Ford has regained towing king crown with improvements to the 2011 Ford F-Series Super Duty. It has been less than nine months since General Motors announced having the best towing figures on the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD twins, and now Ford has upgraded its top trucks for better towing. The new top standard towing figure is 17,500 lbs.
Towing and payload capacity are the chief practical reasons for owning the Super Duty/HD lines from Ford, GM and (Dodge) Ram. So whoever can claim the top spot for hauling loads has a true advantage in this class.
If we are witnessing the beginning of a towing war between the truckmakers, then likely the first shot came back in May when General Motors announced its 2011 Chevrolet Siverado/GMC Sierra HD line. These trucks were given an improved 6.6-liter turbo diesel that upped the power to 397 hp and 765 lb-ft of torque, which at the time bested Ford's diesel by 7 hp and 30 lb-ft. GM also utilized a fully boxed frame and high-strength steel cross sections, which made for a stronger structure. This netted a maximum standard towing capacity of 17,000 lbs.
Now Ford has beefed up its 6.7-liter turbo diesel to make 400 hp and 800 lb-ft of torque. They also added higher-strength steel to a cross member and upgraded the trailer hitch in the Super Duty line. The result is now a maximum standard towing rating of 17,500 lbs for F-350 with dual rear wheels (i.e. dualie).
The Ford Super Duty line also tops the list for other forms of towing and hauling. Single rear wheel Ford F-250 and Ford F-350s tow a maximum of 14,000, lbs, which is 1,000 lbs more than the comparable Sliverado/Sierra HDs. Payload has also improved to 7,070 lbs compared to GM's maximum 6,635 lbs.
Fifth wheel towing provides the greatest maximum trailer carrying ability for trucks because the mounting point is directly over the rear axel for better strength and weight handling. The new 2011 Ford Super Duties max out at 22,600 lbs, which is 900 lbs more than the maximum fifth wheel rating for the GM twins.
For those who need even more hauling capacity, but don't want a tractor-trailer, Ford still offers the Ford F-450. The most super of the Super Duty line gets the same engine and frame upgrades as the rest of its smaller brothers. Figures have not been released on how much more the F-450 can handle, but Ford is allowed to take its time on this one since it has no direct consumer competition after the demise of the Chevrolet Kodiak/GMC Topkick.
Noticeably absent from this tug-o-war is Ram. The RAM 2500/3500 series can tow 12,000 lbs maximum on a hitch with the 350 hp and 650 lb-ft produced by its 6.7-liter turbo diesel. While this figure is somewhat respectable, Ram's hauling stats are nowhere near king of the towing mountain. In fact, the consumer-grade RAM trucks towing maximum is currently 17,600 lbs using a fifth-wheel. That means Ram's fifth wheel towing capacity is only slightly better than the standard rear hitch capacity of comparable Ford and GM trucks. Instead the future of Chrysler's truck brand seems to be focusing its commercial end on the lighter-duty worker vehicles with a new truck aimed at tradesmen.
Each automaker's trucks with the best capabilities currently have diesel engines, and that is for a good reason. When it comes to towing and hauling something large, the extra torque available in a diesel does the best job. For those who decide they need to do their hauling with a gasoline engine, Ford still comes out on top. The 6.2-liter gas V-8 available in the Super Duty line makes 385 hp and 405 lb-ft of torque. This is good for class-leading towing stats of 15,000 lbs and 15,700 lbs with a fifth wheel. The maximum towing configuration for the 6.0-liter 360 hp 380 lb-ft gas V-8 in the Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra HD is 14,100 lbs and 14,500 lbs with a fifth wheel.
Truck owners are some of the most brand loyal buyers around. But as mentioned earlier, towing and payload is king in this Super Duty/HD truck class. So will Ford's extra capacity be enough to convince the Chevy and GMC loyal to cross the boarder into blue oval country? Or has the power war just begun?