The all-new Louisville-made Ford F-Series Super Duty got a lot of exposure at this week’s Further with Ford event, which brought 200 journalists from across the world to Dearborn, Mich.
Visitors got to ride in and drive the 2017 Super Duty to learn more about new high-tech options that ease steering and maneuvering with a trailer.
The truck is made exclusively at Kentucky Truck Plant, 3001 Chamberlain Lane, in northeastern Louisville, where Ford employs about 8,000. The company announced late last year that it planned to invest $1.3 billion into the plant to prepare it for the next-generation Super Duty.
On Tuesday, at the Ford Dearborn Development Center, the automaker offered journalists seven “experiences” related to new products and new tech. Ford showed off the Louisville-made Ford Escape and its Sync Connect and FordPass, the new F-150, and adaptive cruise control in the new Fusion Energi.
Journalists also got to drive the Super Duty to compare its steering with those of two competitors, the Chevy Silverado and the Ram. The Super Duty’s adaptive steering technology makes steering easier and reduces the number of steering wheel revolutions drivers have to make. As visitors drove a short course, a computer counted the number of revolutions that drivers made, and Ford displayed the results on a TV screen. While drivers of the Silverado needed about 25.4 steering wheel revolutions to negotiate through the track, Ram drivers needed about 23.2, while Ford drivers required less than 17.
Of the three trucks, driving the Ford felt most like driving a car. Its steering response allowed drivers to more easily take tight turns around some cones that Ford officials had set up on the asphalt.
“Once they drive it, it’s a game changer,” Ford’s North America Product Communications Manager Mike Levine told IL at the Dearborn test track. “Reactions that we’ve gotten from customers is very positive.”
Ford officials said that the technology helps all drivers but will benefit especially those who drive the vehicle for long hours at work and carry or tow heavy loads.
The tech is new for the Super Duty this year, comes standard on Platinum versions and is available for $685 on XLT and higher trims.
While so far, only 18 percent of Super Duty customers have adaptive steering, Ford expects the adoption rate to increase as more drivers become familiar with the technology and hear about it from other drivers.
Nearby, visitors got to ride in the all-new truck as a professional driver negotiated the vehicle and a long trailer through some back-up maneuvers. The center console displayed a steering wheel image to help drivers keep the truck straight, while a 360-degree camera system with four HD cameras gave the driver a clear view of the area surrounding the truck.
Blinking lights in the side mirrors are part of the blind spot warning system that alerts drivers who want to switch lanes that another vehicle is nearby. The light goes out when the path is clear and the driver can safely switch lanes.
An additional camera provides a view of the cargo box to make it easier to hook up trailers. Drivers can even opt for a trailer camera to help the driver back up.