"Bold moves." That's been Ford's catchphrase for most of the year, now. But only one vehicle truly captures the spirit of bold moves at a glance-the redesigned Super Duty. Ford's last redesigned heavy-duty pickup for the 2005 model year, amplified its looks and capabilities. This muscular iteration of the Super Duty, however, makes the last-gen look like the bulky bodybuilders from the 1950s-strong but less well-defined. The new Super Duty's Herculean front end, with a glaring grille and side vents, incorporates design cues that force you to decide if you like it or hate it...or both. We liked it, but not right away. After staring at it, walking around it, and driving it, we came to the conclusion that this is what a pickup truck is supposed to look like. Bold moves, indeed.
Ford's new 6.4L Power Stroke Diesel V-8 powerplant delivers cosmetic prom-ises with a whopping 350 hp and torque of 650 lb-ft that brings it inline with the powerful engines used by Chevrolet and Dodge. And it's friendlier to the environment, too. Ford spent a lot of resources to make sure that this engine met the stricter emissions regulations. The result, Ford Clean Diesel Technology, includes: a high-pressure common-rail fuel system, piezo-electric fuel injectors, and a diesel particulate filter system. All of these provide a lot of power while reducing particulate emissions by 90 percent, and overall emissions to the level of a gasoline engine. Series sequential turbochargers allow the truck to accelerate smoother and faster, without characteristic turbo lag. Ford claims a 1-second decrease in 0-to-60 times, as compared to the 6.0L diesel. The rear suspension has been refined. Specs on the new truck indicate a max-tow capacity of 24,600 pounds, well beyond its rivals-and it handled the 10,000- and 17,000-pound trailers we towed just fine.
Inside, Ford continues to push for "tough luxury." Quality surfaces and materials are combined with manly design cues borrowed from high-end power tools and butcher-block wood accents. All of the auxiliary switches and the trailer, brake-control system are integrated tidily into the center of the dash. And so are the buttons for the traction control system and the rear-parking sensor assist, as well as a 12-V power point and input jack for an mp3 player, HVAC controls with dual-zone automatic temperature control, and two circular A/C vents trimmed, in our version, with crenelated chrome. The white-faced gauges in the instrument cluster are ringed with that same notched, chromed motif. The King Ranch version we photographed also had a touchscreen navigation system, leather seats, and other accoutrements that made that trim-level tops. Riding in the truck proved to be a comfortable and surprisingly quiet experience. Power side mirrors that fold and a telescope, both at the flip of a switch, are industry firsts.
From the rear, the truck didn't look at all that different-except for the step-up built into the tailgate. After dropping the tailgate, you can pull out and lower a step to stand on, then swivel up a pole to grab onto as you pull yourself into the truck's bed. This being a first for any pickup and maybe even the aftermarket. Ford installed this as a "what the heck" feature that they think users will find it useful. However, as useful as it may be, that pole did look a little silly. To give the designers credit, they thought so, too, but apparently their lawyers had decided that it needed to be there. Another innovative accessory is the stowable bed extender that folds in two halves, then locks against the sides of the bed. Ford said that a lot of users like the idea of an extender, although they don't appreciate the way it obstructs the bed when not in use. So, people usually removed it and kept it in the garage. Ford's solution folds away when not in use, but stays in the bed for on-the-go convenience. We're curious to see how well the design of this extender holds up to a lot of use. Look for the '08 Super Duty to go on sale in early 2007.