By on January 22, 2020

2020 Ford Super Duty

It’ll not have escaped your notice that the pickup truck segment is a murderously competitive arena. In fact, if it were an actual arena, it would be much like the Roman Coliseum — or at least the upcoming 49er/Chiefs tilt in Miami — with bodies strewn across the playing field and the crowd roaring for more.

This helps explain why the Detroit Three are intent on beating each other over the head with towing and torque numbers that have climbed to dizzying heights. For 2020, Ford has unleashed a Super Duty pickup with available four-figure torque or a monster V8 the size of which hasn’t been produced by Motown in decades.

The last time Ford’s F-Series wasn’t America’s best-selling pickup, Montreal was hosting the Olympics, Jimmuh Carter kicked an unelected president out of office, and the Sex Pistols were causing Britons to clutch at their crumpets by swearing on live television. About the only thing that’s run for longer in America than that, besides our own Murilee’s curious fascination with Russian cars, is the mighty Route 66. It only seemed appropriate, then, that we saddle up a 2020 Super Duty and go find the thing.

“Saddle” being the operative term, as our whip is the King Ranch trim. Positioned as the luxury country estate foil to the urbanite Platinum trim, the truck’s interior is lined with seemingly acres of peeled cows, all tanned to a dark brown like a pair of gaucho boots. We’ll detail some carping about the Ford’s accommodations shortly but, first, we must examine what Dearborn has cooked up for power teams in 2020.

2020 Ford Super Duty

While the Glass House is quite proud of their latest diesel output, we are confident you weirdos would rather know about the monster 7.3-liter gas V8. Before heading to the Mother Road, we took a whirl in a Super Duty so equipped. Its spec sheet reads like something from the pages of history, despite being a thoroughly modern engine: 445 cubic inches, pushrod and rocker arms, cast iron block, two valves per cylinder. Sometimes, the proven stuff just works.

There’s certainly no arguing with the sound emitted from the 7.3’s sewer cannon tailpipe — a baritone roar that is deep and gruff, as if it has been drinking whiskey and smoking unfiltered Camels. Standing on the loud pedal unleashes 430 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque, all of which flows freely like a running faucet thanks to the absence of forced induction. The new 10-speed automatic, when lashed to the 7.3L, responded to accelerator prods with urgency. It is unequivocally worth the $2,045 on XL or XLT trucks and we should thank the automotive gods that it is standard equipment on Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum. It returned approximately 12 mpg in our speed racer hands.

2020 Ford Super Duty

But it was the headline act, the 6.7L Power Stroke making four-figure torque, that took us to the Main Street of America. Now making 1,050 lb-ft of torque, Ford beefed up the mill with structural enhancements to increase the strength of the cylinder head, block, connecting rods, and bearings to handle higher cylinder pressure and improved output. If you’re pondering what it feels like to stand on a throttle pedal connected to that much torque in a heavy duty pickup truck, simply attach a Roman candle to your back and ask a buddy to light the fuse. A total of 475 horsepower is also on tap, if you’re wondering.

The diesel V8, with a single turbocharger the size of a cabbage, shrugged off climbing the hills in Coconino National Forest on our way to Winslow with the indifference of a sullen teen. It was muted at cruising speed, as if it were in the next room underneath a pile of old coats. Goosing it provoked the diesel grumble people either love or hate. The 10-speed is a great dance partner, slightly stumbling over its mate’s foot only when asked to rapidly downshift while loafing along at highway speeds in 10th gear.

2020 Ford Super Duty

2020 Ford Super Duty

Arriving in the town made famous by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey, we learned it was well after — nearly twenty years, in fact — the I-40 bypass was built that the community capitalized on the Eagles connection to attract visitors lost after the new highway showed up. This is one of the many rural American communities through which Route 66 speared through downtown and, once the main artery disappeared, so did much of the tourism industry. By building the park, they’ve created a good draw. Hey, it got me — and about 100,000 other annual visitors — to check it out … after a feed at the cleanest but most old-school Church’s Chicken your author has ever seen.

If Route 66 and an Eagles reference get the attention of tourists, then the King Ranch in which we were rolling got the attention of locals. Strangers, who are surely used to people taking photos of the town, appeared at my side to compliment the big Ford or to ask if it was equipped with “that new diesel”. Clearly, it isn’t just rural Texas that can be branded truck country in this nation.

2020 Ford Super Duty

2020 Ford Super Duty

In fact, Ford sold one F-Series pickup approximately every 35 seconds in 2019. At that clip, they’ve sold approximately 10 more in the span of time it’s taken you to read this article.

Ford spox told us that despite the introduction of a new and a heavily revised engine, this lightly restyled Super Duty actually represents a mid-cycle facelift. This was said in response to questions about the infotainment system, a unit which was fine a few years ago when it first appeared but now looks like an old Zenith compared to the offerings from crosstown rivals. The unit seen in snazzy versions of the new Explorer would do wonders.

2020 Ford Super Duty

While we’re on the subject, there were more than a few interior surfaces that suffered from a bad case of accountant-itis, a disease which afflicts many vehicles when beancounters get their way and flinty plastic ends up being used for trim on items like door pulls and air vents. Truck buyers do care about this stuff, especially ones popping for one like our test truck — which stickered at an estimated $80,000.

Which brings us neatly to buying advice. At $10,495, the diesel is a tough sell unless you make a living hauling the USS Nimitz. With gasoline and diesel both trading around $3/gal in and around Phoenix, and using our as-tested mileage of 12 mpg and 20 mpg for the gas and diesel engines respectively, it would take over eight years to break even on the initial cost of Power Stroke. This does not consider interest, extra maintenance, and the amount of child support you’ll need to pay after impregnating all those stop signs by driving past them with your manly truck.

2020 Ford Super Duty

Cruising parallel to I-40 on old sections of Route 66 was a trip, with crumbling pavement and weeds punching through at drunken angles in some places. Jackrabbit Trading Post is still a going concern, providing the opportunity to park this 2020 Super Duty alongside one of its ancestors from the mid ‘70s. People were invariably kind and welcoming as they were curious about the truck. It put the exclamation point on the thought that this road will always be here and, for most roadtrippers, will always be the king.

Ford is king in terms of truck sales and, for now, king of torque in the diesel arena and king of displacement in the gasoline field. That is, of course, until another gladiator enters the ring and tosses down a gauntlet. Things being what they are in the heavy duty truck segment, you can be assured that will happen before too long — perhaps before the end of the year.

2020 Ford Super Duty

There’s no doubt it’s a great time to be a truck fan. Like Route 66, some stuff just endures. Now, which way to Radiator Springs?

[Images: © 2020 Matthew Guy/TTAC]

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59 Comments on “2020 Ford Super Duty First Drive – Long May You Truck...”


  • avatar
    Hummer

    I can see this being the Ford that sways me to the dark side, of course with all Fords I’m going to let a couple years of bugs get worked out but the only thing that I’m worried about long term from the initial view would be that 10 speed. Unfortunately for me, and fortunately for Ford – it seems all automakers are peddling these ill shifting transmissions with ridiculous number of gears.

    • 0 avatar
      jack4x

      If you’re buying diesel I might wait.

      If you’re buying gas, whatever problems show up with the transmission will be discovered by a diesel guy putting 1000+ lb-ft through it before a gasser with 475 lb-ft.

      Or the 6.2 still comes with a 6 speed in the F250 only.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        It’s really hard to mess up an OHV engine but I’ll give Ford credit for messing up much easier parts in the past.

        As for the transmission, Ford still hasn’t fixed the 10 speed in the F150, so my breath isn’t held for this to function correctly out of the gate.

        • 0 avatar
          Dan

          “I’ll give Ford credit for messing up much easier parts in the past.”

          Past, it’s 2020 and they still haven’t figured out a door latch or a washer nozzle that works in the winter.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Let me take this moment to rant about the crappy search methods of Cars.c0m, why this website let you search by displacement is simply ridiculous.

      I do see that your not entering a 4×4 4 door 7.3L anywhere under $40k even after discounts which is disappointing, off-road package with 35s doesn’t even have a search option yet.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        From Fords website my ideal truck, 4 door 4×4 Tremor off-road package, 7.3l, blue paint, and roof marker lights, (no other options) Comes out to $53,485.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          Oh and 4.30 gear ratio.

          • 0 avatar
            bullnuke

            Searching for the 4.30 rear end was a nightmare for me on that site. Required going to the dealer website for each “hit” to look at the window sticker. 90% of the 4.30’s available were cab and chassis trucks. It found the one that I bought but, jeeze, it took a couple days and several hours. There were four within 500 miles of me.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            But how good is that rear end?

          • 0 avatar
            jack4x

            I gave up finding a 4.30 equipped truck on a lot pretty early and settled on ordering.

            I believe the Tremor comes standard with 4.30 if you get the 7.3 though so that makes it easier.

          • 0 avatar
            bullnuke

            I needed the 4.30 rear end on my F350 to pull the full 16k lbs. of my horse trailer without exceeding the GCVWR for the 6.2 liter in my Supercab SRW. I suppose the 3.73 axle would have been fine – the rated GCVWR for this axle is less (I pulled the same trailer with my old 7.3 Power Stroke that was rated at 13.5k lbs GCVWR without issue). Pulls great and there’s no appreciable issue with fuel economy between ratios and about a 300 rpm difference in high gear.

          • 0 avatar
            IHateCars

            Nice….throw on a set of 37s and no need to re-gear!

  • avatar
    jack4x

    “And we should thank the automotive gods that it is standard equipment on Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum.”

    6.2L is still available in these trims, 7.3L is a $1700 option.

    Nice looking truck.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “445 cubic inches, pushrod and rocker arms, cast iron block, two valves per cylinder.”

    Ford came home.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    now imagine a crate version from Ford Racing where you could drop the 7.3 and a 6-speed auto into a ’70s barge.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      “… imagine a crate version from Ford Racing where you could drop the 7.3 and a 6-speed auto into a ’70s barge.”

      Imagine them having one lick of sense and this will be in the 2021 F-150, that’s a coil sprung rear (which they’ll also add if they aren’t stupid) from what you’re describing and they’ll sell a zillion of them.

      Including one to me.

  • avatar
    EquipmentJunkie

    Nice touch by Ford…complete with a flatbed Ford that matches the mural.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    BTW, the diesel now has *steel* pistons.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    In Winslow there was a Mexican eatery roughly a block east of “Standin’ On The Corner” that you should regret missing. A little hole in the wall that would bring any true caballero to tears of joy.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    “While we’re on the subject, there were more than a few interior surfaces that suffered from a bad case of accountant-itis…”

    There’s no way to escape this in the heavy-duty segment. The first truck that really paid any attention to interior materials was the 2019 Ram 1500. But the new Ram HD trucks aren’t going to get the 1500 interior for the moment, except for the giant screen.

    I find it very odd given that many HD truck owners spend all day in their trucks.

    • 0 avatar
      jack4x

      I don’t spend all day in my truck, but on the one hand the parts I actually touch while driving: the seats, the console, and the steering wheel, are all high quality leather that I expect to stand up to hard use for years. The door handle being a bit flimsy is not high on my list to worry about.

      On the other hand, it sends the wrong message and wouldn’t be that expensive to fix. I agree it’s odd.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        “On the other hand, it sends the wrong message and wouldn’t be that expensive to fix.”

        it would cost a lot more than you might think. not only in developing and validating a new variant, but by also increasing the costs of the other variants from reducing their volumes.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Not a fan of this truck (or pretty much any truck), but I’d like to see more of this kind of article from TTAC – briskly written, with creatively staged, good quality pictures. These 500-word blurbs, with only the finest pics IPhone can deliver, aren’t blowing my skirt up.

    Well done, sir. More, please!

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I’m not a truck guy, but that’s a really nice truck. I wonder how long buyers keep these things?

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Nice truck – the blue one I mean. :-)

    • 0 avatar
      kcflyer

      My 73 f250 has the same front end as the blue one pictured. FWIW, my son recently bought a new Ridgline. After loading his dirt bike in it the first time he said it’s no contest, the F250 is much easier since the bed floor is lower. I’m guessing the new F250 is easily a foot to two feet higher. For no good reason that I can tell. Unless you count “looking tuff”

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        “I’m guessing the new F250 is easily a foot to two feet higher. For no good reason that I can tell. Unless you count “looking tuff””

        they ride higher because the 2020 weighs more, has twice the payload capacity, and can tow a hell of a lot more than the F-250 of the 1970s. All that increased load carrying capability needs more spring, and more spring needs more travel in order to have acceptable ride quality unloaded.

        • 0 avatar
          HotPotato

          Or — more likely — everyone gets the 4×4 chassis with body lift now, whether they ordered a 4×4 or not, to standardize for cheaper production and because numbskulls think it looks cool. Ride Height, baby. Forget about slinging stuff over the side of the truck. In fact, forget about even getting into the truck through the damn bed, without some exotic step arrangement. And even suburban faux trucks have to get with the trend. When an old heavy duty truck has a lower ride height than a FWD Honda minivan based pool boy truck, you know we’ve lost the plot.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        I want to say the towing capacity on a 73ish 250 was like 4500 pounds. I may be wrong, but I thought it was in that ballpark. A good friend owns one. Half tons pull well over that nowadays. No idea on payload, but yes, the suspensions on modern trucks are not in the same universe as those old ones.

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        Actually, a 73 F250 is going to be a “High Boy” if 4×4 and about the same height as a 2020 overall.

        • 0 avatar
          kcflyer

          my 73 camper special is 2wd. no highboy. Sorry, not buying the need for these trucks to sit so high. Yes, they can haul and tow incredible amounts. Well at least tow more. The payloads have not gone up as much. But the six to 12 inches of wheel well clearance is crazy. You don’t see that on over the road trucks designed to pull GVW’s of 80,000 pounds. In fact the suspension travel is less in some cases.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            twice the capacity is “not that much?” plus when you can tow 3x as much, that’s even more tongue/gooseneck weight the truck has to carry.

            “You don’t see that on over the road trucks designed to pull GVW’s of 80,000 pounds. In fact the suspension travel is less in some cases.”

            they have airbag suspensions and can be adjusted based on the load.

            this stuff isn’t that hard to find out, you know.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            It has a solid front axle, so how low can you go? The extra GVWR doesn’t magically appear. The frame is massive and bigger brakes mean bigger wheels which means bigger tires.

            Plus with a near 200″ wheelbase, you don’t really want it riding much lower. Yeah they should come with a stair stepper for a segment of the population. OK? You gonna be alright??

          • 0 avatar
            HotPotato

            Amen, kcflyer. And I’m sure some joker will say “you know 18 wheelers have air suspension, right?” Yep. For 80 thousand damn dollars, so should this thing.

      • 0 avatar
        dont.fit.in.cars

        Needs the height for SRW high load tire.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    Thanks for the article. I sent the link to my son who will be trading his 2015 F350 at Don Chalmers in the very near future.

    But OTOH, he is also considering stepping up to an F450 because pulling an 8-horse trailer plus a full load of feed in the bed exceeds even the F350 capacity on all but a flat road.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    I’m not a truck guy.

    But can we get something like the 7.3L in more “regular” cars please? Thing sounds awesome. Wouldn’t be surprised if this is one of those tank engines that is still running strong at 500,000 miles if maintained.

    Downside….these things are expensive and the interiors always look so hard and plasticky. I’d think they could throw a few bucks at it and really step it up, make it feel at least a LITTLE like you’re sitting in an expensive vehicle.

  • avatar
    Right_Click_Refresh

    Great truck. Ford really knocked it out of the park with this one.
    License to print money right here.
    Point me to the politics thread.

  • avatar
    kcflyer

    Jim Z and Denver Mike. Wow. Anyway. If you need the height for the towing and load capacity why do the 2wd trucks offer the most capacity without the extra height? They still have solid axels and the same tire sizes. And no the increase load capacity over my 73 f250 camper special is not double for all of these trucks. Depending on configuration it ranges from the low 3s to over 7. So on the low end it is less than double and on the high end it is amazing. In any case can we have a conversation without the insults?

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Height isn’t needed for towing and payload and 4X4 reduces capacity of both. The 2wd doesn’t have a solid front axle (SFA), so the truck can be much lower. The rear end just matches the front.

      An SFA truck is lifted considerably higher so the engine will clear the axle. 4X4 reduces capacity for its add weight and all added weight reduces payload/towing, subtracting from (fixed) max capacity, except the heavier diesel increases towing for its higher power/torque and engine braking.

      Some of this is oversimplified and sorry if I sound condescending.

      • 0 avatar
        kcflyer

        Thanks for the response. I honestly thought the 350 and 450’s had the SFA. So that explains a lot. I makes me want to take a tape measure to the car lot. I’d be interested to measure suspension travel to the bump stops and compare that to measured difference between the wheel wells and top of the stock tires. I realize you need a fudge factor but I’m curious. By way of comparison my 2000 F250 4×4 sitting next to my neighbors 2017 F250 4×4 appears about a foot shorter at the top of the hood and about 4 inches lower bed height. Both are diesels. Mine a 7.3 and his the 6.7. Both crew cabs. His offers about 330 lbs more cargo capacity but my truck came with a factory camper package that may have added more cargo capacity. Of course his is rated to tow much more. About 6000 lbs more if I am reading correctly.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          There’s been a few changes in the last 20 years and some, no doubt force a taller Super Duty. Front leafs were replaced by coils (about ’05+) that have to be packaged above the axles and I’m sure more leafs in the rear.

          But F-450 pickups only come in 4X4 (and diesel), while the commercial 2wd F-450s are solid beam front axle.

          If Ford could make 4X4 Super dutys lower while keeping all its feature and functions, I’m sure they would. Except the other brand’s 4X4s are about just as high.

          Although some appreciate there’s no need for a lift kit to fit 37 inch tires, and or off road ground clearance.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    Yawn. Another refresh Ford just phoned in. That Hackett moron really has no interest in building quality and reliable vehicles.

    Cheap interior, ugly (again) exterior, pencil whipped capability numbers etc.

    Yep it’s a Ford Super Dooty

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