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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New off-roader

Ford Bronco Production Officially Begins

The Ford Bronco is finally ready for primetime.

Ford

The time is finally here. After years of speculation and several months of pandemic-related delays, the Ford Bronco is starting to roll off the assembly line. The SUV marks the first new Bronco model in Ford's lineup in 15 years, not counting the Bronco Sport, and is one of the most hyped and sought-after vehicles to hit the market in quite some time. Ford's announcement that production has begun will be accompanied by a special YouTube presentation that Ford says will include interviews with the Bronco team and with reservation holders at the automaker's new Modification Center.


2021 Ford Bronco Ford added 2,700 jobs to support Bronco production.Ford


Bronco production has driven Ford to invest $750 million into its Michigan Assembly Plant, and the automaker says it has added 2,700 jobs to support the rollout. Ford's push to begin production can't come soon enough. Over 125,000 Bronco orders have been placed, and multiple delays have pushed the vehicle's arrival back, meaning there is considerable demand for the off-road legend.

Ford is ready to capitalize on the craze and will offer several ways to customize the new vehicle. At its 1.7 million square-foot Modification Center, The Blue Oval will factory-install several optional modifications that include equipment such as a front bumper safari bar, graphics packages, roof racks, and more. That's on top of more than 200 factory-backed accessories that can be installed at the dealer, either at or after the time of purchase.


2021 Ford Bronco Delays and production difficulties have pushed the Bronco back.Ford


If you are hoping to get behind the wheel of a new Bronco, it could be a while. Even buyers that have been in line for a while now might not see their new vehicle until late 2021 or 2022, and the vehicle's official rollout will almost certainly re-spike demand. Even so, many feel it's worth the wait, and Ford's vehicle configuration tool is live, so go check it out for yourself.

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The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder arrives on dealer lots this summer.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder doesn't have to be capable of rock crawling or deep water fording. What it has to do is service the needs of families in their daily life and give them the opportunity to competently go off-roading on rocky trails should they desire. The new, fifth-generation models does just that and adds in enough nifty features to make it among the most compelling choices for three-row SUV buyers.

The 2022 Pathfinder is thoroughly modern though not the boxy off-roader it once was. The SUV's styling harkens back to that time with a tilted, darkened C-pillar and a return to a more muscular body style. That styling makes straightforward visibility good but for shorter drivers seeing what is immediately in front of the grille is a challenge that necessitates using surround view camera technology (available only in upper trim levels) when navigating challenging terrain.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder can easily handle the roads less traveled.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Under the hood is a 3.5-liter V6 that offers up 291 horsepower and torque - plenty to do the job without complaint. The SUV's nine-speed automatic transmission replaces the continuously variable transmission (CVT) from the previous generation and delivers smooth shifts. Though low-end torque isn't as robust as I like it to be, once up over 35 mph, the Pathfinder's powertrain delivers smooth, powerful sailing.

The redesigned architecture and components underpinning the Pathfinder make it stable on the road and don't allow it to wallow on winding roads. Even off-road, the suspension provides the right blend of stability while the drive dynamics allowing the driver to feel engaged with their surroundings whether on freshly paved roads, city streets, or muddy trails.

Nissan has given the Pathfinder a 6,000-pound towing capacity and even when maxed out the engine's functionality is strong as ever. The transmission can get held up in a gear mid-range when performing this function, however, with 5,000-6,000 rpms registering on the tachometer but a quick release of the gas pedal recalibrates the offering bringing it down to a more traditional 2,000 rpm range.

The eight-seater Pathfinder clearly has the Toyota Highlander in its sights, with good reason. It's the top-selling three-row SUV in the country. Nissan boasts that three adults can fit across the rear bench seat of the Pathfinder and, as long as they're average size or smaller, the marketing talking point holds up. There is gobs more room back there than there is in the Highlander.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder Nissan has given the Pathfinder ample cargo space.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Getting in and out of the third row is easy thanks to one-touch buttons on the outboard side of the second-row chairs that move the SUV's captain's seats forward creating enough room to get through to the back. Smartly, Nissan's engineers have put duplicates of these buttons on the back side of the same seats allowing third-row passengers to simply press the button to move the seat up.

The third row can also be accessed via a split between the captain's chairs as well, a space traditionally occupied by a center stowage bin/cup holders/arm rest. Owners can quickly remove the center console by opening a panel on the front and pulling the release mechanism. The one-handed operation takes seconds and the console can be easily stored in the under-floor trunk space behind the third row seat for ease.

Speaking of cargo space... The Pathfinder is one of the most spacious midsize SUVs on the market today for both passengers and cargo. There is a substantial amount of room behind the third-row seat and the under-floor storage area is nearly twice the size of the one in the Highlander. Plus, it has a feature that allows the area cover to be automatically propped up when pushed up by a user. This is especially help when carrying groceries or plants home and keeps them from being crushed.

The first- and second-row seats are suitably comfortable, even for extended periods of time and standard trig-zone climate control makes finding the right in-cabin mix easy. Bottle holders in the pockets of the front doors are exceptionally large, fitting even bulky water bottles.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder's front row seats are comfortable.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

In front of the driver is a standard tachometer, speedometer, and 7.0-inch driver information display. Buyers can upgrade to a fully digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster and head-up display but they're not reason enough to upgrade to the top-tier Pathfinder Platinum on their own.

Nissan packs the new Pathfinder with a host of desirable features that make living with the Pathfinder easier including one-touch auto up/down windows, a wireless phone charger, grocery hooks in the rear cargo area, USB ports in all three rows, second-row sunshades, rear door keyless entry, wireless Apple CarPlay, and a motion-activated lift gate.

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is priced to start at $33,410 for the two-wheel drive S base model and $35,310 for the four-wheel drive S base model. The model tops out around $50,000 with destination and delivery included, which seems fair when comparing the Pathfinder to other vehicles in the market.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder can tow up to 6,000 pounds.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

If you're thinking of purchasing a Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, Honda Pilot, or Highlander, do yourself a favor and schedule a test drive of the new Pathfinder when it arrives at a dealer lot near you. You may just be surprised how seamlessly it fits into your daily life compared to the competition.

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