In the never-ending battle of towing capacity among pickup truck makers, Ford Motor says it's going to leap ahead again.
It announced Monday that the 2017 F-Series F-450 Super Duty –- Ford's brawniest pickup -- will have the highest towing capacity of any pickup truck. It will have the ability to tow a 32,500-pound trailer, a 1,300-pound increase from today's truck. Ford says the increase will allow it to outdo the current towing leader, the Ram 3500 with a 31,210-pound towing capacity.
Yes, rival Ram 3500 had managed to stay ahead by a measly 10 pounds. But Ford says no longer.
In order to tow that kind of weight, the Ford needs to do it with a hitch that connects to the middle of truck's cargo box. And it will need its biggest engine -- a 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel engine with 440 horsepower and 925 pound-feet of torque.
Maximum cargo capacity also gets a bump, from 7,050 pounds in the previous generation to 7,630 now, Ford says.
When towing from a conventional bumper hitch, the truck will be capable of towing a 21,000-pound trailer, up from 19,000 pounds. Ford says towing capacity will now be 1,000 pounds more than the competition.
Ford gets higher towing capacity from a beefier driveline and other components made possible by the switch to aluminum for the truck's body. Since aluminum saves up to 350 pounds compared to a standard steel body, the weight savings could used for heavier drive components that make for more towing capacity. The switch to aluminum was considered one of the boldest moves in the auto world in the past few years, given the risks that hidebound pickup truck buyers might not like it and the fact that Ford F-Series is the nation's best-selling vehicle.
Other Super Duty models, like F-250 and F-350 with a single rear wheels, also will best their rivals in towing capacity, Ford says. They will be rated at 18,000 pounds for towing.
Reached for comment, Ram officials were undaunted, saying Ford’s comparisons aren’t fair because it’s largest pickup truck plays in a different class. The 2016 Ram has been beating the Ford in towing capacity even though it’s a Class 3, compared to a Class 4 like the F-450, they say. Even though the new Super Duty isn’t on sale yet, “we have already beat them with features such as air suspension and link coil suspension,” says Ram spokesman Nick Cappa.
The new Super Duty comes to showrooms in the fall.