Ford's new Super Duty pickup gets fresh face, technology

Ian Thibodeau
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co.'s biggest pickups will get new engines and technology when the redesigned 2020 Super Duty is introduced later this year.

The trucks — the Super Duty badge applies to the F-250, F-350 and F-450 models — will hit Ford's lineup as the automaker moves to sell higher-margin vehicles, turn away from sedans and small passenger-cars, and attempt to give U.S. buyers more of what Ford thinks they want.

2020 Ford F-250 King Ranch Super Duty

For the foreseeable future that means big, powerful trucks with features to make them more user-friendly. The Super Duty line picks up where the F-150 leaves off.

"We pride ourselves on offering trucks for every customer," said Todd Eckert, Ford F-Series marketing manager.

Ford's 2020 Super Duty pickup.

Eckert said about 60 percent of Super Duty sales are retail. The rest go to fleet buyers. Some of the retail sales are made up of small-business owners like plumbers or electricians who only need a couple of trucks. 

But the hulking pickups appeal to a range of customers, he said. And they're a big reason Ford can year after year claim it has the best-selling pickup brand in the country. It does. But that brand is made up of five pickups ranging from the F-150 to the F-550. Ford makes a F-650 and F-750, too, but those are sold on the commercial truck side of the business.

The 2020 models get an all-new 7.3-liter V-8 option along with the standard 6.2-liter V-8. The truck also has the third-generation of its 6.7-liter PowerStroke diesel V-8. Those engines are mated to a 10-speed heavy-duty TorqShift automatic transmission. 

Ford's 2020 Super Duty F-450 pickup.

Ford took some of what it learned from the 10-speed transmission introduced on the F-150 a few years ago, and beefed it up for the Super Duty, officials said.

The new Super Duty will have the highest-ever payload and towing capabilities, Eckert and others said, though they declined to give specific numbers. Those will be released closer to when the truck goes on sale at the end of 2019.

Ford also redesigned the interior on the higher-trim Super Duty models. The XL and XLT trims have the same interior as the previous generation, but get the exterior face-lift and body tweaks. The Lariat and Platinum trims get the interior changes, which include decorative trim and wood paneling.

Ford's 2020 Super Duty F-450 pickup.

The automaker updated the Super Duty's headlamps, front bumper and tailgate as well.

The new Super Duty will be the only pickup in its class with Trailer Backup Assist technology, according to Ford. The heavy-duty trucks typically skimp on technology, but Ford heard from its customers that they wanted some of the driver-assist features found on the F-150. The Super Duty's trailer backup feature works with different trailers, including fifth-wheel and gooseneck trailers, according to Ford.

The new truck gets an embedded 4G LTE modem with Wi-Fi access, available lane-keeping assist, blind-spot information system, pre-collision assist and other features standard from the XLT trim and above. The automaker also added wireless charging and USB ports.

Ford officials hope that by 2020, 90 percent of the vehicles it sells in the U.S. will be a truck or SUV. The company just launched the midsize Ranger pickup in North America in January, which Kumar Galhotra, Ford's head of North America, said has already thousands of "hand-raisers."

The Dearborn-automaker had to call in overtime to increase production on that truck. Ford also has plans to build a small unibody pickup that with slot in behind the Ranger, though it has not formally announced details or a launch date for that unnamed product.

Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau