Sunday, December 8, 2013

2014 Truck Comparison: Truck Towing and Room

So now that we are sufficiently knowledgeable about how strong the 2014 full size trucks are, lets see  how much they can haul, both inside and behind it.  Even the strongest struck is not much good if it can't carry a load or if it is a pain to ride in due to lack of room.

Many of the gains in truck amenities over the past two decades has come in the addition of room and in the addition of towing capacity.  Trucks have become large family vehicles in many cases and can haul more weight than most people need.

So lets take a look at who has the most room inside and just how much they can haul and pull.  You will want to note, all towing capacities and hauling capacities depend on which package you buy, including cab size, engine size, 2WD/4WD, and more.  For the purposes of this comparison, we will be using the best numbers for each make reported from their own websites.

First, lets all agree that a "half ton truck" does not carry just a half ton.  With enhanced suspension and stronger frames, these trucks do much more.  Here are the maximum hauling capacities:

                 Ford                          3,120 lbs
                 Chevy                       2,101 lbs
                 Toyota                      2,040 lbs
                 Ram                          1,910 lbs

Notice that Ford is well beyond the other three.  Chevy, Toyota and Ram are all within a couple hundred pounds of each other, but Ford is a half ton more in capacity.  Impressive.

Next, the Towing Capacities:

                 Chevy                      12,000 lbs
                 Ford                         11,300 lbs
                 Toyota                     10,500 lbs
                 Ram                         10,450 lbs
These weights are fairly close, but one should note that with all of the changes and improvements made by Dodge over the past few years, their hauling and towing capacities have a bit further to go.  Although, their top fuel efficiencies would probably take a hit if they did so.

Another note for Ram buyers, the new Ram EcoDiesel V6 is not included in these two lists since Ram had not released their hauling and towing numbers at the time of this comparison.

Finally, the cab room comparison will look at the head room, hip room, and leg room of each of the main types of half ton truck packages: Single Cab, Extended Cab, and Crew Cab.

Single Cab Numbers:

                          Head Room     Hip Room     Leg Room
     Ford                    41"                 60.5"             41.4"
     Chevy                42.4"               60.7"             45.3"
     Ram                   39.9"               62.9"              41"
     Toyota               39.7"                 62"              42.5"

Extended Cab Numbers: (Front/Rear)

                          Head Room     Hip Room     Leg Room
     Ford               41"/39.6"       60.5"/65.4"   41.4"/33.3"
     Chevy           42.8"/38.6"     60.7"/60.2"   45.3"/34.6"
     Ram               41"/39.7"       63.2"/62.9"     41"/34.7"
     Toyota          39.7"/38.7"     62.6"/62.6"   42.5"/34.7"

Crew Cab Number:  (Front/Rear)

                           Head Room     Hip Room     Leg Room
     Ford                 41"/40.3"      60.5"/64.6"   41.4"/43.5"
     Chevy            42.8"/40.5"     60.7"/60.2"   45.3"/40.9"
     Ram                 41"/39.9"      63.2"/63.2"     41"/40.3"
     Toyota           39.7"/38.9"     62.6"/60.4"   42.5"/42.3"

I won't even attempt to break all of those numbers into a snippet of information, so you can just compare and get an idea of which trucks have the shape of cab best to fit you.    I will say, however, that it does look as though Chevy makes the better truck for those who have longer legs.

Be sure to check back next week to catch the full size comparison of amenities and price.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

2014 Full Size Truck Comparison: Truck Power

Are you looking to buy a new truck?  Well, you have plenty to choose from on the dealership lots.  The 2014 trucks are out and are ready to play!

Every year there are plenty of changes, upgrades, and additions to each of the big three's full size pickup trucks, and each year truck connoisseurs compare their strength, capacity, comfort, and price.  This year we will do the same, but will add a fourth truck, the Toyota Tundra, into the mix.

Now before you American Pickup purists leave this website vowing never to return since I have gone "Furrin", hear me out and lets truly see where the Tundra has strengths and where it has weaknesses.  For those of you who are screaming "What about the Nissan Titan or the Honda Ridgeline?", first, I can only handle so much import at a time, and second, the Ridgeline is not really a truck...

So, without further adieu, lets talk truck.

First on everyone's mind these days in truck comparisons is truck strength.  However, a change in the days of previous decades is that the consumer's desire for power is balanced by their need for fuel efficiency.  With that in mind, a current truck consumer has to step back and say "Wow, where did Ram come from?"  No, I am not inherently a Dodge fan, but with their recent changes one has to appreciate that they are now changing the industry.  This year Ram is premiering their half ton truck with a diesel engine, leap frogging the innovations Ford brought to the market a few years ago with the Ecoboost V6.

In the engine capability realm, we must compare apples to apples as much as possible, so lets look at the power of each engine class.  In the V6 market, the Ford Ecoboost is still top dog. 
  1. Ford Ecoboost 3.5L V6:  HP - 365, Torque - 420 lbs
  2. Ram Pentastar 3.6L V6:  HP - 305, Torque - 269 lbs
  3. Chevy EcoTec3 4.3L V6: HP - 285, Torque - 305 lbs
  4. Ford 3.6L V6:                   HP - 302, Torque - 278 lbs
  5. Toyota 4.0L V6:               HP - 270, Torque - 278 lbs
In the mid range engines, Ford's 5.0L V8 just edges out Chevy's 5.3L V8 this year, though both have added strength in recent years.  Dodge is not listed in this area, as their mid range V8 is not currently available.
  1. Ford 5.0L V8:                   HP - 360, Torque - 380 lbs
  2. Chevy 5.3L EcoTec3 V8:  HP - 355, Torque - 383 lbs
  3. Toyota 4.6L V8:               HP - 305, Torque - 327 lbs
And in the large V8 area, Chevy's 6.2L V8 comes in at the top this year.
  1. Chevy 6.2L EcoTec3 V8: HP - 420, Torque - 460 lbs
  2. Ford 6.2L V8:                   HP - 411, Torque - 434 lbs
  3. Ram Hemi 5.7L V8:         HP - 395, Torque - 410 lbs
  4. Toyota 5.7L V8:               HP - 381, Torque - 401 lbs
You will notice that the one setup I did not include is the new Ram 6 cylinder diesel for their half ton trucks.  The 3.0L Ecodiesel is rated at 240 HP and can deliver a whopping 420 lbs of Torque.

As stated above, buyers also want efficiency.  So since these four makes have attempted to enhance their efficiency, here are the best at saving fuel:
  1. Ram 3.0L Ecodiesel:        30 MPG
  2. Ram 3.6L Pentastar V6:   25 MPG
  3. Chevy 4.3L EcoTec3 V6: 24 MPG
  4. Chevy 5.3L EcoTec3 V8: 23 MPG
  5. Ford 3.6L V6:                   23 MPG
  6. Ford 3.5L Ecoboost V6:   22 MPG
  7. Ram Hemi 5.7L V8:         22 MPG
  8. Ford 5.0L V8:                   21 MPG
  9. Chevy 6.2L V8:                21 MPG
  10. Toyota 4.0L V6:               20 MPG
  11. Toyota 4.6L V8:               19 MPG
  12. Toyota 5.7L V8:               18 MPG
  13. Ford 6.2L V8:                   18 MPG
Although one could argue over the newness of Ram's most efficient options and the balance needed between power and efficiency, nobody could argue that Toyota's efficiency is anywhere near that of the 3 "American" brands.

Check back next week for the next installment of the 2014 Full Size Truck Comparison: Towing and Room.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Install A Bug Shield For Your Truck In 5 Minutes!

In your effort to upgrade your truck and make it perfect for you, you will find that few truck accessories are as easy to install as a good bug shield.  After a simple, 5 minute installation, you truck can be free of bugs on the hood and windshield as well as protected from possible dents, scratches, or cracks.

Although many think of the old, straight, flat plastic bug guards of the early 1990's when they hear "bug shield", today, bug and stone deflectors are contoured to the shape of the vehicles hood, making them nearly seamless with the front of the truck.  The question is weather they still can keep the hood and windshield clean of bugs.

I installed a Best In Auto brand bug deflector on my 2007 Chevy Avalanche in 5 minutes and am currently very pleased with the amount of protection I am getting.  A simple 5 minute job and a small price tag made it an easy choice to install one and give it a try.  I have had bug shields before on previous trucks and SUV's, but few have actually worked and this one definitely does its job.

First, the package came with 4 Phillips head screws, 4 washers, and 4 anchors so all that was needed for installation was a Phillips head screw driver.  The 4 anchors stick into 4 factory cut holes, so no drilling is needed. 

After the anchors are in place, a careful hand is needed to slowly start the screws with the washers and get them far enough in to start spreading the anchors.  Once all 4 screws are about 3/4 of the way in, make sure the bug shield is centered properly. 

Finally, tighten all 4 screws  and enjoy.  Fast and easy.

One complaint I have had with other bug shields has been that they were so close to the front of the hood that you could not clean behind them.  This Best In Auto deflector is only tight right in the center of the hood, so cleaning behind it is pretty easy.  The shape matches the front pretty well, so from the front you can barely see it.
All in all, I highly recommend one.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

2013 Half Ton Truck Comparison

Every year the big three truck makers, Chevy, Ford, and Dodge, come out with their newest model of truck heaven, complete with new gadgets, more horsepower, and a flashy change to the outer appearance. This year is no different. As the 2013 full size trucks are beginning to roll into car lots across the country and people are trying to compare the three truck to decide which is best for them, many will be torn between the strength of one and the comfort of another. With so many choices, you may also be looking to compare the new 2013 full size truck models. Well, here is some help, my 2013 version of the Full Size Pickup Truck Comparison.

Over the past few years each truck has made many changes to their full size truck package. Chevy beefed up their front end appearance, Ford added a double turbo V6, and Dodge revamped their whole truck. But what else have they been working on?
In this truck comparison we will look at stats and specifics in the areas of power, comfort, design, durability, and price to see which full size American truck is best for you. While nothing can surpass the feel you will get on a test drive of one of these trucks, I will try to give you the closest idea of what each truck is like.

2013 Truck Power Comparison

For the last 3 or 4 decades, the big three truck makers have each put out their fair share of audacious commercials or videos showing their truck pulling the other two on a trailer, or racing ahead of the others, or even tying their truck to a train. No doubt, truck power is one of the largest selling points of any truck brand. Today, truck buyers need a truck that can go from play toy to work truck at a moments notice, so power is still of great importance.
First, I will begin with the oldest of the three models, the Chevy Silverado. Although this package is older than the other two (the base of this model began production in 2006), They have done plenty right. With plenty of awards when the model began production and again when it had upgrades in 2011, Chevy got many things right. One area where they do lag behind now is in power. Although the 5.3L V8, Chevy's best V8 engine, is very efficient and provides plenty of towing power, its 315 horsepower fall behind the field. Chevy does have its 6.2L V8 with 400 hp, but it is far less efficient and drinks fuel.
Second, Ford's V8 powerplant, the 5.0L 360 hp V8, has been eclipsed by the 3.5L V6 Ecoboost powerplant. The Ecoboost has 365 hp, largely due to their twin turbos, and gets an efficient 22 mpg (hwy). Ford's GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating), a measure of towing capacity is a massive max of 17,100 lbs. This capacity is only reached with the V6 Ecoboost package and the 6.2L V8 package which has 411 hp.
Lastly, the Ram 1500 is the newest of the three designs and is rolling out their new Pentastar V6. This V6 has lest power than the Ecoboost, with 305 hp, but paired with the new "TorqueFlite 8" 8 speed transmission it is touted to get an amazing 25 mpg (hwy) when combined with a few other efficiency changes Ram has added (to be discussed below). The Hemi is still available with more hp than last year (395) and will be available with the new 8 speed tranny next year.

2013 Truck Design Comparison

With each of the truck makers, Chevy, Ford, and Dodge (Ram), looking to create the most "manly" looking truck while also trying to get a step ahead in design innovation, the full size truck models have had many changes over the past 10 years. Larger front ends, larger wheels, and more accessibility are ideas that have driven the truck designers in the immediate history.

A few years ago, I, and most other Chevy drivers, would never have thought that the current Chevy Silverado design would have gotten "old." Although it has been spruced up a couple of times since, this exterior has been on the road since the 2007 model year and 6 years is an eternity in such a competitive industry. The Chevy front is muscular, yet relaxed, and although it is not as flashy as its counterparts, its solid look still gets plenty of attention on the road. Add into the picture the excellent frame and suspension changes that have been made to it over the past 5 years, and the overall design is a good one.

Ford has continued to slowly morph their design from almost a decade ago, yet it looks new almost every year. The current model is very similar to last year with a couple changes to spruce up the grille and some small changes to tooling on the sides and tailgate. The front end design has grown slightly taller and more muscular over the past few years, especially with the development of the grille area and the additions to some exterior accessories, such as a tailgate step, this design is more flashy and aggressive than its Chevy counterpart.

Nowhere near the Dodge design from the early 1990's with the huge front end, the new Dodge is aggressive, flashy, and refined at the same time. The negative angle slant of the grille, tapering down on the sides and moving back to a solid cab and box creates a line for the truck that catches every eye. With new tooling on the hood, changes to the headlights and fog light design, and a new look to the grille background, this model is easy to look at in every way. Add that to standard side boxes and the 2013 Ram is a the best designed truck this year.

2013 Truck Price Comparison

These definitely are not your father's pickup truck, and, furthermore, they are not your grandfather's pickup truck prices. With more aluminum, high strength steel, leather, electronics, safety technology, and better design come a higher price tag. Add to that the fact that the government is pressing for higher fuel efficiency and it is easy to see how prices could go even higher in the near term.

The low end of these truck brands are slightly more expensive than they were a couple years ago, but are definitely still within reason. The regular cab model with their least expensive package and engine for each come to $22,590 (Ram with 4.7L v8), $22,595 (Chevy with 4.3L v6), and $23,670 (Ford with 3.7L v6 [not the Ecoboost]). These are the "bare bones" models, but they come with much more standard than they did in years passed. Cruise control is standard in the Chevy and Ram, and power windows and locks are standard in all.

The upper end of these American Pickup trucks are much more of an expensive purchase. The largest cab version with the best available package of these models come to $39,290 (Chevy with 5.3L V8), $44,275 (Ram with 5.7L Hemi), and $46,400 (Ford with 5.0L V8). Each model has its own ways to amaze you and every ride is fun in these models, but fun definitely costs. The Chevy LTZ model is the best buy in my opinion with the best Chevy engine and still $5,000 less than the next truck. The Ford is even more in their Platinum model when you add their larger v8 or the v6 Ecoboost.

2013 Truck Durability Comparison

Although the Chevy, Ford and Ram are making stronger trucks with better frames and more efficient engines, they are also including more and more technology that can become a liability over time. Everyone loves a new truck with all the bells and whistles, but for every new innovations in today's trucks, there is one more item that can break.

In last year's 2012 Full Size Truck Comparison I lamented that there could be some long term issues with Ford's new V6 Ecoboost engine, but so far there have been no mass recalls and the Ecoboost packages are the first ones off the lot. They are not easily found in used truck listings and often have a wait to receive them when buying new. Shows what I know. Although a long term issue cannot be totally ruled out as the package has only been out for 2 years, the early indication would show that it is not a likely problem.

Ford does have a problem, however, when it comes to their Powertrain Warranty. Ford has remained at a 5 year 60,000 mile warranty for powertrain issues, whereas Chevy and Ram both have a 5 year 100,000 mile warranty. I know they are both 5 years, but how many truck drivers only average 12,000 miles per year? That comes down to only 33 miles per day. Best put off that long road trip Ford owners.

2013 Truck Comfort Comparison

Gone are the days when a truck was a stiff ride, sure to shake you out of your seat. Also gone are models that come standard without power windows, automatic transmissions or even CD players. Most of those come standard now. And the stiff ride has been replaced with suspension systems that ride more like a car than an old work truck.

With that said, not all trucks are alike in ride, accessories, or amenities. To a certain extent, the level that a person is comfortable in a truck is due in large part to the feel to which they have become accustomed. By that, I mean that if a person is used to driving a Chevy and likes how the seat feels and how the truck handles, they are more likely to feel out of place in a Ford or Dodge. However, there are plenty of high points in each of the trucks that anyone could appreciate.

For one, Chevy has long been seen as one of the more comfortable rides in the truck world. The Steering is easy, the seats are comfortable on a long ride, and the layout of the driver's area is easy to master. Where Chevy has fallen behind is in not having an overall integrated electronics screen like Ford and Dodge, not updating the interior materials, and having done away with its premium audio package that used to include Bose speakers.

Ford, known for their work trucks and off-road handling, has become quite a comfortable ride in the past few years. Their steering has gotten much more responsive, their cabs are definitely the best at keeping sound out, and their Ford Sync system, complete with touch screen and integrated computer system, has led the industry into a whole new realm of electronic possibilities. Ford does have a little work to do in their seats, however, which can become quite painful on a long ride.

The Ram has undergone a load of changes in the past couple years, especially inside. They have totally revamped the materials used inside, including the leather on the doors and their seat materials. This year's truck includes a rotary dial to select gears rather than a column shifter (initially only on the V6 Pentastar models and later on the Hemi models). The rotary dial is more similar to the inside of a luxury sedan, so we will see how the rugged Ram owners appreciate it. Dodge has also added a new integrated electronics system with touch screen to follow the Ford Sync. Dodge has done some work on their suspension to make their ride less stiff, but their coil springs in their rear suspension means less carrying capacity.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Custom Truck Bumpers: A Great First Impression

Once only bought for large work trucks, custom truck bumpers have become one of the most bought accessories for light duty and off road pickup trucks. Today, custom bumpers offer a stylish look and have been redesigned to make more sense to today's pickup owners and even if they appeal to drivers who need off road bumpers they still can make any full size pickup truck seem bigger and flashier.

Although they have become more stylish, custom bumpers such as Ranch Hand bumpers still offer excellent front end protection along with placement for other truck accessories such as tools and winches. Below you will find some reasons to get a custom bumper, how it can make your truck better, and which kind of custom bumper is the best.

Who Needs Custom Truck Bumpers?

Custom truck bumpers serve a lot of different purposes, the greatest of which is protection for the front of the truck. Many truck owners use their truck for a wide array of work and play purposes, some of which include driving through brush or in areas where wildlife crossing the road is common. In these areas, custom bumpers can keep the front of your truck dent free due to the way they stick out from the front of the truck and the grill protection they give.

Another plus to custom bumpers is the added front end weight. Although added weight may not be an MPG improver, with many trucks, a little weight in the bed or on the hitch can make the front end stick up in the air. This can affect traction on the front tires, steering, as well as the looks of the truck. A little added weight on the front can make a great deal of difference and even out the vehicle.

Lastly, one of the quickest benefits of the custom bumper is that it makes the truck look bigger. For anyone wanting a big, muscular looking truck, these bumpers can give you that quickly. They also help the resale value of the truck, so the benefits are definitely not all superficial.

Are Ranch Hand Bumpers The Best?

The short answer to this question is probably so. Ranch Hand is by far the largest company offering custom truck bumpers and grille guards today. They are definitely the largest company that can boast that their products are "Made In USA", and as the buying group they target are generally very patriotic, that is definitely a draw. And, that along with the fact that they are the sturdiest product on the market makes them the best choice for both personal truck and work truck alike.

Ranch Hand offers a large array of products that go along with the custom bumper like light guards, winches and more. Also, since Ranch Hand is such a sought after product, you can probably get them at a car parts or truck customizing shop near you.

Winch For Truck, Grill Guard: What Options Are Available?

Options available by Ranch Hand and other truck bumper makers include:
  • Front Bumpers
  • Push Bars
  • Grille Guards
  • Light Guards
  • "Headache" Racks
  • Bed Rails
  • Steps
  • Skid Plates and MORE!
Many of the Custom Truck Bumpers on the market today also can come fitted with fog lights, winches, and even hitch receivers.