You just bought a Ford F250 Superduty, and you know they’ve been around forever, but how many Ford Super Duty Generations have there been?
And to make matters worse, your father-in-law is a Chevy Heavy Dutyman, who hates Fords, so you will have to defend your choice of a pickup truck. What that means is you need all the information you can get. You need a complete history to answer his questions and look like you’ve done your research. You know that the wife liked the interior and the ride of the F 250 better than the others, but that won’t be enough to convince your pesky know-it-all inlaw of a father.
The F - Series Super Duty is a lineup of heavy-duty pickup trucks built by Ford Motor Company from 1999 to the present. The trucks are designed with heavier suspensions and increased payload capacities than the F-150 lineup. The company offers various levels of Super Duty depending on need.
You need to brush up on your F-Series Super Duty history to convince Dad or yourself. So you will need the answers to many questions, including how many generations of Super Duty are there? When did Ford begin producing them? What about the 7.3L engine you keep hearing is so great? Will the 6.7L Powerstroke effectively pull the trailer, or should you have stuck with a gas-powered V8?
Whether you are doing your research to convince someone else or just trying to help yourself decide whether to buy an F-Series, we have the answers you seek. Ford claims to make the best heavy-duty truck on the market, but you need to know if that’s all hype or whether there is any truth in the claim. Well, keep reading, because we have scoured the pages of history and the internet to try and find some answers.
What is the History of the F-Series Super Duty?
Super Duty has been a part of the Ford lineup of heavy-duty trucks for quite some time. Ford began producing the new design in response to increased demand for a non-commercial work truck with higher payload and towing limits. The growing popularity of diesel engines energized Ford to compete against Chevy and Ram or risk losing market share to the growing segment of recreational truck users, pulling heavier and heavier loads.
1st Generation F - Series SuperDuty (1999 - 2007)
The F-Series Super Duty was a revolutionary moment for Ford when it began to roll off the assembly line for the 1999 model year. Billed as a wholly redesigned F-250 and 350 version of their F-Series lineup (The actual F-series has been around since the late forties), Ford decided not to modify its existing platforms. Instead, the engineers at Ford put in a more robust frame and upgraded powertrain to handle increased payloads and push the limits of towing capabilities.
The first thing to notice about the initial generation Super Duty is that it looks nothing like the F-series trucks of the past. While previous F150 and 250s had curved lines, this truck has an intimidating presence that stands tall with bolder lines, raised hood, and a more prominent front fascia. Lower sightlines were cut along the sides, making the windows more prominent and improving visibility (something you want if you are towing anything). Because the truck is bulkier, the added interior room made extra space to put tools or riders. A wider stance offered more stability. In short, reviewers felt that finally, Ford had given the public an absolute beast of a truck that looked like a truck.
Ford tried to punch up towing capacities by designing three engines for use. A 5.4L V 8 produces 235 horsepower and a max tow rating of 8,200 lbs. The Triton V10 engine (310 horsepower and pulling 11,600 lbs). The 7.3L Diesel Powerstroke engine produces less horsepower than the V10 but has greater pulling power at 14,600 lbs. The 7.3L is considered one of the best diesel engines ever made. Owners love the reliability, and since it runs without the addition of DEF fluids, it has fewer emission requirements.
The truck offered three trim levels, the base XL, mid-level XLT, and higher-priced Lariat. In addition, three different cab configurations were available; the two-door and CrewCab (which has been a part of its options for about ten years). This first-generation adds the SuperCab, which involved two doors for driver and passenger, but a half-rear door (opening suicide style) to access a limited back seat area.
Of note is that the King Ranch package for the SuperDuty made its appearance in 2003. (It had already been in use in F150s for a couple of years). The new trim level Incorporated dark chaparral leather with the ranch logo embossed into the upholstery. The trim level represents the famous and huge King Ranch located in Kingsville, Texas. The 825,000-acre ranch (larger than Rhode Island) operates as a cattle and horse operation, and its familiar W brand is one of the most recognizable in the Southwest. The trim level boosted sales in Texas and is a favorite among F-series owners to this day.
Ford updated the exterior of the F-250 and 350 SuperDuty in 2005 with a fresh grille and added horsepower to the motors. A trailer brake controller enabled owners to monitor the braking forces on the increasing number of trailers equipped with electronic braking systems.
2nd Generation F - Series Super Duty (2008 - 2010)
In 2008, Ford was under pressure to match GM’s 6.6L Duramax engine and the 6.7L Cummins used by Dodge RAM. Engineers phased out the 7.3L and introduced the 6.4L Diesel Powerstroke V8 engine, which produced 350 horsepower and 650 lb/ft of torque. To recapture their place as king of the hill, they increased output resulting in an additional towing capacity of up to 12,500 lbs. The 5.4L V8 and 6.8L V10 were held over and continued from previous models.
One of the most significant changes the diesel engine required was DEF fluid to help reduce carbon emissions. Sensing that the EPA was about to make DEF mandatory on all diesel engines, Ford initiated the process and installed apparatus to inject the solution into the truck’s exhaust. The added expense of the additive and the hassle of having to refill the reservoir every third or fourth fillup created a backlash among owners. Owners were not used to having to replace it, and as a consequence, running out of DEF fluid created mechanical issues. Many owners opted to remove the DEF units, which voided their warranties and created legal issues in some cases. In 2010, the EPA mandated DEF for all diesel engines, and the big three, Ford, Chevy, and RAM were required to comply.
The new design sported a new interior with a remade instrument panel, more interior volume, and new paneling. Ford expanded the trim levels over previous offerings, XL, XLT, Lariat, Cabela's, King Ranch, and Harley Davidson. Both the Cabela and Harley trim levels were an attempt to capture the popularity of the King Ranch by appealing to other groups of customers. The thinking was that those who hunted and fished would be attracted to the Cabela trim, with its tailgate step, all-weather mats, and gun rack under the back seat. The Harley trim was designed to appeal to the motorcycle crowd, with all black leather interior and distinctive markings on the seats and center console. The truth is that they were primarily Lariat-style trucks with a few interior upgrades Ford thought it could charge consumers.
In 2007, Ford debuted its interconnectivity system SYNC in a joint venture with Microsoft. The system would allow drivers to connect to get turn by turn directions, make hands-free calls via Bluetooth, and stream music from apps like Pandora. The application would make its way into the F250 Super Duty with the 2009 model.
3rd Generation F - Series Super Duty (2011 - 2016)
To compete with the RAM HD and Silverado HD, Ford felt compelled to redesign the F-series Superduty again in 2011. New exteriors and improved engines were introduced, as the f-250 attempted to give a bolder, more in-your-face design. The Cabela and Harley trims were discontinued, and Ford only offered the XL. XLT, Lariat, and King Ranch.
A 6.2L V8 was initially brought on, which produced 385 horsepower and lb/ft torque. The reliable Triton V10, which has served Ford well, was phased out and replaced with a 6.7 Turbodiesel Powerstroke V8 engine. The new diesel engine almost immediately had issues, including weak glow plugs that were prone to break and internally damage the engines. In addition, turbocharger failures created major headaches for owners. In addition, many owners found that fuel injectors tended to clog or malfunction, which created a need for replacement. While the issues forced Ford to scramble to keep the engine relevant, many owners became dissatisfied with the performance of the turbodiesels in the 2011-12 models. The issues forced Ford to upgrade the 6.7L in 2014 for the upcoming 2015 model year to try and counter so many complaints.
The 6.7L Powerstroke engine could run on B20 biodiesel or regular diesel fuel and sported 390 horsepower and 730 lb/ft of torque. Towing capacities were increased to 16,000 lbs with a frame-mounted hitch and 24,400 lbs for gooseneck towing. Ford also improved payload capacities up to three tons (6,000 lbs).
Interior refinements were also a part of this generation of Super Duty. An updated version of SYNC, navigation system, and touch screen controls for dual a/c and entertainment options became available. Voice-activated steering wheel controls are functional on higher trim levels in response to consumers' increasing demand who expect these types of technology in their vehicles.
Ford also achieved notoriety as the first of the big three to implement trailer sway control on the Super Duty beginning in 2011. The unit differed from the Dodge and Chevy systems in that the driver could engage the truck brakes during a sway. The application proved to be very successful for the company and was met with ecstatic reviews.
4th Generation F - Series (2017 - Present)
Perhaps the most drastic alteration in F-Series trucks (including the Super Duty) has occurred with the reinforced tensile steel frame and aluminum alloy body. (Ford introduced the new aluminum body the previous year in the F150 to consumers, who embraced the product. Ford discovered an enormous pent-up market for truck beds that wouldn’t rust).
The aluminum alloy resulted in a lighter truck (almost 750 lbs), which immediately increased payload and towing capacities and improved fuel economy. The new body was a win for consumers, who had been clamoring for a truck to last longer, require less maintenance, drive more cheaply, and still tow what they wanted to haul.
The fourth generation of Super Duty carried over the 6.7L Turbodiesel PowerStroke engine. The trim levels were XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum. The Platinum lineup was especially significant for high-end truck buyers with refined and upgraded interior materials. The model lineup added a Limited version in 2018.
By this period, consumers expected their vehicles to be designed with increased safety features, and heavy-duty trucks were no expectation. Ford installed trailer safety issues like new cameras for owners to be able to monitor trailer issues. In addition, Ford included anti-collision avoidance systems like front collision warning with pedestrian detection as standard equipment on most models.
One of the most significant advances came in 2020 when Ford introduced its Pro Trailer Backup Assist on select Super Duty models. The application allowed the truck to help issue a series of commands to the driver via the instrument console to assist with parking or backing the trailer into tight spaces.
In 2020, the engineers at Ford decided to bring back a nameplate that had been very successful as an appearance package for its F150 series. Called the Tremor, the trim was announced, and enthusiasts who had been captivated by the Predator and Tremor trims in the F150 instantly lept with excitement. This time the Tremor lineup was more than just appearance. The truck had natural muscle with uplifted tires and suspension, making it more suited for 4x4 off-road excursions than its previous version. The Tremor package was part of the F-250 and F-350 lineup, even though it had a heavy price tag (base price $87,250 with options). In 2022, the XLT with a Tremor package was discontinued, although customers could still get it on other trim levels.
The most significant change for the 2021 model year was the addition of a 7.3L Godzilla V8. (the 6.2 V8 and the 6.7 Powerstroke Diesel are still offered). This new 7.3L: gasoline-powered engine roars with more horsepower than its competitors (430 horsepower and 475 lb/ft torque). So far, the engine is proving to be one of the most reliable and durable engines Ford has ever engineered.
5th Generation - What Should We Expect?
The competition for market share in the heavy-duty truck market has never been more intense. The manufacturers are scrambling to provide the increasing demand for safer vehicles, the latest technology, higher payloads, and towing capacities. With advances in alloy beds and bodies, and constant pressure to meet EPA and MPG guidelines, engineers constantly reassess their work, looking for areas to improve.
Each of the big three (Ford, RAM, and Chevrolet) is working on driver assistance applications and moving toward electrifying their entire fleet. Ford has announced that 40% of its entire lineup of vehicles will be EV by 2030, and to achieve this goal, it has invested nearly $22 billion in research and development. The Mach-e Mustang was introduced in 2022, and from the reports of early sales figures, it is second only to the Tesla Y.
The next generation of Super Duty is scheduled to be done in 2023. While it is unclear exactly what the new truck will look like, we know that there will be no new engine introductions. This fact means that the 7.3L Godzilla V8 turbodiesel engine is here to stay (at least for now). Other refinements and advances will simply have t wait until Ford is ready to unveil the new Super Duty 250.
What Year of Super Duty is Considered Most Reliable?
Unsurprisingly, most Super Duty enthusiasts will tell you that the 7.3L V8 is the most dependable engine that Ford ever built. The engines were in production from 1993 to 2004 and were virtually problem-free. The 7.3L Powerstroke is considered the holy grail of heavy-duty truck engines. Finding one with low mileage is a bonafide bonus, like hitting the jackpot at the casino because they generally command a much higher price tag on the market. The lack of emissions controls also adds to the appeal of this engine by improving the efficiency and performance of the motor.
There is quite a bit of debate concerning the best gasoline engine that Ford has made over the nearly 20-plus years of the Super Duty. While GM has had outstanding success with its 6.2 V8 engine, Ford has struggled to have gasoline-powered engines that could compete. The recent addition of the 7.3L Godzilla V8 may change that distinction, which made its way into in time for the 2020 Super Duty. So far, it has had very few reliability issues and appears to be on track to help Ford reclaim the mantle of best engines ever made.
What Years and Models of Super Duty Should Be Avoided?
Most Super Duty followers have built a consensus concerning the 6.0L Powerstroke produced in the 2003 - 2007 models. ConsumerReports has rated these years of Super Duty a 2 out of 5 for owner satisfaction and lists nine separate recalls. Common complaints have been blown head gaskets caused by inadequate TTY (torque to yield) head bolts, clogged oil cooler leading to EGR failure, and turbocharger issues.
The issue with this engine was so bad that Ford attempted to sue Navistar, claiming that it had made a defective engine. Laer reports surfaced that Ford had ignored potential issues in a production rush. Many consumers lost all faith in the company due to the problems with the 6.0L turbodiesel Powerstroke engine.
Coming in a close second for the worst engines was the 6.4L turbodiesel engine that was supposed to replace the beleaguered 6.0L. Instead of rectifying many of the issues they knew were causing dissatisfaction with the previous diesel, the company ignored them. Put into production for the 2008 - 2010 F 250, the engine had radiator issues, oil issues, and a faulty EGR process.
As for the gasoline-powered engines, the 2002 - 2003 Ford Super Duty with a 5,4 Triton engine appears to be the worst. The vehicle has a Repairpal.com rating for reliability at 3.5 out of five. NHTSA rated the unit as having a 3 rating.
What is Considered High Mileage for a Super Duty?
While some owners boast about having over 500,000 miles on their Super Duty series pickup trucks, most gasoline V8 engines are designed to operate with well over 100,000 miles effectively. Anything over 200,000 miles having a gasoline engine is considered high mileage. The diesel engines are designed to operate longer than their gas-powered counterparts, and 350,000 is the benchmark for high mileage when driving a Powerstroke engine.
However, the 2003 - 2007 Powerstroke Turbodiesel was considered an awful engine. Before failing or being replaced, many of these Super Duty trucks did not even make it to the 100k mark. Of course, any heavy-duty truck will wear out sooner if it is consistently towing or hauling significant payloads. How long a truck lasts also depends on how diligent the owner maintains regular service intervals because new fluids can undoubtedly increase the life of an engine.
Part of the issue for Super Duty's tendency to wear out early has to do with the steel body rather than the engine. Before introducing the aluminum alloy used today, the steel body and frame were prone to excessive rust and corrosion. Constant exposure to the elements often contributed to the decline of the Super Duty over time.
What is the Average Depreciation for a Super Duty?
A Ford F-250 Super Duty will depreciate on an average of 45% after five years, according to caredge.com. The 2020 model year seems to be ranked the best over several years, retaining about 81% of its value. The table below indicates the depreciation for the Super Duty for the past several years.
What is the Best Heavy Duty Truck to Buy New?
Truecar.com rates the 2022 Ford F-350 Super Duty as the best heavy-duty pickup for the money. The truck can handle massive payloads while providing the creature comforts that many consumers are looking for in today’s vehicles. Their recommendation was the XLT model 8’ DRW with the 6.2 V8, priced starting at $47,200. (The RAm 2500 and Chevrolet 3500HD finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively).
What Are the Average maintenance Costs for a Super Duty?
A Ford Super Duty will cost you to maintain. While recent advances in technology and engine modifications are helping to ease this burden, careedge.com reports that the average cost is $1241, which is significantly higher than other trucks in its class (The Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD is $936 and the RAM 2500 is $1047). The reliability rating for the Super Duty is two out of five, which ranked it 15th out of the 17 trucks tested. (Ram placed 10th, and the Silverado 2500 HD placed 9th). The frequency of repairs was on par with other brands, but the increased severity of the repairs can create significant issues. The most commonly sighted problem was listed as coolant leaks from the radiator.
What’s Ahead for the Super Duty in 2023 and beyond?
Most Ford Super Duty followers suspect that the 6.2 V8 may be a likely candidate for being phased out now that the 7.3 V8 has a couple of years of operation. The company has announced that it will redesign the Super Duty lineup in 2023, so changes are just around the bend.
Is An Electric Super Duty on the Horizon?
Ford knew that it needed to get off to the right first step by introducing its EV pickup, Ford Lightning. New for the 2022 model year, the Lightning has set the bar for electric trucks, and it seems clear that a Heavy-Duty version cannot be far behind. (Chevy has a Hummer EV on the market and has already announced that it will produce an HD for the 2025 model year).
If Lightning indicates what is to come, Ford's work is awe-inspiring. The F150 series pickup has a range of over 400 miles and is capable of 452 horsepower and 775 lb/ft torque. As you might expect from an EV, the truck is fast and lighter, pushing towing capacities to 10,000 lbs. While towing significant weight can affect range capabilities, the truck is still very adequate for the needs of everyday drivers.
Will the 2023 Ford Super Duty F 250 offer hands-free driving?
According to Fordauthority.com, several versions of a camouflaged Super Duty have been spotted making their way across the country. These spy shots reveal the apparatus attached to the roof needed for self-driving assistance technologies. Since GM already has a driver-assistance application for 1500 model trucks launched in 2022 and has announced a newer version for 2023, it is safe to conclude that hands-free applications are not that far away for the Ford Super Duty. Ford has not been shy about the program, naming the new technology, Ford Blue Cruise, a reference to the blue oval logo Ford carries for its brand.
What Will the 2023 Ford Super Duty Look Like?
Most owners expect Super Duty to take its design cues from the remodeled 2021 F-150 series. If that is the case, expect a refashioned interior with a much larger touch screen, new instrument cluster, and remastered front fascia. The distinctive roofline and contour of the Ford are still there, but changes upfront and in the rear will be enough to make it look like a new beast. Expect more technology on this new truck, with the addition of Sync 4, a welcome addition to the 2021 F 150.
Does Ford Make an F-150 Super Duty Truck?
No. Ford does make a lighter-duty truck called the F-150 (which has been around since the late 40s). The Ford F 250 Super Duty is a three-quarter truck, and the Ford F - 350 is a whole ton. Both are work trucks, providing more capability for off-road applications. These larger trucks are specially designed for agricultural, construction, and more extensive recreational needs. Ford introduced the name badge of Super Duty in 1999 when the first generation of Super Duty trucks rolled off the assembly line.
Where is the Super Duty Made?
The F-250 and 350 Super Duty trucks are made in Louisville, Ky. Due to recent semi-conductor shortages, the plant has scaled back production in recent years.
Weren’t there Super Duty trucks in the late ’50s?
In 1958, Ford tagged a series of big-block V8 engines are their super-duty motors. The engines were named for their increased performance as a marketing gimmick. However, in 1999 as the demand for light-duty trucks heated up, Ford split its truck into two separate categories. The F-150 would be a lightweight truck capable of delivering the most basic needs to the average customer and the Super Duty lineup of work trucks destined for more commercial and fleet applications. For nearly two decades, the company has continued to offer customers these two choices.
About THE AUTHOR
I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.Read More About Charles Redding