Home » The 2023 Ford Super Duty Trucks Make Pulling Tens Of Thousands Of Pounds So Easy Even Your Grandma Can Do It

The 2023 Ford Super Duty Trucks Make Pulling Tens Of Thousands Of Pounds So Easy Even Your Grandma Can Do It

Ford Super Duty Towbeast
ADVERTISEMENT

Last year, Ford unveiled the fifth-generation of its venerable Super Duty trucks. The workhorse for countless businesses and people all around America, the 2023 Super Duty line of trucks has gotten a long list of features all centered around getting the job done. These updates aren’t just in capability, either. Ford’s trucks have gotten smart — almost frighteningly so. Not only can you tow up to 40,000 pounds with a 2023 Super Duty, but Ford has made hitching up to and reversing a trailer so easy that even someone who has never towed a trailer can back up like a pro.

I got to get behind the wheel of some of the trucks that will almost certainly move so much of America. These trucks may have a ton of tech for people fresh at hauling, but there are tons of goodies that are great for people like me, who know a thing or two about towing or hauling. Let’s jump into it!

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

20230613 090654

(Full Disclosure: Ford invited me to its Michigan Proving Grounds to drive a bunch of new 2023 Super Duty trucks. Ford put me in a nice hotel and paid for my meals. I paid for my own travel, driving six hours in one direction.)

Before we begin, I should note a bit about my towing experience: When I got my license at 16 years old, my father wasted no time in teaching me how to tow a trailer. He was a long-haul trucker for over a decade and maintained a CDL throughout much of his life, so he wanted to pass as much knowledge as he could down to me. Since then, I’m the person anyone in my family goes to when something needs to get hauled somewhere. It seems like every other weekend I’m towing the family’s 7,700-pound camper. In my own exploits, I’ve owned a 20,000-pound school bus and driven a transit bus with a 40,000-pound GVWR across the country. I wouldn’t say I’m as experienced as someone with a CDL, but I’ve long adored towing and hauling big things. I so need a CDL one day, just for the heck of it.

ADVERTISEMENT

I’ve yet to drive the GM and Ram equivalents of the Super Duty, so I wouldn’t be able to provide comparisons. What I can tell you is how these Ford trucks drove and how they can make towing and hauling easier. Let’s get into it.

25 Years Of Super Duty

Access
Ford

Ford has stacked up some incredible numbers for its fabled F-Series truck line. The trucks are celebrating their 75th year of existence and a full 46 years of being America’s best-selling trucks. Even more impressive is the fact that the F-Series has been the best-selling vehicle in America for the past 41 years. Ford says it moved 653,957 F-Series trucks last year, or about a truck every 49 seconds. The F-Series is the textbook example of America’s love for trucks.

For the past 25 years, the higher-capacity trucks have slotted into what Ford calls Super Duty trucks. Now, on the surface, this is a bit confusing. Ford has definitely sold big trucks for far longer than 25 years and the Super Duty name certainly wasn’t invented in 1998, so what gives? Well, Ford says it goes back to the very first F-Series trucks from 75 years ago. Back then, you could buy the half-ton F-1 and the classes climbed all of the way up to the F-7 and F-8 “Big Job” trucks. So, heavy-duty trucks built for hard work have always been a part of the Ford truck formula.

Access (1)
Ford

Those early trucks had a Gross Combined Weight Rating (truck plus trailer and payload) up to 41,000 pounds and a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (truck plus payload) of up to 22,000 pounds. As the F-Series marched forward, Ford saw demand for an engine better suited for heavy work. Thus, in 1958, the brand launched the Super Duty engine. The Super Duty name made a return in the late 1980s for a Class 4 chassis cab truck.

Alright, so the Super Duty name long predates the brand of heavy-duty trucks, so what’s up with that? As Ford explains, in the late 1990s, the light-duty F-150 and the heavy-duty trucks split into two platforms. The trucks on the heavy-duty platform became the Super Duty brand of F-Series trucks.

ADVERTISEMENT

Access (2)

Since then, Ford says the Super Duty has dominated its market space. According to a S&P Global Mobility five-year average (2017 to 2021.5), some 63 percent of the utility service trucks on the road are Super Duty trucks. Apparently, 61 percent of emergency response vehicles are Super Duty trucks, along with 61 percent of mining trucks, 50 percent of construction trucks, 49 percent of forestry trucks, and 49 percent of trucks in a general category of “services.” The average counted registrations only to businesses and not to individuals. Considering Ford’s truck domination, these numbers seem believable.

The statistic I found most surprising was Ford’s claim that 90 percent of Super Duty owners tow things. That was part of the motivation for Ford to load its newest trucks down with technology made to make towing outrageously easy.

Towing Absolutely Massive Loads

20230613 145053

The Super Duty range starts at the Ford F-250 pickup and technically rises all of the way to the F-600 utility truck. Ford does sell even larger F-650 and F-750 trucks, but those fall under Ford’s Medium Duty line of trucks.

ADVERTISEMENT

There are a ton of changes for the Super Duty line this year, and Ford starts them off under the hood. New this year is a 6.8-liter V8 gas engine making 405 HP and 445 lb-ft torque. This is the standard engine in the F-250 and you’ll also find it in the XL trim of the F-350. A step up from that engine is the 7.3-liter V8, affectionately known as the ‘Godzilla’ engine. This plant makes 430 HP and 485 lb-ft torque. From there, you have the 6.7-liter Power Stroke V8 diesel, which churns out 475 HP and 1,050 lb-ft torque. Finally, we have the High-Output 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel V8, which cranks the power up to 500 HP and 1,200 lb-ft torque of stump-pulling, 40,000-lb trailer-pulling power. And payload? At best, you can haul a whole 8,000 pounds in the bed. Ford says that payload also accounts for occupants, so it’s not 8,000 pounds minus people in the cab.

20230613 090731

Oh yeah, when equipped in a specific (read, super cool) way, the Ford F-450 will tow an incredible 40,000 pounds, placing the Super Duty at the top of the towing charts. Ford says the extreme towing ability, which bests the 2022 model by 3,000 pounds, was done by tweaking the frame. The Super Duty’s frame is similar to the outgoing P558-generation trucks, but optimized and strengthened in key areas. Ford says there were updates to the interface between the hitch and frame as well as updates to the fifth wheel crossmember. I got to drive that truck and haul its massive load around Ford’s Michigan Proving Grounds. The experience of pulling half of the maximum legal weight of a Class 8 tractor remains mind-boggling, so much that you’re going to read about it in a separate entry.

To get us back on track here, all Super Duty variants come with a 10-speed automatic transmission. Meanwhile, every chassis cab comes standard with a power take off connection and four-wheel-drive is now standard starting with XLT trim levels and up. Talking about capabilities with Ford trucks can get a little crazy and involves a comical number of charts. So, here’s a top-down view showing what these trucks can do at their best. Different trim levels and configurations will reduce capacities:

20230613 151146

ADVERTISEMENT
  • Gooseneck towing of 40,000 pounds with F-450 pickup.
  • 5th-wheel towing of 35,000 pounds with F-450 pickup.
  • Conventional towing capacity of 30,000 pounds with F-450 pickup.
  • Gooseneck towing of 38,000 pounds with F-350 pickup.
  • Conventional towing of 28,000 pounds with the F-350 DRW.
  • Conventional towing of 25,000 pounds with the F-350 SRW.
  • Gooseneck towing of 23,000 pounds with F-350 Tremor HO Power Stroke.
  • Conventional towing of 22,000 pounds with F-350 DRW 7.3-liter Godzilla V8.
  • Conventional towing of 18,500 pounds for the F-350 Tremor (gas and diesel).
  • Gooseneck towing of 21,000 pounds for the F-350 Tremor (gas and diesel).
  • Gooseneck towing of 23,000 pounds with F-250 HO Power Stroke.
  • Conventional towing of 22,000 pounds with the F-250 HO Power Stroke.

Yeah, there are a ton of stats to go with these trucks. Again, that list is just for trucks configured just right for their maximum capacities. Check out this huge chart for the complete set of capacities for each Super Duty truck.

A Truck That Might Be Smarter Than You

20230613 092748

One change that Ford is particularly proud of is the trickling up of technology from the F-150, namely, tools to help you load your bed, load a trailer, hitch up a trailer, and even back up a trailer.

We’ll start with a feature that’s really clever and one I’m surprised hasn’t made it over to trucks until now. Alright, so, picture this. Your bed’s tailgate is down and you need to reverse to get your load to a dock. Problem is, your rear view is obstructed because of your load and your reversing camera is useless because it’s now pointed at the ground. Normally, you’d back up, put it in Park, get out, measure the distance, get back in, and reverse again. Rinse and repeat until you either reach the dock or slam your tailgate into it, causing damage.

20230613 091635

ADVERTISEMENT

Well, Ford’s clever solution was to install a backup camera and parking sensors into the top of the tailgate. Thus, when you have the tailgate down, your camera operations are normal, including the 360-degree camera view. You also get working proximity sensors. Of course, there is a downside to this. If you do happen to damage your tailgate getting work done, it can mean some expensive repairs, so be careful!

That’s just the tip of the driver aids Ford has added to these trucks. I will explain the rest of these in-depth in a separate piece. I got to test them all! For now, let’s run through how Ford wants to make your life easier.

20230613 091414

The next feature to trickle in from the smaller trucks is Onboard Scales with Smart Hitch. This is pretty much as it says on the tin. You can overload your truck if you’re not paying attention. Remember, your payload isn’t just what you put in your bed, but your occupants, your gear, the tongue weight of the trailer you’re towing, and anything else you’re making the truck haul.

Ford wants to take the guesswork out of calculating payload. With Onboard Scales, you first zero out the truck’s “scale” and then start loading it up. As you do that, the screen inside of the truck and the LED taillights will tell you how close you are to hitting your payload limit.

ADVERTISEMENT

20230613 091542

The Smart Hitch function helps you distribute the load on your trailer. Ideally, your tongue weight should be no more than 15 percent of your trailer weight and no less than 10 percent of your trailer weight. Conventional wisdom suggests that you’ll park your load near the trailer’s axle(s) with just a little bit hanging toward the front. When it comes to a car, you’ll probably park the car with the engine over the trailer axle(s) and the rest of the body headed toward the front. Well, what if you aren’t so hot at this loading thing? Or, what if the thing you’re loading has its weight in weird areas? This skid-steer, for example, looks correctly loaded.

20230613 095444

Using the same technology that “weighs” your payload, you can plug in data about your trailer and load, then use Smart Hitch to calculate tongue weight.

Once again, you can use the truck’s screen or lights to guide you in balancing the load. The taillight function works a bit like a runway’s visual approach slope indicator. If you’re putting on too much or too little weight, the truck will give you flashing lights. Adjust the weight in real-time to get the lights centered. When you do, you should be in a safe weight distribution margin. As it turned out, the skid-steer was about a foot too far forward.

ADVERTISEMENT

20230613 095057

You’ve probably noticed how I put terms like “weighs” in quotes. That’s because the truck isn’t actually weighing your hitch or your payload. The truck monitors ride height changes recorded by the ride height sensors and then runs that data against a calculation to arrive at the estimated weight. When you zero out the “scales,” you’re telling the truck to start measuring from there. Ford says that while these systems are good enough to get you into a safe zone for towing, it’s not accurate enough to be used for DOT purposes.

Here’s what the sensor looks like, it’s the part labeled “K:”

20230613 094955

20230613 095116

ADVERTISEMENT

Next, we have Pro Trailer Hitch Assist. This system is designed to take the frustration out of hitching up trailers. Specifically, this system will automatically line up and back the truck up directly under the tongue of the trailer you wish to hitch up. Now, people who tow all of the time, like myself, may not find much value in this system. Take a look at how I lined up to hitch up this trailer on the first try. The tongue dropped onto the ball smoothly, like butter.

20230613 093545

Not everyone is this skilled. My dad was a long-haul trucker for many years. But after even more years of retirement, he’s lost a lot of his skills. Backing his 2016 Ford F-350 up to a trailer to hitch it up is one of those skills that has eroded. Without help, it could take him 30 minutes or more to line the ball up just right.

In the new 2023 Super Duty, my dad could hop into the cab, tell the truck where the trailer is, then hold a button. Almost like magic, the truck will reverse itself to your trailer and stop the ball right under the trailer tongue. Even if you start with the truck far out of alignment, the truck will steer itself into position.

20230613 093447

ADVERTISEMENT

In my testing, this system isn’t perfect, but it’s better than going back and forth for 30 minutes.

Finally, we have Pro Trailer Backup Assist. This is another system that does more or less what it says on the box. Another challenge for people who don’t tow often is backing a trailer. When you’re reversing a trailer, turning your steering wheel right results in the trailer swinging left. Turning left results in a trailer swinging right. Oh yeah, and when you’re reversing straight, you still have to turn the wheel to keep the trailer straight. Don’t forget, depending on the design of your trailer, turning too late can get you stuck in a tight spot. Again, if you tow all of the time, you can probably back a trailer with ease.

20230613 102931

For those who are terrible at the job, just activate Pro Trailer Backup Assist. In this system, which has been simplified since its application in the F-150, you just put a sticker on your trailer, let the truck identify the trailer through the sticker, then use a dial to reverse the trailer. Left on the dial makes the trailer go left, while right makes the trailer go right. I’ll have more on this in a different piece, but I watched as this system helped another journalist. They admitted to not towing trailers and thus not knowing how to back them up. Yet, after a few tries with the system, the journalist slotted the trailer into the parking space. The Pro Trailer Backup Assist even has a feature that prevents jackknifing.

20230613 101301

ADVERTISEMENT

Together, all of these systems are designed to make towing easier for people without as much experience doing it. They’re also good for people like my dad, who once had those skills but no longer do after a lot of time away. Padding the systems are neat tricks like a blind spot monitoring system for your trailer and Ford’s navigation system, which can adjust your route based on the length of the trailer you’re towing. The blind spot system requires sensors to be installed on your trailer.

A Lot Of Technology, With Some Concerns

2023 Ford Super Duty F 600 Altec Aerial Bucket
Ford

All of this doesn’t even mention the convenience features. In the cab, you can get your Super Duty with AT&T 5G connectivity, a Wi-Fi hotspot capable of connecting 10 devices, and even software for upfitters.

Does your truck have a bucket, storage lockers, and outriggers? Upfitters can program the operations of the equipment right through the truck’s screen, allowing for cleaner installs. You can program the truck so that you can retract the outriggers with just a touch of the screen. The truck can also be programmed not to move if the outriggers are not retracted. Or, say those storage lockers have power locks. The driver would then be able to lock all of the hatches right from the cab. Ford is touting its system as an all-in-one solution that allows two-way communication between your upfit equipment and the truck. Basically, the idea is your truck will work like it was built from the factory this way.

Ford is also advertising a fleet management system that allows a manager to monitor their Super Duty trucks and even make software changes to them. For example, a fleet manager will be able to have the truck monitor their driver’s actions and report back if the truck is tailgating someone or speeding.

63e5a6ff741fbae43935ab9d 63d0b87
Ford

Now, I’m sure you’re already seeing where this can go wrong. The truck determines if it’s speeding by using the same street sign recognition hardware that it uses to display speed signs in your instrument cluster. This hardware is not foolproof. If you’ve driven a vehicle that recognizes signs, you’ve almost certainly encountered the car reading a 55 mph sign as 35 mph or something similar (as I did on my test drive). In this case, if the truck reads the sign incorrectly, it’ll assume the driver to be speeding and report it to the fleet manager. That’s not good.

ADVERTISEMENT

Ford’s reps admitted that the sensors aren’t perfect and incorrect readings can happen. I think I have a remedy for this. Instead of just relying on the truck’s sign recognition hardware, why not add a dashcam recording? That way, a fleet manager could fact-check the readings with a video, so some poor driver doesn’t get fired for speeding that didn’t actually take place.

Head Up Display 2023 Ford Super Duty 2023 Ford Super Duty
Ford

Ford’s reps also indicated that a future idea that’s possibly on the table is allowing fleet managers to install a hard speed limiter. So, if the fleet manager decides your truck shouldn’t be able to exceed 55 mph, you will be stuck going no faster than 55 mph. Also, despite the large suite of technology, there isn’t an Electronic Logging Device available. Such would be useful for the many hotshot drivers who use these trucks for hauling.

That stuff aside, you get an 8-inch infotainment screen in XL models and that becomes a 12-inch display in Lariat and higher trim levels. Available is a 12-inch digital instrument cluster with loads of customization, an HUD, four USB ports, and a center console capable of storing a tablet upright. You can also get your Super Duty with seats that recline to a nearly horizontal state so you can take a nap in your truck.

Still A Luxury Truck

20230613 145018

Of course, you can equip your Super Duty as a luxury vehicle. In a base XL truck, you get vinyl floors, no carpet, vinyl seats, a urethane steering wheel, and physical gauges. Upgrades include cloth seats, floor mats, chrome, and more.

ADVERTISEMENT

On the other end of the spectrum, you have Lariat and King Ranch trucks, which net you dual-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, Automatic Emergency Braking, power outlets, the aforementioned towing helper gizmos, leather seats, and even an 18-speaker 1,080 Watt Bang & Olufsen B&O Unleashed Sound System.

20230613 083428

20230613 083508

The comfort features in these trucks are expansive. You can get your Super Duty with heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and Pro Power Onboard, which kicks out up to 2.0 kW of power for tools or perhaps even tow power some appliances in a weather emergency.

Driving The New Super Duty Trucks

20230613 111037

ADVERTISEMENT

Alright alright, so that’s enough about the meat and potatoes of these aluminum cab and bed trucks. How do they drive? Well, I can’t say I’ve ever driven trucks that were so effortless to operate.

I started my driving in the technology area of Ford’s event. There, I showed off some trailer hitching and backing skills before seeing how well Ford’s Super Duty robots can do the same jobs. As I said before, this area was so noteworthy that it’s going to be a separate piece. From there, I was carted over to Ford’s towing area. This section of the Michigan Proving Grounds was a treat, as I found myself staring at a lineup of Super Duty trucks hauling various loads.

At the low end of the spectrum was a 2023 Ford F-250 powered by the 7.3-liter Godzilla V8. Behind it was a boat that Ford’s people estimated to weigh in at around 8,800 pounds.

20230613 110745

On the other end was a 2023 Ford F-450 in the only configuration that allows you to tow 40,000 pounds. In between those ends were Super Duty trucks towing a 30,000-pound fifth wheel, a 30,000-pound trailer with a pintle hitch, and less weight back down to the F-250 gasser. Yes, normally, you would need a CDL or an RV registration to tow weights like these, but the Michigan Proving Grounds is a special place. Basically, Ford can do whatever the heck it wants out here, which means oh yeah, baby, I got to tow 40,000 pounds!

ADVERTISEMENT

20230613 110952

The towing section is another area I will cover in a separate piece, but I will reveal the biggest surprise to me. As I noted before, my parents own a 2016 Ford F-350 with a 6.2-liter Boss V8, making 385 HP and 405 lb-ft torque. When towing our family’s 7,700 camper, you can definitely feel the weight behind the truck and the engine definitely gets a workout.

The Godzilla? It makes a world of difference.

20230613 112542

Sure, 430 HP and 485 lb-ft torque doesn’t seem like a huge difference, but you feel it behind the wheel. Despite towing a boat that’s heavier than the camper, the F-250 drove as if the trailer wasn’t there. Now, I often hear people say that their tow vehicles tow “as if the trailer isn’t there” and for the most part, I don’t believe them. I mean, recently, a Smart owner claimed that they don’t feel the 2,000-pound trailer they lugged across the country. My Smart feels trailers that are just 1,000 pounds, let alone double that.

ADVERTISEMENT

What I’m getting at here is that this is not a statement I use lightly. Yet, the Godzilla delivers power with so much ease and so much grace that if it weren’t for the big red boat in my mirrors, you could have fooled me. This truck was an XLT trim, which, like all Super Duty trucks, included rear leaf springs and coils up front. The ride wasn’t supple, but it was smooth for leaf springs. The truck also handled the weight so well that I didn’t get any motions like the trailer trying to change the direction of the truck. It held straight, it rounded curves with confidence, and the beefy Godzilla didn’t skip a beat when climbing even a 7% grade.

Moving up to the F-350 and F-450 resulted in a similar experience but in larger trucks. Behind the wheel, both versions of the 6.7-liter Power Stroke provide ample power. Both trucks with both versions of the 6.7-liter drove as if they weren’t stressed. You could settle either of the trucks into a cruise and just eat up endless miles.

20230613 110710

I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for ventilated seats. I can turn those things on, sink into that leather seat, and drive across the country in my big Super Duty. These trucks are good for it, too. The comfort of these seats is so good that I can imagine someone just hopping into the cab after a hard day of work and just relaxing for a moment.

This is another review that won’t really cover sporting stuff such as cornering. It won’t surprise anyone reading this, but the Super Duty isn’t a sports car. It’ll go around a corner, but I’m certain if you overcook it you might be finding out how well that optional 12,000-pound winch works. Realistically, the person behind the wheel of a Super Duty is going to be driving the speed posted on the yellow signs before a tight curve.

ADVERTISEMENT

20230613 110646

If you love diesel as much as I do, I think you’ll find joy in either of the Power Stroke variants. Indeed, the power is just wonderful, and the engine is stout enough to drag 40,000 pounds up a mountain if you so desired. Power aside, the sound is phenomenal. Sure, it’s no 7.3-liter Power Stroke, but if you’re a devotee of Mr. Rudolf Diesel, you won’t be disappointed. I was most surprised by the fact that while the 6.7 is pretty quiet in the cab, I was able to hear the mighty engines thundering up the Michigan Proving Ground’s simulated mountain nearly a mile away from the start point of the towing test. Some people may not like that, but it was music to my ears.

Without a load, there isn’t much to write home about. If you’ve driven a large pickup truck before then the experience will be familiar. That is to say that the suspension is harsher than a car and still harsher than a light-duty pickup. But that said, it’s not as harsh as previous-generation Super Duty trucks I have driven in the past. For example, my family’s 2016 F-350 has a ride so rough that driving the thing unloaded is fatiguing. At times, I brace myself before a pothole by grabbing the so-called “oh shit” handles. That’s not the case here.

The big–literally–and perhaps obvious thing to note is that the Super Duty is not an easy vehicle to maneuver in tight traffic. The hoods are tall and high, where shorter pedestrians can disappear, and the trucks’ length and weight remove any semblance of agility. In a city, this can stress you out. The Super Duty trucks feel most at home in the country or on the highway, where the trucks can feel free to stretch out. On the road, you tower above anything else that’s not a truck. You get a commanding view of the road ahead and maybe, for a brief moment, you think you’re the king of the road. Then a semi passes you and you’re brought back to reality.

Off-Road

20230613 140550

ADVERTISEMENT

Another equally fun portion of the course was the off-roading area. In 2023 Ford F-250 and F-350 XL single rear wheel models, you can get the Off-Road Package, which nets you 33-inch tires, a raised air dam, skid plates, an electronic locking rear differential, and axle vent tubes for water fording.

You can also go even further and get the Tremor package. This gets you a front-end lift and a unique suspension. That’s paired with a Dana limited-slip front differential, 35-inch off-road tires, special wheels, and graphics. Going with the Tremor also nets you a bunch of off-road driving modes from a descent control, to an off-road cruise control, and a neat feature called Trail Turn Assist. I’ll explain that in a moment.

20230613 140730

I hopped into an F-250 Tremor and took it around the technical trails of the Michigan Proving Grounds. Admittedly, I expected the truck to be a bit like trying to shove a whale through a narrow cave, but the truck was surprisingly easy to take into the sticks.

I started off my test by putting Trail Turn Assist through a sand pit gauntlet. Now, normally, big trucks like these might have to do three-point (or more) turns to navigate a tight trail. But with the push of a button, Trail Turn Assist will dramatically tighten the truck’s turning circle by locking up the brake of the rear wheel on the inside of the turn you’re trying to make.

ADVERTISEMENT

20230613 140711

It’s a pretty violent program that causes the truck to just drag the wheel through the turn, but it gets the job done and makes the truck far more nimble than you’d expect it to. With Trail Turn Assist on, the F-250 Tremor could turn nearly as sharply as my Smart Fortwo can.

Moving on from that test, I took the truck to the Proving Grounds’ rock climb.

20230613 141216

Again, I fully expected this 7,000-pound truck to struggle a bit. Yet, I dropped the truck into 4Lo, toggled the driving mode to rock crawling mode, then put my foot on the accelerator. The truck didn’t really stick to my chosen line. It even slammed into the rocks a couple of times. But you know what? It never got stuck and didn’t appear to struggle at all. My trusty Tremor made the climb three times without breaking a sweat. The rock sliders and the skid plates also did an excellent job.

ADVERTISEMENT

20230613 141241

Speaking of excellent jobs, the off-road cruise control in this truck worked better than the similar systems found in the current generation Lexus LX 600 and Subaru’s Wilderness cars. I just set a speed and it drove that speed, regardless if I was on flat ground or on a slope steep enough for a rollercoaster’s drop. Where a Subaru Forester Wilderness stops being able to control its descent speed, this truck stayed planted, not exceeding the speed I set it to.

Another neat bit with the Tremor is the inclusion of an inclinometer right there in the HUD. A Ford rep told me that the Tremor had an inclinometer before, but it updated too slowly to be useful. A noteworthy change here is that the inclinometer now updates live, so you can see how hardcore your wheeling is in real-time.

20230613 141303

A 2023 Ford F-250 4×4 Crew Cab has an approach angle of 27.3 degrees, breakover of 20.5 degrees, and departure of 20.8 degrees. The minimum ground clearance is 9.5 inches. Tremor gets 10.2 inches of clearance, 21.2-degree approach, 18.5-degree breakover, and 19.3-degree departure.

ADVERTISEMENT

20230613 140651

What I found was that even without the off-road driving aids, these big trucks don’t struggle when the going gets rough. The F-250 Tremor reminded me of my old 2000 Ford Ranger. Just point it in a direction and it’ll go. Still, this is a truck that is at least 20.8 feet long and 6.6 feet wide. Don’t try to shove your Super Duty down a trail that’s clearly too narrow for it. The Proving Grounds’ trails were great, but not nearly the tightest I’ve been on.

America’s Sales Champion Will Probably Keep Winning

20230613 141222

If you’re the kind of person who wants more than an F-150 in your life, the 2023 Ford Super Duty lineup will require a decent investment.

At the very bottom is the 2023 F-250 XL, which starts at $43,970. That gets you a regular cab, the 6.8-liter V8, a 4×2 setup, and a pretty spartan interior. Next up is the F-350 XL chassis cab, which sets you back $46,665 for 4×2, the 6.8 V8, and the barren interior. If you want that with dual rear wheels, that’ll be $47,870. To get the F-350 with a bed and dual rear wheels is $46,505 while the single rear wheel model is $ 45,015. All of these trucks are regular cabs, of course.

ADVERTISEMENT

20230613 093632

From there, your basic F-450 DRW 4×2 chassis cab runs $49,745, or $58,455 if you want it with a bed. If you to roll in luxury, the top end is $96,095 for the 2023 Ford F-250 Limited. Getting the F-350 in Limited guise will set you back at least $97,270 while the F-450 commands $103,030.

My overall impression from driving the 2023 Ford Super Duty trucks was that Ford has done what it needs to in order to remain the market leader. From the F-250 and the glorious Godzilla to the F-450 and its 40,000 pounds of towing prowess, these trucks appear to be a solid choice for work, play, a night out on the town, or heck, all of the above. Along the way, I’ve learned even more about why America is so deeply in love with the pickup truck. To have the power and capacity to practically pull down a mountain while you sit in leather massage seats in air-conditioned comfort — it’s a beautiful thing.

20230613 092443

20230613 092936(0)

ADVERTISEMENT

(Images: Author, unless otherwise noted.)

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
52 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
DadBod
DadBod
11 months ago

I wonder how many Super Duty sales have been indirectly subsidized by the federal welfare system shoveling tax dollars to farmers.
Treat yourself to a King Ranch, it’s on me!

Andy Hoodward
Andy Hoodward
11 months ago

I’ve been running a 2016 F250 XL SCREW, which replaced a 2007 F150 XLT SCREW for hauling livestock feed and towing a 7k lbs. TT. What’s remarkable to me, is the jump in capability and technical features at the base model level is immense. I still sit in the 2016 sometimes and notice just how capable the damn thing is, then I review an article like this on the 2023 models (good job, BTW) and see Ford just stacking features, and making them available throughout the ‘lower’ trim levels of the lineup. Pretty damn remarkable how the technology and design has accelerated.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
11 months ago

Anyone who thinks that this newest generation of Super Duty is good looking is compeltely insane. I saw the pics and thought, “wow thats an ugly front end, maybe it will look better in person…” NOPE

I have a suspicion that the same people that absolutely shit on the 2020 Silverado HD’s looks are the same people thinking this Super Duty looks good…
…you can’t have it both ways.

This is easily the ugliest Ford pickup, 2nd ugliest is the 1987-1991 F-series

Last edited 11 months ago by Bizness Comma Nunya
Box Rocket
Box Rocket
11 months ago

I’m not completely insane, and I think that the 2023 Super Duty is fairly handsome across the whole range. Furthermore, it’s an improvement from the 2020-2022 models with the orphan angle cut into the headlamps (which made them look a bit like a GMC Sierra, but less awkward).

Yeah, the XL looks a bit wide-eyed without the overlapping grille bars to break up the large lens (which is a look I appreciate, it ties in with the similar treatment on the Expedition), but the overall look is fairly cohesive and relatively pleasant. I think the 2017-2020 models looked even more cohesive, but design evolved, and this isn’t a bad step.

My sole critique is that the blocky wheel flares for the DRW models looks out of place with the round wheel arches and rounded corners on the new truck, where it looked much more like it belonged on the prior setup (though also a little busy stylistically with the mix of hard angles and the round wheel arch). That said, I understand why Ford wouldn’t change that stamping until the next major refresh, given the take rate of dallies, and the new side steps share the chamfered-block angles so it’s not entirely out-of-place. At least the flare is a separate piece from the bedside, which is something one of my customers found out is a good thing to have when they crumpled the bedside on their recent GMC Sierra dually and it took months to repair instead of just being able to replace the damaged wheel arch.

It’s certainly a breath of fresh air compared to the visual garbage GM and Toyota are shotgunning into our eyes, especially with their trucks.

Diana Slyter
Diana Slyter
11 months ago

One thing I wish Ford and the automotive media would emphasize more is that while these 500HP trucks can roar uphill even at 50,000 pounds total weight, better plan ahead and be careful on the downhills!

Couple decades back I drove 18 wheeler for a bakery so with a partial load I had about the same 50K pounds total weight as this Super Duty. Was a “poverty spec” truck with a 270 HP 10 liter Cummins, no engine brake, and a 9 speed Roadrunner, and all those gears got used. ‘Specially on the day traffic was detoured off the gradual descent on the interstate onto the old twisty 2 lane going down from the bluffs to the Mississippi valley in Winona. Fortunately I was familiar with the road and it’s 30 MPH hairpin turns from motorcycling, and knew I had to hold to that 30 MPH speed with engine braking to keep the brakes cool for the stoplight at the bottom of the grade.

Ford has otherwise done a great job of idiot proofing this truck, but the driver still has to keep speed under control on downhills by downshifting and using engine braking. In fact, this Super Duty would require even more care than an 18 wheeler on the downhills, what with only a 7 liter engine and most likely drum brakes with no ABS on the trailer. So nice of Ford to automate the uphills and other routine stuff, but the driver is still responsible for stopping, especially on the downhills!

V10omous
V10omous
11 months ago
Reply to  Diana Slyter

You greatly underestimate the tech on modern trucks; you can set the cruise control with a trailer in tow down a 7% grade and the truck will use exhaust brake, downshift, trailer brakes etc to maintain speed in a way that almost seems magical. See the Ike gauntlet videos on TFL truck for videos demonstrating.

Not to say that the driver doesn’t need to take care and maintain control, but it’s not as if the tech stops at the fancy cameras.

Gordon Mitchell
Gordon Mitchell
11 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

Agreed, in tow-haul mode these trucks downshift and apply trailer brakes for sway control automatically going down hills. My experience has been they actually down shift a little too much on decent and I have better control handling the shifts myself. Nothing is 100% idiot proof but these newer trucks certainly make towing extremely easy.

Dumb Shadetree
Dumb Shadetree
11 months ago

Mercedes, I don’t work at Ford but I’m about 95% sure the load weight sensor is mislabeled. The part marked ‘A’ is the actual sensor. The part marked ‘K’ is a connecting rod between a frame rail and the sensor.

…or I’m totally off base. It’s possible that I don’t know what I’m looking at.

Dumb Shadetree
Dumb Shadetree
11 months ago

Yo, I know this isn’t a new design element, but those fender flares. Duallies have big fender flares. That’s normal. Some trucks square them off, and that’s cool. Some trucks round them over, and that’s cool. Stop trying to do both. The round flare sticking out of a square flare is weird.

Wolfpack57
Wolfpack57
11 months ago

Does anyone else think the change from [=== Ford ===] grilles to the more complicated [{ ___Ford___}] grilles is an odd choice? The 2018 models look much better imo

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
11 months ago
Reply to  Wolfpack57

Uh yeah… it’s an odd choice. My bigger issue is the headlights look bug-eyed now

MrLM002
MrLM002
11 months ago

Well, Ford’s clever solution was to install a backup camera and parking sensors into the top of the tailgate. Thus, when you have the tailgate down, your camera operations are normal, including the 360-degree camera view. You also get working proximity sensors.

Great, now add it to all other current production Ford Pickups.

Gubbin
Gubbin
11 months ago

I so need a CDL one day, just for the heck of it.

DOOO EET! The clicks demand a series on what it’s like to go to truck-driving school!
For that matter, a ground-school to solo series would be a lot of fun!

Kyle Brant
Kyle Brant
11 months ago
Reply to  Gubbin

Most CDL schools aren’t worth half the money they charge, they teach to pass the test, no real skills

David Frisby
David Frisby
11 months ago

Hello, i am just curious what it means by Gooseneck Towing? How does this differ to having a 5th wheel in the bed. Completely academic here in the UK though, we just dont have the space for these kind of trucks except for rare imports….

Fordlover1983
Fordlover1983
11 months ago
Reply to  David Frisby

A gooseneck is similar to a 5th wheel, in that both connect to the truck over the rear axle. But, a gooseneck has a ball like a receiver hitch (though larger diameter). The trailer gooseneck locks over the ball. A 5th wheel has a pin on the trailer that locks into the 5th wheel plate. Goosenecks are more popular for utility use, 5th wheels for RV’s.

Professor Chorls
Professor Chorls
11 months ago
Reply to  Fordlover1983

To add to this, gooseneck hitches are frame to frame and metal to metal, and used for utility/cargo trailers. Fifth wheels typically feature some shock isolation by being attached via the bed of the truck (and the trailer tongue might feature shock absorbers or bushings) and are used for RVs. You’d likely shake an RV trailer apart if it had a gooseneck.

3WiperB
3WiperB
11 months ago

I’m glad that payload is mentioned in these reviews, and that’s not typically an issue on the Super Duty trucks. I keep hoping for a payload war rather than a max towing rating war, especially on the 1/2 ton trucks. As a camper owner, it’s hard to get a decent payload rating on a 1/2 ton truck, especially if it’s a crew cab and you are hauling 5 people. They are typically 1100-1800 pounds. Yes, some can’t even haul (5) 220 pound adults with any added weight in the bed before they exceed the payload rating. My 1/2 ton truck has less payload than my Buick Enclave it replaced did. If you drive around a typical campground and see the size of the campers, most of these people should be driving 3/4 or 1 ton trucks, but they don’t, because they see the tow rating and think they are fine. I really have to watch how much I put in my truck when I’m hauling a camper (and I only have a 23′ one). I usually have an empty bed if I have passengers, and everything is loaded into the trailer, or we drive a 2nd car if we are close, but I don’t want to have to daily drive a 3/4 ton truck just to camp 4-5 times a year. I’ll also note, that just because the Buick Enclave had the payload and tow rating doesn’t mean it can tow that payload amount and not feel unstable, because it’s set up for passenger payload and not trailer ball payload.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
11 months ago
Reply to  3WiperB

There is a payload war. In this article, they even show off the Super Duty with 8000lbs of payload.

Half tons don’t have 8000lbs of payload. If they did, they wouldn’t be half tons. You’re looking at the wrong market segment, there is no lack of payload war.

Box Rocket
Box Rocket
11 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

If there’s a payload war, Ford already won it and retired from the battlefield to watch ram and GM duke it out for second place. It’s good that Ford keeps pushing themselves to maintain the top spot, though.

Box Rocket
Box Rocket
11 months ago
Reply to  3WiperB

I agree, payload is often overlooked and undervalued. Ford has been the undisputed payload leader for a long while. Ram and GM are starting to finally pay attention to that, but the gulf between the offerings (for all their trucks, not just 3/4-ton and up) from those two rivals and Ford has been almost embarrassing. Sure, the other trucks may ride better, but what’s the point of having a truck if you don’t use the bed?

Why didn’t you mention what model you have, instead of just “my 3/4 ton truck”?

Last edited 11 months ago by Box Rocket
Defenestrator
Defenestrator
11 months ago
Reply to  3WiperB

Ford is definitely the worst offender here, too. I know two people who have been caught out by the massive delta between their super-high advertised ~3200lb payload only available in the very rare Heavy Duty Payload Package version and the actual much lower payload on the vast majority of trucks sold.

Citrus
Citrus
11 months ago

Putting a hard speed limiter at the speed limit is incredibly unsafe, so hopefully Ford doesn’t go that route. Honestly fleet managers need to lay off.

Last edited 11 months ago by Citrus
Eggsalad
Eggsalad
11 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

Now imagine if the speed limiter is set 10mph *below* posted speed limits! I rented a Penske GMC-based box van to move stuff from Las Vegas to Salem, OR. The truck had a limiter/governor set to 65mph and most of the speed limits on that route are 75mph. I was a rolling road hazard.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
11 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

A majority of semi trucks are governed to 65 or 70 mph.

Alexander Moore
Alexander Moore
11 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

Tell that to the Kenworths racing each other at 75 down the I-10 between Phoenix and Tucson!

Christopher Pohle
Christopher Pohle
11 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

Not the ones on I20, I26, and I85 in Georgia/South Carolina! (Where I’ve done a considerable amount of driving over the last 10 years) No shortage of big rigs doing 80+. Of course, that’s a small part of a big world and maybe most of them are limited

Skurdnee
Skurdnee
11 months ago

Cool, now when will the government start requiring specific licenses for this stuff? I just watched a guy massively struggle to park his giant camper at a campground this weekend; it’s scary to be on the road with these people.

Eggsalad
Eggsalad
11 months ago
Reply to  Skurdnee

You’re correct, but it will never happen, mostly due to really good lobbying by the RV industry. If you want to operate a 45-foot Prevost coach full of people, you’ll need a CDL, but if you replace the passengers with living accommodations, any ol’ driver’s license will do, because suddenly it’s an RV. Rich old folks who can afford a $2M RV will be less likely to buy one if it means they need to go to truck driver school to operate it.

alwaysbroke
alwaysbroke
11 months ago
Reply to  Skurdnee

For what’s worth, my state (and I assume most others) require a CDL for anything with a GCWR of 26,000+ lbs. Given these probably weigh in at 8000-9000 lb, they would be limited to 17-18 k in towing without a CDL. In my opinion there should be some intermediate step (say above 12k GCWR) where some additional training is required, but maybe not a full CDL.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
11 months ago

On the tailgate cameras: How many times have I really had a hard time backing up to something with my tailgate down? Zero. How many times have I dropped something(or even just set something down) on the edge of the tailgate? A lot more than zero.

Also, the taillight scale: You said it doesn’t actually weigh your load, which is understandable, because it doesn’t give you pounds. But measuring the compression of a spring of known rate is literally how a scale works.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
11 months ago

Well then Fords engineers don’t know what a scale is, because measuring ride height changes is literally what a scale is. Interesting that they stressed that nonexistent distinction to journalists.

Ted Fort
Ted Fort
11 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

I’m guessing that, because it isn’t calibrated in the way a scale would be, Ford doesn’t want to be held liable for DOT weight regulations (which Mercedes mentions in the article.)

Professor Chorls
Professor Chorls
11 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

If the truck has an air ride or other adjustable suspension, then the ‘spring rate’ won’t be constant. That said, the Ford engineers’ response sounds a little like a canned PR reply to questions because they probably don’t want the liability of saying ‘built in scale’.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
11 months ago

Yeah but it doesn’t have air ride or other adjustable suspension……. agreed, it’s fear of liability.

Jim Stock
Jim Stock
11 months ago

Great off road technology but it is scary to off road something that costs that much.

Jim Stock
Jim Stock
11 months ago

Just because you can do something does not mean you should. The road to hell is paved with overconfidence. Will these huge numbers give bad drivers the overconfidence to go past their abilities.

Paul B
Paul B
11 months ago

I am an OK-ish driver when it comes to trailering. I just got a ’23 Sierra 1500 with the advanced trailering package.

All the trailering aids are really handy, but the ones I love the most are the most simple, but saves you from the most tedious aspects of trailering:

  • The automated trailer light check sequence (especially when you’re alone.
  • Continiously monitoring the trailer lights for dead bulbs, and checking for connectivity for the trailer brakes as you’re driving.
  • Trailer tire pressure and temp monitoring.

I am looking forward (or backwards?) to getting the transparent trailer camera setup. The camera was backordered when I got the truck.

My concern with all these aids is that a may give a false sense of ability to those who truly have zero skills to pull trailers.

I am a firm proponent of requiring a basic course and test to get a class added to your driver’s license to allow you to pull a trailer over 1000lbs.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
11 months ago
Reply to  Paul B

Oh come on, higher than 1000lb. That’s nothing. A 1500-2000lb harbor freight trailer doesn’t even slow down my minivan.

Professor Chorls
Professor Chorls
11 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

And a Uhaul car transport is 1800 pounds alone, so anyone pulling their project wreck is probably already towing 4-5000 pounds if not more

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
11 months ago

That’s true. Those U-Haul car haulers also pull like they’re not there when they’re empty.

Professor Chorls
Professor Chorls
11 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets
Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
11 months ago

To have the power and capacity to practically pull down a mountain while you sit in leather massage seats in air-conditioned comfort — it’s a beautiful thing.

It’s only beautiful if you actually do this stuff. A lot of these are essentially cosplay accessories. They are incredible machines, though. I kinda wish I had big shit to tow so I’d have a reason to actually own one.

And on the ventilated seats, Ford’s seats are actually cooled. That makes a world of difference. The seats in my car are ventilated and they are nice, but until the cabin is cool its just a fan. I rented a Fusion that had cooled seats and nearly froze my nads off in FL summer. It was amazing.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
11 months ago

So Mercedes, did you get a chance to drive anything on road unloaded to get a sense of how they do in what will probably be most of their use?

Arch Duke Maxyenko
Arch Duke Maxyenko
11 months ago

Couple thoughts on the technology:
The top of the tailgate cameras and sensors will most definitely get damaged early on in the truck’s life, the smarter location for the camera would be on the hitch receiver bar, which would be up and out of the way of damage but would still accomplish the job.
Then there are the ride height sensors, which I get the why’s and how’s of where they are mounted and the overall functions of them, but they seem to be located in a prime spot to get snapped off by debris, small children, and wildlife, then boom goes your stability control

Chronometric
Chronometric
11 months ago

Wow, that’s a lot of content (truck and article). Impressive vehicle. I’m sure my residential neighbor will buy a loaded 350 very soon for his pine straw runs.

Paul B
Paul B
11 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

You could say a truckload of content.

52
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x