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By Mike Levine
April 7, 2010
Vehicle Overview The 2011 Super Duty is the third version of Ford's heavy-duty pickup truck in the last four years and the second since Ford reworked the truck for the 2008 model year.
Ford's changes are critical to keeping its lock on the heavy-duty segment, where the F-250 three-quarter-ton and F-350 one-ton trucks rule the pack with almost 50 percent market share; the Ford F-450 1.5-ton continues in a segment that it owns but with several major revisions.
Heavy-duty pickups exist to tow and haul the heaviest loads. While the 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel will be the power-pulling crown jewel of the 2011 Super Duty lineup, two other gas engines will be available for the F-250 through F-550 pickups and commercial chassis cabs: today's 6.8-liter V-10 Triton and an all-new 6.2-liter V-8, which is also slated for use in the 2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor off-road pickup. This is the engine formerly referred to as the Boss V-8 and the Hurricane before that.
The single overhead cam (SOHC) 6.2-liter V-8 features two spark plugs per cylinder and dual equal variable cam timing.
Ford won't say what the final power figures are for its new 2011 engines, though we have heard that the 6.7-liter PSD will make more than 390 horsepower and 720 pounds-feet of torque. The 6.2-liter V-8 is expected to pump out approximately 400 hp and 400 pounds-feet of torque.
For the U.S., the 6.2-liter gas engine will be E85-compatible from Job 1, and the 6.7-liter Power Stroke will be certified to run on biodiesel blends up to B20 (20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent conventional diesel).
The 6.7-liter diesel will meet the California Air Resources Board's tough oil-burning emissions standards that force noncompliant diesel engines to automatically shut down after five minutes of idling if they produce too much nitric-oxide emissions. The F-Series Super Duty trucks will be able to idle indefinitely and still meet CARB's tough NOx emissions limits.
All three engines will be paired with Ford's all-new 6R140 heavy-duty TorqShift six-speed automatic transmission that promises innovative shift strategies and power takeoff features. Ford has badly needed a six-speed automatic transmission for its diesel HD pickups to compete with Dodge's 68RFE and GM's Allison T1000 six-speed automatics. The six-speed also gives Ford gear parity with GM's 6L90 six-speed 6.0-liter V-8 gas engine and an extra cog over Dodge's 545RFE five-speed 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 gas engine.
The new transmission wrings out several inefficiencies versus the 5R110 that help improve fuel economy. They include faster warm-up times and operating the transmission cooling system at 200 degrees Fahrenheit instead of 173 degrees — a temperature that Ford says strikes a good balance between mileage and trailer-towing shift performance.
The 6R140 also uses a new torque converter lockup strategy that enables the torque converter to lockup sooner and more often, which allows the engine to run at a lower rpm for better fuel economy. A long-travel turbine damper helps the torque converter cope with the 6.7-liter V-8 diesel's high torque output and allows the powertrain to lug down to 900 rpm.
Gas engine models inherit the Super Duty's electronically controlled viscous clutch that debuted on the 2008-10 6.4-liter diesel trucks and delivers better fuel economy and overall NVH and controllability.
The 6R140 doesn't stop with the addition of sixth gear; it adds Ford's "SelectShift" feature that lets the driver lock out gears and manually shift and hold gears in a way that's similar to GM's and Dodge's automatic transmissions.
Here's how SelectShift works: On the gear select lever, which is mounted on the truck's steering column, there's a shift-up/shift-down button near the tow/haul button. If you're in Drive and enter SelectShift mode you'll be able to lock out sixth gear. The truck will communicate the subtraction by showing only five gear positions in the instrument cluster display. Doing this turns the six-speed transmission into an electronically limited five-speed. Drivers can also lock out every other gear down to first, though you'd obviously limit the truck's driving performance envelope. An automatic rev limiter ensures the truck won't blow the redline if you shift into this mode while traveling at highway speeds.
Like the horsepower and torque figures, Ford has remained coy about specific changes to Super Duty max towing and payload ratings.
Ford says that, in general, payload capability will improve by about 100 pounds, for two reasons: First, the new 6.7-liter diesel engine weighs about 160 pounds less than the outgoing 6.4-liter diesel. This improves both front payload and the gross axle weight rating, particularly for applications like snow plowing. Secondly, other safety, refinement and emissions-control changes add back about 60 pounds, so the 2011 Super Duty weighs about 100 pounds less than the 2008-10 trucks.
Brand new is the first-ever factory fifth-wheel prep package designed and engineered by Reese Hitches. The truck will come with the bed floor cut, the frame mount and the wiring; the customer will still have to buy the hitch that sits in the bed from either a Ford dealer or the aftermarket.
Single rear-wheel Super Duty pickups receive standard trailer-sway control with roll stability control, like the system that's offered on the Ford F-150. TSC measures trailer sway input coming into the truck based on rear yaw motion. If it senses too much, it can apply both the truck's and trailer's brakes (if they're electric) through the integrated trailer brake controller and reduce engine throttle to help prevent loss of trailer control. It's a first for this safety feature in the segment.
The 2011 Super Duty adds an electronic locking rear differential for the first time that's similar to the GKN-supplied e-locker, which is available on the F-150 FX4 off-road package and SVT Raptor.
Brewer said the e-locker has been designed by Ford and will be manufactured at the Sterling Axle plant for single-rear-wheel F-Series Super Duty trucks only.
The locker can be controlled with a dash switch. It's best used in low-friction scenarios, such as on slippery boat ramps or in slick mud and on icy roads. It will stay engaged until the truck reaches 30 mph, at which point it disengages until the truck's speed returns to 30 mph or less. The truck will also disengage the locker if it's making a tight radius turn by sensing the steering wheel position, so the rear wheels and tires aren't damaged from scrubbing on pavement.
The Super Duty borrows seats from the F-150, improving the old six-way power-adjustable chairs to 10-way units with heaters and coolers in the Lariat and King Ranch models. The heated and cooled seats will be available for the Lariat chassis-cab models, too.
There's a new information display in the instrument cluster that can show the truck's attitude off-road as well as the steering position. It also communicates important systems messages and the transmission's gear state.
The Cabela's edition Super Duty that debuted for 2009 goes away for 2011, but Ford is keeping that model's interior storage features. There's lockable underseat storage beneath the small center seat up front and a large storage compartment beneath the rear bench. The extra storage is standard on XLT and Lariat Crew Cab models.
The middle front seat gets a nice safety bump — the addition of a three-point safety belt.
The new 2011 Ford F-Series Super Duty pickups are scheduled to go on sale in the first quarter of 2010.
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