We drive Ford’s all-new Heavy Duty

The 2017 Super Duty is an important vehicle for Ford. It, along with the F-150, makes up Ford’s best-selling lineup – the F-Series. Two years after Ford introduced the all-new, aluminum-bodied F-150 for 2015, the 2017 model year sees a complete overhaul of the Super Duty truck. These changes pushed the Super Duty past the competition at the Texas Auto Writers Association’s 2016 Truck Rodeo where the truck won the top honor of the Truck of Texas. We participated in the Rodeo and had our first experience behind the wheel of Ford’s new heavy hauler.

Several Super Duty trims and weight classes were present, so we got a great sampling of the lineup. The range included an F-250 Crew Cab in Lariat trim up to an F-450 King Ranch. An F-350 Platinum, Ford’s range-topping trim level, was also present and competed in the Luxury Pickup segment. Sadly, that F-450 was only set up for demonstrating Ford’s extensive camera system.

Regardless of trim or class, the Super Duties were all powered by the revised 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8 turbodiesel with the six-speed automatic transmission and were fitted with 4WD.

So what’s it like behind the wheel? Keep reading to find out.

Continue reading for more information.

Exterior

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Functionality meets style. That was my take-away from my time with the truck. Ford has obviously spent countless hours making the Super Duty appeal to its customer base though focus groups and such. Its different grille and headlight designs all look great in person and will likely age pretty well. But it’s the functionality that’s embedded within the truck’s exterior that really scores points.

Up front, the large air dam helps skirt air around the truck at highway speeds for improved fuel economy. That’s great, but most folks, myself included, originally complained the air dam would limit the truck’s approach angle and would simply rip off the first time it hit something. I was gladly proven wrong. Not one low-hanging air dam on any of the Super Duties present appear to have any damage after two days of abuse. I watched several Super Duties take direct nosedives into the hard-packed Texas dirt. Each time the plastic air dam would curl rearwards then simply pop back into place.

"It’s the functionality that’s embedded within the truck’s exterior that really scores points"

The front bumper also holds plenty of functionality. The fog lights are deeply recessed for protection. The Tow hooks, on the other hand, are positioned forward of the bumper, allowing easy access.

The Super Duty’s side steps also took punishment well. A mogul section had other trucks smashing their rocker panels onto the ground, but the Super Duty’s steps took the beating well.

Out back at the Super Duty’s business end, the truck provides tons of utility. The bed can be fitted with a spray-on bedliner, fitted with Ford’s clever stowable cargo ramps, and equipped with a fifth-wheel or gooseneck hitch package. Also optional is the handy tailgate step. Sharing its new design with the current F-150, the new step is easier to use and retains a flat surface on the tailgate. Optional LED lighting in the bed makes nighttime work much easier. It’s also extremely handy for trucks with tonneau covers.

Down low, the rear bumper holds the four- and seven-pin trailer wiring connectors. The frame-mounted receiver hitch is upgraded with beefier safety chain loops and a 2.5-inch collar. The F-250 Crew Cab 4x4 pictured here is rated to tow 17,600 pounds from its hitch. Opt for a F-350 with dual rear wheels, and the rating shoots to 21,000 pounds. Interestingly enough, the F-450 shares this same rating.

Thanks to the FX4 package, the Super Duty gets underbody skid plating, an electronically locking rear differential, tow hooks, meatier tires, and Rancho shock absorbers. These items became invaluable on the trail.

Interior

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Ford didn’t bring any mid- or lower-trimmed trucks, so journalists only sampled the Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum trims. Each trim brings leather seats, tons of standard features, and more luxury than a German car from a decade ago. Obviously more comes standard on the King Ranch than the Lariat, and the Platinum is the range-topping trim with just about all the bells and whistles bundled together.

"The double glovebox in the dash is the only major difference between the Super Duty and F-150."

Ford engineers were quick to point out the Super Duty’s shared cab structure and interior with the F-150. In their words, this will allow more frequent updates and easier integration of future technology borrowed from the F-150. Basically, we can expect any change seen on the F-150 to translate over to the Super Duty.

Fit and finish inside the Super Duty is on par with the F-150. Materials feel surprisingly rich, plastics and leathers feel thick, and buttons feel secured to the dash. The metallic trim on the dash is specifically designed to not produce blinding glares. The center console features tons of storage space and multiple USB ports. The cup holders boast an innovative horizontal sliding panel that turns the two cup holders into four by utilizing the cubby hole to the left.

The padded center armrest lifts up to reveal a huge storage spot. Carrier lips for hanging file folders, 12-volt power ports, and a sliding nick-knack tray makes the space more functional. The double glovebox in the dash is the only major difference between the Super Duty and F-150. The metallic panel behind the “SUPER DUTY” script opens up for a small storage spot.

Other features include a 110-volt outlet on the dash, integrated trailer brake controls, Ford’s Pro Trailer Backup Assist, a 360-degree camera system, a camera in the center high-mounted stop light cargo bed viewing, adjustable pedals, power and memory seats with heating and ventilation, and Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system. The truck’s driver information screen in the gauge cluster puts important vehicle info right where the driver can see it. The analog gauges are also easy to read at a quick glance.

The Super Duties on hand were all Crew Cab models. Rear seat comfort is outstanding thanks to limo-like legroom, tons of headroom, plenty of hip room, air vents, and a folding center armrest. The seats are easily foldable with one hand. This opens up the rear cab for storage on the flat load floor. An optional folding cargo box mounts under the seats. It’s lockable, too.

Drivetrain

The 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8 turbodiesel powered all the Super Duties this year. Ford is undoubtedly proud of the advancements made in power. The heavily revised engine now makes 440 horsepower and a class-leading 925 pound-feet of torque. We didn’t get to hitch a trailer to the truck, but the Super Duty was never hurting for torque while trail riding and by no means felt underpowered on the highway.

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"The Super Duty was never hurting for torque while trail riding and by no means felt underpowered on the highway"

It’s impressive how quiet the Power Stroke is, as well. It’s clearly still a big diesel, but it lugs quietly at idle and never makes shouting necessary under load. If fact, I had a normal-volume conversation with an engineer while standing at the front of a running Super Duty.

Owners of the truck will need to use ultra low sulfur diesel or B20 biofuel and refill the diesel exhaust fluid tank about every oil change.

The Power Stroke comes mated to the familiar TorqShift six-speed automatic transmission. The driver can shift the transmission manually with the column-mounted shifter’s toggle switch. Selecting Tow/Haul mode introduces a new shift schedule that maximizes engine torque under throttle and helps with induce engine braking when slowing down. The Power Stroke also features an exhaust brake that restricts airflow to the turbo in order to build back pressure to slow the engine, which then slows the truck without using the service brakes.

Behind the wheel

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The Super Duty is a big truck, but it somehow drives smaller than it looks. Much of that can likely be attributed to the good outward visibility afforded by the large windows, side mirrors, and camera system. The trucks on hand were also equipped with Ford’s new Adaptive Steering System, which changes the steering ratio depending on vehicle speed. At lower speeds, less effort is needed to steer, while highway speeds result in a heavier steering weight. This makes maneuvering a trailer or parking much easier, while also making the truck less twitchy at higher speeds.

"It somehow drives smaller than it looks"

Throttle and braking responses are smooth and linear. A long throttle tip-in means there are no jerky starts. The brakes are typical of Ford, with a strong initial bite at the top, followed by a shortish travel to engage full braking force. Power comes on strong with the Power Stroke and the transmission does a good job of shifting quickly with little fuss. The electronic transfer case shifted between 2WD and 4WD with no wasted time. The same can be said for the electronically locking rear differential. In fact, I was darn surprised at how quickly the rear locks up compared to the competition’s manually selectable lockers.

Price

Super Duty pricing swings wildly between the base F-250 XL regular cab and a fully loaded F-450 Platinum. In fact, the base price of a Super Duty starts at $32,500. Check every box on the F-450 Platinum, and you’re looking at slightly more than $80,000.

Ford says its most popular trim level, by far, is the mid-grade XLT. A F-250 XLT in crew cab with the gasoline V-8 and RWD carries a starting price of $41,235. Otping for the Power Stroke pushes the price to $49,830. Getting 4WD pushes the price further north to $52,625.

Conclusion

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Ford’s attention to detail with the 2017 Super Duty is not in vein. The truck’s new appearance, its aluminum body and high-strength steel frame, the revised Power Stroke turbodiesel, and the interior borrowed form the F-150 all contribute to a solid truck that should appeal to heavy-duty truck buyers.

Despite all the round-trip runs the Super Duties made on our off-road courses, the interiors didn’t squeak, the seats didn’t show signs of wear despite the number of people sliding in and out, nor did the exterior parts didn’t show signs of breakage.

Currently the Super Duty is the newest heavy-duty on the market. General Motors has revised its 6.6-liter Duramax V-8 turbodiesel for 2017, but leaves the Silverado and Sierra HDs’ body and interior unchanged from 2015. Ram is now the oldest truck in the segment, but it continues to sell incredibly well. Its swanky interiors, available 6.7-liter Cummins I-6 turbodiesel, coil-spring rear suspension on 2500-series models, and strong design stylings are keeping it competitive. Nevertheless, Ford says it has already sold more than 4,000 Super Duties in a short time it’s been in showrooms. This is very likely a sign of good things to come for Ford.

Read our full review of the 2017 Ford Super Duty here.

  • Leave it
    • Can get expensive
    • Strong competition in HD class

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