The heavy-duty pickup truck war has heated up quite a bit this year with the Big Three all launching new models in 2010, but the diesel battle is where the real competition is brewing. While the Ram Heavy Duty trucks came earlier in the year as a 2010 model, General Motors and Ford Motor Company have been battling it out over the summer for power, torque and towing supremacy with their new diesel engines. Ford's all-new PowerStroke V-8 was usurped this summer when GM announced the power ratings for its new Duramax engine used in the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD and the 2011 GMC Sierra HD, but the upgraded Super Duty once again reigns supreme with updated software and a stiffened frame to once again claim best-in-class horsepower, torque and towing capacity. The upgraded Super Duty will now be tuned to produce 400 horsepower and 800 lb-ft of torque.
Earlier in the year, the official ratings were announced for the new Ford-built 6.7-liter Powerstroke V-8 which produced 390 hp and 735 lb-ft of torque. While these numbers were downright astonishing compared to the previous Super Duty as well as the 2010 Ram Heavy Duty's Cummins diesel, GM quickly unveiled the ratings for its updated 6.6-liter Duramax V-8 which put out 397 hp and slightly more torque at 765.
Fortunately for current owners of the 2011 Super Duty, the engine upgrades are achieved through an update to the engine controller. Trucks rolling off the assembly line and those sitting unsold on dealer lots will receive the software update, but current owners will have until August 31, 2011 to have the update performed on their trucks at any Ford dealership at no extra charge. The increase of 10 hp and 65 lb-ft of torque may seem impressive enough, but the new software will also improve the engine's fuel economy by 2 percent. Ford is quickly showing just how dominant its engine is over the previous generation PowerStroke that produced 350 hp, 650 lb-ft of torque and was 20 percent less fuel efficient. The software update will take just 20 minutes.
"We want to take care of our loyal, F-Series Super Duty pickup owners who supported us when we debuted our all-new Ford-designed, Ford-engineered and Ford-built Power Stroke earlier this year and reward them by offering them the same best-in-class torque, horsepower and fuel economy our new customers are receiving right now," said Barb Samardzich, Ford Motor Company's vice president of powertrain engineering.
In addition to the added power output, the updated F-350 Super Duty will also benefit from a stronger frame that will increase the truck's payload capacity. Similar to the engine's output, the new payload rating will improve by 550 pounds to 7,070 pounds - just enough to beat out the 2011 GM heavy duty pickups by 435 pounds. This payload increase may seem like a numbers game, but the added strength will also help improve the fifth wheel trailering abilities substantially from the current 21,600-pound rating up to 22,600 pounds - topping the GM trucks by 900 pounds. These improved numbers are only available on the F-350 Super Duty with dual rear wheels (DRW) which leaves the tow ratings for the F-250 single rear wheels (SRW), F-350 SRW and F-450 untouched. Unlike the software upgrades, this improved towing capacity will only be available on trucks built starting this month, and it proves just how competitive the full-size truck market has gotten.
"I think this is unprecedented; I don't remember anything like this," said Marc Cross, who has been the co-owner of Jordan Ford near San Antonio, Texas since 2003. "This shows the tremendous alignment between Ford Motor Company and its dealers and its customers. I also think in a way people expect this type of action from Ford. Ford is operating differently - at a higher standard."
Ratings remain the same for the gasoline engine used in the Super Duty which is a 6.2-liter SOHC V-8. This engine continues to produce 385 hp and 405 lb-ft of torque, and it offers a maximum towing capacity of 15,000 pounds.