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2017 Ford Super Duty

Working Smarter and Harder

Jan 19, 2016
Photographers: Courtesy of Ford Motor Company
Like a cannonball into the kiddie pool, the original Ford F-Series Super Duty made such a splash 18 years ago that the truck market was forever changed. By breaking the heritage of sharing its cab with the F-150, the Super Duty brought a vehicle so large and with so much capability to market that it literally created a new class of truck. With 44 configurations and GVWRs all the way up to 19,000 pounds in the F-550, the Super Duty had the heavy-duty truck market covered. It’s a truck that redefined what heavy-duty could mean to the buyer, and it helped to solidify the company’s 38 years of truck sales leadership, while reinventing an entire segment at the same time.
Photo 2/8   |   03 2017 Ford Super Duty Rear Three Quarter View
Using the same basic platform and cab for almost two decades, the Super Duty has been refined and improved to ensure it remains relevant in a hotly contested truck space. It’s remarkable that the aging Ford claims a full 43 percent of the registrations in the 8,500-to-14,000-GVWR segment, while nearly 65 percent of all new chassis cabs sold are Fords. Clearly, the heavy-duty market is very important to the success of Ford Motor Company, and the continued success of the Super Duty in 2016 is a testament to just how good the original truck was.
However, as good as the Super Duty has been and is today, competition is fierce and an overhaul is long overdue. So, for the first time since the ’99 Super Duty’s introduction, Ford is reinvesting in a clean-sheet redesign. With this important launch, the company is showing that its eyes are set on maintaining a leadership position now and in the foreseeable future.
Photo 3/8   |   02 2017 Ford Super Duty Driver Side Interior
Overview
For the 2017 model year, the Super Duty is enjoying its first complete redesign, with what Ford is calling the “most significant product action” in 17 years. While the basic aluminum body structure is shared with the handsome F-150, the front clip, hood, fenders, lights, and beds are all unique to the Super Duty. The new “mil-spec” aluminum body is stronger and more dent resistant than the old steel shell. In order to handle higher loads, the Super Duty uses thicker gauges of aluminum in key areas. For example, the truck’s 8-foot box has 14 percent more aluminum (by mass) than the F-150’s comparable bed. A new floor pan pattern with wider, deeper beads is also thicker, as are the inner bed panels and the D-pillar. The beds also use stronger crossmembers as well as a one-piece sill reinforcement.
So how much would you guess the Super Duty’s mass has benefited from the switch to aluminum? It would stand to reason that if the F-150’s weight loss is in the 700-pound range, the Super Duty’s reduction must be 800 or 900 pounds, right? Well, not exactly. Ford pegs the number at somewhere around 350 pounds. So, what happened to that extreme diet? The answer is simple. Ford reinvested the weight savings right back into capability, while still lightening the truck to an impressive degree.
A full 95 percent of the boxed frame is made from high-strength steel, using rails that are 1.5 inches taller, resulting in frame stiffness that is up to 24 times higher than the old frame. Other improvements include larger axles, a heavier-duty driveline, bigger brakes, and tougher transfer cases. Additionally, all Super Duty trucks now come standard with weight-carrying hitches.
While Ford won’t be releasing hard numbers until sometime in 2016, the new truck is being referred to as “the most capable Super Duty ever.” Company representatives say these trucks will have the highest payload and fifth-wheel/gooseneck/conventional towing rating of any Super Duty to date. As the year progresses, we are sure those claims will expand to include best-in-class bragging rights.
Powertrain
Perhaps the aspect most speculated about of the new truck is exactly which engine will be churning under its aluminum hood. Not surprisingly, in addition to 6.2L and 6.8L gasoline powerplants, the engine option we’re most concerned about is the familiar 6.7L Power Stroke V-8, still matched to the six-speed 6R140 TorqShift automatic transmission; meaningful details are still somewhat vague for the diesel powertrain package.
The biggest unknown about the popular oil-burner is where it will fall with regard to horsepower and torque. Ford tells us we can expect “improved performance” and fuel economy, but nothing to indicate to what extent. We’ve heard over and over again that Ford has its sights set on being the first manufacturer to reach 1,000 lb-ft of factory-produced torque. We believe it to be highly likely that they will reach that number, along with about 450 hp, but it is all conjecture until Ford decides to make an official announcement.
Photo 4/8   |   06 2017 Ford Super Duty Side View
Photo 5/8   |   08 2017 Ford Super Duty Bed
Exterior
One of the controversial new features of the Super Duty is a vertical placement of the model name in the functional fender vents. We’ve never seen this type of treatment used on F-250s and F-350s, and with it being set against a black background, the color of the vehicle doesn’t pop through the logo as it does on the F-150. This new design touch might be one that takes us a while to get used to.
Features we do love are the availability of Ford’s Tough Bed spray-in liner, as well as an LED bed lighting system, the latest version of the tailgate step, and the new BoxLink storage and cleat system, all taken from the F-150. Shortbed Super Dutys also retain the front stake pockets, something that is curiously lost on similar versions of the F-150—a shortcoming for those who use bed-rail-mounted racks for work or action sports.
Photo 6/8   |   04 2017 Ford Super Duty Interior
Interior
Using the new F-150’s body has benefited the ’17 Super Duty with up to six additional inches of cab length over the outgoing truck, resulting in a roomier cabin. Super Duty also shares the dash and totally flat rear floor with its ½-ton brother but adds some unique storage solutions, such as a two-tier glovebox and dividable and locking rear underseat storage. The higher-amperage upfitter switches have been moved to the overhead console and now include a total of six, two of which are powered at all times. Other items shared with the F-150 are an 8-inch productivity screen, improved trailer brake controller location, multi-contour seats with optional massaging function, inflatable rear safety belts, and up to two 400W/110V power outlets.
Photo 7/8   |   07 2017 Ford Super Duty Rear View Camera
Technology
Perhaps the biggest story about the redesigned Super Duty is how loaded with technology it is. At the heart of these upgrades are up to seven high-resolution cameras. A forward-facing camera in the grille, side-view cameras in the mirror bases, and a new camera in the tailgate work together to provide the 360-Degree View with Split-View system introduced in the F-150. A new third brake light camera is available over the bed to make hooking up a gooseneck or fifth-wheel trailer easier, even including a new zoom feature so you can see the hitch. A remote-mount rear camera can be placed on the back of your trailer to make reversing trailer maneuvers easier, giving you visibility never before possible when towing. In fact, Ford has included a new color-coded trailer coaching system to alert the driver if trailer angle becomes too tight or close to jackknifing. Finally, a forward-facing camera at the top of the windshield provides lane departure warnings and facilitates a towing-friendly adaptive cruise control—a feature that is now tied into the exhaust brake, transmission, and service brakes for exceptional downhill speed control. In addition to the cameras, Ford’s new Super Duty is now equipped with blindspot monitoring and, unlike the F-150, it remains functional when a trailer is attached. Tire pressure monitoring will now have the ability to monitor trailer tire pressure.
About the only thing the Super Duty is lacking is the F-150’s Pro Trailer backup assist. Unfortunately, the chassis isn’t equipped with the same electric-assisted EPAS steering setup as the F-150, so the capability isn’t baked into the platform as it is on the ½-ton trucks. However, it will use a new steering system that will be able to adapt to different driving situations and reduce the amount of steering input needed, depending on speed and load. The Super Duty will also benefit from the all-new and much-improved Sync 3 communications and entertainment system, along with support for Siri Eyes Free.
Photo 8/8   |   05 2017 Ford Super Duty Cab
Chassis Cab
Not to be forgotten, the F-450 and F-550 chassis cab models also receive a full upgrade. High-strength steel framerails are boxed at the back of the cab before transitioning to C-channel the rest of the way for easy upfitting, and additional crossmembers are added for big increases in strength. Just as it is with the rest of the Super Duty lineup, the chassis cab also benefits from aluminum body construction and a number of features that are available in the pickup.
Initial Thoughts
With regular cab, SuperCab, Crew Cab, 4x2, 4x4, 6.5- and 8-foot bed lengths available in F-250, F-350, F-450, and F-550 (chassis cab only), and XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum trims, the dizzying array of choices available with today’s truck essentially carry over for 2017. The virtually limitless combinations should mean there is a truck available for every conceivable need.
On a side note, we’d venture to guess that the 350 pounds of weight savings will back the curb weight off enough from the 14,000 GVWR for the F-450 pickup, meaning Ram will have to drop the company’s protest of the F-450 being in a higher weight class, but we are interested in seeing the response. There’s no doubt, Ram is getting a comeback ready.
Our only negative takeaway is the lack of features we’re starting to see in the competition’s trucks. No options for air springs, in-bed storage, or bed-mounted power outlets seem like potentially missed opportunities, but we doubt consumers will care much, given the number of class-exclusive features available in the ’17 Super Duty. We also wonder if the F-250 will see a detuned, higher-economy version of the Power Stroke engine to better compete with the upcoming Nissan Titan XD. We think consumers in the market for middleweight capability would clamor for such a truck.
From what we know so far about the new Ford Super Duty, there is a lot to be excited about, with much, much more news to come. The company assures us we won’t be disappointed by the end result, which it promises will be a quieter, tougher, smoother-riding, more capable, and more powerful Super Duty—a truck that is deserving of the 13-inch Blue Oval on the grille and poised to carry FoMoCo into the next chapter of the heavy-duty pickup wars.

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