First Look: 2020 Ford Super Duty

DEARBORN, Mich. — When you’ve just got to pull a giant sequoia out by its roots, Ford will be there to help. The automaker recently gave a sneak peek of its Super Duty pickup, upgraded for 2020. And since truck manufacturers live and die by torque and towing numbers, the company promises the Super Duty’s highest-ever capability when it hits the market.

That said, full specifications remain a mystery for now. In this cutthroat heavy-duty segment where big numbers are everything – and companies are famous for tweaking their engines to top whatever another competitor just announced – automakers usually keep them secret until just before launch. The event was just a look-see, not a test drive; the truck goes on sale this fall.

It’ll come with two new engines (plus one carried over), and one of them is good news for Canada. The truck is assembled in the US, but the all-new gasoline engine will be built at Ford’s plant in Windsor, Ontario.

The Super Duty name was first used on an F-Series in 1999, and covers all trucks bigger than the half-ton F-150. The range includes the F-250, F-350, and F-450 pickups, along with the F-350, F-450 and F-550 chassis cabs, which come minus a pickup bed, so fleets can outfit them with dump boxes, flatbeds, or other configurations.

Save for some very minor styling tweaks, this Super Duty looks the same as the current model. The big changes are under the skin, since these heavy-duty trucks are all about serious work. Owners seldom buy these just to get to the grocery store and back.

Currently, the Super Duty is available with a choice of two engines, a 6.2-L V8 gas engine and 6.7L V8 diesel. That 6.2L will carry over unchanged into the 2020 models as the entry-level powerplant, making 385 horsepower and 430 lb-ft of torque.

The new, Canadian-built engine is a 7.3L V8 that Ford says is “expected to be the most powerful gas V8 in its class.” No specifications, of course, but obviously it’ll have to outgun that 6.2L. Expect it to also replace the 6.8L V10 gasoline engine that’s currently used in entry-level trims of the F-450 and F-550 chassis cab models.

But diesel’s the big deal in a big truck, and that choice is a 6.7L V8 Power Stroke. It’s the same displacement as in the current model, but this upgraded version marks the third-generation engine. It includes a variable-geometry turbocharger, stronger block and steel pistons, and a 36,000-psi fuel injection system that can spray fuel up to eight times per stroke, for better combustion and quieter operation.

No numbers were given on it either, but the current 6.7L Power Stroke churns out 450 horsepower and 935 lb-ft of torque. And keep in mind that Ram just announced that the 6.7L Cummins diesel in its all-new 2019 Heavy-Duty will put out 1,000 lb-ft of torque – and if Ford’s final figure doesn’t also have four digits to it, I’ll eat a Super Duty with a knife and spoon, hold the ketchup.

A new ten-speed automatic will be the only choice on the 7.3L and diesel engines. Depending on the model, the 6.2L gas engine will use either the ten-speed or carried-over six-speed automatic. Thanks to some ingenious design packaging and the use of lighter-weight materials where possible, such as a plastic-composite oil pan, the new ten-speed is virtually the same size as the six-speed, and weighs just 1.5 kilograms more. For the first time, it will allow Super Duty drivers a choice of selectable drive modes, including for eco, sand/snow, and slippery conditions, in addition to tow/haul. The transmission will also continue to provide a live-drive power takeoff (PTO), which can operate accessories while the truck is moving.

The Super Duty will also offer Ford’s Pro Trailer Backup Assist, borrowed from the F-150. There’s a dash-mounted dial that you turn in the direction you want the trailer to go, and watch the truck obediently move the steering wheel the right way. It’s a clever bit of technology, and will work with fifth-wheel and gooseneck as well as conventional, but it doesn’t automatically turn a novice into an expert; you still have to know where to position your truck and trailer before you begin.

So what will you able to tow? These numbers are also a secret, but Ford promises higher than the current truck, which tops out at 21,000 lbs for conventional; 27,5000 lbs for fifth-wheel; and 35,000 lbs for gooseneck. As with any truck, the highest numbers are for specific configurations, and you’ll have to shop accordingly if you’re going to match a specific trailer to your new truck. The current maximum payload of 7,640 lbs (3,465 kg) will also be just a memory.

Such features as 4G LTE WiFi for up to ten devices, updated interiors on some upper trims, a high-airflow grille on dual-wheel models, and redesigned headlamps are also part of the makeover. But while those round out the new Super Duty, they’ll be secondary to the grunt that’ll be advertised when the time comes. In this segment, it’s all about bigger, in addition to better.

Original Article by Jil McIntosh available here