Longtime readers of this publication can probably recall a car review (or several) that hinged on steering feel and response. But can you name one where that specific attribute defined a full-size, heavy-duty pickup truck? The 2017 Ford F-350 Platinum is most definitely not a sports car, and yet here we are zeroing in on its steering.
There are myriad advancements rolled into the F-series Super Duty for 2017, including an all-new aluminum body and bed (just like the light-duty F-150), a stiffer steel frame, and a revised Power Stroke turbo-diesel 6.7-liter V-8 engine option. Yet for truckers who occasionally venture into crowded urban areas or tight worksites, the Super Duty’s new variable-ratio steering system could be its most noteworthy enhancement.
The setup gives the driver the impression of greater maneuverability by, as Ford puts it, mechanically adding or subtracting rotations to driver input at the steering wheel. Said another way, for a given steering input, the front wheels will turn more at lower speeds and less at higher speeds. What’s truly special about the setup is that it’s based within the steering wheel’s hub, not in the steering gear itself, as is common. This allowed Ford to retain the F-series’ hydraulically assisted recirculating-ball steering system, simplifying the manufacturing process.
How does it work? A planetary gearset mounted between the steering wheel and the steering column receives inputs from an electric motor and the steering wheel, leaving the steering shaft to the front axle as the “output.” At lower speeds, the electric motor bolsters driver inputs, turning the front wheels more for a given steering input than they would at higher speeds. Complete review on www.caranddriver.com, by Michael Simari