atop the tow ratings for Ford pickups.
Changes for the 2014 model year are centered around an upgraded brake system for higher weight ratings and revised packaging. Ford Super Duty got a major overhaul for 2011 with all-new diesel and gasoline engines, a new 6-speed automatic transmission, and new front styling. The current-generation Super Duty was introduced for the 2008 model year.
The 6.2-liter V8 gasoline engine that comes standard is rated at 385 hp in trucks less than 10,000 pounds GVW (mostly F-250 models) and 316 hp on others. GM’s 6-liter claims 360 hp across the line, and Ram’s 5.7-liter and 6.4-liter Hemi V8s are 383-410 horsepower. Ford’s 6.2-liter may be converted for CNG or LPG operation.
The 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel V8 is rated at 400 hp and 800 lb-ft of torque (GM’s 6.6-liter is 397 hp, 765 lb-ft, Ram’s 6.7-liter is 350-385 hp, 650-850 lb-ft. Both engines come with a 6-speed automatic transmission; no manual is offered. Most models offer a choice of rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive but F-450 is 4WD only.
There is nothing small about a Super Duty and even the shortest, plainest version represents three tons of mass. While the snout is mildly curved and aerodynamics have improved, the Super Duty is about as sleek as a slump stone block, with in-your-face attitude and enough chrome to allow a man to shave in front of it, a handy feature while camping.
Super Duty trim ranges from basic commercial grade to luxurious King Ranch and Platinum models. Buyers can revel in heated-and-cooled Chaparral leather seats with driver memory, moonroof, a choice of two rearview cameras, SYNC voice-activated communications and entertainment, navigation, and remote start. The 6.7-liter diesel is quiet compared to those of a few years ago.
Super Duty XL and XLT are designed for the cost/benefit analysis small businesses and independents use: a simple, fast trailer hookup, 4WD to get in/out of the job site, and a warm cab they can blow clean with compressed air. For fleet and owner-operator buyers, Ford’s Work Solutions system provides facilities for GPS linking, computer access to your office (with cell signal), 110-volt power in-cab, and RFID tags for your tools so you never leave any on the job site. Crew Chief allows a dispatcher real-time truck location, speed, and fuel economy, potentially useful for the weekend-night parent as well.
As usual, the top tow and payload ratings are up from last year, often to numbers that require a commercial driver’s license. Best-in-class numbers for heavy-duty pickups sometimes change several times in a year, but they typically apply to just one model. The bottom line is that the Ford Super Duty, Ram 2500/3500, Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD are all highly capable trucks; at this post the only significant advantages are GM’s 2015 conventional trailer rating (about 1100 pounds) and Ram’s 2014 fifth-wheel/gooseneck rating (about 6000 pounds). Bottom line: Choose the brand you like rather than the one with the highest ratings claims.