Showing posts with label American Trucks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label American Trucks. Show all posts

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.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Changes In The 2013 Full Size Pickups

Every year the big three truck makers roll out their new year's model some time after summer, each with their own new bells and whistles. Sometimes the new model is just a slightly changed version of the prior year's truck, and sometimes the truck maker brings out a whole new design, looking to capture truck of the year awards and every truck buyer's attention.

For the most part, truck makers - Chevy, Ford, and Dodge - only truly change their truck model every 4 or 5 years or so. They simply make minor tweaks and adjustments and add new colors or a new interior option and then slap a new year on it. This year the overall models are not changing, but several big changes are happening with powertrains and such along with some preparations being made for big changes in the next couple of years due to changes in "Cafe" standards.

The following sections will break down the changes for each of the big 3 American full size truck models, along with some coming changes in 2014 and so forth. And finally, I will add a comparison of the reported changes. I will come out with a whole 2013 Full Size Truck Comparison when the models are released with finalized Hp ratings and so forth. Please feel free to share any other changes you have heard of in the comments section at the bottom.

What's New On The 2013 Ford Trucks

The new full size model for the Ford lineup, the 2013 F150, will also be staying with its same basic layout, but will include more visible updating, especially to the front of the exterior. Although the basic look is the same, Ford has reworked the grille, the headlights, and the hood, to give the F150 a slightly flashier feel. Ford's F150 is currently working off of a 2009 platform, so they are 2 years younger than the Silverado, and in less need of a new platform.

Ford will also be including a return of the F150 Limited from 2011. The high-end model has all of the upgrades and includes the hard to find V6 Ecoboost engine with its 365 Hp and 22 MPG. It is not known, as of yet, if Ford will make the V6 more common on their lots, as over the past two years they have been very difficult to find and always brought at or close to full price.

With preparation to ready their fleet for the new fuel standards, Ford is reportedly dropping as much as 700 lbs from their trucks, but will not be doing so until probably 2015, a year after GM.

Changes To The 2013 Full Size Chevy Truck

Although the Chevy Silverado is a great truck and has a large share of the market, the 2013 Silverado does not bring much to the table as far as new improvements. This year's Silverado has only added some incidental changes to minor stylings (location and size of logos, addition of some chrome, etc). Instead of spending time changing the 2013 model, GM has, instead, decided to spend more effort working on the 2014 line and allow the strengths of the old model carry it for one more year.

Chevy's current strengths (many options, dependability, comfortable ride) are great but with the upgrades you will see in the other two trucks combined with their upgrades the past couple of years, Chevy is beginning to fall behind. Although this may not mean a mass exodus of brand loyal customers from Chevy to Ford or Ram, GM will have to worry that more of their loyal customers will simply wait until next year.

Where Chevy has the other two makers trying to catch up is in preparation for the next set of Cafe standards. Chevy is reportedly preparing to drop 500 lbs from the truck in its coming 2014 model which will be coming with small block V8's and standard 6 speed transmissions.

The New 2013 Ram Full Size Trucks

The Ram full size trucks have, by far, the most upgrades for the 2013 selling year. Ram, no longer "Dodge Ram", has a new, higher front grille, a new, bumper design, and now it has standard halogen headlights and LED rear lights. Small changes, yes, but so are the newly available rain-sensing windshield wipers and power folding side mirrors. All of these have been available in one way or another in the other two trucks, but Dodge has definitely stepped up its game.

Under the hood, Chrysler has given the Ram a definite upper hand. Ram has added horsepower to its V6 area to compete with Ford's Ecoboost. The Pentastar V6 has 305 Hp which is still 60 less than the Ford, but is almost as much as Chevy's 5.3 Liter V8. It is also matched up with Ram's "TorqueFlite8" eight speed transmission. The Hemi has 5 more Hp to add to its might, and will also receive an upgrade to the eight speed transmission some time mid-year. The downside, for some, is that the trucks with the eight speed will lose the column shifter and use a European-sports car like dial to the right of the steering wheel on the dash. Which brings me to the interior...

The Ram designers have reworked their interior with new materials to bring the model up to date for 2013. The Ram has also added a touch screen panel in the center dash along with a multifunction, 7 inch screen to replace the gauge cluster. These additions, along with a new locking feature that includes the tailgate and side boxes, similar to Chevy's Avalanche, have made the Ram truck much more modern and user friendly at the same time.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Chevy Vs Ford: Who Has The Best Truck Brand?

 Every truck owner in the U.S. has their preference of which brand they would drive, and no brands are more competitive with each other than Ford and Chevrolet. For years Ford has put out hundreds of thousands of trucks that are used as family vehicles, work trucks, and emergency services vehicles. They have had a history of producing both cost efficient and comfortable lines and options all in between to satisfy a wide range of consumers.

Chevrolet has developed a brand with a reputation of highly dependable, comfortable rides that can last for many miles. Although they have not always been as competitive with Ford's low prices as they are today, Chevrolet now competes strongly for emergency vehicles and fleet options. If you do not have a preference between the two of these brands, you have never driven either or do not care to drive a pickup truck.

GM Midsize Trucks: GMC Canyon And Chevy Colorodo

The design of both GM and Isuzu, the Chevy Coloroda/GMC Canyon began production in 2004 to replace the S-10/Sonoma. Although the truck is not large, in looks and size it is a step up from the old S-10, and you can definitely see the Isuzu influences in the design, if not, just look at one parked by a Isuzu D-Max which began production 2 years prior to the joint venture.

The Colorodo has a bit more height to the cab, causing the larger look, than the S-10, and compares well with other small to midsize trucks on the market today in size and power. The truck has options for a 4 cylinder, 5 cylinder, and the 5.3 L v8 that is the main powerplant for the larger Silverado. Fuel efficiency for the platform is close to the top of the field in each of the sizes of engines, so even though there is plenty of strength under the hood, your wallet won't sacrifice.

Ford Ranger, Ford's Small Package

Although the Ford Ranger has ceased as a U.S. Ford product, their are still many 2011 Rangers on the market. Ford ceased its production of the Ranger in the U.S. in December of 2011 after 29 years of production of the small pickup truck. Though the Ranger was never known for comfort or a smooth ride, it was, however, known for dependability and utility.

Ford is still producing the Ranger in Australia, although their newest version is a larger Ranger, much more comparable to the Chevy Colorodo or Toyota's Tacoma line. It is understandable that Ford decided to drop the current Ranger from its American line, considering lower sales in small trucks as half-ton trucks have risen in mileage, and they have joined Dodge in dropping the smaller end of their pickup line.

It will be interesting to see, when the U.S. truck market and auto market in general begin to rebound, if Ford will incorporate the flashy new Australian Ford Ranger design into its American Ford Truck brand.

Chevy Silverado / GMC Sierra, The GM Pick Up Flagships

The underlying design of the current Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra has been in production since the 2007 model was released and met with the North American Truck Of The Year and Motortrend's Truck Of The Year awards. Although the basic shape has stayed the same since the initial model, these trucks have incorporated some recent changes that have definitely strengthened the Silverado/Sierra brand.

First, the trucks now come with more packages that offer the 6 speed transmission which translates into higher fuel efficiency. Eventually, as 4 speed transmission are phased out, all of the full size GM trucks will have the 6 speed transmission, mostly to help reach the new cafe standards.

Second, the truck line is phasing out the 6.0 L V8 and replacing it with a 403 Hp 6.2 L V8. This engine, along with the standard 5.3 L, come with a "Cruise Grade Braking" option (Jake Brake) which downshifts the engine to assist with slowing so brakes are not overused.

Some other new options include a WiFi hotspot option which reaches 150 ft from the truck, mobile apps that can link your cell phone to your truck via On-Star, and Bluetooth options that allow you to answer and end phone calls without touching your smartphone. The new Silverado/Sierra truly has every toy you could think of. Some future options for this truck are rumored to include an option for a built in air compressor built into the rear of the truck, and side rails that actually lower down from the body when the truck is placed in park. What will they think of next?

F150, Ford's Bread And Butter

Beginning with the F-1 in 1948, the F series pickup truck has provided versatility and utility to Americans and Canadians alike for well over 60 years. What quickly became known as the F-100 was replaced by the F-150 as the half ton model and the main seller for the F series in the late 1970's. The F-150 is currently the best selling truck when the Chevy Silverado and the GMC Sierra sales are not added together, and it was once the most sold vehicle in the U.S. for 24 years.

The new F-150 has a stronger looking front end to make it closer to the design of the Ford Super Duty trucks. In 2011, the F-150 was given a small cosmetic change which carries over to the 2012 model, including a new grill, a more muscular hood design, and the addition of some more modern designs on the tailgate of the truck. The interiors are similar to the last few F-150's with a few small changes, including more packages with Ford's Sync system available.

The engine changes are some of the best that Ford has made to the F-150 in recent years. With the addition in 2011 of the 365 hp V6 Ecoboost and a relatively new 6 speed transmission that has Ford trucks at tied for the top in full size truck fuel efficiency. With a 411 hp 6.2L V8 also available, Ford has the horsepower competition pretty much in hand.

Although Ford has upped its warranty from the old 36/month 36,000 mile to a more competitive 60/month 60,000 mile warranty they still are behind the new standard of 60/month 100,000 miles. I mean, how many people are going to buy a truck that is as fun to drive and use as the 2012 F150 and only average 10,000 miles a year?

Chevy And GMC HD Trucks

After being totally redesigned for their 2007 models, the GMC Sierra HD and the Chevy Silverado HD quickly became a replacement for the Ford SuperDuty in many ambulance services as well as in work truck roles around the country. The move was largely due to the dissatisfaction with Fords 6.4 L Powerstroke Diesel which had plenty of problems. Whether or not the GM HD brand will maintain its new strength in the HD market is hard to know, considering the early reviews on Fords new 5.7 L Powerstroke seem to be great.

The current model of GM HD trucks has been given a heavier frame, a safer cab with more side protection, and more capability with best in class towing and only 3 Hp less than the Ford SuperDuty. With few changes from their JD Power Truck of the Year model in 2011, the 2012 is definitely pleasing to both sit in and drive.

Ford Super Duty Trucks

With a newly updated exterior from last years model, the 2012 line of Super Duty Ford trucks are bigger and better than ever before. These 2012 Super Duty Fords also include a larger diesel option, increased from the 6.4L Powerstroke to the 6.7L Powerstroke Diesel V8. They also upped the available size gas engine, from the 5.4 Triton V8 that is in most of the F-150's to the 6.2L "Boss" V8 engine.

Besides the bulkier and stronger looking exterior and the definitely stronger engines, the new Super Duty can carry more while burning less fuel than ever before. The fact that the F-250 or F-350 can pull over 8 tons with 400 horsepower and do so with less fuel is amazing. The somewhat recent addition of Ford's Sync system also adds even more creature comfort to one of the largest cabs in the truck market.

 

Monday, June 4, 2012

How Important Is Truck Durability?

For many years, along with "who's truck is strongest" you would also hear "my truck has over X miles."  Truck makers would parade owners across each commercial with 200,000 miles or 250,000 miles.  Many truck buyers would buy their trucks looking forward to having that truck for years into the future.

Is truck durability as important as it used to be?  How many people do you know with trucks that have over 200,000 miles?  Aside from friends who have diesel trucks that drive long highway trips, I would be hard pressed to find many friends with over 150,000 miles.  Why is that?

First off, many people are much more caught up in having a "new" vehicle these days, and are accustomed to having a monthly payment.  Therefore, when their truck has worn off it's "new" and it is close enough to 5 years old, most truck owners will trade for a new truck.  Often, truck owners today are trading their trucks in prior to them reaching 100,000 miles, so 200,000 miles is pretty much not happening.

Another reason people are trading up and not maintaining an older truck is the fact that most vehicles today are much more difficult to maintain.  With computerized components and sensors everywhere under the hood, most truck owners no longer work on their own vehicle.  The tools needed and the training needed is just too much for most.  Add to that the fact that repair shops cost more these days for those same reasons and more, most people are not willing to incur the high dollar repair costs that come after a factory warranty is over.  Give people a 5 year 100,000 mile warranty and tada: most cars are traded in before their warranty and car note are finished.

Perhaps the main remaining reason for good truck durability is resale value.  One of the larger reasons to choose one truck over another today is how much you can get for it when you trade it in.  It's a vicious cycle. 

There are those truck owner's still around that keep their trucks for a long time.  Those of you who fit in that group are generally much more comfortable working on your truck, take much better care of your truck, and place much less importance on "newness."  Take a look around, however, because you are a shrinking group.  Sadly, far less truck drivers take the time to learn their truck and how to keep it maintained with each generation.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Many U.S. families have at least one light truck or SUV in their driveway, and most people have little knowledge which light truck tires to buy when the time comes. Although many tire brands claim to have great products, there are some that separate themselves from the rest, in durability and in drive-ability. There are also some small differences in tread patterns and designs that can have a big impact on handling, especially in certain terrains.

This site will help you figure out what you should be looking for in a new light truck or SUV tire, what brands are the best, and what kind of warranty you should expect. Although different tires have varying prices in certain areas, no matter where you are, the right tire is paramount and there are always good deals to be had.

One of the first things that a buyer needs to know when looking for new light truck and SUV tires is what kind of terrain do those tires need to handle. Do you drive predominantly off road or very little off road? Do you live in areas that tend to ice over or do you deal more with rain on the roads? The tread pattern and depth of your tires need to be able to meet the demands of the terrain to give you maximum contact, better grip, more safety, and optimum durability.

Some truck or SUV owners make the mistake of buying big, off-road tires for their truck simply because it makes their truck look bigger or better. By doing so they are spending more money for less mileage.  Along with that, not being able to hear yourself think due to the hum created by the larger gaps between treads can drive some people to hate their truck.

Some tire brands have great ratings on highway tires, offering excellent ability to move water and gain grip. Those same brands may have terrible ratings for their off road or all terrain tires, or they may offer little to choose from in those areas. Knowing which type of tire you need will help you easily eliminate certain brands and focus your research on others, saving time and possible disappointment.

One area where light truck tire makers are definitely different is with warranties. Although most offer warranties on their street tires, many of them do not offer warranties on off-road or all-terrain tires. Some tire retailers will offer a supplemental warranty in the form of a replacement policy, and although they may have similar terms, small and large retailers come and go, so buyer beware. However, if the retailer is a known national brand, or if the supplemental warranty is sold through a third party company, you may have to weigh the benefit of added coverage against the added cost to the tire.

Although some money can be saved by going with a lower brand, such as General tires or another off brand, buying a brand with a warranty is much more preferred. One of the best brands with great warranties on their on and off road tires is BF Goodrich. This and a few other companies offer warranties that average around 60,000 miles, which is plenty for any light truck tire.

Although many of the light truck tires on the market today will give an excellent ride, some of them do not. Probably one of the worst riding sets of truck tires I have had were a set of Dunlop 32"x11.5" tires. These tires were all terrain tires and had a good warranty, but the flex of the sidewall along with the design of the tread made the tire seem unstable when taking a tight corner. A good way to avoid this problem is to buy from someone you trust to give you accurate information.

If you need more information on a partiucalr tire, there is a great deal of it online. Be sure to look at ratings on multiple forums regarding the tires you are looking into. More often than not, if the particular tire you are researching has decent to great views on every forum, you will have no problems. If, however, your light truck tire has a few poor ratings, think twice. Remember, you are buying a tire for a light truck, not a one ton deisel truck, it should provide spring and a smooth ride. If nothing else, be sure to ask the sales staff where you buy the tires. They would probably prefer to sell you a different tire if it means return business, unless the staff are mostly young workers that will be gone in a few years.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Improve Your American Pickup Truck's Mileage!

With gas prices steadily rising over the past 10 years and now spiking due to international issues, Americans are more often looking for ways to get better fuel mileage. Whether you drive a large SUV or a small sedan, your fuel costs have doubled in the past few years and for many that increase has made their budget even tighter.

The good news is that there are some simple ways everyone can boost their gas mileage. Although some of these tips on saving gas do include purchasing certain additives or replacing certain parts, most of them focus on changes that you can make in your driving style. For most people, whether it be a change in driving or the addition of a part or additive, any MPG improver is a welcome site.

Utilize these fuel mileage tips to get more mileage out of your vehicle and save money on your gas bill today!

1.  Cut Out All Idling For Better Mileage
It may seem like a no-brainer that cutting out any moment you average zero miles per gallon would help your overale mileage, but some just cannot grasp the idea. How often do you sit in line at a drive-through? Are you in traffic that often waits a minute or more at a stop light? Do you leave your vehicle running while you run inside a business or house? If so, do not be surprised by poor mileage.

By simply cutting out all idling, you can boost your overall mileage by more than 10 percent. A savings of 10 percent can add up quickly when gasoline is so costly. Obviously you would not want to cut your engine off every time you come to a stop, since restarting the engine can burn slightly more gasoline. However, any time you are stationary for more than a minute, you are giving up some easy savings.

2.  Optimize Your Vehicle Performance For Better Mileage

Anytime a vehicle is not running at top shape, it is highly likely that some of the energy the motor generates is wasted. By making some simple updates and keeping up with repairs, much of that energy can be saved, thereby saving gas and money.

One of the biggest gains you can make with vehicle upkeep is by replacing or cleaning your air filter on a timely basis. If you have a basic, stock air filter, be sure to replace it as recommended by the auto manufacturer. Any clogging of the filter can slow your air intake, which means you don't get the best mixture of gas and air in your combustion. That equals wasted gas and wasted money. If you want to get the most out of this area, get a K&N or another high performance filter that gets better airflow. You can also save money over time by cleaning these filters rather than buying new ones.

Other areas to save by good upkeep are to properly inflate your tires, regular oil changes, and timely replacements of spark plugs and plug wires. These changes may seem simple, especially if done by manufacturer specifications, but can add up to as much as another 10 percent of added mileage.

3.  Change Your Driving Habbits For Better Mileage

Are you an aggressive driver? Do you like to feel your car or truck push you back into your seat? If so, a change in your driving habits could make for a huge increase in fuel mileage.

A.  You need to change how you take off. If your car has a tachometer (shows your RPM) then find out how little you can use your accelerator when getting up to speed. Your 0-60 speed should be a memory of the past.

B.  Use a little brake as possible. Instead, find out just how far your car will coast when approaching turns or stop signs.

C.  Don't speed. Most automobiles are made to make their most efficient power at about 50 mph, not 65. Give yourself a few more minutes and take your time.

4.  Remove Extra Weight Or Drag For Better Mileage

Few people think about removing added weight as a mileage booster, but few things drain your fuel mileage as much as weight. Think about it! The heavier the vehicle is, its mileage suffers. Car makers often make up deficits for fuel mileage standards by lowering the overall weight of the vehicle.

What do you have in your vehicle that you can do without? Clutter in your trunk? Third row seats in your SUV? Some people will even remove their jack and spare tire and replace them with a can or two of "Fix-a-Flat". Take a look through your vehicle and remove everything unnecessary.

If you drive a pickup truck, you may want to reduce your drag and your weight by removing your tailgate. Try replacing it with a netted tailgate.

5.  Use Of Chemical Or Mechanical Mileage Boosters For Better Mileage

If you are looking to use fuel additives or special devices to boost your gas mileage, be sure to do your research. For every site that says a particular additive works there are three that deny it. I would definitely recommend that you not use any additive that is not from a well known company with some sort of guarantee.

You should, however, consider using additives such as injector cleaners that could boost the overall performance of the vehicle. Check with your local mechanic or a dealership to find out which additives they recommend.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Things To Know When Buying Your Next American Pickup

Millions of Americans buy new and used pickup trucks every year.  Sadly, most of them do so with no idea what kind of people they are dealing with. Anyone who would go into a car dealership intent on buying a new or used car or truck, with no preparation whatsoever, might as well add 10-20% to what they would like to pay for a new or used truck.  With a little bit of time, preparation, and some great car buying tips, the bottom line price, and, if financing, the monthly payment can by greatly lowered.

For anyone who is looking to make a car purchase, below are some car buying tips that can help you make the best purchase for you and receive a deal that you can be proud of, and not have to hide. These car buying tips can change your car buying experience from a huge headache to a simple exercise in frugality.

First, you need to do your homework.  Before buying a home, or making an investment, almost all Americans do a good bit of research regarding the neighborhood, the construction, and even whether the house is in a flood zone. However, when most people begin looking for a vehicle, they may look at who has the lowest list prices, but their investigation goes no further. People in auto sales know this fact and take advantage of it every day. Do sales staff know these car buying tips are out there? Of course, but they assume you are too lazy to learn them.

To get the best buy when looking to purchase a new or used vehicle, you must do your homework! Read online car or truck reviews. You need to know the average sales price, the Blue Book value, the MSRP and any other figure you can find about the particular vehicle you are looking to buy. You should also know what the standard costs are for any added amenities to the vehicle above the standard package.

Next, you and whomever is with you should expect to walk away. If your underlying expectation when you walk into a dealership is "I want this car or that truck", you will be easily taken advantage of by the sales staff. If, however, you expect to walk away without a new or used vehicle, it will be harder for the sales staff to sweep you up in the new car dream. This is one of the hardest car buying tips to master. It is way to easy to get caught up in car buying, especially when you are so close to the American pickup truck of your dreams.

You should especially expect to walk away while discussing the price of the truck or car. If the salesperson thinks they have you hooked, they will twist the numbers easily and have you in well above what you can afford.

Third, you will want to have your financing prior to arriving at the car lot, whether through a local bank or whatever.  One of the favorite places for car salespeople to make money comes with setting up financing for their prospective buyers. When your sales staff tells you the financing they have for you, it is generally a few percent higher than what you could secure at your own bank or credit union. Yet they will tell you that is the best financing available for you and will usually give you some speech about your credit.

One of the ways they make extra money through the financing is that banks and financing companies will give the dealer more money if they can secure the financing at a higher interest rate. Another way is to prepare you for say a 9% rate, then when they "find you a better deal", they don't actually pass all the savings back to you. Instead, they assume that the buyer does not know how to calculate what the payment should be. This assumption is usually correct.

The best way to bypass this shell game is to have your own financing when you enter the dealer's door. Instead of worrying about interst rates and monthly payments, you can focus on the bottom line and gain some actual savings, which leads me to the last tip...

The easiest way for salespeople to slide in extra costs and to get more for a vehicle than is fair, is to get your attention placed squarely on your anticipated monthly payment. One of the first things they will ask you is "where do you need to get your monthly payment?" The next task they tackle is to make you feel like your target payment is naive and impossible. Once they have accomplished this, the sky is the limit...for them, not you.

Car salesmen do all of this with the underlying knowledge that 1. most new buyers will spend much more than they want to get what they want, and 2. most new buyers have no idea how to calculate a monthly payment. By negotiating the bottom line price only, you will see any extra costs that are slipped in and just how much the salesperson is willing to give on the listed price of the truck or car.

To help you in this process, if monthly payment is important to you, use an online truck payment calculator to figure where you need the bottom line to be to get the payment you want. For smartphone users, there are also car payment calculator apps for each smartphone platform. Pulling your IPhone out and telling the sales staff that they are not quite calculating the payment right will definitely knock them off their game. If nothing else, they will know that you are looking at everything and will probably not try to slip as much "fluff" into the price.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Accessorize Your Truck!!

If you have or are about to purchase a pickup truck, whether it is a half ton truck, a heavy duty diesel, or a midsize truck, you will want to make some changes or "upgrades" to your truck to make it truly yours.  Although many trucks can come with most options when purchased new from a dealer, there are often some options or accessories that cannot be included.  This is especially true if you are buying a used truck from a dealer, let a lone private party.

Today you can accessorize a vehicle from the front bumper to the tailpipe and all points in between.  There are things to stick on your car, things to improve performance, and items to make it more comfortable.  Below are some of the best and smartest accessories that you need to consider for your truck.

Two of the most bought interior truck accessories are floor mat systems and seat covers. More likely than not, if your truck came stock, you have the basic carpet floor mats that get dirty easily without containing the dirt that you track. Aftermarket floor mat systems are great at covering every area that needs to be covered while fitting together to give complete protection to the floor of your truck.  One of the best companies to make floor mat systems for trucks and SUV's today is WeatherTech.  Their floor mat systems are made specifically for every make, model, and model year.

Seat covers can be a very smart option if you have a very dirty job, or just like to play in the mud. There are also some seat covers that are extra strong to protect against accidental cuts and tears due to hopping in the truck with tools or knives in your pockets. Most of these covers can be bought in any color or pattern. Camouflage and designs of favorite teams can even be found.  I am sure, though, that your wife would not appreciate you putting these in her Camry, Accord or whatever.

Probably the most flashy of all truck accessories, accessories for the outside of your light truck range from purely superficial to mostly functional.  A very common accessory for the any truck exterior is a custom bumper, such as a Ranch Hand bumper. These bumpers give needed protection to the front of the truck providing extra knockdown power for wildlife and or thick brush. They also provide an area for winches or other tools that may be needed off road or on the job.

Another great accessory for the truck exterior is side steps. These can come in the form of running boards, nerf bars, or a simple step. Although some truck makers are considering making this a built in accessory that lowers down from the door frame when your truck parks, it is something that most of our trucks need if we aren't fortunate enough for them to have come with steps.  If your truck is a bit higher than the average truck, or you just like the look, any of these can make an excellent addition to any truck. They also generally add to the overall resail value of the truck.

Some truck accessories that are often overlooked are the ones you generally don't think to buy until you either see them on another truck or are in need of them yourself. One of these is a hitch platform or hitch extender. These devices slide into your hitch receiver and stand out behind the truck. Some of them are made to extend the ability of your bed to help carry long items and others are actual platforms that can be used to carry items. The latter configuration is very handy for SUV's.

Another often overlooked accessory is a set of emergency tools. By this I mean a chain or pull strap, a set of tools, jumper cables, and a small medical kit. Most everyone with a truck has one or two of these items, but for some reason few people have all of them. If you prepare your truck with each of these items, very few situations will catch you by surprise.

Lastly, if you do a good bit of driving in your truck, you may think about buying a computer programer to change some aspects of your shifting, etc. These are not for the mechanical newcomer, so learn how they work before buying one. You can definitely use one to help with hauling and even get some help get better fuel mileage.

Also, some other accessories you may consider include light guards, bed covers, plastic trimming, organizers, center consoles, cargo nets, electronics, and steering wheel covers.  Go out and get the best accessories to make your truck perfect for you so that you can get every bit of enjoyment and utility out of it.

Friday, February 17, 2012

2012 Toyota Tundra Vs F150, Silverado and Ram, A 2012 Comparison

For those of you looking to buy a 2012 model year half ton truck, never before has their been so many choices available. Only a few years ago there were only a couple of truck makes that stood out above the rest, but today most of the other trucks have caught up.

Ten or fifteen years ago, the only reasons to buy a Toyota truck were low prices, good fuel mileage, and durability. If you needed a truck that could haul a large load or pull a fifth-wheel camper you definitely did not slow down for the local Toyota dealership. If you wanted a roomy cab with lots of extras, Toyota trucks were not for you. Times have definitely changed.

With Toyota's introduction of the Tundra several years ago, it has continually strived to compete in the half-ton pickup market. They have made their larger truck more bulky, more powerful, and more comfortable in order to catch up with Ford, Chevy and Dodge. But have they? Do Toyota Tundra's "measure up," or are the American made half-tons still the better buy for truck buyers?

First off, Toyota has made the mistake of sacrificing too much fuel economy for power. For years Toyota has been known for their economically viable choices in the automobile markets. However, with their change of focus in the pickup market, Toyota has chosen to go more for a high horsepower truck than an economic truck. That will definitely get them a look from people wanting a strong looking and feeling truck, but at a time when fuel mileage is key, Toyota has placed themselves near the back of the pack with Dodge for Fuel mileage.

Yes, their 4.6 L version gets 20 mpg, but that model does not come close to the payload and towing capacities as the other trucks. The 5.7 L version gets 18 mpg, and, although it outpaces both the Chevy (5.3L) and Ford (5.0L) standard engines in HP (Toyota 5.7L - 381 hp, Chevy 5.3L - 315 hp, and Ford 5.0L - 360 hp) it lags in fuel efficiency and still comes up short in max payload and towing. The Toyota engine packages just don't yet have the right mix of efficiency and power to appeal to the mass of truck buyers in the American market as well as Chevy and Ford, yet. I would expect them to put in the effort to catch up in efficiency as quickly as they caught up in horsepower.

There are a few areas where Toyota did a good job.  First, Toyota's Tundra has added a huge amount of size to the cab interior in recent years. Many people see Ford as one of the roomiest cabs in the truck market today, but the only interior dimension that they beat the Tundra in is in head room, and that is only by 1 inch. The Tundra's shoulder, hip, and leg room is leaves room for any rider or driver to stretch out and enjoy the ride.

Second, although Toyota trucks have not been known for their interior extras and innovations, the Tundra has come a long way. The 2012 Tundra has an optional 4-disc changer, when Chevy is removing their 6-disc changer option. It also has bluetooth wireless and rear seat DVD system options. These bring the Tundra up to date and more. The Tundra also has 2 115 volt power outlets making the truck great for everyone who loves the outdoors or using their truck as a work truck.

And Third, just looking at the Tundra exterior, it looks like a large, muscular truck. Although the outer look of a half ton truck does not necessarily sell it, it can definitely help. Most men that buy half ton trucks want the strongest and most dependable. The Tundra's large front end definitely conveys strength and the Toyota symbol is synonymous for most people for dependability.

I would most likely place the 2012 Toyota Tundra in third on the American full size, half ton pickup market, just behind Ford and Chevy. The Tundra is considered one of the most dependable pickup trucks out today, but they have yet to fine tune their engine packages for the best mix of horsepower and efficiency. Also, with recent changes in Ford and Chevy frames and suspension, Toyota will have to adapt to keep up with their maximum payload capacity and their towing capacity. They have plenty of horsepower available in the 5.7L to tow as much, so some changes must be made elsewhere.

Although I did not consider Tundra a truck I would be interested in before researching for this comparison, I would definitely consider them now, when buying a new truck. I have listed some changes they need to make, but overall they are very competitive with the Ford and Chevy and their overall look and size are quite appealing.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Looking For A Smaller Truck?? A Small / Midsize Truck Comparison

Since the 1970's, Americans have wanted to have the biggest and strongest trucks available.  However, today many Americans and many people worldwide prefer a truck that is smaller, easier to get in, uses less fuel, and yet is still capable of performing serious work. For those people, small or midsize pickup trucks are the better choice and give them the capability of having a strong truck for less money all while conserving fuel.

For quite some time, Ford and Chevy have had great small pickup trucks on the market and, besides the loyal Toyota following, have had a large share of the market. Today there are several different midsize pickup trucks put out by Toyota, Ford, Chevy, and Nissan to choose from and each have their own strong suits.  No, Dodge was not listed among the midsize truck makers. As of 2011, Dodge no longer is making its Dakota, opting to focus on full size trucks and crossover vehicles.

Although many people these days are willing to give up a little size and power for better fuel economy, most are still wanting some elbow room and some creature comforts. Even though small and mid size trucks are aimed primarily at providing utility with economy, they do not have to give up all comfort.
Each of the four makes came within an inch of each other in front headroom, with the nod going to the Toyota Tacoma with 40" of front headroom, and the smallest being the Ford Ranger with 39.2". In hip room, however, the Nissan Frontier has some wiggle room. The Nissan has 55.8" of front hip room, where the other makes have on average 53". The Ford Ranger also comes in an average of 3" smaller in front shoulder room.

As far as interior comfort and accessories, the Toyota and Chevy are slightly stronger than the others. Toyota, for one, offers a rear back-up camera, has a JBL stereo system, and has included their new Entune system, similar to Ford's Sync. Toyota did not, however, have a leather seat package that I could find. The Chevy Colorado had available leather seats and was the only make to have Blue-tooth as standard in every package.

Any small or midsize truck comparison should have two types of fuel economy comparison: a comparison of the best overall mileage, and a comparison of the best mileage with their largest engine.  This is simply because there are two main types of people who are searching for a small or mid-size truck: those who want a utility vehicle but must have fuel efficiency and those who need strength and comfort but are willing to sacrifice a little for a little better fuel efficiency. With this fact in mind, for each make we will look at how they compare overall with their smaller engines here, and will compare the larger engines in the horsepower comparison.

Coming in with the highest overall fuel efficiency is the Ford Ranger. Ford's 2.3L I4 power-plant touts an excellent 22 mpg city / 27 mpg highway. This is the same power-plant that is in the Escape and several other Ford vehicles. It puts out 153 Hp, so it is not Herculean, but for a utility vehicle with primary importance on fuel conservation, the Ranger is king of the small and mid-size trucks.

The other trucks were a bit behind the Ford EPA rating, with some not really focusing on stretching the mileage. Coming in second in overall fuel mileage is the Toyota Tacoma with their 2.7L 4 cylinder engine at 25 hwy mpg and a slightly higher 159 Hp output. Third is the Chevy Colorado with a 24 hwy mpg from their 2.9L 4 cylinder manual power-train that puts out 185 Hp. Finally, the Nissan Frontier is slightly lacking with a 2.5L 4 cylinder that gets 23 hwy mpg but only puts out 152 Hp.

Information to compare these trucks on payload and towing capacity is slightly difficult to ascertain. The Ford website does not have any info, that I could find, about the Ranger's payload or towing capacity. (I am sure some Ford fanatic will prove me wrong!) The largest payload by any of the other three is the Nissan Frontier. The Frontier has a 1524 lb payload capacity, which is over a half ton. Following the Frontier is the Colorado with 1465 lbs and the Tacoma with 1430 lbs.

Only the Tacoma and the Frontier, however, published their rated towing capacity, so between the two of them, the Frontier has a 6400 lb towing capacity. That is just 100 lbs above the Tacoma which can pull 6300 lbs.

Sure, these are nowhere near the huge towing and payload capacities of some of the full size trucks on the market today, but they are, however, more than sufficient for most jobs. These trucks would be excellent for any person needing to carry or pull an occasional load, and won't break the bank to purchase

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ecoboost, Take A Second Look!

For those of you who have discussions with friends about who has the best truck, which is strongest, or which truck has the most room, Ford's new Ecoboost line of engines changes the whole conversation. First produced in 2009 for several 2010 models, the Ecoboost engine brings a smaller engine block that packs a double punch of higher horsepower and better fuel mileage.

Although it was initially in a couple of Lincoln concept cars in 2007-2008, it began production as a v6 made in Cleveland, Ohio. Now the Ecoboost line of engines includes a 1.6 L I4, a 2.0 L I4, and the original v6. It soon will include a 1.0 L 3 cylinder engine and a v8 500 hp power plant. In each model, the Ecoboost engine includes turbochargers for more power, and fuel injection changes that allow the engine to consume more air and less fuel.

The Ecoboost engine currently is available in a few different sizes. The smalles version, the 1.6L I4, is an in line 4 cylender with 1596cc of displacement that offers 150 to 182 horsepower depending on the setup. The other 4 cylender, the 2.0L I4, has a 1999cc displacement and offers203 - 240 hp.

The larger engine that is currently available, the Ford Ecoboost v6, is built from the old Duratec 35 engine block. Originally these engines put out up to 285 hp, but with the new Ecoboost package they pack a punch with 365 hp available.

An area in which Ford has needed to progress to compete with other makes has been fuel economy. In the past, Ford has had plenty of horsepower, but has not had a decent fuel economy to go along with it. That has changed.

The new Ecoboost engines, in each size, rank at or near the top in fuel economy in each of the models in which they are placed. In the Fiesta, the 1.6 L gets up to 40 mpg. The Focus, with the 2.0L I4, also gets up to 40 mpg. And the Ford F150 Ecoboost fuel economy is definitely respectable at 22 mpg.

Each of the Ecoboost engines come with turbos to increase their power output. Due to the smaller size, and a desire to not give up power while achieving better fuel efficiency, Ford has included Turbochargers on all of the Ecoboost engines and in some cases it has added two turbochargers.

The I4 engines, both the 1.6L and the 2.0L, each have one turbocharger. These turbos are made by Borg Warner, an award winning U.S. company that makes powertrain parts and was founded in 1928. The 1.6L Ecoboost uses the Borg Warner KP39 Turbo and the 2.0L uses the larger K03 Turbo.

The 3.5L V6 has twin turbochargers, however. It uses the Garrett GT15 turbo manufactured by Honeywell. These turbos can add over 100hp to an engine which is why this V6 can be used in both full size trucks and in sports cars.

Although the Ecoboost engine has largely been publicized as an available engine for the F150 and the Mustang, the line has made its way as an option in most of the current Ford models. The V6 is available in the F150, Mustang, Explorer, Flex, Taurus, and certain Lincoln models.

The I4 1.6L is offered as an option on the Focus currently, but will soon be offered on the Fiesta and is also offered in the European Ford's: the C-Max and the Volvo S60. The 2.0L I4 is currently offered on the Edge and Explorer, but will soon be found in the Focus, the Taurus, and some Range Rover models.

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?