The light-duty pickup segment is the bread and butter of truck manufacturers. But consumers, businesses and government agencies also need vehicles with more payload, seating and towing capabilities than a light-duty can provide. Automakers have been steadily improving their standard offerings, and the big players are pushing those improvements into their HD trucks. Redesigned versions of the Chevrolet Silverado HD, GMC Sierra HD and Ram Heavy Duty are slated for release later this year, all with more available power, tech and creature comforts. Not to be outdone, Ford has unveiled its own heavily refreshed Super Duty pickup, announcing new engine choices, a 10-speed transmission, and additional safety and tech features for the 2020 Ford F-Series Super Duty.
Give Me Power
While light-duty trucks have to strike a delicate balance between capability and everyday drivability, heavy-duty pickups are all about brute strength. To that end, the Super Duty will be available with three engines to support its substantial hauling potential. The existing 6.2-liter gasoline V8 paired to a six-speed automatic transmission will continue to be the base powertrain for the F-250. (The F-350 will use a new 10-speed automatic.) A revised version of the 6.7-liter turbodiesel will be available (optional for the F-250 and F-350, and standard on the F-450), which Ford says will make more power and torque than the existing engine’s 450 horsepower and 935 pound-feet. But Ford’s centerpiece is the new high-output 7.3-liter gasoline V8 (optional for the F-250 and F-350), which is aimed at buyers who need the extra towing power but prefer their dinosaur juice more refined. Both the diesel and 7.3-liter gas engines are also paired to the 10-speed automatic.
Ford has not released output for any of these engines or, like GMC and Chevrolet, towing or payload figures for its heavy-duty trucks. Ram recently dropped a 1,000-pound (foot) bomb on the segment when it announced its diesel engine would produce a torque rating in the four figures. We suspect that Chevrolet, Ford and GMC are all keeping details under wraps as they fine-tune their vehicles to compete with Ram. The current Super Duty is impressive enough, but Ford says payload and towing capabilities will increase with the revised engines. For the record, the current 2019 F-250 can tow up to 18,500 pounds, the F-350 can tow up to 32,000 pounds, and the F-450 can tow up to 35,000 pounds.
If You Squint Hard Enough…
Even though the 2020 F-Series Super Duty receives plenty of upgrades under the skin, it’s nearly impossible to distinguish between the old and new models. The cabin, for instance, is practically a carbon copy unless you opt for the top-trim Limited. That primo Super Duty now includes additional leather throughout the interior, black ash wood trim, and a faux suede headliner.
The exterior, on the other hand, sports a handful of cosmetic modifications and functional upgrades. A larger grille and redesigned front bumper help funnel more air to cool the powertrain, while dual rear-wheel models get an even bigger grille for increased airflow. The front and rear taillights are restyled, and the tailgate gets a fresh new look as well.
Brains Meet Brawn
A set of newly standard and optional technology and safety features will appeal to owners and businesses alike. Every Super Duty now includes a 4G LTE modem and Wi-Fi hotspot that supports up to 10 connected devices. While this tech seems like an unusual feature to standardize on a truck that comes with crank windows, it makes sense given the Super Duty’s popularity in fleets. Ford offers a telematics suite for fleet operators so they can keep track of various vehicle data points, but it’s currently only available on Lariat models and above. By including it on every Super Duty, even the fleet-oriented XL can be equipped with the suite.
Ford’s Pro Trailer Backup Assist feature is now available on the Super Duty. First introduced in the 2018 Ford F-150, it helps drivers reverse with ease while towing a trailer. Drivers turn a dash-mounted knob to the left or right, and the system rotates the wheel to point the trailer in the correct direction. Unfortunately, in our experience, the Pro Trailer Backup Assist takes a while to set up and has a bit of a learning curve. Drivers might find it more worthwhile to use this time to learn how to reverse with a trailer manually.
A number of advanced safety features are now standard on XLT models and above, including lane departure warning for the truck and attached trailer, automatic high-beam control, a blind-spot monitor with trailer coverage, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection. The forward collision system and blind-spot monitor are also available on XL and STX models as part of option packages. Rounding out the tech features are standard USB-C ports and an available wireless charging pad.
Pricing and Release Date
The 2020 Ford F-Series Super Duty will go on sale this fall in six primary trims: XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum and Limited. There are also several new trims that add chrome exterior features; these include the STX (modifies XL), XLT Chrome, Lariat Chrome and King Ranch Chrome. Pricing has not been released yet, but the additional new features across the lineup will probably translate to a slight price bump from the current model’s base price of $34,645 (F-250 single-cab XL, including destination charge).