When Ford announced the Super Duty lineup for 2005, we were eager to get our hands on one for this test, especially since the '04 Harley-Davidson edition F-250 Crew Cab won our Heavy Hauler Shootout in our Nov. '04 issue. On the surface, you might be hard-pressed to spot the changes to the '05 Super Duty, but if you look closely, they are there, most noticeable in the more contemporary headlight assembly and billet-look grille, with the major tweaks lurking just under the surface.

Wanting to test out both the SuperCab and the top-dog gas motor for this test, we ordered up a differently configured truck than from our Heavy Hauler Shootout. This time, our test truck arrived with the new three-valve SOHC 6.8L V-10 churning out 355 horsepower and 455 lb-ft of torque through a TorqShift five-speed automatic transmission and 4.10 gears underneath the monochromatic black exterior. For 2005, all three engines in the Super Duty lineup benefit from more power. The 5.4L V-8 is now the same three-valve motor found in the F-150 and is rated at 300 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque, while the 6.0L Power Stroke diesel gains 10 more lb-ft of torque to a satisfying 570.

With the heavy duty user in mind, Ford went to great lengths to improve the chassis, starting with thicker-gauge steel and longer boxed sections on the frame for enhanced strength and durability. Re-designed 17-inch wheels are now standard equipment and 18-inch wheels are optional, which enabled Ford engineers to increase the size of the brake rotors. But, none of these changes are as major as the new front suspension on 4x4 models. The venerable leaf spring solid axle has been dropped in favor of a better riding link-coil spring solid axle, reminiscent of the proven system found on previous generation, solid-axle and coil-sprung Fords. This new suspension improves the Super Duty's ride and shortens the turning radius by several feet, which makes parking maneuvers a breeze.

Another interesting option that came on our Super Duty was Ford's new TowCommand system, which integrated a factory trailer brake controller with the vehicle brakes for better control. It uses different braking strategies for normal versus emergency braking, has a message center that can alert the driver to a malfunction or disconnected wiring, all while being covered under the factory warranty. This will be a popular option among consumers who tow; especially since the Super Duty tow rating has leaped to 19,200 pounds when properly equipped with the TowBoss package, besting the nearest competitor by more than 2,000 pounds. As a bonus, the TowCommand module comes with four auxiliary switches that can be used to control any aftermarket product you please.