Up to the task

From the February 2024 print edition

A heavy-duty truck is an irreplaceable tool on fleets and at work sites across the country.

But much like the half-ton trucks that have become common on suburban driveways, today’s heavy-duty trucks come with higher expectations than ever. Their owners demand performance, functionality, connectivity, and a comfortable commute to boot.

Fortunately, these trucks have come a long way and are up to these tasks, and none more so than the Ford Super Duty. Now entering its fifth generation, you might not spot the differences from the outside, but there’s plenty that’s new below the surface. Ford Canada invited us to Trois-
Rivières, Quebec, to test these changes through a series of trials and demonstrations.

The changes start under the hood, where you’ll find two new engine options. First, the base engine has been upgraded from a 6.2-litre V8 (385hp, 430lbs-ft of torque) to a new 6.8-litre V8 creating 405hp and 445lbs-ft. The upgrade gas engine, a 7.3-litre V8, is unchanged apart from a slight bump in torque, from 475 to 485lbs-ft to go with its 430hp.

Among the diesels, the base 6.7-litre PowerStroke V8 carries forward creating 475hp and 1,050lbs-ft of torque. If that’s not enough twist, you can now option a high-output 6.7 PowerStroke V8 and have access to 500hp and an eye-popping 1,200lbs-ft of torque.

With these power figures, Ford claims best-in-class towing and payload capabilities. Ratings vary by configuration, but you can max out gooseneck towing at 40,000lbs by choosing a regular cab Ford F-450 with the high-output diesel engine and the Max Tow package. If you need the most fifth-wheel towing capacity, you’ll be able to pull 35,000lbs in a Ford F-450 dually. And if it’s peak payload you require, choose a Ford F-350 dually in XL trim with rear-wheel drive and the Heavy Duty Payload package, and you can cram 8,000lbs into the bed.

The large infotainment screen is part of a suite of technology features including a digital instrument cluster, a 5G modem with connection for up to 10 devices, and over-the-air updates.

Towing and loading
Tools to support towing and loading are equally impressive. Options include: a 360-degree trailer camera; a blind spot monitoring system that extends to include gooseneck or fifth-wheel trailers; a navigation system that factors trailer dimensions and avoids low bridges and tight turns; and a trailer theft alert system that notifies you if a trailer is being tampered with. With Pro Trailer Hitch Assist and Pro Trailer Backup Assist—which use a dial and cameras to simplify reversing and aligning the hitch to a trailer’s tongue—it’s much easier for a driver to connect and maneuver a trailer solo. The onboard scales use lights built into the taillights to help drivers confirm trailer tongue weight and payload capacity. Not all these features are new, but they’re powerful when combined.

One feature that is new to Super Duty is Pro Power Onboard. This equips an outlet and can deliver up to 2kW to power tools such as table saws or battery banks. The more powerful 2.4kW and 7.2kW versions found on the Ford F-150 Hybrid are not offered here because they require that truck’s larger battery. Still, the 2kW system saves carrying an external generator
to many types of work sites.

The base engine has been upgraded from a 6.2-litre V8 (385 hp, 430 lb-ft of torque) to a new 6.8-litre V8 creating 405hp and 445lbs-ft.

A new tailgate-down camera and reserve sensing system is an industry first. Here, a set of sensors and a back-up camera are built into the top of the tailgate. This allows a driver to back up to within a foot of an obstacle with the tailgate down. For drivers who routinely use loading docks, this could be a very helpful feature.

Off-road features
The Tremor trim offers off-road features like a trail control system and Ford’s Trail Turn Assist, which locks the inside rear wheel to tighten the truck’s turning radius on low-traction surfaces. Upfitters can use the Ford Pro Upfit Integration System, eliminating the need for a third-party bank of switches by allowing functions to be built directly into the Sync 4 infotainment system via custom software builds through Ford Pro. This large infotainment screen is part of a broader suite of technology features including a digital instrument cluster, a 5G modem with connection for up to 10 devices, and over-the-air updates.

For 2024, the Ford Super Duty line-up starts at a fees-in price of $61,374. The majority of the features listed here become standard at the King Ranch grade level – which starts at $103,254 including fees for a 2024 Ford F-250, $106,254 for an F-350, and $119,940 for an F-450 – but many of them are available in lower trims.

Most heavy-duty trucks sold today are roughly equivalent in drivability and technology. But when it comes to work-oriented feature and outright utility, Ford’s Super Duty line-up has this corner of the market locked.