Expert Reviews

2020 Ford Super Duty First Drive Review

AutoTrader SCORE
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
  • Safety

In the province of Ontario, you cannot legally tow more than 4,600 kg (10,141 lb) with a Class G licence. But for recreational vehicle enthusiasts, a “two-axle house trailer” pulled by a fifth wheel gets an exemption, though it is mandated that the truck and trailer still weigh no more than 11,000 kg (24,250 lb) combined.

Why does this matter? With the new 2020 Ford Super Duty and its enormous towing capacity – maxing out at 37,000 lb with a gooseneck – it’s easy to load this truck up well past where you’ll need a Class A licence. And with all that pulling power being put into the hands of regular folks, Ford has introduced tons of new technology and safety features to make sure that even at the limit, this truck remains confident and safe.

Styling: 7/10

For 2020, updates to the styling on these big trucks are minimal, taking the beefy squared-off front end and slapping a larger grille on it to both improve cooling and make sure that you see this beast from Ford coming from a ways away. New taillights and tailgate have also been added to the 2020 truck, giving the back end a more modern feel. But it’s the signature “C-clamp” headlights wrapped around the outer edges of the grille that gives the Super Duty great presence and ties it together with the entire F-series family.

Safety: 8/10

Safety technology has been added all over the new Super Duty, not just helping the truck drive down the street but also to precisely control massive loads. Ford Co-Pilot 360 now comes standard on all trucks at the XLT trim and above, and includes lane-keep assist, blind spot monitoring with trailer coverage, pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking, and auto high-beams. Second-row seatbelt pretensioners are also standard on all Super Duty models, a class-exclusive feature.

Showing its commitment to safety, Ford separately crash-tested the F-250 Tremor, fit with its new, available Warn winch to ensure the configuration didn’t affect crashworthiness.

Practicality: 9/10

The typical pickup truck is already built around the idea of practicality, but once you add the big tow and payload ratings of the 2020 Super Duty, it becomes the ultimate work machine ready for any situation. When properly equipped, this truck can pull a 32,500-lb fifth-wheel trailer, a 24,200-lb conventional bumper-pull trailer, and haul up to 7,850 lb of payload, making it capable of just about any job you can dream up.

Besides its hard work ethic, the Super Duty proves itself a practical companion for simple unladen driving. Two beds are available: an 8-foot bed and a 6.75-foot bed, both of which come with a removable cleat system that allows you to buy accessories from Ford to customize your bed. Crew cab models offer a huge amount of space for passengers as well, with 1,107 mm of rear seat legroom.

The one aspect of the Super Duty that allows it all of this practicality is also a limiting factor: the truck’s size. It needs to be so big to support the huge trailers it’s capable of towing, but in tight city driving, it certainly isn’t the most practical choice.

User Friendliness: 7/10

Sitting behind of the wheel of the Super Duty provides you with easy access of all necessary controls, and there are a lot of them. Especially in its info cluster display screen, the Super Duty offers a massive amount of information, such as transmission temperatures, diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) fill level, off-road angles, and more. Having so much information at your fingertips is impressive, if overwhelming at times, the exact reason Ford gives you the option to customize your own screen to just show the options you want.

The user-friendliness of the truck is also well demonstrated by its new Pro Trailer Backup Assist system. When in reverse, it allows the driver of the truck to use a small knob located at their right knee to manoeuvre an attached trailer. Turn the knob right, the trailer goes right and vice versa. No steering input required, you simply use the gas and brake to move the truck.

Even the most inexperienced at towing now have a leg up by going with Ford, and what’s more, the brand even made setting the system up easier. It now uses a module that sticks onto the trailer close to the either the fifth-wheel pin or trailer hitch, eliminating the need for manual measurements, as on the F-150.

Features: 9/10

With six different trim levels (XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum, Limited), feature availability is very much dependent on how much you’re looking to spend. But at the top of the heap, the 2020 Super Duty is absolutely chock-full of useful features.

Besides that clever Pro Trailer system, the Super Duty offers a camera system that shows tons of angles all around the truck, and can even support a trailer-mounted camera to show you behind whatever you’re towing. And to make sure you can control the weight when it comes time to stop, and updated diesel exhaust brake has been added to trucks with the 6.7L engine that allows for a “full on” setting or an “auto” setting, allowing the truck to engage exhaust braking when necessary.

Other new features are designed to keep occupants happy, including available heated and ventilated seats. New for 2020, the Super Duty offers wireless phone charging. The standard 4G LTE modem means that even the most basic 2020 Super Duty will offer Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity, regardless of trim.

Two new USB ports have been added for rear-seat passengers, while USB-C ports have also been added to support newer devices that rely on the smaller connector.

Another new feature for Super Duty is drive mode selection, which tailors the engine, transmission, and traction control system to your currently chosen mode. Tow/haul, Eco, Slippery and Deep sand/snow modes have been added to the Super Duty for the first time, and there’s one more drive mode that brings us to another huge addition into the Super Duty lineup: the Tremor.

The Tremor package offers a number of off-road-focussed features, starting with an exclusive Rock crawl drive mode. A set of 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler tires, a locking rear differential, limited-slip front diff, and a nearly 2-inch lift all arrive on the Tremor, making it ready to take on the Power Wagon from Ram. An a new 12,000-lb Warn winch can also be added to the package, coming with both wireless and wired remotes for operation.

Power: 9/10

Ford has best-in-class power from both its Godzilla 7.3L gas and 6.7L diesel engines, and it absolutely feels like it. The new gas engine has gone back to a pushrod design, helping it to not only be compact but also have a nice, flat power curve, delivering near-peak power early and keeping it coming strong right through the meat of the rev range – outputting 430 hp and 475 lb-ft of torque.

Whether it was on the off-road course in the new Tremor or towing a near-15,000-lb trailer, the Godzilla 7.3L gas engine (what an appropriate name for this engine...) delivered impressive low-end power and addictive linear delivery.

Hop in the updated 6.7L diesel, which received plenty of updates including a new turbo, new steel piston heads, a new fuel system, and a variable-displacement oil pump, and the 475 horsepower and mind-bending 1,050 lb-ft of torque (at 1,600 rpm, no less) makes you completely forget that this truck weighs around 6,500 lb (curb weight is trim-dependent). It leaps off the line and also pulls incredibly strong through the first half of its ten forward ratios.

That ten-speed automatic is now paired with both the 7.3L and the 6.7L, offering lower access to the torque from each powerplant and better highway cruising fuel economy thanks to three overdrive ratios. Shifts are clean and precise, with the transmission seeming to always know where it should be. It is certainly a busy unit with all those ratios and can be seen constantly shifting, but the smoothness with which it does so means that the driver hardly notices.

The base 6.2L V8 gas engine returns – rated for 385 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque – rounding out the engine options.

Comfort: 6/10

Driving comfort in any heavy-duty pickup will always be compromised by these trucks’ ability to haul big loads, needing a stiff suspension to support thousands of pounds of payload. So yes, the 2020 Super Duty remains a stiff ride, but as heavy-duty pickups go, this one of the more plush, compliant rides available when there’s nothing in the back of the truck. Curb weight here makes a massive difference as well, as driving a basic two-wheel-drive truck weighing closer to 6,000 lb is significantly softer-riding than a beastly F-450, which can tip the scales at up to 8,500 lb.

Driving Feel: 8/10

Speed-sensitive steering thanks to a new electric motor added onto the hydraulic steering system is the first change you’ll notice behind the wheel, allowing the wheel to be light at parking lot speeds and heavier when on the highway, going a long way to making the truck feel planted when moving at speed. This new motor also read the driver’s inputs and if it notices a constant pull to one side or the other will quickly adapt and provide the right amount of steering torque to counteract the crown in the road or a cross wind.

More so than before, the Super Duty feels nimble, with a driving feel that makes the truck seem smaller than it is. This is accomplished thanks in part to the electronic driver’s aids that help you keep things between the lines, good sightlines with large mirrors, and suspension tuning that makes turn-in quick and sharp with little body roll through the twisties.

Fuel Economy: 8/10

Heavy-duty trucks are not required to have fuel economy ratings, so there is no official information to be shared. It is safe to say that the Super Duty will be more fuel-efficient than before thanks to its new powertrains.

Value: 5/10

Even at the low end of the market, the Super Duty is still an expensive proposition in Canada. At the bottom end of the lineup, the cheapest F-250 starts at $41,859 in Canada, already a hefty amount to pay for a basic truck with that old 6.2L gas engine. Where the value lives is in the XLT trim, offering plenty of standard features and selling for $48,789 for an F-250.

F-350 single rear wheel (SRW) goes for $44,489 for the base XL, but $51,429 for XLT. Adding the dual rear wheels (DRW) adds $1,250 to the cost of the truck, not a lot to pay for a ton more capability when it comes to towing and payload.

But as we look at the top trim levels, the value starts to vanish. A new F-250 SRW Limited, the highest trim, starts at $97,629, while the F-350 SRW Limited sells for $99,029. By now you’ve already guessed it: this truck easily cracks the $100,000 mark.

Opting for a F-350 DRW Limited brings the starting price to $100,879, while the most expensive truck in the lineup is the F-450 Limited, at $104,429.

The Verdict

If you’re going to engineer a truck that can pull loads meant for semis, you’d better be ready back that machine up with all the necessary systems and equipment to make sure it can handle those weights comfortably and confidently. Ford did not let us down.

The 2020 Super Duty has all the right stuff to make it entirely confident, even when the loads become enormous. And when you’re not hauling loads, this truck double as a luxury family hauler with every modern feature you’d expect from an automobile.

Engine Displacement 6.7L Diesel
Engine Cylinders V8
Peak Horsepower 475 hp @ 2,800 rpm
Peak Torque 1,050 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm
Fuel Economy N/A
Cargo Space 8' or 6.75' bed
Model Tested 2020 Ford Super Duty
Base Price $41,859
A/C Tax
Destination Fee $1,595
Price as Tested