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Of course, not everyone shops for a 1-ton long bed dually that generally earns the highest ratings. Not everyone has an 8-horse trailer or the latest, heaviest luxury travel trailer. Not everyone needs to haul almost three tons of gravel. So that’s why automakers offer a choice of cab/bed configurations with different GVW, towing and payload ratings, and they offer different trim levels to meet different lifestyle or work needs.

The Super Duty cab choices are regular, SuperCab and crew cab, and each can be mated to either a 6.75-foot short bed or 8-foot long bed except for the regular cab that gets only the long bed. All models come in either 2- or 4-wheel drive. The F-350 can be ordered with dual rear wheels in all configurations except SuperCab short box.

Ford will continue to offer three trim levels: XL, XLT and Lariat, although some may not be available on specific cab/bed configurations, such as the leather ‘n’ wood trimmed Lariat is not available on a regular cab.

Bragging rights don’t always involve big numbers. Sometimes innovative features elevate a vehicle to best in class. In an industry first, Ford Super duty will offer a factory installed and warranted electronic trailer-brake controller. Unlike aftermarket controllers, the Ford unit is tied to the truck’s anti-lock brake system. It’s designed so that the truck’s brakes and trailer’s brakes work at the same rate. There are audible and visual warnings to any malfunctions or if the trailer wiring should become disconnected.

The brake controller is one part of what Ford calls the TowCommand System for its trucks. Ford says 90 percent of Super Duty owners use their trucks to tow. The TowCommand consists of the TorqShift tranny with a tow-haul mode, adjustable trailer-towing mirrors and improved brakes to earn the improved tow ratings.

I drove numerous Super Duty trucks with different tow loads at the press introduction, both on public highway and under controlled situations at the proving grounds. There certainly is an integrated feel to the braking operation, both in the pedal and reaction from the trailer, and added confidence in panic situations. Aftermarket controllers are sometimes compromising, especially at low speeds where braking can be harsh because full power may be applied at once. Activation is usually through a switch at the brake pedal. The Ford controller uses actual braking pressure to modulate the trailer brakes in real time. Since it’s tied to the ABS system, the Ford controller can be altered automatically if wheel slippage is detected, thereby reducing the chances of the trailer brakes locking up. Ford also adjusts trailer braking based on vehicle speed, a feature no aftermarket can claim. Drivers who often turn the controller off in city driving because of the brakes grabbing won’t have to with the Ford system. Brake force is automatically reduced at slower speeds, allowing drivers to creep. The Ford controller fits nicely in the redesigned dash, and an accessory switch panel can also be ordered to fill in the slot for a complete factory appearance.

Overall, the towing experience is enhanced with the redesigned Super Duty. I conducted a number of high speed lane changes while towing over 10,000 pounds and was impressed with the improved steering response, upgraded tires and redesigned suspension. The tow-haul mode of the 5-speed automatic held gears better on steep hills, and this transmission is now available across with all engines in the Super Duty line. Finally, Ford now offers a 2.5-inch receiver on F-350 trucks with the diesel or V10 engine. This allows towing conventional trailers up to 15,000 pounds.

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