Updated 2023 Ford F-Series Super Duty Pickups Play to Their Strengths

The F-250 and F-350 add new technology but mostly leave a winning formula alone

Updated 2023 Ford F-Series Super Duty Pickups Play to Their Strengths

By Keith Barry

Ford announced a major update to its Super Duty line of heavy-duty pickup trucks that promises more power, more engine choices, and more special features.

Although Ford hasn’t shared all of the details of its new lineup, it continues to be tailored to commercial customers who want capability and familiarity. The automaker claims that the Super Duty lineup will have the most towing capacity, payload, torque, and horsepower of any heavy-duty full-sized truck. In addition, new available camera and blind spot warning (BSW) systems are designed to work with trailers or when the tailgate is down, and the Pro Power Onboard system can turn the Super Duty into a 2 kW generator that can go from charging tools or running a small air compressor at a job site to powering lights or a TV at a campsite.

The Super Duty doesn’t look utilitarian with an off-road package, plus black wheels and trim.

Photo: Ford

In addition, a new XL Off-Road package and an updated Tremor off-road version are aimed at ardent adventure seekers. And all customers can choose from various new appearance packages that change up the wheels, trim, and paint.

The heavy-duty pickup, also known as an HD truck, is a uniquely American animal. Ford’s only competition comes from Chevrolet, GMC, and Ram. (Nissan’s Titan XD bridges the gap between a heavy- and light-duty truck.) Compared with light-duty trucks like the Ford F-150, all heavy-duty trucks add towing capacity, the option to have a more powerful diesel engine, the ability to use a gooseneck hitch mounted in the bed for fifth-wheel towing, and a beefier suspension designed to handle the extra weight. These capabilities make heavy-duty trucks ideal for contractors, snow plow operators, vehicle haulers, and construction workers with equipment in tow.

Although we haven’t yet driven the new Super Duty, in our previous experience with HD pickups we found that they can be ungainly and difficult to maneuver, and have a too-stiff ride in comparison with light-duty trucks. Consumer Reports has previously warned potential buyers that using a large heavy-duty pickup for simple transportation is overkill.

The 2023 F-250 Super Duty’s new look is very similar to the existing F-150.

Photo: Ford

The F-250 is the most similar to Ford’s light-duty F-150 pickup. The F-350, F-450, F-550, and F-600 are almost exclusively aimed at commercial customers, and some of them are only available as chassis-cab trucks. In other words, they can have an aftermarket cargo box or dumper added, they can be turned into a tow truck, or an electric or telecommunications company could fit them up as a bucket truck.

What it competes with: Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD/3500HD,  GMC Sierra 2500HD/3500HD, Ram 2500/3500

What it looks like: The beefy big brother to the  F-150.

Powertrains: 6.8-liter V8, 7.3-liter V8, or 6.7-liter diesel V8 engine; 10-speed automatic transmission; rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive

Price: $40,000-$90,000 (estimated)

On sale: Early 2023

CR’s Take

Ford unveiled the new Super Duty at an event in Louisville, Ky., where the truck will be built. At times the pitch felt like it was aimed at investors just as much as potential truck buyers, with boasts about how much the Super Duty line contributes to the company’s market share and revenue.

But those stats also offer some insight into why Ford is being so conservative when it comes to updating its heavy-duty truck lineup. For commercial buyers, that means a familiar design that’s easy to customize and maintain. For those who want the biggest and baddest-looking truck on the block, that means off-road packages and factory lift kits. The new Super Duty lineup has a little bit of both.

We will share more information about the new HD lineup as soon as it’s available. In the meantime, here’s what we know:

Pro Power lets you use the Super Duty as a generator.

Photo: Ford

Outside

Ford calls the Super Duty’s new look “tough and modern.” From the grille to the tailgate, the truck is instantly recognizable as a Ford and now shares a headlight design with the F-150. Regular cab trucks come with an 8-foot cargo box, while SuperCab and Crew Cab trucks offer a choice of a 6.75-foot or 8-foot cargo box. Without any additional options, such as bigger tires or a lifted suspension, a Super Duty starts at 78.9 inches tall—about 6.5 feet—and goes up to 81.5 inches, and can be more than 22 feet long, so make sure you measure your garage before you buy.

There are seven grille options, and a new XL Off-Road package adds massive 33-inch tires and a raised air dam in addition to off-road-focused features like skid plates and an electronic locking rear differential. The Tremor Off-Road package goes a step further, with a front-end lift and 35-inch tires on 18-inch wheels.

A power tailgate is optional.

Photo: Ford

Inside

Much of the new Super Duty’s interior is shared with the F-150, although it appears that the Super Duty has a column-mounted shifter. XL models get an 8-inch touchscreen and higher trim levels get a 12-inch display. There are enough nooks and crannies that drivers can use the cab as an office, and Ford’s Max Recline front seats fold nearly flat like a business-class airline seat, offering a place to catch a nap. Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum, and Limited editions are also available, with the kind of upscale fittings that wouldn’t be out of place in a luxury sedan or SUV.

One of the biggest updates is the Ford Pro Upfit Integration System (UIS). Because many heavy-duty truck owners customize their rigs with plows, auxiliary lighting, and other equipment, Ford added a new option to control those extras through the Super Duty’s built-in infotainment system. Previously, owners had to run extra wires and add aftermarket switches.

The comfortable interior of a 2023 Ford F-350 Super Duty in Lariat trim.

Photo: Ford

What Drives It

The 6.2-liter gas V8 engine that was standard on the F-250 and F-350 is no more; it has been replaced by a new 6.8-liter V8. The new engine is a pushrod design compared with the outgoing V8’s SOHC setup. We’ll have to wait to drive it to see if that offers any appreciable difference in real-world use. Ford hasn’t shared details on horsepower or torque but says this beast of an engine should provide more low-end torque for better performance on hills and highway merges. (The outgoing 6.2-liter produces 385 horsepower and 430 lb.-ft. of torque.)

Ford also says its 7.3-liter gas V8 gets an improved air intake design and tuning for better torque and more horsepower. For 2023, the 6.7-liter, turbocharged “Power Stroke” diesel V8 carries over and is joined by a new high-output diesel engine option that Ford claims will offer best-in-class torque and horsepower. Two “TorqShift” 10-speed automatic transmissions are available, each with different gear ratios.

It’s no surprise that Ford didn’t share fuel-economy ratings because they’re not required for vehicles over 8,500 pounds. Most heavy-duty trucks weigh more than that. In our 2017 test of the heavy-duty Ford F-250, the diesel version got 15 mpg overall. We certainly hope to see some improvement there, especially considering how high diesel fuel prices are these days. Ford hasn’t shared any details about the towing capacity of the different powertrains and body styles, either.

Like the F-150, the 2023 Super Duty’s interior can be used as a mobile office.

Photo: Ford

Safety and Driver Assistance

The Super Duty debuts an optional “tailgate down” camera and reverse sensing system, a backup camera that works when the tailgate is in the lowered position. Ford says this is the first camera setup of its kind, and we think it could be a very useful feature that shows up on other trucks in the near future.

The Super Duty’s backup camera lets you see what’s behind you even when the tailgate is open.

Photo: Ford

Other optional features include built-in scales for cargo weight and trailer tongue weight distribution, a surround-view camera that includes a view of a trailer, a BSW system for fifth-wheel trailers, and a navigation system that only plots routes that are appropriate for the dimensions and weight of the trailer that’s being towed—that is, helping drivers avoid routes with hairpin turns and low bridges.

A Ford spokesperson told CR that automatic emergency braking (AEB) and forward collision warning (FCW) will only be available on certain models but won’t come as standard equipment. CR thinks this technology should be standard, especially on big trucks, which can pose unique hazards to pedestrians and smaller vehicles. Adaptive cruise control and lane centering assistance are optional.

Super Duty buyers can opt for lots of new trailer tech.

Photo: Ford

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reference: news.yahoo.com

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