The Ford 4×4 Super Duty truck is well known for its massive frame and impressive towing capabilities. There are few better options than the Super Duty if you need to haul a heavy load. How well does this truck’s performance translate to off-road environments? Is it a viable rig that you can trust on challenging terrains?
Pro: Unmatched Power
The first and most important advantage is the Super Duty’s ridiculous power. Every model since 2000 has come with a V8 engine, including two new options that Ford released with the 2023 edition:
- 6.2-liter two-valve SOHC Flex Fuel V8
- 6.7-liter Power Stroke V8 Turbo Diesel
- 6.8-liter two-valve V8
- 7.3-liter two-valve V8
The Super Duty generates 500 horsepower at just 2,600 rpm at its peak performance. It can also reach up to 1,200 pound-feet of torque. Even early Super Duty models comfortably reach over 300 horsepower and over 500 feet of torque. You never really live until you hear the scream of the V10 Triton while making steep hill climbs up the side of a sand dune.
The modern Super Duty also features a 10-speed TorqShift automatic transmission with a patented Ford design for easy maintenance and customization. This behemoth can power its way through any terrain through brute strength and sheer force of will.
Con: The Death Wobble
The suspension is one major weakness in the Super Duty. Truck suspensions show normal signs of wear and tear after about 50,000 miles in most cases, but the Super Duty’s sometimes breaks down much sooner. The straight axle 4×4 front suspension may also experience the notorious “death wobble” that further compromises vehicle operations.
A wobbly suspension is far from ideal in off-road environments. However, there are proactive ways to avoid this problem. While the truck is still in good condition, you can upgrade to extreme-duty wheels and tires that can properly carry the burden of heavy payloads and the rigors of off-roading. Other viable upgrades such as heavy-duty suspension systems, shocks, and steering stabilizers can provide more support and performance.
Pro: Mods Everywhere
Speaking of making upgrades, the Super Duty is one of the most customizable trucks on the market. You can add off-road modifications from head to toe. Automotive companies like Zone Off-Road make modification kits specifically for Super Duty trucks, including coil spacers, radius arm systems, and application-specific shock valves.
Every chassis cab model of the Super Duty comes with a power take-off connection that easily accommodates new equipment such as plows, boom lifts, and grill guards. Owners of the 2023 Super Duty can refit the 6.7-liter Power Stroke V8 engine with upgraded turbo tubing to support its durability and longevity.
A great example of the Super Duty’s customizability can be found at Yellowstone National Park. Park rangers use a modified F-550 Super Duty with 10-lug steel wheels, high-flotation tires, and other steering, brake, and drivetrain upgrades. This truck has reliably delivered mail through the harshest terrains and weather conditions the U.S. offers.
Con: Limited Trail Accessibility
The Super Duty’s size can sometimes be a disadvantage when off-roading. The truck has a width of 80 inches, which could make certain narrow trails difficult. You might not be able to squeeze through if you encounter a tight bridge or another narrow crossing. Navigating a busy trail system with such a wide truck will also give you problems with other riders.
Additionally, many off-road parks have strict restrictions for weight, width, and different types of off-road vehicles. Some may not allow vehicles wider than 50 inches or heavier than 1,200 pounds. Some private trail systems have similar policies to prevent trucks like the Super Duty from taking over the park. And some public trail systems don’t allow trucks, jeeps, or 4x4s at all.
Pro: Off-Road Performance
F-250 or F-350 models with 4×4 single rear wheels feature standard rugged 33-inch tires, a raised air dam, water-fording axle vent tubes, skid plates, and an electronic locking rear differential.
With the Tremor Off-Road Package it gets even more burly. This includes a front-end lift and uniquely tuned suspension, plus a Dana front axle with limited-slip differential and axle vent tubes, 35-inch Goodyear tires, unique 18-inch wheels, Trail Turn Assist, and Trail Control.
The Super Duty’s Trail Control drive feature gives you the biggest advantage on steep terrain. Hill climbs and rock crawls aren’t an issue with a truck this strong.
Con: Transmission Problems
The Super Duty’s transmission has given people trouble in the past. The 2020 model, in particular, got many complaints about failing to stay in park mode. The source of the problem was a worn-down washer inside the transmission that would get lodged in the parking mechanism. As a result, Ford had to recall 23,000 trucks that were made in Kentucky and Ohio.
Further, Ford has a long track record of transmission issues with other models, such as the Explorer, Focus, and Fiesta. Although this factor doesn’t directly affect this vehicle platform or its off-road performance, you should still keep it in mind.
The Final Verdict — Super Duty Is Up To The Challenge
Super Duty trucks are more than capable of being off-road rigs. They have the power and off-road credentials to drive through almost any environment. Additionally, it is a great platform to upgrade and modify as needed.
The downside of the truck can be remedied or bolstered with solutions. Whatever off-road terrain you want to tackle, the Super Duty is up to the challenge.