Ford's 2023 F-Series Super Duty has optional features meant to make operators' jobs easier.  -  Photo: Ford Pro

Ford's 2023 F-Series Super Duty has optional features meant to make operators' jobs easier.

Photo: Ford Pro

Ford’s F-Series trucks are a top pick among pickup enthusiasts and fleets alike, so it’s no wonder people have been abuzz about the features on the 2023 Ford F-Series Super Duty.

Ford, which is coming off its 75th anniversary of its F-Series, is celebrating 120 years in business.

I had the opportunity to get an up-close-and-personal look at Ford’s newest release during a recent ride-and-drive event at its Michigan Proving Ground (MPG).

As this was my first vehicle test drive event, I was unaware of what to expect and whether I’d notice any special features on the vehicle. I very quickly realized why Ford’s F-Series trucks are a popular choice for government fleets.

According to the S&P Mobility 2017-2021 five-year average, US TIPNet registrations for pickups, chassis cabs, and straight trucks over 8,500 GVW revealed that 63% of utility service providers choose Ford Super Duty trucks, compared to two other major automakers. When it comes to emergency response providers, 61% of them choose Super Duty trucks.

Tailgate Down Camera: Why Didn’t We Do this Sooner?

If you’ve ever had to haul something in your truck that required you to keep the tailgate down, you probably realized pretty quickly that the backup camera was entirely useless because the tailgate blocked it.

Ford addressed this common issue with an industry first: a camera on top of the tailgate. The tailgate is also lined with sensors that alert the driver when they are getting close to something. This is useful if you ever find yourself backing the truck up to a loading dock or hitching a gooseneck or fifth-wheel trailer.

It can also make the job easier for newer drivers. With fewer skilled drivers seeking jobs, this can give employers who are forced to hire newer drivers peace of mind.

The tailgate down camera gives the operator both a real-time camera view and an aerial mockup of the truck to give them a better idea of their surroundings.  -  Photo: Ford Pro

The tailgate down camera gives the operator both a real-time camera view and an aerial mockup of the truck to give them a better idea of their surroundings.

Photo: Ford Pro

Without this technology, if you’re backing up to something without a spotter, you’ll likely have to get out of the vehicle several times to see how close you are.

The technology also provides an aerial mockup view of the vehicle, giving you a better idea of your surroundings.

Another new feature on the Super Duty is the Onboard Scales with Smart Hitch. It estimates the payload in real time and provides guidance on trailer tongue weight distribution directly on the center touchscreen or within the taillamps.

The taillamp blinks to alert the operator adjusting the weight of the load whether the load is positioned correctly. This allows the operator to make the adjustments easily.

Towing Made Easy, Even for Me

Full disclosure, this was my first time behind the wheel of a pickup truck this big. Add on a trailer hauling 20,000+ lbs. and my nerves were through the moonroof. But technology was on my side.

When backing up with a trailer, you must not only pay attention to your surroundings, you also have to use the steering wheel to guide the trailer (did you know it goes the opposite way you’re turning? You probably did if you’re reading this). Pro Trailer Backup Assist took on one of those tasks for me: moving the steering wheel.

With Pro Trailer Backup Assist, you simply use a knob to guide the trailer while controlling the pedals. The technology moves the steering wheel for you. Cameras mounted on the back and sides of the trailer also allow you to watch your surroundings while you guide the trailer to the correct spot.

Pro Trailer Backup Assist helps the operator back up their truck while hauling. This feature is especially helpful for newer drivers.  -  Photo: Ford Pro

Pro Trailer Backup Assist helps the operator back up their truck while hauling. This feature is especially helpful for newer drivers.

Photo: Ford Pro

This journalist was able to navigate the trailer in between the cones that were set up on her first try. Pro Trailer Backup Assist made it a breeze.

If you regularly tow, you likely don’t think you need this technology. But it takes away the need to have a spotter, turning the job of two into a job for a single person. In a time where labor shortages affect nearly every industry, that’s huge.

The tech also gives newer drivers confidence to complete the task at hand. 

Pro Trailer Backup Assist makes backing up a trailer easy, especially for new drivers. I was able to back up this trailer between two blue cones on my first try.  -  Photo: Government Fleet

Pro Trailer Backup Assist makes backing up a trailer easy, especially for new drivers. I was able to back up this trailer between two blue cones on my first try.

Photo: Government Fleet

Pro Trailer Hitch Assist makes connecting your truck to your trailer easy. Using machine learning and computer vision, the system automatically identifies trailer hitches and aligns your truck’s hitch ball to a conventional trailer coupler with the touch of a button.

The technology uses a rear camera and rear corner radars to align the hitch with the trailer coupler while simultaneously controlling the truck’s speed, steering, and braking for the driver.

Harnessing the Power of ADAS

OEMs and aftermarket suppliers are constantly coming up with new ways to protect drivers and other road-users with advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) technology. The new features on the Super Duty are made with safety in mind.

Blind spot detection on a regular vehicle alerts its driver of an oncoming vehicle on either side that is in its blind spot. When a trailer is attached to a vehicle, that technology can be rendered useless because it isn’t made to detect vehicles on either side of the trailer.

The new Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) for Fifth-Wheel and Gooseneck can be attached to a trailer to help identify when vehicles are next to a trailer and indicate this in the sideview mirrors in the same way blind spot detection technology typically does.

Here's a look at what comes standard on the Super Duty XL and Super Duty XLT, the models you're more likely to purchase for your fleet:

Pickups -

Super Duty XL:

  • Trailer sway control.
  • Hill start assist.
  • Cruise control.
  • Rearview camera.

Super Duty XLT (all of above PLUS):

  • Lane departure warning.
  • Pre-collision assist w/autonomous emergency braking (AEB).
  • Forward collision warning.
  • Post impact braking.

Chassis Cab -

Super Duty XL/XLT:

  • Trailer sway control.
  • Hill start assist.
  • Cruise control.
  • Lane departure warning.
  • Pre-collision assist w/autonomous emergency braking (AEB).
  • Forward collision warning
  • Post impact braking.

Many of the additional ADAS features mentioned in this article are available through optional packages. Offerings on the Super Duty XL have been increased for 2023.

As far as the chassis cab goes, because the trucks have various types of bodies put on, some equipment can cause interference with the sensors that limit ADAS ability. Therefore, fleets have asked to make the features optional.

Tech Inspired by Fighter Jets Keeps Drivers’ Eyes on the Road

With Ford’s Head-Up Display, drivers can choose from three settings depending on the job they're performing.  -  Photo: Government Fleet

With Ford’s Head-Up Display, drivers can choose from three settings depending on the job they're performing.

Photo: Government Fleet

When it was time to do an on-road test for the Super Duty, I first took the passenger seat while a fellow journalist drove. Halfway through her drive, she asked me if I could see the information on the windshield. I had no idea what she was talking about.

As it turned out, she was seeing Ford’s Head-Up Display (HUD), new to the Super Duty model. Inspired by fighter jets, the display gives drivers quick visual access to vital information — like the speed limit, the actual speed, the next turn on the navigation, and the time — without pulling their eyes from the road.

This tech was first used by Ford on its Escape model a few years ago.

The new Head-Up Display gives drivers quick visual access to vital information without pulling their eyes from the road.   -  Photo: Ford Pro

The new Head-Up Display gives drivers quick visual access to vital information without pulling their eyes from the road. 

Photo: Ford Pro

The HUD system projects this information in front of the driver on the lower half of the windshield, quickly conveying information and putting the most important information closer to the line of sight.

Technology like a touchscreen can distract a driver while the vehicle is moving, taking their eyes away from the road. The HUD system keeps this information as close to a driver’s line of sight as possible.

“We wanted to create an amazing digital experience for our most-focused truck customers, and our research led us to look at aircraft HUD concepts because of their task-oriented hierarchal structures,” Ford Digital Design Manager Mark Sich explained. “But because pilots are trained to read information in a very prescribed and technical manner, our implementation needed the interaction to be more intuitive for the driver to immediately understand the context of the information being presented.”

Drivers can choose from three views — Normal Mode, Tow-Haul Mode, or Off-Road Mode —  to see information most important to their trip:

  • In Normal Mode, information such as speed, speed limit, and navigation prompts are displayed.
  • Tow-Haul Mode changes to include tachometer, gear, and trailer brake output.
  • Off-Road Mode displays tachometer, drive line status, and vehicle pitch and roll updates.

Each view changes automatically when a new drive mode is selected.

Easing the Vehicle Upfitting Process

With more reliable connections and vehicle integrations with Ford's Upfit Integration System, fleet managers and upfitters who are adding things like an Altec aerial bucket to a Super Duty chassis no longer have to rely on cutting and splicing into the vehicle wiring and potentially voiding their vehicle warranty.  -  Photo: Government Fleet

With more reliable connections and vehicle integrations with Ford's Upfit Integration System, fleet managers and upfitters who are adding things like an Altec aerial bucket to a Super Duty chassis no longer have to rely on cutting and splicing into the vehicle wiring and potentially voiding their vehicle warranty.

Photo: Government Fleet

The new Ford Pro Upfit Integration System (UIS) changes how fleet managers work with upfitters to install, operate, and control body equipment and upfits like utility cranes, snowplows, and emergency equipment. The system offers an interface where fleet managers and upfitters can collaborate.

Additionally, UIS provides aftermarket equipment makers with improved access to the truck’s electrical system and signals to seamlessly integrate after-market equipment. Equipment makers can also add and personalize digital buttons that allow Super Duty drivers to control their equipment from the SYNC touchscreen inside the truck.

With more reliable connections and vehicle integrations, fleet managers and upfitters no longer have to rely on cutting and splicing into the vehicle wiring and potentially voiding their vehicle warranty.

“The UIS makes it easier for upfitters to build,” Ford Commercial Truck Brand Manager Connor Dunlop said. “They can plug into the vehicle, get the signals that they’ve had to previously reverse engineer the truck for. We’re giving it to them in the data format they want so that they can quickly get that information…and program their upfits.”

The system also allows for high levels of customization and interlocks, like preventing the transmission from shifting into drive with a raised boom lift. Watch the video below for a closer look at Ford's new UIS.

A Look Under the Hood

The 2023 Super Duty offers a broad range of engines for fleets to choose from, depending on customer need:

  • 6.8L 2V DEVCT PFI Gas V8: New for 2023, it offers 405 hp and 445 lb.-ft. of torque, greater than the previous 6.2L flex-fuel engine. It delivers more low-end torque to make starting on steep grades and merging onto highways easier.
  • 6.7 High-Output Power Stroke V8 Turbo Diesel: Also new for 2023, it offers 500 hp and 1,200 lb.-ft. of torque, the most powerful Super Duty ever offered. It has a unique turbo, upgraded exhaust manifolds, and unique tuning.
  • 6.7L Power Stroke V8 Turbo Diesel: Offers 475 hp and 1,050 lb.-ft. of torque. It can go longer intervals between oil changes, reducing downtime.
  • 7.3 OHV PFI Gas V8: Offers 430 hp and 445 lb.-ft. of torque. It optimizes low-end torque, and the variable-cam timing helps optimize high-output power.

Every Super Duty features a Ford-designed and built 10-speed TorqShift automatic transmission. Additionally, every chassis cab model comes standard with a power take off connection to run added equipment, like boom lifts and cranes.

Four-wheel drive is now standard on XLT pickup models and above.

The Bottom Line

If you're looking for a pickup truck that will get the job done with the help of technology to make operational tasks easier for your drivers, the 2023 F-Series Super Duty is a good choice.

While some of the technology mentioned above does not come standard with all models, between the benefit to drivers and the peace of mind to fleet managers, the return on investment for the upgrade is obvious.

The all-new 2023 Super Duty is shipping to customers now. 

About the author
Christy Grimes

Christy Grimes

Senior Editor

Christy Grimes is a Senior Editor at Bobit, working on Automotive Fleet and Government Fleet publications. She has also written for School Bus Fleet.

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