Part of the Silverado's chassis rebirth was with heavier-duty suspension components. It used to be that the Silverado HD's suspension rode firm in the rear, while the IFS was tuned soft for comfort and compliance. No more. The Silverado owns the most impressive towing and hauling numbers in this test, besting the Super Duty by 1,000 pounds of trailer and more than 300 pounds in payload, and it can be felt in the suspension. The Chevy now feels more substantial to pilot, and while it still owns the road in terms of ride quality, it isn't quite as plush as it once was. When driving the Silverado, we felt that the steering was quicker and more direct than the Ford, which makes it a little nicer to use as a daily driver.
One would expect that the Super Duty, with its unsprung axle mass, would be the worst-riding in the test. But whatever kind of magic Ford's suspension engineers have worked, we are believers. The shock tuning was comparatively supple over the highway, with the only lack of refinement coming over concrete-surfaced freeway undulations that sent the big Ford vacillating until the road mellowed. If the Super Duty was nearly the Dodge Power Wagon's peer on the highway, this is the only area where it falls short. Clearly the 2011 model is superior to any previous version of this truck. Our testers noted how well the Super Duty handled and felt planted on twisty mountain roads, despite its slower steering.
While Ford claims King Kong power numbers in the Super Duty, we feel that the lighter Chevy does a better job of getting it to the pavement. Ford should, however, be lauded for the TorqShift transmission that always seems to have the right gear and never gets in the way of the Super Duty's engine. Our only real complaint toward the Power Stroke was difficulty in modulating its power output in very slow and tightly curved mountain roads. Unless you were to drive the Super Duty back-to-back with the Silverado HD as we did, you would be hard pressed to know one is significantly quicker than the other. They both offer exceptional drivetrains.
Like the Silverado HD, the Super Duty also uses urea to clean up emissions, though Ford has shrunk the fuel tank down to just 26 gallons to make room for the urea tank. This is the same size as the Raptor and a full 10 gallons less than the Silverado, giving the Ford a 160 mile range disadvantage to the Chevy at the observed fuel economy numbers.
This is too bad because once you are in the Super Duty you don't want to get out. With seats that were unanimously approved by the staff, the quietest cabin in the test, and generally excellent visibility with big mirrors, the Super Duty was the truck we wanted to spend our time in on long hauls. It doesn't hurt that there is a host of forward-thinking technologies, such as navigation with Sirius TravelLink, a new informative DIC, and an upscale stereo unit with Sync that can provide an assortment of entertainment and information options to the driver. Despite having hard-touch plastic like the Chevy, the Super Duty's was better grained, and overall, the interior looked much more upscale.
There is just so much to like about the Super Duty, but we were all in agreement that the Super Duty's new face wasn't doing it any favors. We not sure who approved its new shiny mug, but it was probably the least-liked element of the new truck and it never once grew on us. Unlike the Silverado, the 2011 F-250 won't be mistaken for a previous-gen Super Duty, but then again, the Silverado isn't wearing a caricature of itself.
One Ford in the test that had no detractors about styling was the Raptor. Wide, purposeful and gorgeous, the Raptor needs no introduction. It causes little kids to stare, adults to swoon, and jaded magazine guys to smile. And now, with the very engine the Raptor was designed to have originally, it's the truck it should have been at launch.
The 6.2L SOHC V-8 was delayed when the Raptor debuted last year, and to make sure the truck was not late to market, Ford used the venerable 5.4L in its place. Trucks with the 5.4L installed, which was a last-minute addition to the Raptor program, never got the suspension tuning attention they deserved, leaving the base Raptor feeling a bit unpolished.