Tuesday, November 29, 2011

2012 Diesel Truck Comparison

U.S. diesel truck owners take pride in the truck they drive and believe it to be the best diesel truck available. Furthermore, most diesel truck owners seek out the same brand year after year. In all truck purchasing, brand loyalty has been and remains paramount. Even still, for truck owners who just love trucks, a comparison must be made year after year to compare the year's new models. With that in mind, the following is a side by side comparison of the 2012 models of America's diesel pickup trucks.

With many truck buyers power is king, be it in how much they can pull, carry or how fast they can get up to speed. Others look more for comfortability, handling stability, or new innovation. Are you wandering who has the best diesel truck this year? Are you thinking your truck has the strongest engine? Whatever your taste, whether you are looking only for new Chevy trucks, Dodge diesel trucks or just a big strong truck, I have for you a true comparison of the specs, what the experts say, and, because I can, what I like and dislike about each make.

For those of you who read my 2011 Diesel Truck Comparison, this one is definitely similar. Be assured that with every bit of news released about the coming 2012 models and the changes and upgrades that this page will be updated to reflect the new model year.

Many of today's truck buyers want to know how much a truck can pull. Many diesel owners either use their truck for work and have to haul trailers full of equipment or material and even those who don't use it for work have large boats or campers to pull. So who can pull the world? I'm sure that everyone has seen the videos of one truck carrying another, all while pulling a third truck up a mountain of rock. Manufacturers definitely tend go overboard in advertising claims, but these trucks can definitely move mountains. With that said, often it is less about how much your springs and bed can hold and more about what you can pull. Trailering or tow capacity is one of the most important factors for many work truck owners and with that in mind, here are the best at pulling.

Chevy comes in as the best trailering capacity at 17,800 lbs. With the added engine strength and a newly bulked up frame and suspension, Chevy has upped the ante. The 2010 2500HD had a maximum towing capacity of 13,000 lbs, 4,800 lbs less than the 2011 upgrade. No longer can the other two diesel truck makers ignore Chevy as serious diesel truck competition.

The Ford came in second in 2011 at 16,500 lbs, up 200 lbs from 2010. With the upgrade to the 6.7L diesel and some modifications to the computer, Ford has further raised the bar. Ford is now claiming that the top end for towing for the F250 is now 17,500 lbs, just 300 lbs off of the Chevy number.

The Dodge, although they are third, has beefed up their towing capacity from 13,400 lbs of towing power in 2011 to 15,450 lbs in 2012. Dodge may be third with this number in its Ram 2500, but they are much closer this year with a number that is likely to keep most of their faithful Ram drivers buying Dodge in the near term.

For a large portion of diesel truck buyers, engine strength is as far as they go. They want to know how many horsepower the engine can muster and how much torque the truck can apply to the driving surface. For years Dodge pounded the competition with Cummins strength, then Ford and Powerstroke became king of power. Who has the strongest diesel truck now?

Well, the diesel engine packages have not changed much for 2012 from 2011. In 2011, both Ford and Chevy brought out many changes, from a new powerplant for Ford to changes in cooling and other areas to Chevy's Duramax. Although their may be some tweaks to transmission gear ratios or shift settings to bring more low end torque, these trucks remain largely the same.

Begining with last years 2011 F-250, Ford currently has the most powerful truck. The 2012 Ford diesel engine, still a Powerstroke Diesel, has 400 horsepower and 800 lb-ft torque. The huge 2012 powerplant, the same as 2011, is the 6.7 L, twin turbo V8 diesel engine. Most of the Ford drivers are glad to say that the 6.4L is gone due to the many problems this powerplant experienced.

No longer is Ford the far and away leader of HD trucks, however. With an upgraded engine, Chevrolet has established itself as a true competitor. After revamping their HD line for 2011, and subsequently getting multiple awards, the 2012 Chevy 2500 HD currently boasts a 6.6L Turbo Diesel V8. The 2012 engine can put out 397 horsepower and 765 lb-ft of torque. Most people would say that this powerplant is equal to the Ford's; really, what's 3 horses between friends?

Coming in last, not a viewpoint they are accustomed too, is the Dodge Ram 2500. The Dodge engine is the 6.7L Cummins Turbo Diesel I6, an engine that Dodge has used for a while. The output from this engine is well shy of the other two trucks with 350 Hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. Even the Dodge Hemi V8 can match the Cummins, but comes up short with a torque value of only 400 lb-ft of torque. Although Dodge has definitely fallen from the top, many of their dedicated buyers say that you cannot beat Cummins reliability.

As said before, many things have changed in truck design from years ago. In the '80s you could walk up to any pickup and reach into the bed and grab whatever you needed. Not so today. Huge beds, high sides, and massive suspension have totally changed the look of the bed of most trucks. The trucks of 2012 are worlds away from where they were 10-15 years ago. Although most of us like some things about the older models of these trucks, current models have improved on many areas.

The heaviest load in 2012 can be placed squarely in the bed of the F250 Super Duty. The highest payload capacity for Ford is in their single cab F250 at 4,290 lbs. That is 2 tons. Ridiculous. The frame under the Ford F 250 is definitely an equal match for the power of the 6.7L diesel engine.

The Chevy payload comes in at just under the Ford mark with 4,192 lbs. Sure, the Ford can handle one more bag of concrete mix, but most people would find the payload capacity plenty.

Dodge falls just behind the other two with a payload capacity of 3,120 lbs. However, with Dodge's new side boxes and Ford's tailgait step, not only will the payloads get greater in the future, but they will also become more accessible.

All three of the 2012 American diesel trucks have their strongsuits, and which one a buyer chooses is still largely up to personal preference. The reason for this is that most diesel owners will not max out their truck on a daily basis so towing limits and horsepower above 350 is rarely tested. So to help you decide, here goes.

The Ford: Although it has lost its lead in power and now is second in towing and payload, it remains king in space. The roominess inside the F250 is second to none, even older F-250's. The 2012 F-250 has all that Ford has to offer, including the Sync System, new step assists in the tailgate, and a new clean, open look to the interior. For a large person, especially guys over 6' 2" or so, the Ford definitely offers the best cab.

The F-250 also is considered by many to still have the best ride while under load, which is somewhat debatable now with the changes to the Chevy frame. However, the handling definitely still has the Ford feel to it which will keep the Ford-lovers happy.

The Dodge: Although it has fallen behind in the Hp, Towing and Payload areas, Dodge has made great strides in comfort-ability. This Dodge no longer has as stiff a feel as the old Dodges due to a re-worked interior and softer suspension. Don't get me wrong, it still feels much more stiff than the Ford and Chevy, but it is catching up. With additions of side boxes built into the bed and the new larger cab available, some work has definitely been done. Now in the 2012 the extra side boxes are supposedly going to be standard.

The Chevrolet: Yes the truck is stronger and pulls better than it has before, but did they give up on comfort? No! Actually the truck is more comfortable. With additions in the past 2 years to room in the front seat and head room, and the added weight and frame and suspension upgrades, the truck feels bigger and stronger without becoming stiff and bouncy. With the better comfort and the higher MPG from the other trucks, Chevy has a great HD.

Monday, November 28, 2011

An American Half Ton Truck Comparison

Every year, America's truck makers sell 2-3 million half ton and larger trucks in the United States. The top seller, depending on which numbers you use, is always Ford. While numbers show that Ford has a good product, it does not necessarily mean they have the best product. Many truck buyers have certain aspects they look at to decide: handling, power, comfortability, and more.

The following is a look at how each make measures up in the areas of power, comfortability, design, durability and price.

Each of the 3 major 2012 trucks have engine packages available with big horsepower, and along with it, hefty torque. However, to match the Chevy's improved gas mileage in its 5.3 L V8, you have to go to Ford's EcoBoost 3.5L V6. That's right, V6. The V6 version of the new Ecoboost line of Ford engines gets more horsepower than Chevy's 5.3 L V8, but I'm afraid the only thing harder than convincing truck buyers to buy a V6 for fuel efficiency would be convincing them that this new V6 will be able to produce 365 HP for more than 100,000 miles. The Ecoboost line has been in production for a few years now, but it will take a while to convince most truck buyers that it can handle the abuse needed. Past deisel truck owners may have less trouble believing, however, as Cummins has been providing Dodge with V6 deisel engines for years.

The Dodge trucks offer good horsepower, but they continue to produce gas guzzeling hogs that seem to automatically put their turn signal on for every gas station. With a rumored addition of a 6 speed transmission in 2012, Dodge could finally begin to close the fuel mileage gap on Chevrolet.

Nobody wants to ride around in an uncomfortable truck, and, to be honest, most of the trucks from the early '90s and older would be considered extremely stiff and uncomfortable compared to the trucks of today. All three have made changes in recent years to improve on interior space, ride, and amenities inside the cab. For the models that I compared, crew cab XLT, LT, or SLT, there were few differences in dimensions, but a couple did stick out. The Dodge and Chevy have a couple more inches in front and rear hip room than the Ford, but Ford more than makes up for it with 4 and 5 more inches of rear leg room than the Dodge and Chevy respectively.

In the past few years, many changes have come in Pickup Truck Design. From large grille, hood, and fender areas, to built-in tool boxes and steps, these are not your father's pickup trucks! For the most part these design changes have been for the good, although, larger trucks do mean it is harder to get in and out. Size can be adjusted for with some great truck accessories like side steps or running boards.

Design is one area in which I see Dodge as having made great strides. With their re-worked front end, larger cabs, and new amenities, such as the built in toolboxes over the rear wheels, which they make make standard in 2012, Dodge has really tried to capture the imagination of the truck buyer. Dodge has once again made their work trucks an asset to their owners.

Ford and Chevy seem to have focused their changes on style of the front end and beefing up their frames and suspension. Ford has included their built in tailgate step which was needed to reach into their deep bed. Chevy has, on the other hand, made some needed changes to interior design to give more head room.

I have three concerns in the area of durability.  First, although it is definitely too early to truly judge the durability of these models, there have already been several recalls involving both the Dodge Ram and F-150. Most of these are due to electrical problems that are mostly cautionary, one for the Ram is for rear axle issues for trucks with manual transmissions.

Second, the F-150 seems to be placing its future in its new EcoBoost V6 due to its need to keep up with Chevy on fuel economy. Even though this engine is focused on better gas mileage, there will certainly be some light truck tires worn out by its power. While the V6 could very well be the best new engine out of Detroit, I have serious doubts about putting long term trust in a 3.6 L V6 to pull and carry heavy loads. Only time will tell. For those of you that have tried this engine out, be advised, there is rumor that Ford is working on a V8 version of the engine that, if able to compare in economy, could be an amazing package.

Third, the manufacturer's power train warranty makes the above distrust more profound. The Ford power train warranty of 5 yr/60,000 miles continues to lag behind those of Dodge and Chevy whose warranties are 5 yr/100,000 miles. If Ford wants buyers to feel comfortable buying their new EcoBoost V6 they should beef up their warranty to show how much they trust their handiwork.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Eight Ball, Side Pocket...

For those who liked the debut of the Dodge side-rail toolbox, more may be to come.  Word is that the 2012 Dodge will have side-rail toolboxes standard on all Dodge trucks, or at least have them as an option on all truck packages.

This change follows the recent surge in truck makers adding resourcefullness to their trucks.  Recently Ford added steps built into the side of the truck and the tailgate.  These new steps are long needed due to the depth that Ford added to their truck beds a few years ago.  Before adding these steps reaching something in the bottom of the truck bed from beside the truck was nearly impossible while stepping up to the tailgate with a raised bed on a Super Duty has always been a chore to say the least.

The Dodge side-rail toolbox gives the owner the ability to have a small toolbox space without giving up bedspace, adding more bed weight with a big box, and puts it all within easy reach from the side of the truck.  With Dodge Ram trailing the field in overall truck sales, Dodge should use this platform and become the "innovative" truck maker, adding some more needed extras to their trucks.

Some other options that may be available soon on trucks are power receptacles at the rear of the truck bed and a stow away air compressor and hose built into the side of the truck bed.  Both of these new options have been seen on some Chevrolet show models.  Anyone else have any ideas about some needed new options?