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Ford takes back best-in-class towing crown with refreshed 2020 Super Duty

The Ford Super Duty once again has the crown as the towing champ.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The full-size and heavy-duty truck segment is consistently a game of one-upmanship. Ford has taken back the towing crown from General Motors with its latest announcement. The 2020 F-Series Super Duty will tow up to 37,000 pounds.

"Ford truck customers are building a better world with Super Duty and we're helping them work even harder with the most available diesel towing, payload, torque and power you can get in a heavy-duty pickup," said Mike Pruitt, Super Duty chief engineer. "We're excited to be in the nation's largest truck market at the State Fair of Texas announcing we've surpassed the kilotorque barrier and made it standard with every pickup truck featuring a Power Stroke diesel engine."

2020 Ford Super Duty Ford has reclaimed its best-in-class titles.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Maximum towing capacities have increased across all Super Duty pickup trucks including the 2020 F-250, F-350, and F-450.

Ford now owns six key best-in-class heavy-duty pickup truck claims for full-size pickups over 8,500 pounds:

  • 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

Ford puts its power into perspective saying the numbers mean that a properly configured F-450 can tow about as much weight as 31 American quarters horses at 1,200 pounds.

2020 Ford Super Duty Ford's new Super Duty has a 37,000-pound maximum towing capacity.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Additionally, the Ford Super Duty with the new Tremor Off-Road Package will have a maximum towing capacity of 15,000 pounds for conventional trailers and 21,900 pounds for gooseneck trailers, when equipped with the available diesel engine.

The Super Duty is now available with Pro Trailer Backup Assist, Ford's signature backup technology that uses a knob instead of the steering wheel to guide the vehicle backward in conjunction with pedal movement. Trailer Reverse Guidance technology is also available. Both add-ons work with conventional, fifth-wheel, and gooseneck designs.

The 2020 Ford F-Series Super Duty is built at Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, Kentucky, and Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake, Ohio. New models will begin shipping out of the plants to dealerships by the end of 2019. Pricing has yet to be announced.

Ford trucks reigned supreme over the last decade.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

For decades, Kelley Blue Book has been studying auto sales trends and reporting on those findings. To mark the close of the decade, 2010-2020, KBB looked back at the numbers for the last 10 years and found some surprising things.

The single best sales month was December 2016.

Nico Rosberg 2016 F1 Champtionship

Photo by Getty Images

There was a lot going on in 2016, not the least exciting of which was Nico Rosberg wining the F1 Championship. Automakers sold more vehicles in 2016 than they did at any other point during the decade. The December 2016 sales capped off a record year. Here's the top five months over the decade by volume:

  • December 2016: 1,683,408
  • March 2018: 1,648,222
  • May 2015: 1,634,833
  • December 2015: 1,634,329
  • August 2019: 1,632,287

Subaru might have had the best decade of everyone.

2020 Subaru Outback

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America, Inc.

Sure, Ford sold a lot of trucks and Nissan saw tremendous early-decade growth in its SUV lineup, but Subaru is the real winner. In 2010, Subaru sold 263,000 vehicles in the U.S. By the end of the decade, in 2019, they sold 700,000. They probably would have sold more but they scaled back production to launch two new vehicles at the end of the decade.

Most forecasts were wrong about December 2019, but that doesn't mean it was a great month.

2020 Ram 1500

Photo courtesy of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.

Analysts forecasted weak sales for the last month of 2019 but the market surprised them delivering a strong result. However, December 2019 was only the 26th best-selling month of the decade according to KBB, which measured 1,506,401 units sold. See the best-selling trucks of 2019 here.

Volvo's best month was the last month of the decade.

2019 Volvo XC60

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car Corporation

Volvo left the decade with the best month it has had in 10 years. The company sold 12,360 units. However, Volvo had higher sales in the months prior to the Great Recession.

Ford delivered the highest monthly sales total of all automakers in the last 10 years.

2019 Ford Focus

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

While some may bemoan the Blue Oval's current state of automotive affairs, they had a really great month five and a half years ago. In May 2014, Ford sold 244,501 vehicles, roughly 15.5% of the entire industry's sales for the month. In that single month, Ford sold more vehicles than Smart did in the entire decade. See the best-selling new cars of 2019 here.

Buyers are spending more on their cars than ever before.

2020 Toyota Highlander

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

According to KBB, "At the end of 2011, the average transaction price (ATP) for a new vehicle in the U.S. was near $30,000. In February 2015, ATP for the month was above $33,000 for the first time ($33,056). It broke through $35,000 in June of 2017, and passed $37,000 later that year, in December when transaction prices commonly peak due to the high volume of luxury vehicle sales. Transaction prices were above $38,000 through the final three months of 2019. The Kelley Blue Book ATP in December 2019 was $38,767 – the highest point in the past decade."

See the best-selling new SUVs of 2019 here.

Tesla came to play.

2019 Tesla Model3

Photo courtesy of Tesla

In 2010 and 2011, Tesla wasn't really on anyone's radar and now it's a household name. KBB estimates that Tesla sold 12 vehicles in June 2012. They reached 10,000 in sales per month in March 2018 and hit peak monthly sales in December 2018 when 32,600 vehicles were sold.

High-performance cars were costliest in January 2019.

2020 Ferrari Roma

Photo courtesy of Ferrari N.V.

Everyone seems to drive a Toyota RAV4 or a Honda Civic. For the select few wealthy enough to enjoy the fruits of the Acura NSX, Ford GT, and anything with a horse logo on it, this decade was kind for options but expensive. KBB says that in January 2019, the ATP for the segment peaked for the decade at $121,739.

With the Trump Tax Cuts came more fleet sales.

2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

According to KBB, "Six of the Top 10 best months for fleet sales in the past decade occurred after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. In May 2019, an estimated 425,000 vehicles were sold to fleet buyers, a record 27 percent of total U.S. sales. Fleet, it's worth noting, generally accounts for 20% of sales in a given month."

There was never a time in the last 10 years that the Ford F-Series was not the best-selling vehicle in the U.S.

2020 Ford Super Duty

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ten straight years of month-to-month dominance. Muhammed Ali wasn't even that good. Ford has sold 7,578,608 F-Series pickups in the last decade - one every 41 seconds. The best month for the F-Series was December 2017 where, in a single month, the company sold 89,385 F-Series trucks.

Lincoln has made two pickup trucks but neither reached any level of tremendous commercial success.

Photo courtesy of Lincoln Motor Company

Before luxury pickup trucks became the staple that they are today on America's roadways, there was one company willing to attempt to capitalize on the premium buyer. Unfortunately for that company, they were too early. But they had the right concept. That company is Lincoln.

The Lincoln Blackwood was the company's first attempt at a proper luxury pickup. It was built for the 2002 model year and was based on Ford's F-150 platform. It shared the F-150's 5.4-liter V8 that made 300 horsepower and was only available in rear-wheel drive. It had luxury features like a power tonneau cover and a wood-lined bed.

2006 Lincoln Mark LT The Mark LT was a luxury level take on a traditional pickup but it may have been a little ahead of its time.Photo courtesy of Lincoln Motor Company

That truck made the way for the company's second attempt; the Lincoln Mark LT. That truck received the updated Triton V8 and was available with four-wheel drive. It was also a more practical truck, having a useful bed and other amenities. It was in production from 2005 until 2008 in the United States (yet carried on until 2014 in Mexico).

Nowadays, the F-150 Limited is nearly a $70,000 USD pickup truck – more than the Mark LT ever was – and people are buying them at a steady pace. It begs the question; is the Mark LT or other Lincoln pickup truck ready to make a return to the United States?

The answer is complicated. Officially, Lincoln is leaving the pickup trucks to Ford. They have their own things to worry about, such as a completely refreshed product line and paying Matthew McConaughey to not say his trademark phrase in commercials.

Unofficially sources have told AutomotiveMap that they aren't sure what a Lincoln pickup truck would even look like. How do you get more luxurious than the F-150 Limited that is already on sale?

That is, indeed, a fair question. The F-150 Limited has premium seats that are both heated and cooled. They have a massage function. The only thing that Lincoln offers above that in their vehicles is something they call "Perfect Position" front seats in the Navigator with dozens of different adjustment options.

The F-150 would benefit from a larger infotainment screen and a more attractive instrument cluster, which Lincoln could offer. But these upgrades are also likely to be attached to a refreshed F-150 that might debut as early as this year for the 2021 model year. That would negate the Lincoln benefit.

Lincoln could offer the truck with a plug-in hybrid, and we know Ford is working on electrification options for the F-150. Combine that with some other unique Lincoln features, like the Revel audio system and Phone as a Key and you might have something that stands out from the best Ford offering.

But would it be enough? The price ceiling on pickup trucks hasn't been reached, which is why manufacturers are able to charge $70,000 for a full-size, half-ton pickup truck. Globally, Mercedes-Benz built a luxury-minded pickup on the Nissan Navara platform but didn't see any sales success. Though the rest of the world does view the pickup truck differently than the United States. What we consider a midsize truck is about as large as they sell globally.

Ultimately, a Lincoln pickup truck revival is unlikely to happen due to differentiation. It's important for Lincoln to set itself from Ford, and like the Mark LT that came before, that is unlikely to happen. Yes, it'd be a different truck, but it wouldn't be different enough. Nor would it be a compelling enough reason for loyal truck buyers to buy a Lincoln instead of a Ford, even if they'd be built on the same assembly line.

There's space in the market for even more expensive trucks, but from Ford they'll likely carry the Ford Blue Oval on them.