By KBB.com Editors
While half-ton pickups make up much of the domestic manufacturers' sales, the trucks that really do the heavy lifting are the three-quarter and one-ton models. To this end, some of the toughest, most abused, and most proven trucks on the market are the 2011 Ford Super Duty lineup. Making up some 40 percent of F-Series sales, the Super Duty is no weekend warrior; it's a bona fide workhorse with an appetite for getting dirty.
Beyond its natural ability to tow, haul and generally move anything not firmly anchored to the ground, Ford's Super Duty trucks are loaded with modern conveniences and high-tech gadgets to make a busy work day go a whole lot smoother.
If you're looking for a pickup that telegraphs your rugged, do-it-yourself attitude and blue collar roots, but you don't really have a rugged do-it-yourself attitude and blue collar roots, a half-ton variant of the F-Series truck will probably suffice.
The big news for 2011 is found beneath the Super Duty's hood, where a new 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel pumps out 390 horsepower and 735 pound-feet of torque; also new is a 6.2-liter gasoline V8 good for 385 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque. Both engines are mated to an all-new heavy-duty six-speed automatic transmission.
Driving Impressions Ask any truck owner and they'll tell you the most important feature after the truck's engine is its body strength. To this end, Ford has concentrated on giving the Super...Duty the stiffest chassis it has ever produced, including fully-boxed front frame rails, and thick C-Channel frame rails and crossmembers. After crisscrossing hundreds of miles of Texas terrain, we can report that Ford's hard work has paid off handsomely. Whether it's the quiet cabin, the taut steering, powerful brakes or the overall subdued ride motion, the Ford Super Duty is one of the most comfortable and capable heavy-duty pickups available.
King Ranch Trim
Constituting both interior (Chaparral leather) and exterior (PowerScope mirrors) upgrades, the King Ranch enhances over-the-road comfort with material, workmanship and appointment upgrades, adding immeasurably to the Super Duty's attractiveness. And, unlike some luxury pickups, there's no intention of appealing – overtly – to the Country Club set; this remains a work truck and not a work-in-progress.
Power Stroke Diesel
Ford's new 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel is a true dynamo, with torque and towing figures near the top of its class.
While its little brother, the F-150, has long since set the benchmark for plush truck interiors, the Super Duty trucks have only recently come into their own. Interior choices range from the "get mud on it and don't care" XL trim, to the "wipe your feet or walk home" variants that include the XLT, Cabela's Edition and Lariat trim levels, not to mention the almost limousine like King Ranch and Harley-Davidson packages that coddle you in highly refined leather and wood trim. To ensure you never run out of music, all Super Duty audio systems include an MP3-compatible CD player, as well as available upgrades such as satellite radio and iPod-ready receivers.Exterior
To be sure you don't mistake this Ford work truck for a Dodge or Chevy, Ford stamps the name "SUPER DUTY" in all capital letters across the truck's massive three-bar chrome grille. Behind the grille's big inlets are a number of cooling units for the engine, transmission and, on diesel trucks, the intercooler for the sequential turbochargers. All that cooling capability means bigger towing capacity, which is a good thing for a work truck. Beyond the hyper-masculine exterior styling, the Super Duty features useful items like fender-mounted vents, available telescoping mirrors and optional 20-inch forged aluminum wheels.
We'll start at the front, where Ford has located a front step bumper – under-the-hood checks are made easier when the step-stool is built-in and not something you need to carry with you. In back Ford includes a hitch receiver – matched to each model's capabilities – on every Super Duty, along with seven-pin and four-pin connectors. Given the importance of towing capability to the Super Duty mission, the receiver is a standard feature any owner can appreciate.
Those intending to tow with their 2011 Ford Super Duty truck will appreciate Ford's factory-installed TowCommand System. The system fully integrates the trailer brakes, anti-lock brakes (ABS), TorqShift automatic transmission and tow/haul mode into one safe, capable towing platform. Functional enhancements include a foldable bed extender, which improves load utility when in place and stays out of the way when not needed, and a spray-in bedliner. Accessing the bed is made easier – and safer – by the why-didn't-they-think-of-this-before tailgate step option. And for those venturing off into the Great Unknown, an optional navigation system should get you there and – hopefully – back again. New options for 2011 include available heated/cooling 10-way power operated front seats and lockable under-seat storage.
Ford offers two new engine choices for work, play or any combination of the two. The base powerplant is the new 6.2-liter gasoline V8 that features an iron block and aluminum heads, and is also E85 compatible. Those needing more power can opt for the 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel that infuses the Super Duty with both "tow" and "go" capability. Both engines are teamed to a heavy-duty TorqShift six-speed automatic featuring Ford's SelectShift manual shift control. Super Duty trucks with the diesel engine can be fitted with Live Drive Power Take Off (PTO). This setup allows the transmission to power auxiliary equipment such as a snowplow, a truck lift or cement mixer any time the engine is running.
385 horsepower @ 5500 rpm
405 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A
6.7-liter V8 Turbo Diesel
390 horsepower @ 2800 rpm
735 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A