The engineering strategy behind the 2017 Ford Super Duty, debuting at the 2015 State Fair of Texas in Dallas, is not complicated: Take many of the same improvements and upgrades executed on the revolutionary 2015 Ford F-150 and apply them to a heavy-duty pickup truck.
For quite some time it was rumored that the new Super Duty would take advantage of the same light-weighting strategy the half-ton truck pulled off by making all of its body panels aluminum instead of steel. But Ford seems to have taken it one step further with the new Super Duty pickups. All 2017 Super Dutys use the exact same cabs — crew, extended and regular — the F-150 uses, which means the configurations offer more interior volume and a much flatter rear floor when compared to the current generation.
Additionally, although built to carry much more weight than the F-150 beds, the Super Duty bed uses the same clip-in tie-downs, BoxLink features and interior bed lighting found on the half-ton model. The bed height is about 1 inch shallower than the F-150 bed, and the tailgate can be locked and unlocked with a key fob. The tailgate can also be automatically dropped down gently to a flat open position.
As near as we can calculate, switching to aluminum for all the body materials for the 2017 Super Duty saved somewhere in the neighborhood of 700 pounds, depending on configuration. Knowing that HD truck buyers always want more capacity, capability and towing, Ford engineers took advantage of those weight savings and upgraded the frame and driveline, beefing up the drive shafts, axles and four-wheel-drive transfer case.
The fully boxed frame is composed of 95 percent high-strength steel, making the frame 24 times stiffer than the previous generation. The truck sits about 1.5 inches taller, due in large part to the taller and heavier-duty frame and corresponding suspension points. Each point along the driveline is stronger and thicker to better handle new, heavier towing and carrying loads. As a result of these upgraded components, the overall weight savings from the old Super Duty is, on average, about 350 pounds.
The new frames will be different for F-250 and F-350 pickup trucks, offering a boxed frame from tip to tailgate with an extra cross-member under the bed for more confident fifth-wheel or gooseneck towing. Chassis-cab models (F-350, F-450 and F-550) will have a flat, thick C-channel frame starting at the back of the cab and running the full length of the back end of the truck.
The new Super Dutys offer three engine choices: one diesel and two gasoline, although only chassis cab models will have the V-10 option. The base-level engine is the 6.2-liter V-8, followed by the bigger 6.8-liter V-10, with the 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbo-diesel finishing out the lineup. All transmissions are the same in-house-designed 6R140 TorqShift except for F-250s with the V-8 engine; they will get the all-new six-speed TorqShift-G transmission that is reported to deliver significant fuel economy improvements for the three-quarter-ton pickup.
We're told towing and payload ratings will be higher than previous the Super Dutys in every category; more details are forthcoming.