Ford completely changed the game with their new 2023 Super Duty line of pickup trucks. The F-250, F-350, and F-450 have seen some massive updates when it comes to performance, towing, and hauling capabilities. The F-450, in particular, has been the major talk of the town when it comes to the capabilities of towing. Now that it’s able to trailer up to 40,000 lbs worth of cargo, it has raised a lot of eyebrows. However, there is more to the Ford Super Duty news than just the F-450’s insane towing capabilities. There are waves being made in the one-ton pickup segment now that the 2023 Ford F-350 has raised the bar significantly over what the current segment leaders have been capable of towing.
The F-450 has already started a massive debate about whether or not consumer production pickup trucks should be allowed to tow up to 40,000 lbs or if those with production pickup trucks even need it. But apart from that discussion, there is another topic worth discussing: is Ford’s push beyond the limits of what current one-ton trucks are capable of giving truck shoppers potentially unfair or extremely high expectations from the one-ton pickup truck segment? With the F-350 now edging close to the 40,000 lbs mark when it comes to 5th-wheel and gooseneck trailering (currently, it maxes out at 38,000 lbs), could we see a major shift in the landscape soon?
Overcoming the Limits of Competitors
The one-ton pickup truck segment is one of the most competitive when it comes to max trailering capabilities. There is a battle to keep pushing the limits; in recent times, Ford, Ram, and Chevy have all managed to edge each other out at one point or another in max trailering capabilities. Those gains aren’t kept for long, and there is usually another segment leader the following model year as they buff up the capabilities of the pickup and reach new segment capacities.
At present, the Chevy Silverado 3500 HD, the equivalent of the Ford F-350, is capable of topping out its max trailering capabilities at 36,000 lbs. It’s an extremely impressive figure, just until you realize that the Ram 3500 is capable of trailering up to 37,090 lbs worth of cargo. It’s an insane amount of weight to be trailering, but those figures still manage to pale in comparison to Ford’s push to become a segment leader with the F-350.
Before getting to the F-350’s figures, it’s also important to talk about payload capacity because that’s another important aspect of one-ton pickups. The Chevy Silverado 3500 HD is capable of hauling a max payload of 7,442 lbs, which is quite the haul. The Ram 3500 is also capable of similar figures, topping out at 7,680 lbs worth of payload capacity, which puts it in rarefied air within the segment. However, even those payload figures pale compared to the F-350.
The 2023 F-350’s Limit-Pushing Figures
So what does Ford’s newest 2023 model year one-ton truck manage when it comes to segment capacities? Well, the new 2023 Ford F-350 is capable of towing up to 38,000 lbs via 5th-wheel or gooseneck trailering. That’s two percent more towing capacity over the Ram 3500. It may not seem like a big deal, but when comparing trucks in this category and the amount that they can tow, it’s a significant increase. That’s still 910 lbs more than the nearest competitor, and that’s not talking about the fact that the F-350 also has all-new segment-defining payload capacities.
How much more can the F-350 haul compared to before? Well, we’re now looking at the F-350 being capable of hauling up to 8,000 lbs worth of cargo in the bed. This is a notable upgrade over the competitors. There’s also a slightly larger gap between the F-350 and Ram 3500 when it comes to payload capacities than trailering because you’re looking at a four percent difference in payload capabilities between the F-350 and Ram 3500. That’s right, with the F-350, you have access to 320 lbs of additional payload capacity over the Ram 3500.
The numbers are even more notable when comparing the F-350 to the Silverado 3500 HD. You’re looking at a nearly seven percent payload difference between the two one-ton pickup trucks, which makes the F-350 certainly look like the segment leader that Ford has designed it to be with these new figures. That’s an impressive 558 lbs payload advantage that the 2023 F-350 has over the 2023 Chevy Silverado 3500 HD. The figures definitely speak for themselves, and that leads to a very important question.
How Will the Competition Respond?
While a lot of people are debating about the need for customers to tow up to 40,000 lbs with the F-450, there’s a lot less contention over the F-450’s sibling, the F-350. This is where things get interesting because depending on how the average consumers react to and buy the 2023 Ford F-350 will determine how Chevy and Ram adapt their respective trucks to Ford taking the crown in the one-ton segment when it comes to the segment-defining figures the F-350 touts.
For those thinking that Chevy and Ram aren’t paying attention or don’t care, keep in mind that when Ram introduced the TRX with the supercharged HEMI, it put Chevy and Ford on notice. The TRX became a best-seller for Ram, and in response, we saw Chevy ramp up its efforts with a Silverado ZR2 and Ford with the “T-Rex killer” in the form of the Raptor R. Even though people had been begging Ford for a powerful super or turbocharged V8 for the F-150 years prior, it wasn’t until the TRX came about did Ford commit to a supercharged V8 for the F-150 Raptor R. So we can see how competition directly causes innovative responses from the big three when it comes to meeting consumer demand.
The big question is if the F-350 will meet consumer demands. That will ultimately determine how Ram and Chevy will respond with their next iterations. If the F-450 and its 40,000 lbs worth of trailering is more hassle than what it’s worth, given that you’ll need a commercial driver’s license of the Class A variety if you want to tow that much, then it may be something Ford pulls back on in future model years. But the F-350 is right there at the limit, pushing the boundaries without overstepping them within its segment. While there is definitely a potential debate about needing 38,000 lbs worth of trailering capabilities, it’s not quite in the crosshairs like its larger F-450 sibling. So if it turns out a lot of people do want 38,000 lbs worth of trailering or 8,000 lbs worth of payload capacity from their one-ton pickup, you can definitely expect to see Ram and Chevy follow suit.
Will Consumers Demand More? Will Truck Makers Listen?
While it’s a hypothetical situation about what the top automakers will do when it comes to their one-ton truck categories and whether they will chase the heels of Ford to meet or surpass the payload and trailering ratings, there is another aspect to all of this. Will this expectation of meeting these new standards result in consumers demanding more from the top truck makers? Will it result in the automakers listening to that demand?
As Henry Ford famously said about developing the Model T, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” In this case, is Ford setting the stage for giving people something they didn’t know they wanted or needed? Is the 2023 Ford F-350’s 38,000 lbs limit something people didn’t know they actually wanted from the one-ton segment? Is 8,000 lbs the payload capacity that haulers didn’t know they wanted from the Super Duty series?
Sometimes some innovations just don’t make sense until they’re actually out there in the consumer market. When it comes to the new standards set by the Ford Super Duty trucks, it could definitely change the landscape of what heavy-duty truck haulers expect from the current and upcoming crop of trucks from the big automakers. One thing is for sure, Ford has absolutely raised its game and dropped an unyielding gauntlet on the ground for the competition to match. Will Ram and Chevy match it, though? Well, it all depends on how well the new Super Duty trucks do on the market.