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2011 Ford Super Duty
Brawn is just one tiny detail

By Malcolm Gunn

2011 Ford Super DutyIt's a little thing, but the coin holder stores $7.53. Not $7.52 and not $7.54.  

No matter how big the 2011 F-Series Super Duty pickup is and no matter how much it can haul, it's this overall obsessive-compulsive attention to every small detail along with a vastly improved performance profile that makes plenty of dollars and cents for buyers of Ford's popular mighty-monster.

There's competition aplenty in virtually every vehicle classification, but nowhere is it more cutthroat than in the heavy-duty truck department. Within the past year, all three domestic brands have issued all-new or heavily revised editions of their top-dog pickups, all featuring bulked-up powertrains, increased load ratings and leading edge comfort and safety features. Despite the battle, Ford states it has been the frontrunner for the past three decades. The sales numbers would certainly back up that claim.

Although the sheetmetal and box sizes remain mostly unchanged, the one area that differentiates new from the so-yesterday SD is a more prominent "power dome" hood along with a bolder grille and front bumper. Combined with a set of extra-large headlamps, the SD imparts a dominating sense of robust strength that continues to be its hallmark. Says exterior design manager Brad Richards, "The SD is not a bashful vehicle by any means."

No kidding.

2011 Ford Super DutyA quick check at the numbers would appear to back up the SD's visual promise. On the gasoline-engine front, a new 6.2-litre V8 rules the roost with 385 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque. That improves on the 2010 model's 300/365 rating from its 5.4 litre V8 and even compares with the terminated V10 engine's 362 horsepower and 457 pound-feet of torque.

For major muscle and sinew, the SD can be fitted with a brand new Ford-developed 6.7-litre V8 turbo-diesel that generates 390 horsepower and 735 pound-feet of torque. The previous diesel maxed out at 350 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque. Either regular or B20 fuel (which contains 80 per cent petroleum diesel mixed with 20 per cent bio-diesel) can be fed to this clydesdale workhorse.

Selecting the turbo-diesel is your portal to a payload capacity of 2,840 kilograms and a fifth-wheel towing capacity 12,000 kilograms. In addition, you can now order a factory-installed fifth-wheel hitch that will let you start pulling your yacht or mobile mansion right now.  

Both powerplants are connected to six-speed automatic transmissions. For turbo-diesel applications, there's a newly available "Live Drive" power take off (PTO) unit, consisting of an extra transmission output gear that can control accessories such as a snow plow, tow-truck lift or even a dump-truck-style box.

Other new-found equipment includes trailer-sway and roll stability control to help keep you and your load shiny side up. Hill Start Assist keeps you from rolling backward while stopped on an incline and Hill Decent Control holds the SD at a set speed while traveling down a steep grade.

2011 Ford Super DutyYet another new option prevents the lockup of the trailer's binders when the anti-lock program of the SD's brakes kicks in.

All models - XL, XLT, Lariat and King Ranch - benefit from suspension changes and a new steering gear that Ford says will improve ride comfort, surefootedness and steering precision.

As in previous editions, the SD continues to be offered in regular, extended SuperCab and four-door Crew Cab configurations as well as two box sizes and in rear- or optional four-wheel-drive.  

The F-series Super Duty certainly possesses the content, the raw power and the well-earned reputation to retain its position as the top domestic hauler. But it's also clear that both Chrysler's Ram and the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra duo have the SD in their sights and are taking a serious run at Number One. The winners, of course, are truckers seeking the best rig that money can buy.

 What you should know: 2011 Ford F-Series Super Duty

Type: Two- /four-door full-size heavy-duty pickup.
Engines (hp): 6.2-litre SOHC V8 (385); 6.7-litre OHV V8, turbo-diesel (390)
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Market position: The Super Duty strives to maintain its category dominance with its upgraded diesel engine option, significant chassis improvements and technical upgrades.
Points: New turbo-diesel's improved output important since two-thirds of SD buyers select it; Load, tow capacities match or exceed that competitors; Too-cool exterior changes create more muscular appearance; SD's factory-installed accessories provide warranty advantage;  Arguably the ultimate multi-tasking pickup on the road.
Safety: Front airbags; side-impact airbags (opt.); side-curtain airbags (opt.); anti-lock brakes; traction control; stability control; trailer-sway control.
Base price (incl. destination): $35,500

By comparison:

Chevrolet Silverado HD
Base price: $37,600
Rugged pickup is tops in diesel power, but lacks unique HD styling cues.

Ram 2500/3500 HD
Base price: $35,750
Updated pickup packs a punch with both base and optional engines.

Toyota Tundra 5.7
Base price: $30,500
Lacks a specific heavy-duty model, but offers strong V8 option.

Malcolm Gunn is an automotive writer based in Moncton, NB, and a regular contributor to CarTest!

Posted July 8, 2010. © CarTest.ca TM


Note: Also see Bill Roebuck's report on What's new in pickup trucks for 2011.

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