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Ford Super Duty shows its capability in the desert

February 20, 2020 | By Mario Cywinski

Photo: Mario Cywinski

Around 10 years ago, one of my first truck events as an automotive journalist was for the 2011 Ford Super Duty. The event took place in Arizona, starting in Prescott, going through Yarnell, and eventually finishing in Glendale, a suburb of Phoenix. During that trip, the Super Duty was put through its paces, with towing being done in Yarnell, where vehicles would go up and down a steep mountain road with trailers attached. Also, off-roading, and a selection of upfitted models were available to test at a nearby quarry.

Flash forward to 2020, and Ford decided to return to Arizona for launch of its 2020 Super Duty. While the route was changed, the mountain road in Yarnell and the quarry used were the same, apart from a completely different off-road course (more on that later). Being in a similar location showed just how much the Super Duty has evolved.

For example, in 2011, Ford introduced its in-house built, all-new 6.7 litre Power Stroke V-8 diesel engine, which at the time was outputting 735 foot/pounds of torque (which was shortly after bumped up to 800 ft/lbs). Over the years, the torque numbers have been increasing, and for 2020, the engine now outputs 1,050 ft/lbs of torque. That’s over 300 ft/lbs of torque increase in a span of under 10 years. The horsepower numbers have also increased but on a smaller scale; the Super Duty had 390hp in 2011, which has climbed to 475hp for 2020.

Many of the increases in power for 2020 can be attributed to new fuel system, steel piston heads, double-axle variable geometry turbocharger, and a variable displacement oil pump. The Power Stroke has also seen enhancements to the structure for the cylinder head, block, connecting rods and bearings.


“Super Duty customers have demanding and diverse needs – from towing heavy trailers to repairing critical infrastructure,” said Kumar Galhotra, president, North America at Ford. “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.”

Super Duty also adds a new engine for 2020, a 7.3L V-8 gasoline with 430hp and 475 ft/lbs of torque. According to a Ford handout, the new engine offers: “cooling jets improve piston durability and combustion efficiency; variable displacement oil pump provides more oil when needed or reduce parasitic losses under light loads; forged steel crankshaft offers strength and durability; variable cam timing improves engine efficiency; in-block cam reduces engine height and width; all-new cast iron block with four bolt and cross bolted main bearings provide maximum strength and stiffness in the bottom end for maximum durability; and all-new heads with port fuel injection offer simple maintenance and high airflow.”

A 6.2L V-8 gasoline engine carries forward into 2020, and is available on F-250, F-350, and F-350 Chassis cabs. The 7.3L engine is available on all models of Super Duty apart from the F-450. The diesel engine is available on all models apart from stripped Chassis, where only the 7.3L gas engine is used. All engines offer an all-new 10-speed automatic transmission. A six-speed automatic transmission is also available.

Photo: Mario Cywinski

To test out the all-new Tremor off-road package available on the Super Duty, Ford set up an off-road course in and around the quarry. Years ago, when the event was held there, the course consisted of driving around a somewhat large hill, with a few bumps thrown in. This time, it was one of the best off-road courses on a press trip. It included rock crawling, water fording, driving up and down inclines nearing 35 per cent, and many other obstacles thrown in for good measure. It really shows how far the Super Duty has come in terms of off-road capability.

“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, truck group marketing manager, Ford. “Tremor balances what customers demand in terms of work with what they need in the great outdoors.”

While the regular Super Duty is a capable off-roader, for more intense terrain, the Tremor package is a must. What does it offer? Water fording of 33”, approach angle of 31.65 degrees, departure angle of 24.51 degrees, trail control with rock-crawl mode, 10.8” of ground clearance, 53:1 crawl ratio for 7.3L models, and 44:1 crawl ratio for 6.7L models, suspension updates, and 35” tires on 18” wheels. Tremor package is available on all trims (apart from XL and Limited) for F-250 and F-350, and with 6.7L or 7.3L engines.

Photo: Mario Cywinski

One other option that is all-new and available with the Tremor package is a 12,000 lbs winch from Warn. This is a factory (or dealer) installed option, that integrates a winch into the front bumper of the Super Duty. This makes it more integrated, and as an added bonus, it is crash tested. It comes with wired or wireless winching, and a clutch that can be accessed right at the front of the vehicle.

Super Duty is a very capable truck. Ford mentions that it features best-in-class max gooseneck towing of 37,000 lbs (F-450), fifth-wheel towing of 32,500 lbs (F-350 and F-450), max conventional towing of 24,200 lbs (F-450), and max payload of 7,850 lbs (F-350 DRW). The towing prowess of the Super Duty was definitely on display, as a selection of trims with varying trailers were sent up and down a mountain road, with no issues reported.

Super Duty comes in six trims (XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum, and Limited); three cab sizes (regular, super or crew); two box sizes (short or long), three engine options, and in a variety of body styles (pickup, chassis, medium duty, and stripped chassis).


Mario Cywinski is the Editor of Machinery and Equipment MRO magazine, a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada, and a judge for Canadian Truck King Challenge. He has over 10 years of editorial experience and over 15 years of automobile industry experience, as well as small business industry experience.

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