2020 Ford F-250 Super Duty Limited: 2020 Pickup Truck of the Year Winner
Plush, Powerful, and Peerless
Yep, the 2020 Ford F-250 Super Duty Limited is that good.
Three years ago, we got our first taste of the current-generation Super Duty, and we were impressed with its all-around performance. But you'll forgive us if we regarded the refreshed Super Duty with mild indifference when it showed up on our doorstep for our 2020 Pickup Truck of the Year test.
Our initial emotions ran hotter for some of the other trucks, including the light-duty diesel-powered Ram 1500 Rebel, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, and GMC Sierra 1500 AT4. Or perhaps the unusual and funky Jeep Gladiator. Or maybe the Mighty Mouse-like Ford Ranger. Or the all-new Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD. Or the big and beautiful Ram 3500, complete with a high-output Cummins turbodiesel. Or even the other 2020 Super Duty configuration tested, the one with the optional hot-rod 7.3L gasoline V-8 and Tremor off-road package.
But no, in the end, it was the familiar (but significantly updated) F-250 Limited that won our ultimate adulation. Why? Glad you asked.
Our appreciation for the Limited starts in the engine room, where a third-generation 6.7L Power Stroke turbodiesel V-8 that produces a segment-leading 475 hp and 1,050 lb-ft is found. This engine boasts all-new, high-pressure fuel injectors that precisely meter fuel, spraying it into the cylinder up to eight times per combustion cycle for optimized emissions, noise, and power generation. The engine's inboard exhaust and variable-geometry turbochargers are designed to provide reduced parasitic drag and improved throttle response. And a reimagined cylinder block, head, connecting rods, bearings, and pistons were designed with structural enhancements and friction reduction in mind, allowing the engine to cope with its increased power output when the driver calls for it.
Mated to this engine is a heavy-duty TorqShift 10-speed automatic, which is related to the gearbox found in the Ford F-150 and therefore that of the Chevrolet Silverado 1500. It even shares a common ancestor with the Allison 10L1000 found in the Silverado HD, though the two are distinct designs, according to their manufacturers. Relative to the six-speed auto it replaces, the Ford's 10-speed is the same size externally and weighs just 3.5 pounds more—and it features stronger internals compared to the light-duty 10-speed found in the F-150. It also carries over a live-drive power takeoff, helping upfitters do their jobs more effectively.
But all those numbers and specs are worthless when it comes to PTOTY testing. How's the 2020 Ford F-250 Super Duty Limited behave in the real world?
Rubber, Meet Road
In everyday driving, it performs very well, thanks. Although it's objectively massive, the 2020 Super Duty feels like a smaller, less nerve-wracking vehicle to drive, which we think is due to its lower cowl, larger windows, thinner pillars, and visible hood corners. Placing the big truck in traffic isn't as intimidating as it was in the Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD or GMC Sierra 2500HD. What's more, in the Limited, your work is aided by a suite of cameras that provide front and rear cross-traffic views, as well as parking sensors that are sensitive enough to be helpful without being annoying.
As you may have already read, maximum Super Duty towing slots in at 37,000 pounds, as achieved by a regular-cab F-450 with the Power Stroke diesel. But even our loaded F-250 Limited took no issue with a weighty Big Tex car hauler and -ton pickup in tow, weighing about 10,000 pounds combined. Power up the grade was abundant, and the transmission and selectable exhaust brake worked well together to control speed on descents. The F-Series Super Duty was the first big truck to offer adaptive cruise control, but even now that Ram has caught up with its Heavy Duty, the Blue Oval's setup is still the one that works best, even when hauling a trailer.
Diff Locks and Dirt
If there's a chink in the Limited's armor, it revealed itself when hitting the trail. It's no surprise that a large, heavily sprung truck isn't the best place to bound hither and yon, but nevertheless, we still found ourselves being rattled around too much in this particular F-250. If significant off-roading in a big truck is in your future, may we point you toward the GMC Sierra 2500HD AT4 or Ford F-250 Super Duty Tremor instead? Both of those machines provided much greater control and comfort over obstacles than the admittedly luxurious Limited.
Nevertheless, Ford gets points for including a selectable locking rear differential on the Limited, which works in two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive up to 25 mph or so. Above that speed, it automatically disengages, then comes back online once the truck is going slow enough. It's a nearly idiot-proof way to get through the muck, as long as one remembers the truck won't love tight corners when locked up.
A Pampered Posterior
If the F-250 Limited isn't great off-road, it's damn fine on pavement. In addition to its approachable driving dynamics, the Limited has far and away one of the most luxurious interiors on the road—pickup or not. In addition to the aforementioned adaptive cruise control, the Limited features lane-keep assist and lane-departure prevention, blind spot monitoring with trailer coverage, and automated emergency braking, all of which eased stress on long drives.
What's more, the Limited boasts a B&O Play Premium Sound System from Bang & Olufsen, which, when combined with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, meant we could rock out to the world's library of music, delivered with crystal-clear fidelity. It's possible that Ford builds the best audio system of any modern pickup, even Ram's Alpine-optimized unit. Highs and lows come through crystal clear, making it the perfect place to stream EDM, twangy country music, metal, and podcasts alike.
But turn on some whale noises or Tibetan singing bowls, and the 2020 Ford F-250 Super Duty Limited could do a convincing imitation of a day spa. Heated and ventilated seats and a heated steering wheel provide the right amount of thermal comfort, while multi-contour seats provide detailed lumbar adjustment and even massage. At the end of the long week, this is the truck most of us fought over for the keys. It's just that comfortable.
Super Duty Superiority
Like last year's winner, the 2019 Ram 1500, there's a Super Duty for everyone. We loved the lusty exhaust note and off-road performance of the F-250 Tremor and its 7.3L gas V-8. Fleet customers who stick with the base 6.2L V-8 nonetheless benefit from the Super Duty's excellent and hard-working basic bones. Families who opt for a well-equipped XLT FX4 will get a fun and reasonably priced daily driver. And long haulers who regularly tow in excess of 30,000 pounds will appreciate the F-450 and its groundswell of responsive power.
But in this test, it was the 2020 Ford F-250 Super Duty Limited that took the prize, winning us over with its combination of hard-working diesel torque, excellent city and highway driving dynamics, competent (if not exactly comfortable) off-road chops, and class-competitive or class-leading interior quality. It's a good year to be a truck customer, and this one here is probably the best in the industry.