Drive: 2005 Ford Super Duty
When you’re dealing with ¾- and 1-ton pickups, it’s all about bragging rights. Here’s where advertising copywriters support their lofty superlatives with real numbers…hopefully real big numbers. The goal is always to be best in class, no matter the category. But the bigger the number, the better.
For 2005, Ford will introduce redesigned F-250 and F-350 pickups in its Super Duty line. As with any significant makeover or next-generation improvements, there is a different look complemented with more performance and additional features. The new Super Duty has a bolder appearance with a larger, intimidating grille. The V10 gas engine picked up an extra valve per cylinder and a bunch of horsepower, and the Power Stroke diesel added a little extra torque. There’s a new coil suspension on 4-wheel-drive models that replaces the old leaf springs and significantly shortens the turning diameter by average of almost 6 feet. Larger brakes are also new.
But there’s power and prestige in numbers. And if your numbers aren’t the highest, then tell the customer why you’re still the best. And do it with some authority because heavy-duty truck owners are extremely knowledgeable and loyal. They tow more, and they know more when it comes to trucks.
Take the battle for supremacy in engine torque. That’s always a favorite because truck owners equate torque with hauling power, towing efficiency and off-road prowess. Ford engineers added 10 lb-ft of torque to the 6.0-liter Power Stroke V8 diesel engine, bringing the total of 570 lb-ft. That’s 30 lb-ft less than the upgraded and class-leading Cummins 5.9-liter inline-6 in the redesigned Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 models.
But Ford backs up its engine with a TorqShift 5-speed automatic transmission that officials confidently suggest is more efficient than the Dodge equipment, so more usable torque gets to the ground. To prove the point, Ford invited the automotive media to its desert proving ground near Kingman, Arizona, to drag race the new Super Duty against top-of-line competitive models from Chevrolet and Dodge. With each truck towing trailers loaded with 13,400 pounds and equipped with identical rear axle ratios, they were sent off down the track side by side. In the three races in which I participated, the Dodge always had an early advantage but the Ford chased down the Ram quickly and with authority to lead at the end of a quarter mile.
The point was well made: Perhaps the Dodge does have a little more torque and it’s useful at low speed, but the Ford’s total drivetrain is more efficiently managed to pull harder in the mid range.
So where are the big numbers that put the new Super Duty on top? Where are the class-leading, king-of-the-hill bragging rights? What can Ford boast about to draw attention to the entire Super Duty lineup?