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.


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