When it comes to heavy-duty pickups, Ford isn’t horsing around — even if it chose Churchill Downs, home to the annual Kentucky Derby — for the launch of the new F-Series Super Duty line which undergoes a major makeover for 2023.
While not a complete, ground-up redesign, Ford designers and engineers touched just about every element of the Super Duty line, from upgrading its chassis to giving the truck a new 6.8-liter V-8 as its standard engine. It also gets an array of new tech features designed to make the truck line more pleasant and easier to drive — while also helping lower operating costs for fleet and commercial customers.
First introduced in 1999, “Super Duty is a name that is trusted to get the job done, and our customers have helped to make it the most popular commercial truck in America, bar none,” said Ted Cannis, CEO of Ford Pro.
Dominating the market
The timing of the rollout of a new Super Duty is fortuitous, if not intentional, considering that key competitors, including Chevrolet, GMC and Ram, are bringing out new heavy-duty models of their own for 2023. Ford clearly isn’t one to cede a lead.
Overall, the F-Series — including the basic F-150 — is the best-selling nameplate in the U.S. And the various configurations of Super Duty hold a full 40% share of the Class 1 through 7 truck segments. That jumps to 61% among utility services, 56% among emergency responders, 51% in mining and quarrying and 47% in the forestry segment.
Those familiar with the Super Duty family won’t be shocked by the look of the 2023 model. While design chief Ehab Kaoud described the new styling as “much more progressive,” “confident,” and “commanding,” the reality is that this is an evolutionary makeover.
It starts with a wider grille that now “encompasses” the revised headlamps, giving the truck a wider, more planted appearance. There’s a more sculpted hood, and the subtle curves added to the body panels are meant to give it a tougher, more muscular appearance. There are now larger wheels and tires. And aerodynamics have come more into play with details like the air extractors behind the front wheels.
Indeed, most of the changes are functional — whether to improve fuel economy or make it easier for an owner to do their job. That includes a new step behind the rear doors to ease access to the cargo bed. Another step at the back bumper is carried over. The tailgate styling has been updated — but the most important change integrates a camera and sensors at the top that lets a driver see what’s behind even when the tailgate is folded down.
A tech-focused interior
The cabin undergoes minor tweaks, as well, adopting a more linear look to the instrument panel and new, twin gloveboxes. There’s more storage space and, for those who might need to take a break, there’s an optional “Max Recline” seat. And a 640-watt eight-speaker B&O sounds system is among the options.
The Super Duty comes standard with analog gauges and an 8-inch touchscreen. But buyers can upgrade to a digital gauge package and a 12-inch touchscreen. The larger infotainment display could become popular with commercial customers looking to take advantage of the new digital features Ford is adding to the Super Duty line.
“With state-of-the-art technology, including a 5G modem connected to a powerful ecosystem of productivity-boosting software and services, the all-new Super Duty can seamlessly shift from workhorse to office of the future,” said Cannis.
Lower operating costs
Super Duty uses the 5G modem for a variety of features and services, starting with smartphone-style over-the-air update capability that can address virtually all onboard software. Various functions can track vehicle operations, warn of potential service problems and, among other things, track vehicle location and driver behavior.
Overall, Ford claims, these new capabilities could lower the cost of ownership by anywhere from 10% to 20% for commercial users, especially those with large fleets.
Revised powertrain options
Meanwhile, to address the heavy lifting side of the Super Duty equation, Ford has made some changes to the powertrain line-up. Four engines are available, two gas and two diesel:
- The new standard package is a 6.8-liter V-8 delivering more low-end torque;
- The upgrade is a 7.3-liter V-8 that is expected to have segment-leading horsepower and torque;
- A 6.7-liter V-8 diesel is there for those who want lots of torque and good mileage; and
- Ford will offer an upgraded version of that diesel using a revised turbo, unique tuning and upgraded manifolds for even more pulling and hauling power.
The automaker hasn’t released final torque or horsepower details. But it did note that all four engines will be paired with its TorqShift 10-speed automatic transmission. Four-wheel-drive will be standard on XLT models and above.
The 2023 Ford F-Series Super Duty includes a variety of carryover features, including several meant to make it easy to hitch up, tow and then back up a trailer.
New onboard scales can alert a driver to the weight of their cargo, as well as the tongue weight of a trailer. A new head-up display system even offers a towing view. And the Trailer Navigation system can plot a route that ensures there are no insurmountable obstacles, such as a low overpass.
The trucks now also get a 2.0-kilowatt onboard generator and the Ford CoPilot 360 suite of advanced safety systems.
Timing and pricing
Ford plans to launch the 2023 F-Series Super Duty in “early 2023,” though “the chip shortage has been a challenge” and could impact the precise timing — as well as the speed at which production ramps up, noted Mike Pruitt, the truck’s program manager.
Pricing won’t be revealed until close to launch. The basic 4×2 Crew Cab model currently starts at $42,235 plus $1,795 in delivery fees.
Ford will build the Super Duty at its Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, as well as the Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake, Ohio.