- 2020 Ford Super Duty boasts class-leading towing and payload capacities
- New Tremor off-road package delivers on its promise
- Pricing ranges from $42K to more than $100K in Canada
LITCHFIELD PARK, Arizona – Let’s face it, trucks aren’t the most eco-friendly vehicles on the planet, and they’re the easiest targets for treehuggers to complain about. They’re not completely wrong, as many people use like commercial-grade pickup trucks such as the 2020 Ford Super Duty as grocery-getters and little else.
However, these behemoths are also essential work tools, as a great deal of professionals need to pull trailers or heavy machinery, carry substantial loads in the pickup bed or transport a crew of workers to the jobsite. The latter might be in a secluded area, off the beaten path or in a muddy construction zone. A heavy-duty pickup has to deliver the goods in the toughest conditions.
The F-Series line, composed of the 2020 Ford Super Duty the Ford F-150, is the most popular vehicle in Canada and in the United States. And has been for years—since 2009 in Canada, as a matter of fact.
Yet Ford can’t rest on its laurels as both Ram and General Motors have recently revamped their heavy-duty pickups. Also, should Ford take the Tesla Cybertruck seriously and consider it as a potential threat? Possibly, but the fact is the F-Series is very capable, very appealing and very… real. Nonetheless, a slew of improvements and new features have been added to the 2020 model, which admittedly doesn’t look at that different from the outgoing 2019 model.
Benchmark Power and Torque Once Again
The 2020 Ford Super Duty is now available with three powertrain options, in addition to the usual Regular Cab, SuperCab and Crew Cab configurations, two bed lengths and the choice of 4×2 and 4×4 drivetrains. A gasoline 6.2-litre V8 and a six-speed automatic come standard, developing 385 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque.
A new gasoline 7.3-litre V8 is available, which produces 430 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque. Ford believes this mill will be an excellent alternative for those who deem the diesel engine’s greater capabilities and higher price unnecessary.
That brute powerplant is the 6.7-litre Power Stroke turbo-diesel V8, which develops 475 horses as well as a staggering 1,050 pound-feet of torque from 1,600 rpm. That beats the Ram HD’s 6.7-litre Cummins inline-six (up to 400 hp and 1,000 lb.-ft.) and the Chevrolet Silverado HD/GMC Sierra HD’s 6.6-litre Duramax V8 (445 hp and 910 lb.-ft.).
Both optional engines are matched to a 10-speed automatic transmission that was developed in-house and is specific to the heavy-duty variant of the F-Series.
Off-roading in the New Tremor
The 2020 Ford Super Duty gets a new off-road package called Tremor that’s available in XLT, Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum trim levels as well as in F-250 and F-350 models. Destined to compete with the Ram 2500 Power Wagon and the GMC Sierra HD AT4, the Super Duty Tremor benefits from a front limited-slip differential, 35-inch LT285/75R18 tires, 18-inch low-gloss black painted wheels, unique front springs, performance front and rear shocks, water fording vent tubes, off-road running boards and skid plates in addition to the rear electronic locking differential that can also be fitted to other variants of the pickup.
To show off the Tremor’s capabilities, aided by 10.8 inches (274 mm) of ground clearance and an approach angle of 31.65 degrees, Ford set up an off-road course in a rock quarry, with stages meant to demonstrate every aspect of what the truck can do. It’s also equipped with a Trail Control mode and a multi-angle camera system—both activated using dash-mounted buttons.
The Trail Control mode includes hill descent control, and the driver can adjust the speed by using the cruise control buttons. In tight situations, the camera system is also very useful for avoiding contact with rocks and other objects that could scrape the paint job or dent a bumper on off-road adventures. This was one of the most challenging off-road courses yours truly experienced in more than 15 years of doing this job, and the Tremor masterfully conquered it. We can’t say Ford’s package is better than the Power Wagon or the Sierra AT4, but the result is impressive.
Towing Like a Champ
The 2020 Ford Super Duty boasts the greatest towing capacities in its class. With the 7.3L V8, it can tow up to 18,990 pounds (8,614 kg) with a conventional trailer or 20,800 lbs. (9,435 kg) with a gooseneck setup. On the other hand, the F-450 Regular Cab 4×2 with the Power Stroke engine can two up to 24,200 lbs. (10,977 kg) using a conventional trailer hitch, up to 32,500 lbs. (14,742 kg) with a fifth wheel setup and up to an amazing 37,000 lbs. (16,783 kg) with a gooseneck connection.
In comparison, the Ram can tow up to 35,100 lbs. (15,921 kg) while the GM cousins can pull up to 35,500 lbs. (16,103 kg). Ford’s payload capacity is also class-leading at 7,850 lbs. (3,561 kg), besting its rivals by a small margin. All excellent numbers from all three manufacturers, but in the pickup truck segment, the right to brag is a huge purchase factor, and one of the reasons the F-Series clobbers its adversaries on the sales charts.
To achieve its max towing rating, the F-450 with dual rear wheels gets a different grille design for improved airflow in addition to a more powerful cooling system. During our trailering exercises, you could hear the fans switch on and off while we were heading up a steep hill, all while pulling a 30,000-pound trailer. We also tried out a diesel F-350 with a 12,000-lb. trailer pinned to it, and the truck felt extremely stable, without the tugging feel we’ve experienced in other pickups.
The 2020 Ford Super Duty now includes Pro Trailer Backup Assist, which can already be found in the F-150 as well as in the Ford Expedition. We tried out the system using conventional and gooseneck trailers, which allows drivers to guide the trailer with a dash-mounted rotary dial, the brake pedal and a bunch of camera views—while the steering wheel turns by itself to navigate the truck. It won’t replace common sense or a lack of practice, but it does help out quite a bit for those who don’t yet master towing techniques.
Of course, the various trim levels of the 2020 Ford Super Duty not only get incremental feature upgrades, but also different trim and detailing to please a wider audience. Such as the western-themed King Ranch, or the luxurious Limited, for example. However, an XLT or a Lariat will also do the trick, which can also be fitted with various appearance packages.
Ford sells a more than a million F-Series a year in United States and Canada combined, so it’s nice to have a little distinction. By the way, about 25% of those sales are Super Duty variants in Canada, and about 30% in the U.S.
Available features in the 2020 Ford Super Duty include an on-board modem for 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity, wireless charging, a power panoramic sunroof, an intelligent key system, remote tailgate release, a tailgate step, power-deployable running boards, genuine leather upholstery, a suede headliner, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats as well as a SYNC 3 infotainment system with eight-inch touchscreen and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration.
There’s also a full complement of advanced safety features such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, autonomous emergency braking and more.
Writing in Black Ink
Pricing for the 2020 Ford Super Duty starts at $41,859 in Canada and $33,705 in the United States, freight and delivery charges not included. Some equipment levels vary from a country to another, but both get about the same trim levels and configurations. Check all the option boxes on an F-450 Crew Cab Limited, and we’re looking at a $100K truck. These big rigs are what keep companies like Ford, FCA and GM in the black.
All is not perfect, though. The Super Duty still has a somewhat jittery ride on the open road, the front seats are overstuffed to our tastes and aren’t as comfortable as we’d like them to be, and fuel economy is always a concern—we observed an average of 14.0 L/100 km during our drive aboard a diesel-engined F-Series, and 16.0 L/100 km with the gasoline 7.3L V8. That’s at freeway and country road speeds.
Choosing a Super Duty of its rivals is not only a question of maximum capabilities, though. It’s also about looks, features and user-friendliness for the daily drive. In that regard, none of the HD pickups clearly stand out, but as we said before, bragging rights belong to 2020 Ford Super Duty buyers right now. Tesla may have the Cybertruck, but Ford has the Realtruck.