Pickup trucks. They’re not quite the largest automotive segment (compact crossovers currently are), but pickup trucks are the bread-and-butter, money generating machines that propel income for Ford, GM and FCA in America. Big, burly, and now often quite beautiful with their lengthy list of work capabilities combined with amenities, today’s pickup trucks are the staple of an industry on the cusp of a propulsion revolution — maybe.
For four decades, Ford’s F-series lineup has led the annual sales race, beating its GM and Dodge/Ram rivals with a wide-ranging array of configurations, powertrains and performance credentials. This week’s Super Duty 2500 Lariat Crew Cab is a strong reminder of how, and why, Ford has built up that sales momentum.
Almost one-third of all F-series pickups sold are the heavy-duty Super Duty models (base price $33,150) in 2500, 3500 and 4500 model designations. Our sample Super Duty is the 2500 Crew Cab in Blue Jeans Metallic Paint powered by the optional ($9,120) Powerstroke Turbodiesel engine.
Ford Super Duty models generally arrive with the 6.2-liter gas V-8 engine, making 385 hp and 430 pound/feet of peak torque. The turbodiesel spins out a house-pulling 450 hp and 935 pound/feet of maximum torque with each engine using a six-speed automatic transmission. Four-wheel-drive models have an electric shifter knob inside, while Ford continues to offer manually locking front hub controls.
Unlike its primary GM rivals, the Ford Super Duty also uses a solid-axle front end, suspended by coil springs now, yet a stiffer setup than some drivers may be used to. Ford has, however, developed much better steering feel with this setup, stronger braking power and improved damping from the strong front end. Freeway bridge expansion joints and rough rural pavement will still induce a shake from the front and a kick from the rear when not carrying any loads to settle the springs.
Impressively, the Powerstroke is a silent companion on the road. Loafing along, no matter what pace is selected, the diesel engine doesn’t even generate any background noise as the Ford’s cabin is luxury-car quiet. Lariat trim includes heated and cooled front leather seats with memory as well as dual-zone auto-climate, keyless ignition and access, plus Ford Connect 4G Wi-Fi hotspot functionality. With the tow package, including a trailer brake, Sync-3 infotainment and a multi-view camera setup, this model starts at $51,655 plus destination fee.
Twenty thousand dollars worth of options later, the Super Duty is transformed into a luxury work truck suitable for any task. Power tilt/telescoping steering wheel with heat, heated rear seats, blind-spot detection, dynamic laser cruise control (one of the best systems ever sampled) plus a host of other electronic driving aids in the technology package, increase the Ford’s user-friendliness quotient while making the truck an impressive road warrior.
Three days traversing rural Maine and New Hampshire roads for the real job reinforced the Ford’s portfolio. The navigation system offers excellent detail and is easy to manipulate, the power seats are all-day supportive and the calm, efficient power from the diesel makes any driving chore simple. The rear floor is flat for additional cargo capacity, access is aided by the (essential) running boards, while the overall presentation evident throughout the cabin reflects the numerous ergonomic gains found from years of F-150 sales success.
Today’s pickups offer a dizzying array of box options to enhance your needs. Spring assist tailgates, LED box lamps, power sockets, a wide variety of tie-down anchor points, plus the Ford’s deployable step from inside the tailgate all lend to greater task completion. The height of pickup beds, however, continues to grow; the front of the Ford’s box measures 57 inches off the pavement, making reaching over the sidewall nearly impossible to retrieve any item inside.
Towing numbers are dependent upon axle ratios and several other factors, letting Super Duty owners select from trucks that can pull from 18,000 to 32,000 pounds of trailer. Axle ratios also will affect fuel economy. Our Lariat returned slightly less than one mile per gallon lower than the trip computer readout, ranging from a low of 16.5 mpg to a high of 19.4 mpg. Maximum range witnessed was 640 miles.
New features this year include an improved seven-camera system to cover all aspects of driving and towing, plus a Live-Drive PTO (power take-off) feature with Mobile Mode capability while parked or moving.
A great road cruiser, quiet yet stout, and adorned with an interior that would make some Lincoln owners jealous, the Super Duty will impress truck buyers who need to do lots of serious work, and then play really hard.