Whether heading to a demanding job site or a relaxing day at the lake, Ford’s new 2011 F-Series Super Duty has shown that it is still the top contender in the light-duty truck market. With the summer season in full swing we are beginning to see more Super Duty trucks on our highways towing boats, horse trailers and campers. For truck buyers, having the ability to tow a camper, fifth-wheel, RV or bigger camper is one of the major reasons for checking Ford’s new 6.7 sequential turbo-diesel on the option list.
Ford says that nearly 72 percent of Super Duty customers consider towing capability as “extremely important.” Because of this Ford has loaded the new redesigned 2011 Super Duty models with technologies directly aimed at the trailer towing customer. Leading these new technologies is Trailer Sway Control, which uses Ford’s AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control to provide an additional level of confidence and control while towing. Ford’s system uses sensors to measure wheel speed, throttle position, steering wheel angle, yaw rate and lateral acceleration as well as an exclusive gyroscopic roll-rate sensor.
The roll-rate sensor is key to the Ford system. Unlike competitors’ systems, TSC uses real-time input instead of calculations to take countermeasures. When the system detects the trailer yawing in one direction, it applies selective brake pressure on the tow vehicle’s opposite side – called asymmetric braking. This helps reduce the sway. TSC also can reduce engine power as part of the trailer-sway mitigation strategy.
For further peace of mind, an available integrated trailer brake controller, factory-installed and covered by Ford’s factory warranty, offers smooth and safe operation due to its ability to interface with multiple vehicle systems.
Normal braking is proportional to driver brake pressure for smooth stops at all speeds. If the vehicle’s Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) is engaged, the special trailer brake algorithm kicks in to minimize the potential for trailer wheel lockup. When towing trailers with electric brakes, Super Duty trucks equipped with the trailer brake controller can apply the brakes during a sway event to help stabilize it.
And of course the new Ford-designed, engineered and built 6.7-liter V-8 diesel engine offers best-in-class horsepower, torque and fuel economy making it an enabler to the increased control towing customers will demand. The new 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8 turbocharged diesel engine’s integrated exhaust brake increases engine exhaust back pressure when needed to help slow the vehicle and trailer while in tow/haul mode. There’s no button to push; the diesel powertrain calibration automatically increases the engine exhaust back pressure when needed, making it seamless to the customer.
The new turbodiesel is mated to an all-new 6R140 heavy-duty TorqShift six-speed automatic transmission with has manual shifting capability. There are also various modes like Progressive Range Select, Manual Mode and tow/haul mode, that are useful when towing.
Progressive Range Select allows a customer, through a toggle on the shift lever, to reduce the range of gears while in Drive. When the customer “taps” down into Range Select mode by pressing the toggle switch on the shift lever, the display shows the gears available for the transmission to shift to, and also continuously updates the current transmission gear.
Customers also can switch to Manual Mode and use the same shift toggle to select the gear desired. The torque converter aggressively locks up while in this manual mode and holds the gear to provide manual transmission-like control, yet is smart enough to downshift if the driver comes to a stop and forgets to downshift.
The enhanced tow/haul mode provides better control when hauling a heavy trailer load, especially when going down grades. The improved system uses an array of sophisticated electronic sensors that better predict the driver’s need for a downshift to provide engine braking and enhanced control. Manual Mode delivers greater control when low gears are needed, like pulling a trailer out of a boat ramp.
Another significant control strategy is Hill Start Assist, which is a sensor-based system that will hold the brakes for up to 2.5 seconds to prevent rollback when stopping or starting from rest on an incline. The system employs a digital accelerometer to measure slope incline and activates automatically when the incline exceeds 3 percent.
The 2011 F-Series Super Duty also offers customers more ready-to-tow options from within the cargo box with an available factory-installed class-exclusive fifth-wheel/gooseneck hitch prep package. This package is warranted by Ford and includes an integrated, patent-pending under-bed frame-mounted crossmember for added strength. It is compatible with either type of hitch accessory kit through Ford Custom Accessories. It’s available for $370 MSRP, significantly less than many aftermarket installations.
Five laser-cut holes in the pickup box provide access to the fifth-wheel and gooseneck hitch attachment points. The attachment points are finished with trim bezels and closeout covers to maintain a flat cargo bed. A seven-pin connector is integrated to the pickup bed inner wall on the driver’s side to allow for a clean installation.
Inside the cab, trailer hookups are made easier with the rearview camera option. After shifting into reverse, a full-color image from the tailgate-mounted camera is displayed in the rearview mirror or on the available navigation system’s 6.5-inch screen.
Also available are class-exclusive PowerScope trailer tow mirrors that adjust, fold and telescope almost 3 inches at the touch of a switch; this option includes integrated clearance lights and turn signals, plus heated glass with manually adjustable spotter mirrors.
In the first quarter, Ford has reported that truck sales have rebounded considerably. This trend not only points to recovering market conditions but reflects the heavy investment they have made in raising the bar for their products.