I recently got my first seat time in the all-new 2017 Ford F-Series Super Duty pickup trucks, a variety of models and driving situations, allowing us a good set of first impressions.
First, is what’s new. While the aluminum body itself looks largely lifted from the F-150, and it does share some, there’s a lot on the Super Duty that’s unique unto itself. This starts with the obvious, unique fenders, hood and grille treatments.
Each trim grade gets a different grille, the look much taller than the F-150 because it is to make space for the extra cooling radiators required by the 6.7 liter Power Stroke diesel and the 6.2 liter gasoline V8.
The cargo bed on the Super Duty is also unique, with more bracing and beam structure underneath, and more ribs stamped into its floor cross section for more strength in handling bed loads. It also offers a factory prep for goose-neck and fifth-wheel hitches with built-in mounts for all.
Its cab even has some uniqueness to it with a larger rear window and different mounting points to the frame. And that’s where the Super Duty really steps up. Its frame is all new, taller, thicker and fully boxed bumper to bumper.
It’s now comprised of 95% high-strength steel with up to ten cross-members depending on length. With the weight savings from the aluminum body, they upgraded the both suspension hardware and axles, a larger ring gear, housing and bearings at the rear for more load capacity.
Power is up now to 440 ponies in the diesel now with 925 pound-feet of torque. The 6.2 liter V8 comes with 385 horsepower and has gotten a huge bump in torque to 430 pound-feet. The gas engine also has this year a new six-speed automatic.
The driving experience was brief, but started with towing a 10,000 trailer in the Power Stroke diesel. My first impression is that the chassis is significantly more solid, especially under load. Steering and braking inputs feel sharper under you and there is less roll and twist when turning and slowing.
Power from the diesel is incrementally better than before, but with drive-by wire throttles of today all the power in the world is only as much as the computer lets you have – which means rolling from a stop is still much like a jet airplane taking off. Once you get going then you feel the push in your back.
Also driven was a 6.2 gasoline V8 without a load, which proved itself to feel pretty fast. Its new found torque and the six-speed automatic transmission make acceleration snappy and immediate, compounded by the stiffer chassis that makes it all feel tighter when pushed.
Steering is still hydraulic on the Super Duty trucks which means it feels good. At my driving event they also provided a Chevrolet and Ram heavy duty truck to drive back to back, both of which felt softer and slower in their steering character.
And that brings us to the new variable steering system offered on the Super Duty. I have been skeptical of this steering wheel mounted system that can add or subtract from your inputs to make the steering faster or slower – mostly on a safety and reliability perspective.
Having driven it through the slalom, it seamlessly makes maneuvering much easier and faster with less turns. Best of all you can’t hear or feel it happening which was one of my concerns. How will it work and feel with 200,000 miles on it, that remains a question for me.
The other new tech impressive was its multiple camera system that enables several ways to view backing up your trailer, and it even has a few aids to guide you alone. With five cameras on the truck, and the ability for you to put one on the trailer, it gives eyes on the entire picture.
While it isn’t proactive and automatic like the F-150’s package, it gives you visual prompts on the screen when you are about to jack-knife in addition to giving you eyes where you never had them before. As a guy who’s well versed in trailer backing, my manhood isn’t at all threatened by that. I like it.
Lastly, the interior is essentially identical to the F-150 save for a few additional features available like the bank of user definable switches for accessories. Another new feature Ford revealed is a handy cup holder design that slides to make two cup holders four.
I will have a far more detailed drive review soon when I have more time behind the wheel. This was a very brief drive event and I didn’t even have time to shoot my video, so I thank Ford for the B-Roll here.