Showing posts with label Compare Half Ton Trucks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Compare Half Ton Trucks. Show all posts

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.