Road Test: 2005 Ford Super Duty Pickups

A midlife change never looked so good

Mark Williams
Mar 7, 2005
Photographers: David Freers
Midmodel freshenings are typically boring. That's when manufacturers roll out the new paint colors, interior option packages, and possibly new wheel and tire combinations. Sometimes, however, a midlife remodel can look more like a significant redesign if a manufacturer has learned a few things since the vehicle's introduction. In the case of the Super Duty's midmodel freshening, Ford has made some considerable changes to the lineup.

Appropriately, Ford started with the foundation, redesigning and boxing the front third of the frame for stiffness. It's used thicker steel throughout the frame, resulting in a higher maximum towing and payload capacity. According to Ford's specifications, maximum towing capacity for the F-350 (with a fifth-wheel trailer) is 17,000 pounds, 15,000 with a conventional trailer hitch. In addition, the forged-steel trailer mount offers tow lovers the option of using a standard two-inch shank or a heavier-duty 2.5-inch hitch receiver. Factory receivers come with an insert that can be removed to accommodate the larger hitches.
Photo 2/11   |   2005 Ford F 350 Drw 4x4 King Ranch dashboard View
Payload numbers have improved as well, with the maximum carrying capacity for a one-ton dualie being just under three tons. Across the board, when compared with previous models, payload capacities have increased between 500 and 1250 pounds. Although this extra capacity is nice, the frame change has more to do with Ford owners (and journalists) complaining about the 4x4 Super Duty's ride and handling. Gone is the leaf-spring front suspension, replaced by a much more accommodating and versatile coil-spring and locating-arm setup. Not only is the ride on 4x4s far superior to the rugged and harsh leaf-spring setup, but the coils allowed Ford to vastly improve steering geometry and turning radius, cutting almost six feet off the truck's turning circle. In addition, Ford strengthened and changed the steering gear. Braking power at all corners is improved with bigger rotors, larger braking pads, and larger twin calipers on F-250 and F-350 models.
Photo 3/11   |   2005 Ford F 350 Drw 4x4 King Ranch auxillary Power Control View
Likewise, each engine gets a boost. The gasoline engines offered for the Super Duty get the three-valve heads that appeared last year in the new F-150's 5.4-liter V-8 engine option. Both the 5.4-liter V-8 and 6.8-liter V-10 engines get a good jump in horsepower and torque--the V-8 gets 40 more horsepower and the V-10 becomes the most powerful gasoline engine available for any 3/4-ton or one-ton pickup (355 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque). For better pulling power, Ford has done some tweaking to the Power Stroke diesel to squeeze a few more horses and pound-feet of torque, now making a respectable 570 pound-feet of peak torque at 1800 rpm. The biggest powertrain change for the new Super Dutys is the removal of the long-standing four-speed automatic transmission mated to both gas motors in favor of the TorqShift five-speed automatic, which made its debut last year with the new Power Stroke. The TorqShift not only provides better off-the-line feel and towing confidence (because of torque converter lock-up in first and second gears), but the higher overdrive gear allows for better overall fuel economy.
Although these improvements are significant by themselves, maybe the most impressive addition to the Super Duty for 2005 is a relatively simple option package addition. Knowing that a majority of owners in the F-250 and F-350 class do some kind of towing, Ford has introduced the stunning TowCommand system. The heart of the package is an industry-first factory-installed and warranted trailer-brake controller that has access to all the vehicle's brake-input computer data. This means the controller offers smoother and more predictable braking feel because it has access to more vehicle information than ever before: brake input throttle position, steering angle, tire speed, engine rpm, and more.

We had the chance to tow several different fifth-wheel and hitch trailers in many track and road conditions and found the TowCommand system far superior to the various add-on brake controllers we've used. Brake modulation is more easily controllable and the braking system can even, in certain situations, predict what's going to happen and compensate for it. By combining the integrated brake controller with a much smarter and stronger five-speed transmission, bigger brakes, stronger frame, and electronically-controlled telescoping mirrors, the Super Duty is just about the smartest choice for anyone who has to tow big loads on a regular basis.
Photo 4/11   |   2005 Ford F 350 Drw 4x4 King Ranch suspension View
Exterior changes are minimal, with the exception of a larger, billet-looking front grille, reminiscent of the Mighty F-350 Tonka concept from 2002. In fact, Ford is offering a limited-edition "Amarillo" Super Duty that models many of the design cues from that concept, not the least of which is the monochromatic Blazing Yellow paint. In addition, Ford will continue to make the Harley-Davidson Edition, with this year's model incorporating some subtle spray-on flames.
All in all, this midmodel update of the Super Duty is substantial. But even with these improvements and new options, don't expect base- and trim-model pricing to change much. The price range for the F-250/F-350 trucks will range from $23,000 to $45,000, depending on equipment. Midmodel or not, the 2005 Super Duty trucks are looking to get attention. And it's our guess the folks at GM will be taking notice.
Photo 8/11   |   2005 Ford F 350 Drw 4x4 King Ranch front Right View
{{{Ford F-350}}} DRW 4x4 King Ranch
General
Location of final assembly Louisville, Kentucky
Body style Crew Cab
EPA size class Full-size pickup
Drivetrain layout Front engine
Airbags Driver, pass
Powertrain
Engine type {{{90}}}-degree V-8
Bore x stroke, in 3.55 x 4.16
Displacement, ci/L 415/6.8
Compression ratio 9.2:1
Valve gear SOHC, 3 valves/cyl
Fuel induction Sequential, multiport
SAE horsepower, hp @ rpm 355 @ 4750
SAE torque, lb-ft @ rpm 455 @ 3250
Transmission type TorqShift 5-speed auto
1st 3.11:1
2nd 2.22:1
3rd 1.55:1
4th 1.00:1
5th 0.71:1
Reverse 2.88:1
Axle ratio 4.10:1
Final drive ratio 2.91:1
Rpm @ 60 mph 1800
Recommended fuel Regular unleaded
Dimensions/Capacities
Wheelbase, in 172.4
Length, in 261.8
Width, in95.5
Height, in 98.6
Headroom, f/r, in 41.3 / 40.8
Legroom, f/r, in 41.0 / 41.7
Shoulder room, f/r, in 68.0 / 68.0
Bed size, LxWxH, in 98.6 x 50.9 x 20.0
Base curb weight, lb 7084
Max payload capacity, lb 5800
Max GVWR, lb 13,000
Max GCWR, lb 23,500
Max towing capacity, lb 17,000 (gooseneck)
Fuel capacity, gal 38.0
Chassis
Suspension, f/r Live axle, coil springs, radius arms, stabilizer bar/ live axle, leaf springs, stabilizer bar
Steering type Power recirculating ball
Ratio 20.4:1
Turns, lock to lock 2.75
Brakes, f/r 13.7-inch vented discs/13.4-inch vented discs, 4WABS
Wheels Steel 17-inch
Tires245/75R17 BFGoodrichRugged Trail T/A
Load rating E
Price
Base price $23,055
Price fully loaded $44,890

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