2020 Ford Super Duty: Capitalism FTW

Published on January 21, 2020 in First Drives by Marc-André Gauthier

Nearly one full year after its original debut, we finally get a first crack at the 2020 Ford Super Duty lineup, which includes the F-250, F-350 and F-450 trucks. These workhorses are primarily designed for owners who need to tow big, heavy trailers.

How good are the new and improved 2020 models? Extremely. You just can’t go wrong with any of them.

The same can be said about the competition, however. In a sense, the Super Duty is kind of disappointing as we expected total domination from Ford. The fact of the matter is that all heavy-duty pickups on the market right now are high-quality, high-capability machines.

Three Awesome Engines

First things first: what’s the difference between the F-250, F-350 and F-450? All three pretty much have the same design and interior. Essentially, the bigger the number, the more rugged and capable the truck is.

Three engines are available for 2020 including a 6.2-litre V8 rated at 385 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque, a new 7.3-litre V8 producing 430 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque, and a 6.7-litre diesel V8 that delivers 475 horsepower and a spectacular 1,050 pound-feet of torque. The last one is the only option in the F-450.

The stuff you can do with them depends on the truck’s configuration. Is it a 4x2 or 4x4 model? Does it have an upgraded differential specially designed for towing? Is there a gooseneck trailer hitch? What about the transmission?

Photo: Marc-André Gauthier

For the record, the maximum towing and payload capacities of a 2020 Ford F-250 are 22,800 and 4,260 pounds, respectively. Those numbers increase to 35,750 and 7,850 pounds with the F-350 or 37,000 and 6,210 pounds in the case of the F-450. No competitor can match that.

Of course, you must choose the Super Duty that best fits your needs. If you plan to drive occasionally with an empty cargo bed and no trailer in the rear, any of the three engines will serve you extremely well. Acceleration is smooth and the diesel will even surprise you with brisk takeoffs. Pulling close to 15,000 pounds on the rough and twisty roads of the Arizona desert did not pose any problem.

The 10-speed automatic transmission is a good performer. One fellow journalist said he preferred GM’s tank-like transmission, but our short time with the Super Duty was not conclusive enough for us to crown a winner in that department.

Photo: Marc-André Gauthier

Fantastic Tremor Package

The most pleasant surprise with the 2020 Ford Super Duty is unquestionably the new Tremor Off-Road Package. It includes aggressive 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires—the largest available on a heavy-duty pickup—in addition to progressive-rate springs, a custom-tuned rear stabilizer bar, unique 1.7-inch piston twin-tube dampers, a new Dana limited-slip front differential, off-road running boards, extended-axle vent tubes and the same beefy skid plates found on FX4 models.

Comfort is much better than in regular Super Duty models, too. The package eliminates rear-axle hop and smoothens the ride to SUV levels.

Also, there’s a feature called Trail Control. Initially launched on the F-150 Raptor and Ranger, it’s like a cruise control system for unpaved terrain. Just press a button, set a speed below 30 km/h and the truck will take care of the rest. We tackled a pretty tough off-road course with big rocks, steep climbs and other challenging obstacles and the Super Duty never failed. This is off-road driving for the masses.

Photo: Marc-André Gauthier

Cabin Needs Improvements

One area that Ford designers need to keep working on is the interior. The manly design has not aged very well. It’s time to offer something a bit more refined or at the very least a bigger display.

The infotainment system is not particularly user-friendly, so you likely won’t spend too much time looking at the screen. If you want to activate the available massage feature, you must go to Settings > Seats and then you find the Massage tab. Sure, the graphics are nice, but the lack of physical controls is a pain. On a positive note, the seats are quite comfortable, even with standard fabric.

Photo: Marc-André Gauthier

Everybody Wins in the End

Pricing for the 2020 Ford Super Duty ranges from $41,859 (F-250 XL) to $104,429 (F-450 Limited). The “Capitalism FTW” in the title of this review refers to companies trying to outdo one another by constantly improving their products, raising the bar for quality and offering plenty of selection to attract as many customers as possible.

In the heavy-duty pickup segment, the Ford Super Duty, Ram Heavy Duty and Silverado HD/Sierra HD are all outstanding. Admittedly, we expected the first to step up to the plate with a more serious effort to stand out from the competition.

Maybe we’ll have to wait for the launch of hybrid and electric variants to see a clear-cut winner.

Photo: Marc-André Gauthier
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