By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.8
Not only does the full-size heavy-duty pickup truck business continue to thrive, it is the last remaining vehicle category solely controlled by the domestic Big Three. To this end, the 2012 Ford F-Series Super Duty has only three opponents: the Chevrolet Silverado HD/GMC Sierra HD twins, and the Ram 2500/3500. Not to say that the Super Duty has it easy, especially when it comes to bragging rights for the most torque or highest tow ratings. While the new Ram seems to be ahead of the pack (as least as far as towing and horsepower go), the differences are not miles apart, and the Ford Super Duty series can more than pull its own weight in every category. If you want a cool truck for light work and play, get a nice F-150 or Ram 1500. But, if you have real work to do, the kind that gets you and your truck dirty from head to bumper, then a 2012 Ford Super Duty is what you'll want to be driving.
All the big HD trucks can tow and haul heavy loads, and the Super Duty is no exception. But, beyond its workhorse credentials the 2012 Ford Super Duty offers an impressive array of comfort and technology features aimed at maximizing efficiency on the open road and at the job site.
If you're looking for the image a big, tough pickup truck conveys, but you're not moving anything heavier than the occasional sofa or some dirt bikes, you'll be just fine with a nice half-ton like the F-150.
The 6.7-liter PowerStroke turbodiesel gets a bump up in horsepower and torque, and a gooseneck hitch is now available on 6.75-foot box.
Driving Impressions Truck owners know that after horsepower and torque, a truck's body strength is its most important feature, which is why Ford has given the 2012 Super Duty the stiffest chassis...the company has ever produced. Featuring fully boxed front frame rails, and thick C-channel frame rails and crossmembers, the Super Duty's rigid frame helps it avoid flexing and twisting as well as improving towing ability. A few days in the Texas outback revealed a truck that is stable, sturdy and easy to drive. The cabin is quiet, the steering firm and direct, and the brakes strong. When equipped with the PowerStroke diesel engine, the 2012 Ford F-Series Super Duty can tow up to 17,500 pounds with a conventional hitch, and 24,500 pounds with a fifth wheel.
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 latest 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel is a true dynamo, with torque and towing figures near the top of its class.
Although the 2012 Ford Super Duty is all about working hard, you wouldn't know it from the truck's interior. XLT and Lariat trims are very nice indeed, with plush covering for the seats and door panels, plenty of upscale trim on the dash and a number of comfort and convenience upgrades. The King Ranch package pushes the Super Duty's cab into the realm of Lincoln-like luxury, offering an interior so inviting you'll probably have your mud-covered work crew hitching a ride in the truck's long bed. For those who understand that the nature of their work is going to trash the truck's interior no matter how well it's put together, Ford builds the base XL truck with a pretty Spartan interior that can take a beating and cleans up easily.
You'd have to be half blind or 50 yards away to mistake the 2012 Ford Super Duty for any other truck, but just to be 100-percent certain, Ford stamps "SUPER DUTY" in huge capital letters across the truck's massive 3-bar chrome grille. The Super Duty's grille is not just for show; it serves as the air inlet for the truck's engine and transmission cooling units as well as the intercooler on the turbocharged diesel models. Remember, the cooler its moving parts stay, the better the Super Duty performs. It will probably live a lot longer, too. Other useful exterior features include available telescoping side trailer mirrors, 20-inch forged aluminum wheels and a host of bed add-ons.
Ford knows truck owners are an independent bunch, so they've installed a front step bumper to make under-hood checks a bit easier to perform. Around back, the 2012 Ford Super Duty trucks include a hitch receiver matched to each model's capabilities as well as 7- and 4-pin connectors. On the safety front, every Super Cab includes Ford's Safety Canopy System with front-side and side-curtain airbags. Also standard is AdvanceTrac traction and stability control that includes trailer sway control and Roll Stability Control.
Those intending to tow with their 2012 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 – we hope – back again. Upscale options for 2012 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 6-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 @ 5,500 rpm
405 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A
6.7-liter V8 Turbo Diesel
400 horsepower @ 2,800 rpm
800 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A