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First Drive of the 2020 Ford Super Duty

First Drive of the 2020 Ford Super Duty

1050 lb-ft of torque. 37,000+ lb towing capacity. 10-speed automatic transmission. Tremor off-road package. Need we say more?!

Story & Photos: Casey Cordeiro

First Drive of the 2020 Ford Super Duty

2020 is all about power train updates for the Ford Super Duty lineup, and that is not a bad thing. If you’ve been following the Super Duty model progression, this is essentially with a small mid cycle refresh. While the powertrain did get the bulk of the improvements, the interior did get some material refinements, too.

When first looking at the new trucks, you’ll notice the front and rear headlight changes the most. They are very clean and easy on the eyes compared to the blocky front end that Ford has used the past 3 years. The sides of the truck have been kept nearly the same, and the tailgate has been smoothed out to match the rear taillight modifications. Overall, the outside of the truck is clean and definitely a good looking vehicle.

More importantly than the outside looks of the new Super Duty, this 2020 truck now includes the fully refreshed third generation of the Power Stroke 6.7-liter diesel engine. It now has 475 horsepower and 1050 lb-ft of torque. Yes, those are class leading numbers. Plus, virtually all Super Duty trucks will come with the all new 10-speed Torqshift automatic transmission. The 6-speed automatic is still the base transmission, but you’re going to want the 10-speed. Keep reading…

First Drive of the 2020 Ford Super Duty

The notable engine addition to the Super Duty lineup for 2020 is the “Godzilla” 7.3-liter Gas V8. This power plant is rated at 430 hp and 475 lb.-ft of torque. It has a cast-iron block with large four-bolt main bearings that are cross-bolted with a forged steel crankshaft. Other features include port injection, in-block cam with variable timing, stainless exhaust manifold, and a variable displacement oil pump. Overall, this is a great engine option and saves the buyer thousands of dollars compared to the Power Stroke diesel engine (the Power Stroke is a $10,495 option compared to the base V8 engine setup). Pair the 7.3L with the 10-speed automatic and you have a very competent engine option!

From the drivers seat, the new Super Duty is incredibly quick off the line. We didn’t get to sample the 6.2L V8, but the Power Stroke and Godzilla engine options just keep pulling and pulling from the moment you crack the throttle. Credit the new 10-speed automatic for incredibly smooth shifts and always being in the right gear. It is an intuitive transmission, and I loved having a trailer behind me going up a steep 6% grade while still being in 6th gear. That just means that this transmission is always in the right gear to give this truck maximum power.

First Drive of the 2020 Ford Super Duty

It was only when we maxed out the load of an F-450 with 35,000+ pounds that the Power Stroke-equipped truck “struggled” to maintain 40 mph up our 6% testing grade. I say “struggled” lightly because it really didn’t even slow down that much, and the truck had been easily conquering the towing grade time after time for all of the editors in attendance. We came down to normalcy for a bit and hooked up more popular fifth wheel and bumper pull trailers to F-350’s and F-250’s for additional towing tests. Again, when I said that 2020 was all about power train improvements for Ford, I really did mean that. These trucks tow with the upmost in confidence, easily pulling an 18,000 lb fifth wheel up the 6% grade. Again, with the diesel in an F-350 mated to the 10-speed auto, the transmission was typically in 6th gear while pulling up this grade, giving the driver just the right rpm for max power output. That’s the real magic of this transmission – it’s always able to be in the right gear so you are getting max power to the ground. No matter if I was towing with a long bed or short bed setup, the truck was always confident, too. The 7.3L gas engine is definitely louder going up these grades with the increase in RPM of this engine. And, it doesn’t keep up with the Power Stroke in terms of pulling power. However, for a gas V8 engine, it has plenty of power to handle up to 21,200 lbs of fifth wheel or conventional towing.

Here’s the winning question: do you spend the extra money to get the Power Stroke diesel? Or, do you go with the 7.3L V8 gas engine? After towing with both, I would highly recommend that you decide what you’re primary goals are with the truck. Will you be towing regularly and pushing the truck with heavy loads? If so, the answer is a no-brainer – get the diesel engine. You will be so happy you did, especially when you pass everyone going up the mountains “cruising” at 70 mph with your 20,000 lb trailer in tow… If you’re going to be using a Super Duty for a mix of around-town family fun and a bit of light towing, the 7.3L gas V8 engine is the right choice for you. It will cost you significantly less up front, has less maintenance costs (it’s a simple V8 after all!), and still tows like a champ. It won’t get up the hill as fast as the diesel, but it will still easily get you to your destination.

1050 lb-ft of torque. 37,000+ lb towing capacity. 10-speed automatic transmission. Tremor off-road package. Our First Drive of the 2020 Ford Super Duty.

First Drive of the 2020 Ford Super Duty

Other significant towing features available on all Super Duty trucks are the power mirrors, multiple camera viewing angles (even on the back of your trailer if you want) that are afforded by the technology packages on higher end models, and pro trailer backup assist, which is handy if you’re a newcomer to the trailer backup game. If you’re confident backing up a trailer, then you won’t need this feature. But if you want extra assistance, this is a great system that makes it easy to back up a trailer by just spinning a dial on the dash. The truck literally does the rest for you. The dial allows you to turn the trailer in the direction you want it to go, easy and effective.

So, you’ve also heard about the all-new Tremor… The Tremor is significant because it retains all of the Super Duty’s capability while still being off-road worthy. And, possibly even more significant is the fact that you can still get the Power Stroke diesel with the Tremor! If you’re a Ram Power Wagon fan, then you will definitely notice the Tremor because it has more towing capability, and the option to have that Diesel engine. The latter fact is significant since the Power Wagon is only available with a Hemi engine.

First Drive of the 2020 Ford Super Duty

While the Tremor probably won’t off-road better than a Power Wagon in the real gnarly stuff (it doesn’t have a disconnecting from sway bar like the Power Wagon does), the Tremor is still very capable. If you’re savvy with handling dynamics, you’ll feel the extra weight of the diesel engine up front when you’re off-road. If you want a bit more capability off-road, then you’ll want to go with the Godzilla V8 engine. If you don’t mind the additional weight, get the Power Stroke. Even with the Tremor’s factory lift and 35” Goodyear Duratrac tires, you’ll be able to tow up to 15,000 lbs with a conventional trailer, or up to 21,900 lbs with a gooseneck. You’ll also be able to ford up to 33 inches of water, enjoy the best approach (31.65 degrees) and departure (24.51 degrees) angles of any Super Duty every made, enjoy the benefits of trail control with automatic “cruise control” for off-roading, and use the locking rear differential and new Dana limited slip front differential. Crawl ratios are 53:1 with the V8 engine and 44:1 with the diesel engine. Plus, you can get a 12,000 lb Warn winch from the factory! As a complete package, that is pretty darn incredible if you ask me.

First Drive of the 2020 Ford Super Duty

I was able to take a Platinum F-350 single rear wheel Power Stroke diesel truck (mated to the 10-speed) on an extended road trip during this drive, and here are some notes from my drive time… The quality of the inside is really nice with small upgrades for the 2020 model year, but there is no need for those massage seats. For comparison, the Ram Heavy Duty interior is still better laid out with more space for all of your stuff, more space in the front center console, and it seems a bit quieter inside than the Ford. The Ford does have lots of space in the back seat, plenty for an entire family. The 10-speed transmission is tuned exceptionally well for on-road driving. Man, this transmission is worth the price of entry by itself! It is smooth through all gears, and it can skip gears when you downshift. The power from the Power Stroke is also very exceptional – freeway on-ramps are now an adventure in speed control with this much power. Suspension is tuned equally well for on-road compliance – the Ford rides smooth enough without being overly harsh. The on-center steering feel is great. There is no jumping when the road gets rough. If you’re looking at the esthetics, the grill on the single rear wheel truck is different than the dually. The dually has a grill that has more airflow for the increased capability of the truck.

To top this all off, I managed to get 20.4 mpg with the Platinum F-350 Power Stroke diesel (10-speed auto equipped) on a loop that consisted of highway driving and a bit of city stop-and-go for about 175 miles. That was in a truck that only had 3500 miles on it – pretty incredible!

The one place the Super Duty falls a bit short is this… The interior of the Ford really needs an upgrade. Yes, it still includes a full technology suite that does anything you need it to do. However, the screen and general dash layout just isn’t quite on par with the Ram Heavy Duty trucks. The seats are still comfortable, and there is plenty of room in the back seats for 3 people. Leg room galore, actually.

The real story behind this all-new Super Duty lies in the 2020 power train package, which sets the bar for output numbers in a heavy duty truck. The good news is, the Super Duty actually puts those big numbers to work for every Ford truck buyer. If you’re a blue oval diehard fan, you’re going to want the new 10-speed tranny to pull your trailers; it is really that good. The diesel engine power doesn’t hurt either, and it is significant enough over the 2nd generation Power Stroke that you’ll feel the difference. And, if you want all of that capability in an off-road package, then the Tremor is for you. A factory lift and bigger tires sell the looks of the truck while the huge capacity numbers let you know that you can still tow that big toy hauler down the road.

Pricing for a popular F-250 XLT starts at $38,485. Lariat models will start at $46,600. F-350 trucks with a single rear wheel will start just about those prices at $40,010 for the XLT and $48,120 for the Lariat. If you’re curious, yes, you can spec a Ford Super Duty to over $100k now – wow! The Limited F-450 starts at $90,530, but you get a whole lot of truck for that price.

Great job Ford, the all-new Super Duty is a fantastic buy for 2020. You can check out the Super Duty trucks at your local Ford dealership now.

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