Less than two years after it completely revamped its popular F-150 pickup, Ford will introduce the freshened 2011 F-Series Super Duty, which features two new, more powerful engines and an even more brazen look than before.

Even More Macho

There are plenty of changes to talk about here, and the visual ones can probably be seen from space. On regular-Joe versions—versus the more work horse-y Joe-the-Plumber versions—pretty much the entire front end is chrome. (Grilles of harder-working models will be either black or body color.) The Ford oval is 13 inches across. The surface area of the headlights can be measured not in inches, but square feet. We’re not sure what the coefficient of drag is, but we’d put it somewhere between a mobile home and a parasail.

Otherwise, it’s pretty familiar-looking. The side vent has been streamlined, and if you get the big Power Stroke diesel V-8, you get a badge on the front door announcing your preference for the oil-burner. Wheels range from 17-inch steelies up to 20-inch polished hoops, depending on trim: XL, XLT, Lariat, and King Ranch.

Out back, Ford will offer Super Duty customers what it calls “Tough Bed,” a “military-grade” spray-in bed liner which Ford claims is lighter, smoother, more even, and better-looking than aftermarket bed liners, and won’t run or sag on the inside bed walls.

Mildly Freshened Interior, Handy New Info Display

Interior upgrades include new seats with an available 10-way adjustable driver’s seat, a heating/cooling feature, lumbar support, and lockable under-seat storage. A new console has what Ford claims is the most capacity in the class and more than 70 configuration possibilities, and makes room for two rear HVAC ducts as well as a 110-volt inverter and socket at the rear of the console.

A new instrument cluster contains six dial-type gauges plus an optional 4.2-inch center-mounted LCD screen displaying trailering and off-road-related information, as well as trip and fuel-economy stats. This latter feature is slick, and we fully expect it to be copied by the competition as soon as they can make room for it.

Also, like the just-released 2010 Ford Transit Connect MPV, the Super Duty will be offered with the innovative Ford Work Solutions technology that includes full-feature mobile computing and online access.

The Dirty Parts

More important to the hard-core truck buyers—the only ones left at this juncture—is what you can’t see. Ford says the revised chassis offers both higher payload and towing limits as well as improved ride quality and steering feel. Of course, improvements in the ride quality and steering feel of heavy-duty pickups can be hard to measure, so we’ll get back to you as to what extent Ford’s claims are noticeable. One thing is certain: maneuverability remains Peterbilt-like, with turning circles ranging from 46 to 58.5 feet.

Two new engines are said to make clear power gains over last year’s counterparts, which were hardly wimps to begin with. Exactly how much of a gain remains a mystery, as Ford did not release horsepower, torque, or fuel-economy figures for either the new 6.2-liter gasoline V-8 or its new 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel. However, PickupTrucks.com, which is typically accurate in these matters, is reporting that the gas engine will produce about 400 hp and 400 lb-ft, and the diesel may be good for as much as 390 hp and 720 lb-ft. An EcoBoost engine will also join the lineup later in 2010, likely a V-6 similar to the 350-hp version already seeing duty in several Ford and Lincoln cars.

A newly available six-speed transmission brings a segment-exclusive power take-off (PTO) to the new diesel—basically an output gear through the torque converter that links power from the crankshaft to ancillary equipment and devices like snowplows, tow-truck lifts, and cement mixers. If this feature proves to be a popular one, Dodge is waiting in the wings with a PTO transmission it offers on chassis-cabs, but not bedded Rams.

Overkill? Never

Is this the right time for a truck like this? Yes and no. No, because the fuel scare of 2008 prompted a mass exodus of lifestyle buyers from the heavy duty truck market while causing Toyota and Nissan to scuttle altogether their plans to enter it. But yes, because there will always be a market for these bad boys amongst tradesmen and the truly stubborn/delusional. Indeed, the introduction of the new super-er Super Duty, which will happen sometime in 2010 (Ford wouldn’t be any more specific) demonstrates that even in this era of eco-minded prudence and responsibility, the full-size truck world remains wedded to the idea that bigger is better, and that too much power will never be enough.

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