First Drive Review: 2011 Ford F-Series Super Duty Introduction, Part 1

First Drive Review: 2011 Ford F-Series Super Duty

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You don't have to skip to the end of this review to find out our opinion of Ford's 2011 F-Series Super Duty pickups. At this moment, there's no doubt that Ford has once again raised the bar to new levels of performance and productivity for heavy-duty pickups. The Super Duty continues to be the standard against which its competition will be measured. Read on and find out why.

HD pickups are the workhorses of the truck world, and like pack animals that farmers used to depend on to deliver their crops to market, when a work truck is out of service it causes more than aggravation — it can cost hard dollars and time. And these trucks are worked hard. Ford says 97 percent of Super Dutys are used for towing, according to Super Duty Marketing Manager Brian Rathsburg.

A $50,000-plus price tag isn’t uncommon today, so two of the most important considerations a buyer might think about before committing their hard-earned cash are: Will this truck be able to perform the jobs that I need it to do, and do I feel confident that it will complete them successfully?

Ford is answering those questions by making many improvements to the Super Duty just three years after its last major update, but its most significant changes include two new gasoline and diesel engines and a new six-speed automatic transmission that's used for both versions. The ZF six-speed manual transmission has been dropped from the lineup. Both engines have been engineered from scratch. The standard 2-valve 6.2-liter V-8 gas engine develops 385 horsepower (at 5,500 rpm) and 405 pounds-feet of torque (at 4,500 rpm), up from the old 5.4-liter gas V-8's 300 hp and 365 pounds-feet. But it's the 4-valve 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8 diesel engine that's the darling of the powertrain lineup. It pumps 390 hp (at 2,800 rpm) and a staggering 735 pounds-feet (at 1,600 rpm). Roughly 60 percent of Super Duty pickups are ordered with diesel engines.

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The outgoing 2010 Super Duty's standard 5.4-liter gas V-8 is rated at 300 hp and 365 pounds-feet, and the optional 6.8-liter V-10 is rated at 362 hp and 457 pounds-feet. So the new 6.2-liter V-8 has more horsepower than either of the old engines and just misses splitting the difference in torque between the 5.4-liter and 6.8-liter, with two fewer cylinders than the massive 6.8-liter.

The 6.7-liter V-8 is under special scrutiny. This is the engine that is going to have to live up to the reputation of the original 1999-2002 Super Duty's 7.3-liter Power Stroke V-8 and surpass the maintenance-challenged 2003-07 6.0-liter V-8 and fuel-efficiency-challenged 2008-10 6.4-liter V-8 PSD engines. The 6.7-liter also is introducing the use of diesel exhaust fluid to reduce harmful nitrogen oxide emissions.

To fill the big boots that the 7.3-liter left behind, Ford's engineers say they've subjected the in-house designed-and-built oil burner to the toughest set of torture tests they've ever devised plus more than 10 million miles of on-road testing — that's the equivalent of more than 400 trips around the world.

Performance shouldn't be an issue. If it is, you belong in a medium-duty truck because Ford has boosted the Super Duty's trailer-towing ratings so high that we're at the point where a standard F-350 one-ton pickup with the 6.7-liter diesel and a middle-of-the-road 3.73 rear axle requires a commercial driver's license to pull its maximum-rated trailer, depending on the state in which you live. That used to be "Tow Boss" special package territory, or it meant moving up to a mighty F-450 pickup.

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The old chassis-certified 6.4-liter Power Stroke diesel V-8 is rated at 350 hp and 650 pounds-feet, so we're seeing a substantial jump in power by 40 horses and 85 pounds-feet from Ford's in-house designed and built 6.7-liter V-8.

Answering the confidence question is a bit more complex. Do I feel confident pulling and hauling huge loads that I'm able to safely? Do I feel confident that I won't run out of fuel in the middle of nowhere? And do I feel confident that the truck won't break down and leave me stranded on the side of the road?

To answer those questions as best we can, for now, we flew out to central Arizona (at our own expense and Ford's invite) to drive the 2011 Super Duty lineup in the high- and low-desert terrains near Prescott and Wickenburg.

Diesel 2011 F-250 King Ranch 4x4 Crew Cab Short Wheelbase Single Rear Wheel — Unloaded

The first truck we drove was a four-wheel-drive single-rear-wheel F-250 King Ranch Super Duty with the 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8 for a quick 50-mile trip from Prescott to the base of the steep Yarnell Grade.

Ford gave the Super Duty a new front end for 2011 that's focused around the biggest Blue Oval badge ever slapped on a Ford vehicle and two chunky chrome bars in the grille. Bold? Outrageously so. Ford must be working its chrome mines overtime to produce so much bling. Thankfully, the chrome was offset on the KR by a body-colored black surround and tan painted bumper. Depending on trim level, other models can be ordered with a completely chromed nose and bumper or simple black plastic.

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The rest of the truck's exterior is carried over virtually unchanged from the 2008-10 model, except for the dually, which gets new rear rounded fenders over the rear tires and subtle cargo box changes that add vertical ribbing structures similar to the F-150.

It's been 12 years since Ford introduced the original Super Duty platform on which this truck is still heavily based. We're wondering when we'll finally see an all-new body that will bring Ford's trucks up to the par with the Ram and GM HD pickups because the Super Duty's flanks are starting to look a bit dated. We consider the Ram, which received all new sheet metal in 2010, to be the best-looking HD pickup on the road today.

Inside, the new Super Duty ranks a notch above the old for quality and equipment. Truck cabins don't get any nicer than when they're decked out in King Ranch trim. The 2011 KRs are the best ones yet. Our rig came with the trademark rich brown Castano leather 10-way power seats (that are now shared with the F-150), but instead of the traditional beige carpeting, the floor was as black as the Tuxedo Black exterior paint job. It's a new option for 2011 and it looks stellar until you track dirt on the mats, which the beige does a better job of hiding. The console was covered with a dark wood appliqué. The steering wheel has a welcome new telescoping feature to customize its reach for individual drivers.

There's a fresh, new 4-inch LCD driver information system centered in the handsomely updated gauge cluster. Hands-down, it's the best trip computer in the industry across all pickup truck segments, and it's the benchmark by which all others that follow will be measured. It includes features like a fuel-efficiency monitor, pitch and yaw angles while off-roading and a robust set of towing apps that can store names and notes for up to 20 trailers plus provides a hitch checklist to help ensure you've hooked up the trailer properly before you tap the accelerator.

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We think that driver information systems like this computer and Ford Work Solutions will spark some of the biggest innovations in pickups over the next decade. Timely knowledge provided by these computers will coach drivers and fleet managers to get the most out of their pickups to help save time and money and improve fuel economy.

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Comments

@jim johnson
Either your Cummins is tuned or your just plain stupid. If it's tuned, then that's why your diesel makes the power it does. Saying Ford made little improvement based on your Cummins power figures is saying Ford currently went backwards in power compared to Spartan tuned diesels. A simple 310 Spartan tune and a DPF delete pushes power to 550hp and 1200lb-ft torque in a Ford. So, would you say Ford took a giant leep back on this new diesel compared to Spartan tuned 6.4 Powerstrokes? Otherwise, stock, a 1998 cummins makes 230hp at 2700RPM and 450lb-ft torque at 1400RMP.
Based on your math, my 2009 Ford 6.4 Powerstroke makes 1050hp at 1900RPM and 2700lb-ft torque at 1000RPM. Get your facts straight there chief.

What an ugly grill and lights. Come on ford i was thinking of getting a new truck but this one i will never buy. Outdated body and the ugliest front i,ve ever seen. Looks like Dodge will get my money this time around, even though the GM will out pull them all. Cummins has more than enough power for any towing and hauling.

Yes, cute little lights that don't light up the road as much are way better than big lights that do a better job, but don't look as cute. Is your wife choosing your next truck?

To all of you that are complaining about the "ugly" front end. This is as much about meeting safety standards and still keeping these diesels cool, as it is about styling. With all of the extra coolers in the front of these new trucks, a big opening is a must. As for the headlights and bumper, again this is to meet Gov't safety requirements. If you look at any of the domestic HD series trucks, you'll see that they all have the same basic design. The big, low bumpers are there to keep us from flattening the guy that cut us off in his econo-box. Even my '04 had the "anti-submersion" bar across the lower fascia to help keep the truck from climbing over smaller vehicles in the event of a collision, it's just an evolution of that same principle. And bigger, lower headlights equal better visibility, without blinding oncoming traffic.

But when can I buy it?

ford is a ford a box nothing change..year after year they screw the front grill..

You people saying that it's ugly, it's not. You just have to see one in person. They're beautiful trucks and I would much rather have one of these than any other Dodge or Chevy. Everybody knows that Ford always bitchslaps Dodge and Chevy. FORD WILL ALWAYS BE BETTER!!!

I LOVE my Super duty pickups. I have an 05 F-350 CC LB DRW with a Regency conversion package on it with the 6.0l and haven't ANY issues with it at all and it currently has 130000 miles and doesn't show any signs of slowing down a bit.
We also have an 06 Dodge Mega Cab Laramie Cummins Dually that I simply won't drive any longer. We carried our camper on it 1 time and it was the most horrific experience I could've imagined. Now the wife uses it for tugging around a little 3 horse trailer and we use the Ford for the heavy work.
I personally love the new SD and I have already ordered my 2011 SD KR 4X4 and look forward to many more years with Ford

I just traded in my 2011 5.4 super-duty for a 2011 6.2. This is a bad ass truck! It is the best improvement in my ten year experience with Ford. Very refined and powerfull.

Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra 3500 able to pull up to 17,000 pounds (up from 16,000 pounds) compared with the identical 16,000-pound max conventional towing rating for the one-ton Ford F-350 and one-and-a-half-ton Ford F-450. The Ram 3500HD is rated at 12,000 pounds.

GM's HD twins also claim series-best payload ratings across all segments. It's now able to haul up to 6,635 pounds (up from 6,335 pounds) compared with a maximum 6,520 pounds for the F-350 and 4,920 pounds for the F-450. The Ram 3500HD can carry up to 5,130 pounds.

Ford still holds onto the best overall fifth-wheel towing figure. The F-450 is rated to tow up to 24,400 pounds compared with a new maximum 21,700 pounds (up from 20,000 pounds) for the Silverado and Sierra 3500. Comparing apples-to-apples, the F-350 is only rated to tow up to 21,600 pounds.

Ford also retains the largest gross combined weight rating, at 33,000 pounds for the F-450. GM's one-ton 3500 trucks, however, are now rated at 29,200 pounds max GCWR vs. 29,100 for the F-350 and 25,400 for the Ram 3500 HD.

every new truck ford comes out with just gets better and better, i now own 2011 king ranch 6.7 diesel and must say it is FREAKIN AWESOME!!!! i am so sorry for you guys that think dodge has it goin on!!! sorry guys, they do not!!! probably a good motor but so much more to the truck!!! GM, they don`t get it, never have don`t look like they ever will. that duramax motor will be dropped like every other motor they have tried!!!! the 2011 superduty is a gorgeous truck with tons of class, style, looks and hp and torque.... FORD... drive it now or drive it later, but YOU will drive one!!!!!!!

Coming from a 60-something woman driver who hauls a 5th wheel all over North America, I love the looks of the new Ford 250 diesel. I love the grill, the hood and wheel-wells, and even the tailgate, tho it hasn't changed. If it ain't broke, don't fix it I say. I only object to the fact that they had to write "Super Duty" all over it. My other real concern is the fact that my truck does not get near the great fuel efficiency Ford claims to get, either hauling or empty. In these times fo expensive fuel that concerns me a lot. Otherwise power is great, wonderful reduction in noise, and I like its looks.

Not going to beat around about my comment, I love my 2011 Ford 250 6.7 Lariat SD, it has the power, interior is a beauty and back seats are roomy. It is set up for long trips, exterior says its a beast. This truck is fun to drive, heavy on the road and a very good solid feel.

What about the front suspension problems??? How about addressing what mechanics call the "Death Wobble". My 2008 F250 has this condition caused by a manufacturers defect which Ford has not acknowledged. Do a little research before buying one.

very good.Im like karvan

very good.Im like karvan

Ford is answering those questions by making many improvements to the Super Duty just three years after its last major update, but its most significant changes include two new gasoline and diesel engines and a new six-speed automatic transmission that's used for both versions. The ZF six-speed manual transmission has been dropped from the lineup. Both engines have been engineered from scratch. The standard 2-valve 6.2-liter V-8 gas engine develops 385 horsepower (at 5,500 rpm) a



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