2005 Ford F-Series Super Duty
Big Riggers: Will Loyal Truckers Welcome Fordís Latest Super Duty Into The Family?
2005 FORD F-SERIES SUPER DUTY
ON SALE : Fall
BASE PRICE: $22,390
POWERTRAIN: 5.4-liter, 300-hp, 365-lb-ft V8; rwd, six-speed manual
CURB WEIGHT: 5648 pounds
0 TO 60 MPH: 11 seconds (est.)
Ford F-Series owners are loyal: Their trucks are like family. And any time you mess with someoneís kinfolk you need to be careful. Take for example Fordís new line of Super Duty trucks. Did Ford keep the family happy, or can we expect dysfunction?
According to Fordís research, 90 percent of Super Duty owners regularly use their trucks to drag everything from boats and race cars to heavy equipment. With that fat ratio in mind, Ford figured increasing the new Big Riggerís towing virtuesóto 17,000 pounds, no lessówith a fifth wheel hitch would be a key element to its success.
To prove its point, Ford outfitted a group of Power Stroke diesel-equipped Super Duty trucks with weighted trailers and turned us loose on the hilly, twisty mountain roads we came to call Heatstroke Pass, just outside the companyís Arizona Proving Grounds.
Not just that bigger towing capacity, but an increase in power helped our test truck make easy work of the dusty hills. The 6.0-liter Power Stroke, long the most popular engine among Super Duty owners, has 10 additional lb-ft of torque. The Triton V10 gains 45 hp and 30 lb-ft. Even the base gasoline engine, the 5.4-liter Triton V8, is no weakling. It relies on the same three-valve design that debuted in the 2004 F-150 and pumps out 300 hp and 365 lb-ft.
Once our caravan of trucks made it safely through Heat-stroke Pass, we descended on the balmy (112 degrees) confines of the proving grounds for a variety of driving exercises. The slalom course (yup, trucks and trailers whipping through cones) was Fordís way of showing it has full confidence in the steering and suspension changes to its latest batch of Big Riggers. For four-wheel-drive trucks, a stronger frame now supports a solid axle with coil-spring front suspension. The rear suspension has new spring rates and a staggered rear shock configuration. The F-450 and F-550 models also benefit from changes in steering geometry. After the initial shock of performing a fast lane change with a hulking truck/trailer combination, the subsequent runs felt mighty good for such a massive vehicle. Steering response was excellent and body roll surprisingly low.
Power and handling mean little if braking is poor. Over-all, each Super Duty model benefits from improved braking whether as a result of larger rotors, stiffer calipers or both. We were encouraged to make several hard stops with our trucks not only to experience enhanced braking, but mainly to try Fordís new TowCommand System. The system includes an electronic trailer-brake controller that works in concert with the truckís antilock brakes. To that, the system adds a TorqShift transmission with a tow-haul mode and telescoping trailer tow mirrors. We drove F-Series vehicles equipped with the clever TowCommand back-to-back against trucks using aftermarket trailer-brake kits, and Fordís factory system delivered a smoother, quicker response than any of the bolt-on competition.
Aside from the aforementioned improvements, Ford added some visual spice to the line, with items such as a grille similar to that of its F-350 Tonka concept. The color palate has grown to include several more two-tone paint combinations, and a wicked flame-job finish on the beloved Harley-Davidson Super Duty is now available. The Harley version can also be ordered with massive 20-inch wheels. Inside the trucks is a freshly reworked gauge cluster that is easier to read than the previous design. An expanded variety of trim options can be ordered as well.
Fans of Fordís big trucks can breathe a sigh of relief. None of the creature-comfort alterations made to the 2005 F-Series Super Duty line will jeopardize its strong reputation. Fordís truck family can welcome the newcomer without reservation.