One-Day Drive

First Drive Review: 2020 Ford Super Duty is better and boastfully dominant

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford has earned the right to be boastful. The Dearborn-based automaker has engineered a heavy-duty pickup that has regained the towing and hauling capacity crowns while giving buyers a wide variety of engine, interior, and technology options.

The 2020 Ford Super Duty lineup ranges from XL to XXXL and prices range from around $30,000 to near the six-figure mark. On sale now, the newest collection of medium- and heavy-duty trucks comes with a choice of three engines, three transmissions, three cab configurations, six trims, 2WD and 4WD versions, single-wheel and dual-wheel options, and a variety of chassis cab models.

2020 Ford Super Duty The Ford Super Duty is capable on-road and off.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford boasts six overall best-in-class features with the new pickups and claims the new Super Duty has leadership in 16 best-in-segment features:

  • Best-in-class maximum available diesel gooseneck towing of up to 37,000 pounds
  • Best-in-class maximum available diesel fifth-wheel towing of 32,500 pounds
  • Best-in-class maximum available diesel conventional towing of 24,200 pounds
  • Best-in-class diesel power and torque with available 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel V8 delivering 475 horsepower and 1,050 ft.-lbs.
  • Best-in-class gas power and torque from all-new available 7.3-liter V8 delivering 430 horsepower and 475 ft.-lbs.
  • Best-in-class maximum payload capacity of 7,850 pounds with standard 6.2-liter gas engine

The list of updates for the 2020 model year is long and consequential. It includes new gas and diesel engines, an all-new 10-speed automatic transmission, and chassis upgrades. Technological advances improve connectivity, payload, and towing. Ford's Pro Trailer Backup Assist and Trailer Reverse Guidance technology is now compatible with fifth-wheel and gooseneck trailers.

Designers have also made changes to the exterior and interior, and lowered the truck for easier access to the bed. The pickup's enhanced front-end design allows for optimized cooling and lighting performance under heavy loads. For the first time, all dual-rear-wheel Super Duty trucks are fitted with a uniquely designed high-airflow grille optimized for maximum powertrain cooling.

An all-new Tremor Off-Road Package brings 4x4 capability with its purpose-built design and 4WD technologies. The Super Duty also adds Trail Control, a technology that debuted on the F-150 Raptor and Ranger that functions in any driving mode and performs like cruise control for off-road driving.

2020 Ford Super Duty Pro Trailer Backup Assist and Trailer Reverse Guidance technology is now compatible with fifth-wheel and gooseneck trailers. Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Powertrain updates include a new 7.3-liter V8 with 430 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque and an upgraded third-generation 6.7-liter Power Stroke V8 turbo-diesel that gets 475 horsepower and 1,050 pound-feet of torque. A 6.2-liter V8 gas engine has been carried over from the 2019 model.

The engines are either paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission with double overdrive or a 10-speed heavy-duty TorqShift automatic transmission. The 10-speed has been re-engineered with a wider gear ratio and brings class-exclusive live-drive power takeoff for owners that use heavy-duty industrial equipment and accessories, such as snowplows. Drive modes include normal, tow/haul, eco, slippery, and deep sand and snow.

During my day-long test drive, I sampled F-250 and F-350 trucks in both 2WD and 4WD, and with gas and diesel powertrains. If you liked the Super Duty before, you'll like the new versions even more. Pleasing ergonomics and well-mannered driving dynamics make these large-sized workhorses feel smaller than they look in the mirror and predictably responsive with some lightness on their feet.

2020 Ford Super Duty The interior of the Ford Super Duty is relatively unchanged in overall design but features upgraded features.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

High marks go to the new 10-speed transmission that brings smooth motoring with extra gears and offers new drive modes that enhance traction for a variety of surfaces and bring fuel savings. Both new engines have appealing features for different buyers; the diesel will impress with its quietness around town and when towing all but the heaviest loads, while both will reward owners looking to increase towing and payload capability.

Inside are more premium trims in the cabin, while the Limited is completely refreshed with new leather, exclusive wood, and upscale crafted details. FordPass Connect is now standard on all models and an embedded 4G LTE modem with Wi-Fi allows access for up to 10 devices.

Super Duty XLT and above trim levels get standard Ford Co-Pilot 360, a suite of safety and driver assistance technology that bundles lane keeping assist, a blind spot information with trailer coverage, pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking, and automatic high beams. Class-exclusive second-row seat belt pretensioners are standard on all models.

The 2020 Ford Super Duty is on sale now.

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A new Texas-themed version of the Jeep Gladiator is on the way.

Photo courtesy of Stellantis

Jeep has brought the Gladiator's off-road chops to the trails of the Lone Star State. The 2021 Jeep Gladiator Texas Trail is another of the the traditional of special edition vehicles for Texans who occupy the nation's largest truck market. It's the first time Jeep has offered a unique-to-Texas truck.

The new model builds on the Gladiator Sport S trim adding 17-inch Mid-Gloss Back Aluminum wheels wrapped in 32-inch mud-terrain tires, four-wheel drive, standard side steps, and the Trailer Tow Group. The Gladiator Texas Trail has a unique hood and decals that feature the year 1836 in the graphic as a nod to the year of the Texas Declaration of Independence. It also wears a black hardtop, black leather seats embossed with the Texas Trail graphic and comes equipped with the Technology Group and Convenience Group packages.

2021 Jeep Gl The vehicle is ready to be fully accessorized to the buyer's wishes.Photo courtesy of Stellantis

2021 Jeep Gl

The Texas-themed model features the buyer's choice of Jeep's new 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine that's rated at 260 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque or the tried and true 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 power plant, which achieves 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque.

Jeep has badged each of the models with Trail Rated status. To achieve this status, Jeep vehicles must pass extreme off-road capability challenges.

The Gladiator Texas Trail is available in 10 colors: black, white, Snazzberry, Granite Crystal, Sarge, Nacho, Hydro Blue, Firecracker Red, Billet Silver, and Sting-Gray. Jeep recently introduced a Snazzberry-colored Wrangler.

Each Gladiator comes with the Jeep Wave customer service program, which includes three years of maintenance, 24/7 phone/online support, trip interruption/first-day loaner coverage, and VIP access to Jeep events.

The 2021 Jeep Gladiator Texas Trail has a starting MSRP of $40,435 (plus $1,495 destination) and is currently available at Texas dealers.

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Ford dealerships will be adding Bronco showrooms to their portfolio in the coming year.

Photo courtesy of Ford via Automotive News

Reporting by Automotive News reveals that Ford is enabling its dealership network to opt-in to build Bronco-specific showrooms. The stores are designed to be near or connected to existing Ford dealer locations, but will feature the Bronco horse logo rather than the traditional Ford Blue Oval.

Ford currently has two Bronco models: Bronco and Bronco Sport. All this for two models? Not quite. Ford is reportedly working on a Bronco-based pickup truck. Could it be Ranger Raptor-like? We'll have to wait and see.

Renderings of Bronco storefronts feature those models and vintage versions of the beloved off-roader alongside 3,800 square feet of building space that includes an outdoor fire pit and room to display three vehicles. There's also a wall that showcases Bronco merchandise including some of the over 200 accessories Ford is promising will be available for Bronco models.

Ford Bronco standalone showroom renderings

Photo courtesy of Ford via Automotive News

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The overall aesthetic is very much in line with what you'll see at your local REI. There's back-painted ceiling lining, exposed concrete, a gray stone entryway, and wood accents throughout the modern structure as well as plenty of windows that show it all off.

Dealers are able to modify the design that Ford has come up with. One dealer, in Arizona, told Automotive News that he is planning to build out a 12,000-square-foot space but hasn't included a fire pit in the plans because of the location's desert climate.

If dealerships don't opt for a separate showroom, dealerships can choose from other Ford-backed options to display the Bronco that are more traditional in nature. Andrew Frick, the head of Ford sales in the U.S. said that there are three options: a standalone showroom, an expansion of existing showrooms or displays that can be added to a showroom. All the options are available and recommended, but not required, kind of like the Sasquatch Package on the Bronco itself.

"It's an announcement to the world we're back; the Bronco is back," Tim Hovik, owner of San Tan Ford in Gilbert, Ariz., and chairman of Ford's national dealer council, told Automotive News. "It's such an iconic product that in an absolute way, we feel a Ford dealer is really adding almost an additional franchise."

Last month, Ford revealed that of its 190,000 reservations for either the two- or four-door Bronco, two-thirds of those have turned into firm orders. Deliveries of the redesigned Bronco are slated to begin in June. Early models are already making their way out onto the streets under the car of Ford employees.

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