2017 Super Duty: Ford’s Workhorse Gets A Much Needed MakeoverPosted in Features on December 15, 2016
Looking down a steep drop with a tight turn into a tall incline then over some logs, field of rocks and through a foot of water, the off-road course would be a fun day for typical rigs like a Jeep Wrangler, Toyota 4Runner, or an old International Scout. We weren’t in any of them. Instead, we were in the new ’17 Ford Super Duty, and it was holding its own.
This is the first time the new Super Duty has seen a complete revamp, and it is more than a work truck these days. With an improved suspension, new tighter steering, upgraded 6.7L Power Stroke turbodiesel, and a variety of new cameras, plus features like adaptive cruise control even when trailering, this new truck is much better. Compared to the previous generation, driving this new truck off-road and on the paved road is easier on your back, your arms, and your nerves.
Checking out the new Super Duty at a launch event in Denver gave us the ideal backdrop to think about how a rancher or a hunter would use the truck off-road. While Ford team members and engineers were excited to tell us all about the new aluminum-alloy cab, up-gauged aluminum bed, the 40,000 pounds of gross combined weight rating, and the many towing upgrades, we just wanted to get dirty—you know, do what we do best. Fortunately, Ford had built an off-road track near the foothills, and naturally we obliged getting a ’17 Ford F-250 FX4 dirty.
The off-road track was the run-of-the-mill variety found at many truck launch events with man-made table tops, rock-strewn crossings, loose logs, and even a shallow water pit. We hit all of them with much more ferocity than the average owner would for “testing” purposes. As we tackled the many obstacles, it became abundantly clear the suspension changes on the new Super Duty pay off when off the beaten path, offering decent flex, solid handling, and a good ride. Overall visibility is also good from the cab, and we love the easy-to-use electric rear diff locker.
Ford says it dropped 350 pounds by using the aluminum body panels, which was reinvested in the frame. This new frame is said to be 24 times stronger than the previous model and 95 percent of the materials are high-strength steel. Plus, there are now 10 crossmembers adding to the stiffness with the middle sections being 1 1/2 inches taller than the old frame. Ford also retuned the front and rear shocks with larger lower bushings and made the front stabilizer bars and collars larger. All of this adds up to a much stronger frame Ford says makes it easier to set up the suspension to handle road vibrations better.
Also making an impression is the new Adaptive Steering Ford has incorporated into the trucks. This steering is incorporated inside the wheel itself and consists of a computer-controlled electric motor, which vastly reduces the steering radius. In comparing this truck to other heavy-duty competitors, it was a full wheel turn less from lock-to-lock. Basically, it made the 250-inch wheelbase of the crew cab Super Duty turn like an SUV.
While there are a host of changes, some good things remain the same, like the manual-shift transfer case is standard on the XL and XLT models in both gas and diesel. Electronic shift is standard on Lariat and up trim levels.
The front axles are still from Dana, with many new parts, a larger axletube diameter, and mineral spirts for the lubrication, while the rear axles are still from Sterling on the F-250 gas/diesel and the F-350 gas. The F-350 SRW diesel has switched to a new Dana M275—a first for Ford using this axle.
Finally, the driveshafts have been upgraded and now feature drawn-over-mandrel tubing on certain driveshafts based on cab configurations. The driveshafts will either be 4- to 5-inch-diameter one-piece aluminum or 3 1/2- to 4-inch-diameter two-piece steel depending again on cab configuration.
The many upgrades, better steering, and improved ride quality add up to consumers getting the best Super Duty ever and with pricing looking like it will be only a few hundred dollars more than the previous generation, it is a good bet it will be a hot seller.
Our time with the Super Duty in Colorado was informative but brief. We’re planning to get some extended seat time in the truck over the next few months, including at the 2017 Pickup Truck of the Year competition, so stay tuned for even more info on the all-new Super Duty.