The 2011 Ford F-Series Super Duty and GM Heavy Duty pickups were introduced a year ago, but the battle between these giants for best-in-class bragging rights continues. The latest move: Ford is set to reclaim the top spot for maximum conventional towing from the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra HD twins.
On Monday, Feb. 7 — if the massive winter storm bearing down on the Midwest doesn’t disrupt production — Ford F-350 and F-450 two-wheel and four-wheel drive dual-rear-wheel Crew Cab pickups will roll off the assembly line able to pull up to 17,500 pounds with their ball hitches, according to Ford spokeswoman Anne Marie Gattari.
"We’re adding upgraded towing hardware to the trucks," Gattari said. “New hitches will work with the frame change we made [in August 2010]."
Last year, Ford made a running change to the Super Duty’s ladder frame that reengineered the number six cross member with high-strength steel. That change, plus a power hike to 400 horsepower and 800 pounds-feet of torque for the 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8 diesel, increased maximum payload to a best-in-class 7,070 pounds and maximum fifth-wheel towing to a best-in-class 22,600 pounds for the Ford F-350. The Ford F-450 can tow a segment-leading 24,500 pounds with a fifth-wheel trailer.
The previous maximum conventional towing weight rating for the Super Duty was 16,000 pounds, 1,000 pounds less than the Chevy Silverado 3500HD and GMC Sierra 3500HD with four-wheel drive and the 397 hp, 765 pounds-feet 6.6-liter Duramax V-8.
Ford’s revised 2.5-inch Class 5 hitches will still come with removable 2-inch reducer sleeves.
Unlike GM’s HD pickups, which require only a weight carrying hitch to pull conventional trailers at their max rating, the Super Duty’s maximum WC hitch capacity will be 8,000 pounds. Towing trailers with weights above that amount will require a weight-distributing hitch, according to Ford.
WC hitches place a trailer’s full tongue weight on the hitch ball, while a WD hitch’s special equalizer bars connect truck and trailer to redistribute the leverage placed by tongue weight on the ball to more of the trailer and more of the truck frame.
With Ford aggressively pushing the limits of HD capabilities, we wonder how much more of an increase the segment can handle before these heavy-duty pickups turn into over-the-road medium-duty haulers. It’s unlikely that GM (or Ram) will respond to this news passively. Could 18,000 pounds max conventional towing become the new 17,500 pounds?