This powerplant is big and bad, but it’s smart too

Boosted, small-displacement engines are all the rage these days, but Ford is breaking the mold by offering up a brand-new, naturally aspirated, 7.3-liter V-8 with the 2020 Super Duty. Built from the ground up and revealed for the first time at the 2019 Chicago Auto Show, the 7.3-liter gasser was designed specifically to meet the demands of Super Duty customers, rather than as an evolution of a pre-existing platform. A lot of it is old-school in its approach, with huge displacement, pushrods, and an iron block, but interestingly, Ford managed to massage in a number of forward-looking details as well. Read on for the lowdown on the latest gasser from the Blue Oval.

Ford 7.3-Liter Gasser Capability

The New 7.3-Liter V-8 Gasser In the 2020 Ford Super Duty Is a Combination of Old School and New School
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Note: 2020 Ford Super Duty 7.3-liter gasser pictured here.

Let’s start with the most important bits first - the capability.

Ford intends the new 7.3-liter gasser to bridge the gap between the Super Duty’s base-level 6.2-liter V-8 gas engine and the range-topping turbodiesel 6.7-liter V-8. As such, the 7.3-liter’s output will slot in somewhere between those two powerplants, with capability up to a medium-duty application.

Ford declined to provide specifics, but for reference, the current base-level 6.2-liter gas V-8 produces 385 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque, with a maximum towing rating of 16,700 pounds and a maximum payload of 4,730 pounds. Meanwhile, the current 6.7-liter turbodiesel produces 450 horsepower and 935 pound-feet of torque, while offering a maximum tow rating of 35,000 pounds and a maximum payload rating of 7,640 pounds. It’s also worth mentioning that the turbodiesel option is expected to get a boost for the 2020 model year, and although Ford has yet to provide specifics, torque is expected to eclipse the 1,000-pound-feet mark.

As for Ford’s competition, the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD gets a 6.6-liter gas V-8 as standard, which makes 401 horsepower and 464 pound-feet of torque. The Ram HD gets a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 making 383 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque.

The New 7.3-Liter V-8 Gasser In the 2020 Ford Super Duty Is a Combination of Old School and New School
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Note: 2020 Ford Super Duty 7.3-liter gasser pictured here.

One of the Ford 7.3-liter’s advantages is that it was designed from the ground-up for a Super Duty truck application. And that includes all the ancillary components to make it run as well, even down to the electronic control systems.

The heart of this powerplant is a big block design with big bore spacing for greater efficiency overall. There are also pushrods for the valve train, which allow for a more compact design, with roller valve actuation for even greater efficiency.

As you might expect, the overarching design philosophy was geared mostly towards low engine speed optimization and greater low end torque, as opposed to the high-horsepower, high-strung nature of an overhead cam engine. That said, the 7.3-liter also comes with VCT (Variable Camshaft Timing) to make the most of what’s there, while port fuel injection and high-flow ports add performance.

Finally, to milk even more twist from the package, the 7.3-liter’s exhaust system was specifically designed to maximize low-end torque figures.

Ford 7.3-Liter Gasser Durability

The New 7.3-Liter V-8 Gasser In the 2020 Ford Super Duty Is a Combination of Old School and New School
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Note: 2020 Ford Super Duty 7.3-liter gasser pictured here.

While low-end torque and performance look great on paper, they mean very little if you can’t apply those numbers in the real world. As such, Ford was adamant on making the 7.3-liter as durable as possible.

It all starts with a cast iron block, which is then stuffed with a forged steel crankshaft and new cylinder heads. As for the main bearing caps, there are four bolts mounted vertically, plus two cross bolts, making for six bolts per main cap.

The 7.3-liter also comes with oil cooling jets that squirt oil onto the underside of the piston for cooler combustion temperatures. Finally, this naturally aspirated powerplant implements the same anti-wear materials as Ford’s various turbocharged applications, adding even more longterm strength.

Ford 7.3-Liter Gasser Efficiency

Note: 2020 Ford Super Duty 7.3-liter gasser pictured here.

With so much thought going into making this gasser capable and strong, it may be surprising to learn that Ford also put a good amount of though into making it as efficient as possible with the go-juice.

For example, the 7.3-liter displacement figure is actually geared towards emissions standards. After narrowing down the power and torque figures needed for the application, as well as the anticipated rpm range of operation for a heavy-duty truck, Ford designed the engine to run at the perfect stoichiometric air/fuel ratio as often as possible. Basically, this is the sweet spot for both max power and max efficiency, creating an ideal “best of both worlds” situation.

The New 7.3-Liter V-8 Gasser In the 2020 Ford Super Duty Is a Combination of Old School and New School
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Note: 2020 Ford Super Duty 10-speed automatic transmission pictured here.

What’s more, the 7.3-liter will mate with Ford’s latest 10-speed automatic transmission, which will also help it run at that ideal rpm range and air-fuel ratio.

Finally, the 7.3-liter is surprisingly compact for its relatively large displacement figure. While slightly longer than the 6.2-liter gasser in the current Ford Super Duty, the new 7.3-liter gasser is actually quite a bit narrower, mostly thanks to the cam shaft and block design. This makes it a good fit for a range of vehicles, in particular fleet vehicles where it’s helpful to have the same engine across the range for service and maintenance purposes.

Final Thoughts

2020 F-Series Super Duty Promises to Offer Highest Towing and Payload Ratings
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Note: 2020 Ford Super Duty pictured here.

When Ford introduced the new 2020 Super Duty at the 2019 Chicago Auto Show, the first thing to jump out at us was the simply enormous 7.3-liter gasser option. The specs on this thing are immense - in fact, the Super Duty’s 7.3-liter engine is the most displacement you can get with any new pickup on the market right now.

All told, we can’t help but think of it as a successor to Ford’s old Triton V-10.

The New 7.3-Liter V-8 Gasser In the 2020 Ford Super Duty Is a Combination of Old School and New School
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Note: Ford Triton V-10 pictured here.

For those of you who may be unaware, Ford produced a truck-oriented V-10 in 1997 as part of the Triton engine family. Created as a gas-powered alternative to Ford’s diesel range-toppers, the Triton V-10 was basically the Blue Oval’s older 5.4-liter V-8 with two cylinders added at the end, bringing total displacement up to 6.8 liters.

Standout features include natural aspiration, a cast-iron block, a single overhead cam, and two-valve aluminum heads.

This modular powerplant found its way into a variety of applications, including 3/4 ton and 1-ton pickups, as well as a number of vans and chassis cabs to boot.

Output ranged between 305 and 362 horsepower, with torque rated at 420 pound-feet to 460 pound-feet, figures that were quite solid for the segment. Unfortunately, fuel mileage was less than outstanding, barely breaking into double digit figures, and the V-10 offered relatively rough power delivery. As such, the Triton V-10 was eventually replaced, and in 2011, it fell by the wayside for the naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V-8 found in the current Super Duty.

2020 F-Series Super Duty Promises to Offer Highest Towing and Payload Ratings
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Note: 2020 Ford Super Duty pictured here.

Hopefully, the Super Duty’s latest 7.3-liter powerplant will enjoy more success than the oft-forgotten Triton V-10.

Either way, the 2020 Ford Super Duty will offer a host of new tech features, including Pro Trailer Backup Assist with a visual Reverse Guidance system, as well as 4G LTE Wi-Fi for up to 10 devices, and optional safety systems like Pre-Collision Assist, Automatic Emergency Braking, and a Blind Spot Information system.

The Super Duty’s front end is also redesigned to maximize cooling efficiency, plus there’s updated LED lighting for forward illumination. Inside, high-end trims like the Lariat will get fineries like leather upholstery and wood trim.

If you’re looking to get the new 7.3-liter gasser under the hood, Ford will offer it in the F-250, F-350, and all the commercial F-Series vehicles up to the F-750 medium-duty trucks.

Look for the 2020 Ford Super Duty to arrive at the end of 2019. Exact pricing info will be available closer to market launch, but for the time being, the 2019 Ford Super Duty starts $33,150.

Further Reading

2019 Chicago Auto Show - Everything You Need To Know
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How Ford Crashed Chevy’s Heavy Duty Truck Party In Chicago

2020 F-Series Super Duty Promises to Offer Highest Towing and Payload Ratings
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2020 F-Series Super Duty Promises To Offer Highest Towing And Payload Ratings

2019 Chicago Auto Show - Everything You Need To Know
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2019 Chicago Auto Show - Everything You Need To Know

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