2017 Ford Super Duty Goes Aluminum Cab, Beefs Up Everything Else
Ford has given a first look at the 2017 Super Duty pickup, which is expected to hit dealerships in about a year’s time. The truck has been redesigned throughout, adding modern technology in a segment where that is not entirely common.
Ford’s debut of the 2017 F-Series Super Duty comes hot on the heels of the current model receiving an award in the J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Initial Quality StudySM (IQS) for ranking highest in the Large Heavy Duty Pickup segment. The new truck will take on its longtime rivals from General Motors and Ram, namely the Chevrolet Silverado HD, GMC Sierra HD, and Ram HD.
The most significant news is that the latest generation of Ford’s Super Duty will feature an aluminum-alloy body in an effort to lighten the truck. According to Ford, the new truck is up to 350 lbs. lighter than the outgoing model. The weight savings from the switch to an aluminum body was reinvested into making heavier-duty components for the new truck, such as a fully boxed frame, beefier axles and drivetrain, and larger leaf springs in the rear—all enabling the new Super Duty to tow and haul even heavier loads.
In terms of styling, the new Super Duty represents a fresh and modern take on the blocky lines and massive grilles that are typically found on heavy-duty pickup trucks. With respect to massive grilles, according to Ford product personnel, the Ford Blue Oval emblem in the grille of the Platinum trim level truck that was on display at Ford’s Design Center in Irvine, Calif. is said to be 13 ins. in length—the largest ever for a Ford product. Other styling cues such as the window line and taillights borrow heavily from the redesigned 2015 F-150 that went on sale earlier this year. The truck on display was finished out with LED accent lighting galore, 20-in. satin-finished polished aluminum wheels, and a grille with a similar satin aluminum effect.
New Super Duty Ups Performance Ante
While a fresh face is always exciting, what moves trucks off a dealer lot is what’s under the hood. According to the 2015 IQS, buyers of heavy-duty pickup trucks cite performance as their number one purchase reason. In other words, how can the truck work for me in terms of performance, power, towing, etc.?
Enhancements to the powertrains for the 2017 Super Duty lineup will be evolutionary rather than revolutionary, keeping with updated versions of the familiar 6.2-liter V-8 gas engine and 6.7-liter turbodiesel V-8 engine. No specific power output figures have been released by Ford yet, but a small bump in power to both engines seems likely. The 2016 versions of these engines produce 385 horsepower and 405 lb.-ft. of torque in gasoline 6.2-liter form and 440 horsepower and 860 lb.-ft. of torque in 6.7-liter turbodiesel form.
Similar to the engines, the transmissions are expected to be updated slightly for the new 2017 truck. In F-250s with the gasoline engine, the 6.2-liter V-8 will be paired with a new Torqshift-G transmission. This is a somewhat lighter-duty version of the Torqshift 6-speed automatic transmission that is found in the rest of the lineup. The Torqshift-G version is better suited for both the power output and towing capabilities of the gasoline-powered F-250 and is expected to see increases in fuel economy as such. Whether gasoline or diesel, every 2017 Super Duty will have a 6-speed automatic transmission with a column-mounted shifter to maximize interior console space.
New Sync 3 Infotainment System Debuts in Super Duty
The interior of the 2017 F-Series Super Duty has a look and feel that is very much like that of its stablemate F-150. The big news here is that the new Super Duty will receive Ford’s Sync 3 audio and entertainment system. Ford has finally begun to shake off the stigma of its quality-plagued MyFordTouch system of the past and in fact scored higher than segment average in the Audio, Entertainment, Communication, and Navigation category in the 2015 IQS when compared with non-premium brands. The new Sync 3 system aims to make the entertainment system in the truck a similar experience to using a smartphone—easier to use and more intuitive than previous iterations. Sync 3 also takes aim at a problem every automaker has been facing as of late—voice recognition. The updated system is said to have enhanced voice-recognition capabilities, which Ford hopes will alleviate the number one problem experienced by owners across all models in the 2015 IQS.
The Super Duty line serves a wide range of needs, from the base model work truck to the luxury style Platinum trim. As the truck rises through the trim levels, buyers will begin to see some new safety features—a trend J.D. Power is tracking. The J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) StudySM finds that an increasing number of consumers are buying vehicles with such active safety features as lane-departure warning, as well as blind-spot monitoring and back-up warning/assist, and that these buyers are more satisfied with their vehicles due to the improved visibility that these features offer.
In a vehicle whose footprint can approach that of a small studio apartment, visibility while maneuvering can be difficult, to say the least. Ford has taken note of this in a big way, and the 2017 Super Duty will offer up to 7 cameras in a full-fledged effort to improve driver visibility. The new camera system offers one camera in the front grille for forward viewing, one camera on each side of the truck, one forward-facing camera to feed the lane-departure warning system, one camera in the center high-mount stop lamp that offers a view of cargo and fifth-wheel connections, one tailgate-mounted camera for conventional trailer connections, and even one camera to be placed at the customer’s choice. As an added bonus, the truck receives an aerial 360-degree camera view as well. Boldly styled LED headlamps and taillamps are designed to further improve visibility and thereby provide an improved driving experience.
Other features on the new Ford Super Duty that truck owners may appreciate include a folding step from the tailgate into the bed of the truck and a flat, locking storage space under the back seat that, as Ford mentioned, is useful for stowing sensitive items or firearms.
The heavy-duty pickup truck segment is a blatant game of one-upmanship between manufacturers. With the 2017 Super Duty, Ford appears to have raised the stakes for all competitors.