Think "big jobs" and Ford will tell you that's the purpose of its big trucks. Commanding 45 percent of the heavy-duty truck market share, Ford's Clydesdale-like trucks are not only used for construction and agriculture, but also mining, highway work, law enforcement, and emergency services represent a large swath of buyers.
Since the F-Series Super Duty went on sale in 1999, Ford has sold some 5 million units. Not resting on its laurels after a number of technology and design upgrades over the past few years, Ford has just updated its 2015 Super Duty lineup.
The automaker says its F-250, F-350, and F-450 pickups are the most capable ever, promising best-in-class towing, along with a number of class-exclusive technologies and features. Pricing ranges from $31,000 to $70,000, depending upon trim package, box size, equipment and accessories.
The greatest change is the vastly improved horsepower, torque, and tow ratings that come as a result of engineering refinements to the second-generation 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8 turbodiesel engine that's one of two available engines in the lineup. New is a top-of-the-line Platinum trim, as well as a few other notable changes.
We drove all three Super Duty models recently in West Virginia, in a location that Ford uses for its tow-testing. Our evaluation included empty cargo beds, as well as towing loads of different sizes and weights.
Many of the changes are impressive, but the most notable improvements are the confidence-inspiring engine and chassis upgrades and the quieter cabin. While this is a trend across the industry, it is extremely obvious -- and important -- in heavy-duty trucks: Quietness is the performance characteristic that reduces fatigue and also aids conversation within the cabin.
Super Duty's styling profile is visually robust and maintains the look that Ford employs across its entire truck lineup, starting with its big and bold three-bar grille design in front.
Within the three-model Super Duty F-Series, there are five trim packages: XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum. These can be ordered on Regular, SuperCab, and Crew Cab configurations with a choice of 6.75-foot and 8-foot cargo boxes. Grilles, wheels, and other design features vary and reflect the trim packages that range from the base model XL to the western-styled King Ranch Edition and uplevel Platinum luxury package. The Regular cab is available only in the XL and XLT versions with the 8-foot bed.
Recognizing the demand for Bluetooth, infotainment, navigation, and other electronic features, Ford now includes MyFord Touch and Sync in its heavy-duty trucks. New is an available driver-configurable instrument cluster that offers six primary menu options including information on fuel economy, towing, and other useful data.
Under the hood is a choice of two engines: a 6.2-liter gas-powered V-8 that delivers 385 horsepower and 405 lb.-ft. of torque; or the updated 6.7L diesel V-8 that makes 440 horsepower (up from 400) and a massive 860 lb.-ft. (up from 800) of torque. Both are available in either 4x2 or 4x4 drive configurations. Ford's six-speed heavy-duty automatic transmission with SelectShift is standard on all models.
Towing capacities are increased across the board, with the F-350 fifth-wheel/gooseneck towing raised from 23,200 pounds to 26,700 pounds; and the Gross Combined Weight Rating increased by 4,500 pounds to 35,000 pounds; the F-450 can tow up to 31,200 pounds with the gooseneck and has a GCWR of 40,000 pounds.
The updated diesel engine has a compacted graphite iron engine block, which helps reduce weight and increase strength along with a reverse-flow layout that places the exhaust inside the engine's V-shape -- with the air intake positioned on the outside. These modifications allow shorter airflow from the exhaust system to the new, larger turbocharger to improve turbo responsiveness.
Positioning the turbo inside the engine's valley also helps to isolate the engine's hottest temperatures to improve performance while also reducing Noise, Vibration, and Harshness for a quieter cabin and driver/passenger comfort. Also new are injector tips that spray a higher flow of atomized fuel into the cylinders for a more complete burn, reduced NVH, and improved power. The changes promise to improve emissions and reduce fuel deposit buildup on the intake valves.
Engine braking is also improved and is manually controlled by a push button on the dashboard. This extra braking power promises to reduce wear on wheel brakes and requires less manual brake application from the driver on downhill grades.
Copyright © 2014 Motor Matters
|Epa mileage rating||NA|
|Fuel capacity||26 gal.|
|Horsepower (net)||440 at 2800 rpm|
|Motor type||OHV Power Stroke turbodiesel V-8|
|Overall length||232.4 in.|
|Payload capacity||3,760 lbs. (short box)|
|Torque (lb.-ft.)||860 at 1600 rpm|
|Transmission||6-speed heavy-duty automatic|
|Vehicle type||2/3-passenger 4x2 heavy-duty pickup|
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