Ford 2005 Super Duties on Steroids

It's so fun to see what truck manufactures come up with for new models! At the Ford Proving Grounds in Arizona, I drove the new 2005 Ford Super Duties off road and pulling the heaviest of trailers on Fords oval track and on the winding Arizona interstate. The Ford 2005 Super Duty has few changes to the body, but the muscles have gone threw the gamma rays like the Hulk. Yeah the Tonka Hulk. As heavy duty pickup trucks improve at a dramatically faster rate than say just ten years ago, faster improvements means better choices. Ford found it's limitations in the past Super Duty line F250 thru F550 and the changes made for 2005 will be welcomed by the truck owner who works their trucks with large loads and trailers as 90% of Super Duty owners tow trailers.


New for 2005, Ford increased payload and trailering capacities with real changes, not just numbers. The frame is thicker, the axle tubes are thicker, and more gussets at cross members. The new Super Duty's turning radius is shorter, the steering is tighter, the brakes are larger, thicker larger wheels, improved ride and an industry first, optional trailer brake controller built into the dash that activates the electric trailer brakes the same time as the truck hydraulic brakes. The only puzzling change to the 2005 Ford Super Duty, is the diesel power barely increased. But the gas engines for 2005 do have more power with 3 valves per cylinder, variable cam timing and now use the TorqShift 5-speed automatic transmission used in Ford's 6.0L Power Stroke diesel.

See what 2005 Ford truck owners are saying.

The pickup truck diesel power race, pushed to 600 lb-ft of torque by Dodge at the start of the year, looks to be what most folks have measured the cateragory leader with. It's bold of Ford not to leap frog the competition and only raise the torque to 570 for it's 2005 models. Ford has instead decided to be the leader in capacity and braking, which I'm glad to see safety as a key feature in the trucks that tow the longer and heavier trailers each year.

In comparison trailer pulling at the Ford track, driving a Dodge 2004.5 Cummins diesel, GM 2004.5 Duramax diesel and the Ford 2005 Navistar diesel, all automatic transmissions with 3.73 rear axle ratio's, Ford didn't come in second or third as we switched trucks in the quarter mile racing, pulling 13,400 # 5th wheel trailers as fast as we could. The same Ford winning streak happened with gas trucks pulling 10,800 # trailers with a 2005 Ford 6.8L V-10, 2004 GM 8.1L V-8 and Dodge's 2004 5.7L V-8 Hemi, all automatic transmissions. The weight distributing hitches that all the conventional trailers we towed where equipped with, were set at 10% of the trailer tongue weight.

New for 2005 Ford F450/550, are bigger muscles with a thicker frame, wheels and axle tubes along with a wider front axle to decrease the turning radius by 12 ft. With a 45 degree front turning angle, I could turn shorter with the 2005 Ford F550 than the GM C5500 with it's 54 degree wheel cut angle and the same wheelbase. New for 2005 too on the F450/550 are 10-bolt wheels replacing the 8-bolt wheels. The F450's front axle is rated at 7000# for 2005.

The Super Duty frame is still C-channel, which I was glad to see. Besides being easier to add aftermarket products like bed ball hitches, a C-channel frame allows more flex under load and flexing is better than breaking. Look at the frame of a Peterbilt or Kenworth, all C-channel. Opposing rear shocks improve the ride. New thicker frame (7.1 ml) with more bracing and thicker axle housing tubes, along with thicker wheels, all contribute to higher payload and trailer capacity that's not just numbers. The front frame cross member is gusseted to the frame for strength. All new front axle configuration is still a mono beam, but coil springs replace the leaf springs for a softer ride and the ability to turn a 5' tighter circle.

Driving or should I say flying over an off-road course on the Ford Proving Grounds, was invigorating. The new drag link front axles with coil springs have more travel than the leaf springs they replace and the off-set rear shocks all add to the new Super Duty's ability to handle rough roads smoother than previous models.

Pulling and stopping the "Whopper" 15,000 lbs of bumper trailer!

Finally after all the cards and letters, someone at Ford listened to the need for a factory installed trailer brake controller called "TowCommand". I help moderate trailer website forums and hear of the frustrations,  even with factory installed trailer brake wiring harness's on tow packages. There can still be difficulties hooking up aftermarket brake controllers and adjusting them. And with the new for 2005 model year, larger trailer capacities of 17,000 lbs 5th wheel/gooseneck and 15,000 lbs conventional tow trailer, stopping the extra weight is engineered into truck from the start.

The Ford TowCommand trailer brake controller is built and engineered jointly with Tekonsha who is famous for their Prodigy trailer brake controller. With adjustable gain in a digital readout, the Ford "built into the dash" trailer brake controller was smooth braking even pulling a 15,000 lb triple axle conventional trailer. We did the fast lane changes and panic stopping on Ford's oval track. TowCommand being different from most aftermarket brake controllers, ties into the trucks hydraulics', so it senses truck brake pressure and can apply trailer brakes as fast as the truck's brakes. Master Brake Systems BrakeSmart trailer brake controller is the only controller that I knew of that tapped into the trucks hydraulic lines in modern trucks.

Before ABS came to trucks in the eighties, most brake controllers worked this way. And in an emergency situation with the trucks ABS activated, Ford's new TowCommand can reduce the trailer brake pressure (gain) as it communicates with the truck's computer for faster reaction time with proportional trailer brake control to prevent the trailer brakes from locking up. TowCommand also will tell you in the digital readout if your trailer wires disconnect from the truck. All these features will make towing your trailer in heavy traffic less hectic. Next to the TowCommand in the picture above are optional toggle switches you can use for a snow plow, lights, etc. Nice having a factory switch panel wired for accessories. I use to have many wires dangling from my trucks fuse box for my accessories.

"Drivers start your glow plugs." Journalist's racing to get the King Ranch or the dualies. Pulling conventional trailers and 5th-wheel trailers in Arizona at maximum trailer weight.


Since I've never seen a 15k weight distributing hitch, I'm assuming it's a custom job. This conventional triple axle trailer weighed 15,000 lbs. The 2005 Ford F350 dually handled it well. 


These new 2005 Super Duty's will be welcome news for folks who tow heavy 5th wheels, travel trailers and horse trailers. In my Insider Club were I give specific truck advice, it's been hard to recommend Ford in situations were folks need to haul a large slide in camper or the heavier 5th wheel/gooseneck trailers as Ford's payload and trailer capacity was lower than GM and Dodge. Now theirs 3 choices again that can be used at their GCWR, GVWR and keep the your insurance company happy as well as law officials.

The built in, TowCommand" trailer brake controller, higher payloads and trailer capacity are real improvements that impress me more than all the chrome and fancy paint. And there's nothing wrong with turning tighter for a smaller circle either. The new front suspension changes improve the handling and steering with trailers. Now with Fords first tracking bar in a Super Duty to stabilize the axle with coil springs, it is large, greaseable and adjustable. Learning from Dodge truck tracking bars, with wear problems 1994-2002.

For 2005 Ford has increased the wheel size on F250/350 to a standard 17" wheel with an 18" option. The brakes are larger on all the Super Duties. Now the GM 8.1L gas engine with the Allison automatic transmission has some competition, as all the Super Duty engines, gas and diesel now can have the optional 5R110 TorqShift automatic that was introduced in the 2003 6.0L Power Stroke diesel.

The Harley-Davidson 2005 model F250/350 features 20" wheels and an optional "wet on wet" flame paint option. A newer bolder grill sets off the bolder looking truck.

!5,000 #'s of conventional trailer. That's a bunch. The receiver hitch available for Super Duty F350 dually, called class V is a 2.5" for larger drawbars. It comes with a reducer so your 2" weight distributing hitch and drawbars will still work. The Class V receiver hitch is rated 6000#'s for weight carrying hitch and #15,000 #'s for weight distributing hitch.

Till next time, Good Truck'n.
Kent Sundling (MrTruck)

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