The 2013 Texas State Fair isn't just an opportunity to sample deep-fried beer or ogle a newly reconstructed Big Tex: it's also the venue Ford chose to introduce its updated 2015 Ford F-Series Super Duty pickup line. As Ford updated its heavy-duty pickup range for the 2014 model year, the latest Super Duty is hardly a complete re-invention, but it does incorporate a few key updates to help the 2015 F-250, 2015 F-350, and 2015 F-450 pickups fend off competitors from Chevrolet, GMC, and Ram Trucks.
Although the F-Series Super Duty's gasoline engine -- a 385-hp, 6.2-liter V-8 -- remains unchanged for 2015, the 2015 Ford Super Duty's optional 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbo-diesel V-8 has been tweaked inside and out.
What's new? The turbocharger, for starters. Although it's still nestled between the cylinder banks, thanks to an inverted manifold arrangement, the turbo itself is different than those used on the 6.7-liter Power Stroke since 2011. While previous engines used a so-called single sequential turbocharger, which utilized two turbines on a single shaft, the new turbocharger -- a Garrett GT37 -- is a conventional, single-compressor turbo. It's also larger than the old turbocharger, allowing more air to be compressed into the intake, thus helping increase power. An extra bonus: the new turbocharger setup also eliminates both the wastegate and its controller.
Other revisions applied to the latest 6.7-liter Power Stroke are less visible. A new high-pressure fuel pump is fitted, while revised fuel injectors provide improved fuel atomization, allowing for a more controlled, efficient combustion cycle. The crankshaft receives both a new fillet design and an enlarged damper weight. Cylinder head and exhaust gaskets are beefier than before, and perhaps most importantly, the main bearings are now topped with a polymer coating that dramatically reduces scoring and prolongs life.
Ford claims these revisions go a long way in improving the durability of the 6.7-liter Power Stroke, but do they also make the turbo-diesel V-8 more powerful than before? We're told yes, they do -- but oddly enough, Ford isn't saying just how much more powerful the new engine is. Ford reps only suggest the new Power Stroke will make the 2015 F-250, 2015 F-350, and 2015 F-450 "the most powerful Super Duty pickups ever built." And no, the custom F-750s with retrofitted pickup beds don't count.
For reference, today's 6.7-liter makes 400 hp at 2800 rpm and 800 lb-ft of torque at 1600 rpm. Ford spokesman Mike Levine tells us only that the new engine "makes more than that," and that the brand will share power figures at a later date. We're sure part of this data drama stems from engineers wrapping their final validation and certification tests, but withholding numbers also affords Ford some last-minute wiggle room should a competitor (we're looking at you, GM) announce a more powerful diesel offering in the coming months. For now, the gorilla in the room is the high-output 6.7-liter turbo-diesel six-cylinder offered in the Ram 3500. Although the Ford beats the Cummins in horsepower, the Cummins' torque -- a massive 850 lb-ft at 1700 rpm– is presently best-in-class.
As for the trucks themselves? There's no new hardware in store for the 2015 F-250 or the 2015 F-350, but the beefy 2015 F-450 pickup receives some new chassis upgrades, likely in response to the upgraded 2013/2014 Ram 3500 models. The 2015 F-450 models gain the larger 19.5-inch wheels previously reserved for F-450 and F-550 commercial chassis-cab models, along with their upsized brake hardware. The 2015 F-450 also ditches the previous Dana M80 rear axle in favor of a larger Dana S110 unit, uses upgraded rear leaf springs, beefier front and rear stabilizer bars and dampers, heavier-duty driveline U-joints, and an upgraded crossmember for the fifth-wheel/ gooseneck hitch mount.
If all this sounds as if Ford's gunning to increase the F-450's towing ability, you're right, but once again, the automaker isn't willing to disclose precisely what those towing figures are. Presently, the 2014 F-450 can tow fifth-wheel trailers weighing up to 24,700 pounds, but bragging rights in the segment again belong to Ram, whose Ram 3500 pulls up to 30,000 pounds. That said, it should be noted comparing one to the other isn't exactly an apples-to-apples affair, as neither manufacturer adheres to the SAE's J2807 standard for tow ratings.
Seeing as the new 2015 Ford Super Duty is being rolled out at the Texas State Fair -- and how western-themed luxury trucks appear to be a growing market -- we're not surprised to hear Ford's reworked its King Ranch trim grade for the 2015 F-250, 2015 F-350, and 2015 F-450. Inside, the King Ranch still sports unique leather-trimmed seating and trim, but now uses a richer grade of leather, complete with a cut-and-sewn King Ranch insignia on both the seat backs and center console lid. Outside, a darker "Caribou" paint is used to accent the wheel lip moldings, bumpers, and lower body, while the bed rail caps and running boards are trimmed in black.
We've no doubt the 2015 Ford Super Duty will remain a mover and a shaker in its class, but until we see finalized figures for towing and power, we just won't know exactly how much it'll move. Stay tuned.