2020 Ford Super Duty: First Drive Review

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Ford Super Duty
The Ford F-Series has been the best-selling vehicle in America for almost 40 years, with annual sales numbers besting every car, pickup truck, crossover and SUV. This incredible feat has been achieved in some part with the big rigs of the F-Series line: the Super Duty trucks. These rigs — F-250, F-350, F-450 — already offer impressive capability in a highly-contested market, but the competition never ceases, it only increases. For 2020 Ford gives the Super Duty line more capability as well as fresh styling, new features and an all-new off-road Super Duty — the Tremor.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceServing Customer Needs
“Super Duty customers have demanding and diverse needs — from towing heavy trailers to repairing critical infrastructure,” said Kumar Galhotra, Ford president of North America. “Productivity is their lifeblood and their truck is their biggest tool. Our new Super Duty has more power, more payload and towing capability and better technology than ever to help these customers build a better world,” Galhotra optimistically enthused.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceStyling Updates
The 2020 Ford Super Duty can be easily spotted on the road or worksite sporting new and more powerful LED headlights as well as an updated grille. The front bumper and air dam have been improved to offer better engine cooling, as well as making it easier to access tow hooks. For the first time, trucks equipped with dual rear wheels get a unique grille to further assist with airflow and cooling. At the rear is a freshened tailgate look with updated taillights and a new rear bumper. But it takes more than good looks to compete in the heavy-duty truck arena, and the updated Super Duty certainly holds its own — and then some.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceModel Lineup
The 2020 Ford Super Duty pickup truck is available in hundreds of configurations as the F-250, F-350 and F-450 with Regular Cab, SuperCab and Crew Cab bodies. Trims range from the base-level XL to the ultra-luxurious Limited. Super Dutys can be configured with varying bed lengths and wheelbases, and all variants are available with rear- or four-wheel drive. Starting prices range from $33,705 for the F-250 XL Regular Cab 2WD to $92,125 for the F-450 Crew Cab Limited.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceClass-Leading Power
According to Ford, towing is the primary reason for purchasing a Super Duty pickup, and the company has the powertrains and technology to make towing a breeze. For 2020 Ford upgrades the 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbo diesel V8 that produces 475 horsepower and a class-leading 1,050 lb-ft of torque at a mere 1600 rpm. With the right configuration, the Super Duty F-450 can tow up to 37,000 pounds — almost five times its own weight — and is also best in class for heavy-duty trucks. A diesel-powered F-350 with dual-rear wheels can haul up to 7,850 pounds — also the top of the heavy-duty class.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNew 7.3-liter V8
While the diesel powertrain remains the ultimate for towing and hauling, Ford also offers the Super Duty with an all-new 7.3-liter gasoline V8 engine with 430 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque. Although the gas-powered V8 is not quite as potent as the diesel, it can still tow as much as 21,200 pounds. A smaller 6.2-liter V8 is also available; with 385 horsepower and 430 lb-ft of torque, this powertrain can pull almost 17,000 pounds.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience10-Speed Automatic
The two more powerful engines are teamed with an all-new, heavy-duty 10-speed TorqShift automatic transmission. The smaller 6.2-liter V8 comes with a 6-speed automatic, but the 10-speed automatic is an option.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceMost Capable Ever
“With the addition of the 7.3-liter V8, upgrades to our 6.7-liter and the debut of an all-new 10- speed transmission, we are delivering the strongest, most capable Super Duty powertrain offerings yet,” said Mike Pruitt, Ford Super Duty chief engineer.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFuel Economy
The EPA does not require fuel-economy ratings on heavy-duty trucks; however, we observed around 18 mpg with the diesel motor in an empty truck driven mostly on the highway. The 7.3-liter V8 showed around 14 mpg in the same conditions.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceTremor Package
With the Ram Power Wagon in the crosshairs of Ford’s heavy-duty pickup line, the Blue Oval has added a new off-road package to the Super Duty called Tremor. Unlike the Ram, Ford offers considerable flexibility when ordering, allowing consumers to add the Tremor Off-Road package to the F-250 or F-350 on XLT, Lariat, King Ranch or Platinum trim levels. These off-road-ready trucks can be equipped with either the 7.3-liter V8 or 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceOff-Road Ready
We drove the Super Duty Tremor on a custom off-road course outside Phoenix, Arizona, and found it extremely capable. Trucks equipped with the Tremor package get a 2.0-inch front-end lift, a shorter air dam, progressive-rate springs, a retuned rear stabilizer bar, custom 1.7-inch piston twin-tube dampers and 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac off-road tires mounted on unique 18-inch matte-finish black wheels. Tremor also gets a locking rear differential, a Dana limited-slip front differential, off-road running boards and skidplates. With these additions, the Super Duty Tremor has 10.8-inches of ground clearance and can ford (no pun intended) up to 33 inches of water.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceDrive Modes
Super Duty trucks get a range of selectable drive modes to set up the truck for various terrain; the Tremor also has a new Rock Crawl mode. Rock Crawl mode operates in 4X4 Low, smoothing throttle response and using the 10-speed automatic to set up a 53:1 crawl ratio with the 7.3-liter V8 and 44:1 with the diesel. Ford set up a technically-challenging rock-crawl section of the off-road course. Even with the smoothed throttle response, it was difficult for drivers to perform this task in a smooth manner; however, the truck had no problem traversing this rocky section that would have been difficult to navigate on foot.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceExtremely Capable
When climbing steep inclines, fording deep water or simply tackling a rutted trail, the Tremor is stable and the ride surprisingly calm — not nearly as jarring as one would expect, especially in an unladen pickup truck. Although the Tremor has the chops to handle almost any type of terrain, its only issue would be maneuverability in tight places — this is a big truck and it requires some space to get around.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNot Only for Work
“A growing number of Super Duty customers use their trucks for more than work. They’re fishing, camping and towing boats on weekends and they go off-road, so we designed this truck specifically for them — more ground clearance, bigger shocks, bigger tires and more off-road capability,” said Todd Eckert, Ford truck group marketing manager. “Tremor balances what customers demand in terms of work with what they need in the great outdoors,” Eckert noted.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceIntegrated Winch
For those occasions when the Tremor might be needed to clear a trail or rescue a stuck off-roader, Ford offers a completely integrated Warn Winch. This electric winch boasts 12,000 pounds of pulling power using a high-tensile-strength, abrasion-resistant synthetic cable. The winch can be operated via wireless remote control and will be available from Ford Performance Parts for $3,000.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceTowing Features
Not only does the 2020 Super Duty have the power to pull immense loads, the big truck has high-tech features that make towing and living with a trailer much easier and safer. Our favorite feature is Pro Trailer Backup Assist. With this system activated, the rearview camera display shows trailer angle and direction — it also has an optional remote camera that can be installed at the back of the trailer and viewed in the dash display.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceTrailer Parking
Backing up a trailer — especially a large or long one — can be confusing; the steering wheel needs to be turned to the right to get the back of the trailer to turn left, until it has turned too far, then the wheel needs to be cranked to the right. This can be a difficult task, especially for a long trailer. With Pro Trailer Backup Assist, rotating a small dial directs the trailer; to turn the trailer to the left, simply turn the dial to the left. Hands remain off the steering wheel — the system handles all the turning back and forth. We were able to seamlessly back a 35-foot fifth-wheel trailer around a corner and into a parking space with remarkable ease.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceTowing Ease
In addition to parking a trailer, we took a 10,000-pound cargo trailer for a drive into the mountains north of Phoenix using an F-250 equipped with the 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel. With more than 1,000 lb-ft of torque available it felt a little like cheating. Acceleration was incredibly strong for a load that size, and we were reached highway speeds with no difficulty. Power is very linear with the transmission downshifting smoothly as the road started climbing, helping maintain highway speeds without a problem. The stable ride made it easy to forget we had a large trailer following us up the road. As we started back down the mountain, the engine began braking automatically, reducing the need for the brake pedal. Towing with the diesel powertrain makes things very easy.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceTowing With Gas
We performed the same exercise in an F-250 with the new 7.3-liter V8 engine; although this engine is more than up to the task, it simply didn’t perform as smoothly, having to work a bit harder than the diesel. However, depending on how much and how often towing is needed — and if price is a factor — the 7.3-liter V8 would be more than sufficient. The diesel powertrain runs about $8,000 more than the big gas-powered V8.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceCruising
Even for Super Duty owners who use their trucks often for hauling and towing, there are times when the big truck is simply a means of transportation. Cruising down the highway, the diesel-powered F-250 is quiet and smooth. Depending on the trim level, passengers enjoy big, comfortable seats as well as the spacious interior. Needless to say, acceleration is strong with no load in the back — with a lot of excess torque on hand. Even when the road turns to gravel, ride and handling remain good.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRight For You?
A heavy-duty truck is not for everyone — unlike the majority of vehicles on the road getting from point A to point B, the Super Duty is designed to perform tasks that require great strength and power. But if towing and hauling are on your task list and you need a vehicle with outstanding capability, the 2020 Ford Super Duty with its class-leading towing and cargo-carrying abilities certainly measures up to whatever challenge may be sent its way. And with a smooth ride, comfortable interior and the latest in high-tech features, the Super Duty is one of the best options on — or off — the road.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRating: 9.0
Pros: Bold styling; outstanding capability; wide range of trim levels.
Cons: Can get very expensive; very large vehicle for everyday driving.
Bottom Line: With class-leading capabilities and the latest technology, the 2020 Ford Super Duty is tough to beat.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Ford Super Duty
A Sport Package on the Lariat variant adds Ebony Black trim for mirrors, bumper and grille.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Ford Super Duty
The Sport Package also adds 20-inch Ebony Black painted aluminum wheels.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Ford Super Duty
F-250 Super Duty Crew Cab Lariat with Sport Package.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Ford Super Duty
Updated tailgate on 2020 Ford Super Duty.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Ford Super Duty
The Super Duty takes a romp through the mud.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Ford Super Duty
With unique wheels and tires, the Super Duty Tremor has 10.8 inches of ground clearance.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Ford Super Duty
The Super Duty Tremor easily pushes through a large mud bog.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Ford Super Duty
A 2020 Ford Super Duty Tremor that could use a wash.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Ford Super Duty
This highly capable Ford fords through almost three feet of water.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Ford Super Duty
The 2020 Super Duty Tremor features unique shocks.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Ford Super Duty
Rock climbing in the Super Duty Tremor.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Ford Super Duty
F-350 Super Duty King Ranch.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Ford Super Duty
Smooth cruising on the highway.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Ford Super Duty
Winching a much larger truck.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Ford Super Duty
Diesel-powered F-350 King Ranch.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Ford Super Duty
Ford Super Duty Tremors ready for more off-roading.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Ford Super Duty
F-450 Super Duty towing more than 30,000 pounds.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Ford Super Duty
With a standard hitch this diesel-powered Ford F-250 Crew Cab can tow more than 15,000 pounds.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Ford Super Duty
Properly dirty.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Ford Super Duty
New Super Duty making a splash.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Ford Super Duty
The regular cab Ford F-450 with the 6.2-liter Power Stroke diesel is the configuration needed to tow the maximum 37,000 pounds.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Ford Super Duty
Ford F-350 Super Duty King Ranch.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Ford Super Duty
Roomy interior.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Ford Super Duty
Plenty of storage inside.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Ford Super Duty
Plenty of legroom in the rear seat.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Ford Super Duty
Unique flexible cup holders.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Ford Super Duty
Power options in the rear seat.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Ford Super Duty
Still the simplest and most useful step for getting into the truck bed.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2020 Ford Super Duty
One more big splash.

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