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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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The 2022 Audi Q5 Sportback has debuted but Americans will have to wait around six months to get one.

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The Audi Q5 Sportback takes the traditional dimensions of the Audi Q5 and shaves some off the back of the roof to creating a more sloping design. The result is a model that fits right into Audi's lineup.

At the front of the new all-wheel drive model is an octagonal Singleframe grille that is flanked by large air inlets. The car's headlights feature daytime running lights with the buyer's choice of LED or matrix-design LED technology. At the rear are taillights that feature OLED lighting technology split into three ties of six segments each.

2022 Audi Q5 Sportback

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Like the roof, the car's windows taper as the design of the vehicle flows backward. Its rear bumper appears to be high-mounted.

Base Audi Q5 Sportback models are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that is paired with a 12-volt mild-hybrid system to to deliver 261 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. Buyers can upgrade to the 3.0-liter V6 engine that produces 349 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque.

The SQ5 will come standard with adaptive dampers and has an available air suspension and dynamic steering capability.

Each model has Audi's new MIB 3 infotainment system, which can be optioned to include a 12.3-inch digital display in front of the driver as well as virtual cockpit and head-up display technologies. At the center of the dashboard is a 10.1-inch infotainment touch screen with navigation. The system allows for multiple user profiles.

The Audi phone box and a Bang and Olufsen sound system with 3D sound are available.

Inside the cabin, the car has a rear bench seat the can be shifted laterally as well as forward and aft. The seat also reclines.

Each Q5 Sportback comes with a standard hands-free power tailgate.

Buyers can option their model to include numerous driver assist systems including adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, standard Audi Side Assist and Audi Pre Sense Rear, lane departure warning, and Parking System Plus.

The 2020 Audi Q5 starts at $43,000. Expect the Sportback model to be slightly pricier when it arrives in the U.S. in the first half of 2021. It will be assembled at the San José Chiapa plant in Mexico.

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The Jeep Gladiator Rubicon is made to be trail-ready

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

If you want to go off-roading but you’re apprehensive behind the wheel? Jeep is introducing the Jeep Adventure Academy, a program that provides hands-on, off-road driving instruction to Jeep 4x4 owners.

"Off-roading is a rite of passage for Jeep 4x4 owners and the new Jeep Adventure Academy will provide key knowledge every off-roader can use for hitting the trails," said Jim Morrison, Head of Jeep Brand, FCA - North America. "The new Jeep Adventure Academy underscores the Jeep brand's commitment to delivering Jeep 4x4 vehicles that provide owners with a sense of capability, safety and security to handle any condition or adventure with confidence."

2021 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk Jeep Trailhawk models are trail-tested ahead of their retail salePhoto courtesy of FCA US LLC

The Academy kicks off this October and will take place at select locations nationwide. Instructors from Jeep Jamboree USA will lead the program alongside off-roading experts.

Each Academy session will focus on several essential areas of off-roading instruction, including 4x4 system basics, driving techniques, trail etiquette, vehicle preparation and equipment, how to properly read terrain and challenging obstacles, safety tips and more.

The Jeep Adventure Academy will take place during the first three weeks in October at the following locations:

  • Holly Oaks Off-road Vehicle Park, Holly, Michigan: October 2-4
  • Southern Missouri Off-Road Ranch, Seymour, Missouri: October 9-11
  • Hollister Hills State Vehicular Recreation Area, Hollister, California: October 16-18

Registration is available at jeepadventureacademy.com. A one-day session starts at $99 and requires Jeep 4x4 vehicle ownership. The academy sessions will be led by professional staff from Jeep Jamboree USA, an organization that has been conducting off-road adventures since 1953.

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