First, we'll tell you we couldn't find anything that Ford did to screw up the Super Duty. From the new three-valve heads on the V-10 engine and the larger brakes to the heavier-gauge steel frame (now 6.7 mm compared to 5.7 mm on the old truck) and the class-leading towing and payload ratings, the Super Duty has stood out. While the other magazines on the newsstands are going to slobber over the redesigned grille and headlight treatment, we dug deeper to find what really makes this King of the Dutys so much tougher. Before any of you with older Super Dutys get too jealous, we think many of the components shown here could be retrofitted to your trucks. But that's a story for another time.
Updated InteriorThose of you hoping for an all-new Super Duty interior will be disappointed. The instrument cluster and trim panels got updated for a new look, but even on the top-of-the-line King Ranch model the layout is still traditional Super Duty, which is fine for a truck like this.
Two new features that caught our eye are the four dash-mounted auxiliary switches and the Ford-engineered electric trailer-brake controller. The switches are perfect for running add-on equipment like lockers, off-road lights, or even a winch. The trailer-brake controller (part of Ford's new Tow Command package) is the smoothest and most predictable unit we've ever used. It's the only controller on the market that knows how fast you're moving and adjusts braking accordingly. It's also the only system that can adapt its operation if the truck's antilock brakes activate. If you tow, you owe it to your trailer to check this system out.
Retro Radius-Arm SuspensionThe biggest news for 2005 is the return to a coil-spring and radius-arm solid-axle front suspension. By ditching the front leaf springs of the previous Super Duty, Ford was able to increase the steering angle the tires turn through, which was limited on the older trucks to prevent tire-to-leaf-spring contact. The results are a 5 1/2-foot-tighter turning radius for F-250/350s and a 12-foot improvement on F-450/550s. You can expect a little better ride quality and the elimination of any front axlewrap too.
It's been 26 years since Ford offered this type of suspension on any of its trucks, and we're happy to have it back. The architecture is similar to the '79 F-150, but it has been updated with longer arms and a better bushing design, according to Ford. We'll bet that you could bolt this front axle and suspension on your older Super Duty if you could get all the parts.