Ford’s tricky F-450 Series Super Duty with bed-extender

Ford’s tricky F-450 Series Super Duty with bed-extender
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September 29, 2006 Ford’s top-selling work truck, the F-Series Super Duty, has been overhauled for the 2008 model year and will go on sale in early 2007 with a new range-topping F-450 pickup as the star of the show. The F-450 can handle payloads in excess of 6,000 pounds, has a towing capacity of more than 24,000 pounds, and can be powered by the well-known 362-horsepower 6.8-liter V-10 Triton gasoline engine, or a new 6.4-liter Power Stroke Diesel that delivers 350 horsepower at 3,000 rpm and 650 lb.-ft. of torque starting at 2,000 rpm. The bit that really caught our eye though, was the ingenious two-piece stowable bed extender.

Offered in three cab styles – Regular Cab, SuperCab and Crew Cab – and with two bed lengths, the new Super Duty will feature a bold look inside and out, an all-new, more powerful, state-of-the-art Power Stroke Diesel and a host of unique, innovative features not found on any other truck. And the line of Ford Super Duty trucks has been expanded for 2008, with an even more capable workhorse: the new F-450 pickup.

“The F-450 pickup doesn’t just raise the bar for heavy duty pickups, it tosses it out. Game over,” said Mark Fields, President of the Americas. “Every aspect of the new line of Super Duty trucks, including capability enhancements, design changes and feature innovations is uniquely designed after spending a great deal of time talking with – and listening to – our customers.”

Ford’s Super Duty set the standard in the over 8,500-pound GVWR truck segment when it was launched in 1998 as a 1999 model. Unlike competitors who simply modify their existing light-duty trucks, Super Duty utilizes its own unique architecture, designed and developed specifically to meet the needs and demands of the over 8,500-pound truck customer. This unique approach, with two dedicated architectures, is just one reason why the Ford F-Series has been America’s best-selling truck for 29 years and why Super Duty has dominated its segment, outperforming and outselling the competition every year since launch.

“We’ve been able to attract customers and pull big share numbers with Super Duty because we made the decision to set Super Duty apart from the rest of the segment,” said Cisco Codina, group vice president, North American Marketing, Sales and Service. “We’ve built our leadership reputation over time. Just being able to say that we’ve been America’s best-selling truck for 29 years says that we’ve been here, understanding and consistently meeting the needs of the true truck customer.”

For true truck customers, Super Duty is their life-blood, serving the multifaceted aspects of their lives. Whether towing a backhoe to the construction site or towing a boat to the lake, they demand a truck that is capable and dependable. Super Duty consistently meets those needs.

“The Super Duty customer isn’t the guy who buys a pickup because it’s cool to have a pickup. These guys are working with this truck,” said Ben Poore, Ford Truck marketing manager. “They’re hauling and towing, often earning their living with their trucks, and their truck has to be as reliable and dependable as they are.”

All-new F-450 pickup adds capability for customers who demand the most

Today’s Super Duty customers are consistently searching for more capability. Ford research has shown that more than 90 percent of Super Duty owners tow, and their towing needs are growing. To meet that need, Ford is introducing the new F-450 pickup model. It combines the right axle, right powertrain, and right suspension to manage the loads of pulling a heavier trailer while maintaining a refined, comfortable ride.

For example, the F-450 pickup rides on its own unique chassis. It incorporates a new rear leaf-spring suspension while using the radius arm front suspension from the F-450 chassis cab. This set-up provides for the tightest turning radius in its class, greatly improving maneuverability when towing.

“The increased towing and cargo hauling capability, the engine enhancements and all the refinements make the F-450 absolutely the most capable pickup truck we’ve ever built—period. And that is exactly what our customers are asking for,” said Pete Reyes, Super Duty chief engineer.

According to a study by the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), towable RV shipments have grown steadily over the past five years, topping out at 323,000 units shipped in 2005, a 15.4 percent increase over 2004. In the same time frame, conventional motor coaches experienced a decline in sales, with shipments of the Type A variety down 18.1 percent in 2005.

The RVIA says that higher fuel prices and a desire for more flexibility are driving customers out of conventional motor coaches and into towable travel trailers and fifth wheels. And as these customers move to towable trailers, they will still expect to have the same level of luxury features – such as tile floors, granite countertops and big-screen TVs – as they had in their motor coaches. For example, almost 90 percent of fifth-wheel RVs shipped in 2005 had at least one fold-out room, according to RVIA data.

The 2007 F-350 Super Duty already offered best-in-class maximum payload of 5,800 pounds and maximum towing capacity of 19,200 pounds. The new 2008 F-450 pickup widens the capability gap, offering a maximum payload of more than 6,000 pounds and towing capacity of more than 24,000 pounds – a 5,000-pound increase over the class-leading F-350. All of this added capability comes with the same increased level of refinement found in the new 2008 F-250 Super Duty and F-350 Super Duty.

“Customers tell us they want to tow and the F-450 delivers,” said Reyes. “The trailer builders will be writing us thank-you letters because they can sell trailers with granite counter tops and fireplaces. And adding another horse to the trailer is no problem for the F-450 pickup.”

All-new 6.4-liter Power Stroke Diesel is cleaner, quieter and more powerful

A more powerful 6.4-liter Power Stroke Diesel joins a powertrain lineup that already includes the segment’s most powerful gasoline engine, the 362-horsepower 6.8-liter V-10 Triton.

Annual U.S. diesel truck registrations have increased to more than 500,000 a year from about 400,000 in 2001. Ford has long been the industry leader, selling 1.3 million diesel-powered F-Series pickups in the United States since 2001 alone. Ford sells more diesel-powered pickup trucks annually than Chevrolet and Dodge combined. Nearly three-quarters of all Ford Super Duty trucks sold are diesel-powered.

The new engine benefits from an innovative development process designed to more accurately reflect how Super Duty customers use their vehicles every day. The team began by collecting real-world data from working Super Duty commercial customers, tracking their daily duty cycles. That data was used to develop durability tests that more closely represented real-world use. To better assure durability, the tests were conducted using the most extreme and abusive conditions and run to five-times the life cycle that the hardest-working truck would ever experience.

“By the time we launch this vehicle,” said Dan Davidson, Powertrain supervisor, “the engine will have seen more than 10 million equivalent miles of testing both on the dyno and in test vehicles.”

The 6.4-liter Power Stroke Diesel delivers 350 horsepower at 3,000 rpm and 650 lb.-ft. of torque starting at 2,000 rpm and utilizes Ford Clean Diesel Technology, which includes, among other features, a high-pressure, common rail fuel system, Piezo-electric fuel injectors and an advanced diesel particulate filter system to deliver strong performance while reducing particulate output by more than 90 percent and posting emissions numbers on par with gasoline engines.

High-tech, series sequential turbochargers provide improved response and better low-end performance. The unique system uses a small, electronically controlled, smart remote variable geometry turbocharger that comes on at low rpm to provide extra boost at take-off. As rpms increase, the larger fixed turbo joins the smaller turbo to boost power through the middle of the torque curve. As optimum speed is reached, the larger turbo takes over. Tests have shown zero-to-60 times of more than a second faster than the outgoing 6.0-liter.

Transmission choices include a six-speed manual with overdrive or a TorqShift five-speed automatic. The powertrains use a new unique mounting system that better isolates the powertrain and reduces vibration. Both two- and four-wheel-drive models will be available on the 2008 Super Duty.

New interior provides quiet comfort and improved ergonomics

The all-new interior builds on the successful tough luxury design established by the Ford F-150 and advanced for Super Duty, increasing capability, quietness and refinement to levels never before available in Super Duty’s segment.

“We know people are spending more time in their trucks, and this is especially true for the Super Duty customer,” said Poore. “The truck is their office. It’s where they do their business. It’s important to not only meet their capability needs but also the comfort and styling needs as well.”

The sharp, modern design features all-new materials and includes luxury touches like contrast stitching on the seats and rich, Chaparral leather on the King Ranch. Like the exterior, Super Duty’s interior was designed to be functional and capable while still delivering a high level of quality and craftsmanship with a luxurious look.

Designers combined rich surfaces with elements borrowed from high-end power tools and butcher block-style wood accents to define the tough-luxury interior.

“Think of it like a modern kitchen, in a way,” said Pat Schiavone, design director Ford trucks. “A kitchen can be very stylish and look very expensive, but it also must be very functional. It was that kind of thinking that drove tough luxury.”

The prominent center stack houses most of the vehicle’s switches, integrating all functions into one easy-to-reach central area. The auxiliary switches and Trailer Brake Control system are now fully integrated into the center stack for a cleaner, user-friendly appearance.

The rings surrounding the gauges and air vents are notched, more angular and defined. The gauges are also better organized and easier to read. All-new door trim features dual map pockets that are better integrated into the interior. A large center console is designed to hold file folders and keep laptop computers tucked out of sight.

Super Duty utilizes several innovative technologies to provide an ultra-quiet cabin. Quiet Steel , a unique composite laminated steel sheet, makes up the vehicle’s dash panel and works with extra sound padding in the dash and floor, a rear bulkhead panel and thicker side glass to help keep unwanted noise out of the cabin.

A totally redesigned climate control system has more balanced airflow and refined, quieter operation that improves cabin comfort. The system uses a more reliable, more durable, higher capacity compressor, one of the many components that contribute to the better performance of the A/C system. Floor ducts for the heater now run under the seat, out of site of the rear-seat passengers.

Dual-zone Electronic Automatic Temperature Control (EATC) has been added as a standard feature on the Lariat and King Ranch for 2008, allowing the driver and front passenger to set individual temperatures. Diesel customers can opt for the innovative Rapid Heat supplemental heating system – the first of its kind in North America – that augments the diesel truck’s heater to provide faster warm-up on cold mornings.

“Diesel truck owners will love this,” said Poore. “They’ve come to expect a certain level of performance from their trucks. This system will surprise them.”

All audio systems are now MP3 capable and feature a standard auxiliary audio input. The input allows an MP3 player to play through the vehicle’s stereo system. Super Duty customers can also now opt for a premium a udiophile system, featuring eight speakers with subwoofer and 6-disc CD changer.

A DVD-based navigation system with an in-dash screen is available on FX4 and Lariat SuperCabs and Crew Cabs. Rear seat passengers can enjoy the DVD Entertainment System – available on XLT, FX4 and Lariat Crew Cabs – with an eight-inch video screen, two wireless headphones and remote control.

Exterior design maintains bold, American look, improves capability

Super Duty designers have delivered a truck that makes a bold design statement by emphasizing Super Duty’s increased capability. The larger, more prominent grille, sharply sculpted fender flares and fender-mounted air vents are just a few of the new design cues that announce that Super Duty is all about working hard.

“The design of the 2008 Super Duty was driven by the improvements in the capability of the truck.” said Schiavone. “For example, we started by raising the nose and enlarging the grille to improve cooling, which in turn improves towing performance.”

Super Duty’s impressive, larger grille not only makes a bold statement, but also helps improve cooling, which in turn improves, among other things, trailer towing capability.

The grille sits on a horizontal cut line that defines the top of the bumper and also serves as a base for the stacked headlamps, delivering a clean, tight and more refined look. The step pad on the front bumper is specifically textured and designed for the customers who use the bumper while servicing the truck

Super Duty proudly announces itself with a large Ford Blue Oval badge sculpted into the grille and “SUPER DUTY” embossed into the grille’s leading edge – a tribute to Ford’s truck heritage – harking back to the embossed FORD letters on the tailgate of the original F-Series.

The raised grille emphasizes the sculpted sides of the powerdome hood and carries the theme to the air vents mounted on the fender just behind the crisply defined wheel arch. The vents dissipate engine compartment heat and designate the type of powertrain beneath the hood – red for diesel, black for gasoline.

The distinctive dropped beltline, a Ford truck design cue, improves visibility and carries the eye rearward to the revised tailgate, with the Lift-Assist System now standard across the model range, and the Ford oval mounted front-and-center, flanked by redesigned tail lamps. A deeper rear bumper helps to balance the design while providing easier access to the bed.

Five all-new wheel designs including standard 18-in. premium chromed steel wheels on Lariat and 20-in. premium polished forged aluminum wheels join a list of 10 wheel options across the line-up.

Along with XLT, Lariat and high-line King Ranch models, the 2008 Super Duty now offers an FX4 model available on 4x4 SuperCab and Crew Cab. The FX4 includes skid plates, Rancho branded dampers, a special body-color billet-style grille and many other features. The FX4 is available in five colors including a new Dark Blue Pearl Clearcoat Metallic (also new for King Ranch) over Shadow Grey Clearcoat Metallic. Forest Green Clearcoat Metallic replaces Forest Green Satin Clearcoat Metallic and a brighter, richer Pueblo Gold Clearcoat Metallic replaces Arizona Beige Clearcoat Metallic as the lower color on XLT, Lariat and King Ranch two-tone models.

Innovative ideas: industry-unique Tailgate Step and stowable bed extender

Ford’s unique relationship with the Super Duty customer has fostered the kind of innovation that creates products like the Tailgate Step and stowable bed extender. These new features are available only on Super Duty and designed specifically to meet the needs of Super Duty customers, making their jobs easier.

The optional Tailgate Step and the two-piece stowable bed extender provide customers with the convenience of using these systems when they need them, but at the same time not requiring the removal of the systems when they are not in use.

“When we see how people are working with their trucks, we react to that,” said Poore. “One example is the Tailgate Step. If you go to any job site and see how people get up into the back of the truck, hopping into the bed or climbing up on the tire, you say, ‘There has got to be a better way.’ That’s the genius behind the Tailgate Step, looking at the market and solving the need with an intuitive feature.”

The Tailgate Step is fully integrated into the tailgate and virtually invisible when not in use – the entire feature is housed in the tailgate with the lower step becoming the center of the top rail of the tailgate when not in use. To use the step, simply drop the tailgate into the down position, grab the bottom step, pull it straight out from the tailgate and drop it down into the step position – all in one easy motion. The 16.7 by 4.5-inch flip-down step pad makes it easy to step up into or down out of the bed to load or unload cargo.

The Tailgate Step is as tough as the Super Duty, made of high-strength steel construction, is MIG welded for added strength, and has been tested up to 1,000 pounds.

A unique grab handle folds up and out of the tailgate to provide extra support when using the Tailgate Step, supporting up to 300 pounds. When not in use, the grab handle fits snuggly into a channel molded into the tailgate inner-liner. For added safety, the tailgate liner has an added coating creating a non-slip walking surface.

“It’s just another example of the way we innovate differently,” said Poore. “I have seen guys who have made their own version of a step, but none as cleanly integrated into the truck.”

The stowable bed extender works like any other, extending storage space to the end of the bed, or it can set inside the tailgate leaving a small, enclosed section that keeps cargo from sliding forward near the cab. But the similarities end there. This innovative extender separates into two pieces that fold and snap securely to the sides of the bed, allowing full space and functionality of the bed when the extender is not needed.

Super Duty’s stowable bed extenderis made of strong, blow-molded polypropylene, is impact and corrosion resistant and can withstand up to 1,000 pounds of static pressure. The 21-inch tall cage folds out, clamps together in the center and is secured to the bed with a bolt-action latch. It easily folds out of the way when not needed and secures to the inside of the bed.

Industry-first PowerScope integrated power-fold, power-telescoping mirrors

Super Duty continues to lead the pack when it comes to towing and capability by offering such innovations as the industry’s first power-fold and power-telescoping side mirrors.

Industry-exclusive power-fold and power-telescoping side mirrors combine improved functionality with a design that has been toughened to match the Super Duty’s good looks. The large mirrors extend outward up to 2.75 inches and feature a power-adjustable main mirror with a manually adjusted spotter mirror that is more than double the size of the previous generation, greatly improving visibility. The mirrors telescope or fold at the touch of a switch mounted to the windowsill and are integrated into the vehicle’s seat-position and pedal-memory system. The mirrors also feature heated glass, clearance lamps and integrated turn signals.

Proven chassis and revised suspension deliver refined capability

Super Duty’s superior ride and handling and class-leading capability are the result of a rugged chassis and refined suspension designed specifically to meet the growing needs of today’s customers.

Every 2008 Super Duty frame now has a new front stub designed with safety in mind. By lowering the frame horns seven inches at the front, the new frame meets vehicle compatibility standards without the need for add-on components. The new design also improves cooling and provides a solid foundation for the hydroformed body structure. Every Super Duty frame is e-coated for improved corrosion resistance.

The newly designed leaf-spring rear suspension delivers superior ride and handling in all load situations. The eight-inch longer springs attach farther forward on the frame giving the vehicle more balance and better control. New damper tuning further improves Super Duty’s confident feel on the road.

The Super Duty is the first truck in the industry to use a high-strength steel front body structure. The patented structure, made up of two side rails that are welded to the bulkhead and frame, not only serves to create a very rigid foundation, the system’s modular construction eases assembly and delivers higher quality and better fit and finish.

The revised frame and front-end structure enables a Front Gross Axle Weight Rating (FGAWR) increase to 5,250 pounds on 4x2 F-250 and F-350 trucks. A 12.5K trailer hitch is now standard on F-250/350 SRW and some F-350 DRWs. A 15K hitch is standard on most F-350 DRWs and all F-450 pickup models receive a 16K hitch.

Exclusive features add to Super Duty’s towing prowess

Ford’s available TowCommand System still includes the industry’s first factory-installed and warranted electronic trailer brake controller, offering smoother operation and safety features. This includes a special trailer brake strategy for when the truck’s anti-lock braking system detects poor traction. No aftermarket trailer brake controller can provide this.

Ford’s TowCommand System also includes the TorqShift transmission with tow-haul mode and trailer tow mirrors. TorqShift with tow-haul mode changes shift points under acceleration, keeping the truck at a higher rpm and further up in the power range. Tow-haul also prevents the transmission from upshifting when the vehicle crests a hill, and it provides downhill braking that allows the transmission to downshift, letting engine-compression braking slow the vehicle and maintain a steady speed while going downhill.

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