Choices to the Max

Sept. 2, 2011

f you enjoy shopping for new pickup trucks, you’ll love the wide range of choices available. These new trucks feature new engines, more torque, better fuel economy and more towing capacity than ever before. And you’ll find a wide range of cab and cargo-bed configurations in both two- and four-wheel drive models.

Ford F-150
Ford says its F-150 lineup boasts “the most extensive power train overhaul in the 62-year history of the F-Series.” The company offers four new truck engines: a 3.7-liter V6, two V8s in 5.0-liter and 6.2-liter sizes, and a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine. Each engine is paired up with a fuel-saving six-speed automatic transmission. And the 2011 F-150 is projected to be up to 20% more fuel efficient than the 2010 model.

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Plus, the F-150 now features electric power-assisted steering (EPAS), which the company says improves steering feel and fuel economy. The EPAS system replaces a conventional hydraulic system, which runs continuously off the engine. Instead, EPAS only draws power when needed. And Ford says EPAS enables several other driver convenience technologies and provides better steering feel.

Two of Ford’s new engines, the 3.7-liter V6 and the 5.0-liter V8, both have twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT) technology for fuel savings and enhanced performance. The 6.2-liter V8 is the base engine in the Ford F-Series Super Duty.

The 3.7-liter four-valve Ti-VCT V6 engine features 302 horsepower at 6,500 rpms. The 5.0-liter dual overhead camshaft Ti-VCT V8 boasts 360-horsepower at 5,500 rpms. And the 6.2-liter V8 puts out 411 horsepower at 5,500 rpms. The 3.5-liter Ti-VCT EcoBoost engine tops out at 365 horsepower at 5,000 rpms on regular fuel.

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The V-6 engine, the smaller V8, and the 6.2-liter V8 have towing capacities of 6,100 pounds, 10,000 pounds, and 11,300 pounds respectively. The 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine can tow 11,300 pounds maximum and carry a payload of 3,060 pounds.

SelectShift functionality, which allows drivers to select the desired gear, is available in the six-speed automatic transmission. The transmission also features progressive range selection, which allows the driver to lock out the available gears while in drive. And the transmission has a tow/haul mode, which provides better control when hauling a heavy load or towing a trailer, especially when descending grades. Electronic sensors better predict the driver’s need for a downshift to provide engine braking and enhanced control, Ford says.

Ford touts the fuel economy of its Super Duty models, saying that the 6.7-liter Power Stroke V8 diesel has 20% better fuel economy than the previous model, while the 6.2-liter gasoline-powered V8 has 15% better fuel economy than the outgoing product. The Power Stroke engine is rated at 800 lb.-ft. of torque and 400 horsepower, making the Super Duty truck a towing leader with a whopping 24,400 pounds of fifth-wheel towing capacity.

Ram 1500
Four models are featured in the 2011 Ram 1500 range: the Laramie Longhorn Edition, a luxury truck; the Outdoorsman, suited for off-road work and towing; the Tradesman, a value-priced regular cab truck; and the Ram 1500 Express. Ram says the Express model, and the Tradesman, offer buyers a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 engine with a 20-mpg rating for the same price competitors charge for V6 engines.

Standard features in the Express model include a 160-amp alternator, a 26-gallon fuel tank, 3.55-rear-axle ratio, 700-amp maintenance-free battery, four- and seven-pin trailer wiring harness, and heavy-duty front and rear shock absorbers. Inside, the 1500 Express will get a heavy-duty vinyl 40/20/40 split-bench seat, and a choice of vinyl or carpeted floor covering. Safety features include advanced multistage front air bags, supplemental front curtain and side air bags, anti-lock four-wheel disc brakes, electronic stability control, and a tire-pressure-monitoring warning lamp.

Heavy Duty
In February, Ram Truck announced a series of upgrades to its Heavy Duty truck lineup. The Ram 3500 now boasts the ability to pull 22,700 pounds of trailer weight. And the truck will get a performance boost to its 6.7-liter Cummins turbo diesel engine: Torque will jump by 23% to 800 lb.-ft. Plus, the 3500 will be upfitted with a package of components that will increase its gross combined weight rating to 30,000 pounds.

A new power-train control module combined with revised performance calibration now allows the 6.7-liter Cummins diesel to reach peak torque at 1,600 rpms and exceed the previous model’s output from 1,200 through 2,800 rpms. While peak horsepower remains unchanged (350 at 3,000 rpms), the engine’s new calibration delivers more than 40 additional horsepower at typical highway cruising speeds.

Behind the Cummins diesel lies a new higher-rated torque converter. The Ram’s new torque converter improves engine-transmission integration for better towing capability on grades, and it optimizes engine performance. In addition to the new power-train control module and torque converter, Ram trucks receive a new crankshaft damper, which reduces engine noise and vibrations.

Ram says that its Cummins turbo-diesel-equipped pickups are the only heavy-duty pickups to meet 2010 EPA emissions regulations with an engine and after-treatment system that has been proven in more than 250,000 customer trucks since 2007-without diesel exhaust fluid.

Towing capacity is a strong suit of Heavy Duty Ram trucks, and they pack a list of towing features, including a powerful standard exhaust brake in diesel models. This feature reduces brake fade, prolongs brake life, and provides safety when hauling heavy loads on downhill grades. Ram says it has the largest brakes of any heavy-duty pickup.

For maximum towing capacity, the Ram 3500 has an improved dual-rear wheel axle with a 4.10 gear ratio, new rear-axle pinion, new helical gears, upgraded bearings, and a heat-dissipating, finned aluminum differential cover. And to moderate operating temperatures during trailer towing, the Ram 3500 will get a new engine-mounted oil-to-coolant transmission cooler. All Ram 2500 and 3500 pickups will get upgraded power-steering oil coolers to manage the larger loads.

Nissan Titan
After a number of improvements in 2010, the Nissan Titan full-size pickup entered the 2011 model year with just a few refinements. The Titan four-model lineup consists of the S, SV, PRO-4X, and SL. The Titan is offered in King Cab and Crew Cab body styles with a choice of 4X4 and 4X2 drive configurations, along with two wheelbases and three bed lengths. Titan is also available as a Flexible Fuel Vehicle designed to run on E85 ethanol.

Titan is built on Nissan’s F-Alpha pickup platform and features a powerful 5.6-liter double-overhead-cam V8 rated at 317 horsepower and 385 lb.-ft. of torque. Titan offers a standard five-speed automatic transmission and a maximum towing capacity of up to 9,500 pounds for the King Cab and 9,400 pounds for the Crew Cab, when properly equipped.

Titan again offers innovative features such as the wide-open rear doors on the King Cab. They open 168 degrees for nearly unlimited interior access. The truck features a utility bed with a factory-applied spray-on bed liner and a Utili-track Bed Channel System for cargo hauling flexibility.

Toyota Tundra
Toyota pared back the number of Tundra configurations in 2011 and focused on the 28 most-demanded models. The base 4.0-liter V6 engine gains dual variable-valve timing with intelligence, which increases power and performance. The 310-horsepower, 4.6-liter V8 and the 381-horsepower, 5.7-liter V8 continue to be available across the Tundra line.

Tundra’s comprehensive package of towing equipment gains standard Trailer Sway Control for 2011 models. This feature uses Tundra’s Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system to help counteract forces on the truck caused by a swaying trailer in tow. The Tundra is offered in two grades (Tundra and Tundra Limited); in three cab styles (Regular, Double Cab, and Crew Max); in three wheelbase lengths; in three bed lengths; and with three engine choices-one V6 and two V8s.

The 4.6-liter i-Force V8 was added to the Tundra line for the 2010 model year and is available in all 2011 models. The double-overhead-cam 4.6-liter V8 features dual independent variable valve timing with intelligence. With 310 horsepower and 327 lb-ft. of torque, the 4.6-liter V8 is both powerful and fuel-efficient. The next larger engine, the 5.7-liter i-Force V8, produces 381 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 401 lb-ft. of torque at 3,600 rpm. Like other Tundra engines, the 5.7-liter uses an aluminum cylinder block and double overhead cam heads.

Both the i-Force 5.7-liter and 4.6-liter V8 engines are mated with a six-speed automatic transmission. A fluid warmer quickly brings the transmission fluid up to operating temperature to optimize cold-weather performance. Both V8 engines meet the Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle emissions certification.

Chevrolet Silverado 1500
Power trains that include Vortec V8 engines and six-speed automatic transmissions offer a maximum trailering capacity up to 10,700 pounds. The Silverado Hybrid returned in 2011, and Chevy says it delivers a 25% increase in fuel economy while offering traditional performance, including a 6,200-pound towing capacity.

Chevy offers three cab styles-regular, extended and crew cab-and three cargo box lengths up to 8 feet. The pickup is available in four trim levels: WT, LS, LT, and LTZ and is available in two-wheel or four-wheel drive. Silverado XFE, a two-wheel drive crew cab model, incorporates unique aerodynamic enhancements-as well as a 5.3-liter, six-speed automatic power train and other details-to deliver an EPA-rated 22 mpg on the highway.

Vortec small-block V8 engines power Silverado models, while advanced technologies such as Active Fuel Management and variable valve timing optimize performance and efficiency. Three FlexFuel engines are available, and are partnered with fuel-saving Active Fuel Management. That way, customers have a choice of powering their truck with E85 ethanol, gasoline, or a combination of both fuels.

Silverado 1500 engine offerings include a 4.3-liter V6 rated at 195 horsepower; a 4.8-liter V8 iron block rated at 302 horsepower; a 5.3-liter FlexFuel V8 that is E85-capable and has Active Fuel Management; an aluminum-block, 5.3-liter FlexFuel V8 that is E-85 capable; and a 6.2-liter V8 with E85 FlexFuel capability and aluminum block and variable valve timing. The latter is rated at 403 horsepower and 417 lb.-ft. of torque.

GMC Sierra Heavy Duty
The redesigned roster of Sierra 2500HD and 3500HD trucks included a new 6.6-liter Duramax turbo diesel for 2011, delivering 397 horsepower at 3,000 rpm and 765 lb-ft. of torque at 1,600 rpm. The new Sierra Denali HD has a maximum fifth-wheel towing capacity of 21,700 pounds. The Denali HDs are crew cabs available only in the 2500 Series two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations, as well as the 3500 Series two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive in both single rear-wheel and dually versions. The 3500 Series is also available in standard 6.5-foot and dually long-box 8-foot versions.

A Vortec V8 mated with a six-speed automatic power train is standard, and the new Duramax 6.6-liter turbo diesel/Allison six-speed transmission is available on all Denali HDs. The manufacturer says the new 6.6-liter Duramax diesel delivers more power, up to 11% greater fuel economy, up to 63% fewer emissions, B20 biodiesel capability, and quicker acceleration.

The Sierra HD trucks have a larger fuel tank and fuel economy improvements for up to 680 miles between fill-ups with the 6.6-liter Duramax engine. There is an all-new “smart” exhaust brake feature for improved control on grades and reduced brake pad wear.

Depending on the model, Sierra HD models offer the following:

  • Improved payload capacity of 6,635 pounds on a complete vehicle
  • Gross combined weight rating increases to 29,200 pounds
  • Gross vehicle weight rating increases up to 17 percent to 13,000 pounds
  • Snowplow capability for all four-wheel drive cab

GMC Sierra 1500 and Sierra Denali
Sierra 1500 is available in several trim packages, including Work Truck, SL (crew cab only), SLE, and SLT, along with two-wheel and four-wheel-drive configurations. Three cab styles-regular, extended, and crew cab-and three box lengths up to 8 feet long are offered. All models except the Work Truck come with chrome hood molding.

Engines range from the 4.3-liter V6, rated at 195 horsepower to the 4.8-liter V8 with iron block to two 5.3-liter V8 engines to a 6.2-liter V8 that is E85 FlexFuel capable with aluminum block and variable valve timing. The engines are backed by proven Hydra-Matic electronically controlled automatic transmissions, including the four-speed automatic and the fuel-saving 6L80 six-speed. The six-speed is standard on models equipped with the 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter engines.

Bodies and Accessories
Wilcox Bodies Ltd., of Milton, ON, has served Canadians since 1962 and now provides the same services in the United States. The company makes service bodies and utility bodies-of steel and of aluminum alike-for pickup trucks. As well, Wilcox makes mechanics’ bodies, custom bodies, toolboxes, diesel tanks, and flat decks for mounting on pickup trucks. And Wilcox serves as a distributor for some of the top equipment in the industry, including Stellar Shuttles and Compressors, VMAC compressors, Theiman, Tommy and Canadian Power Liftgates, Auto Crane cranes, Van air compressors, and more.

RAM Mounting Systems offers mounts for GPS systems, iPads, iPhones, laptop computers, and more-inside the pickup truck. R-A-M stands for round-a-mount. Most of the product line is based on a patented design that revolves around a rubber-ball-and-socket system. According to the company: “Incorporating a non-slip feature as well as shock and vibration dampening, our often imitated but never duplicated mounting solutions are truly one of a kind.”

Fleetwest Transferable Truck Bodies supplies a wide range of transferable bodies for pickup trucks. Recently the company added a new line of six fiberglass transferable service bodies that are collectively called the Durashell. And recently the Load’N’Go line received two long-awaited new transferable service bodies called the Load’N’Go Lowboy and the Load’N’Go Powerbody. The Lowboy is a lightweight, lower-profile body designed to fit half-ton pickups and the Toyota Tundra.

Vanair offers a lineup of above-deck air compressors, under-deck air compressors, multidrive systems, generators, and combination welder/generator/compressor packages. Vanair says it was the first company to utilize PTO-driven rotary screw technology for mobile compressors. The Air-N-Arc 300 welder/generator/air compressor/battery booster provides 300 amps of welding power and 40 cfm of on-demand air. It is compact enough to fit a truck’s side pack or to be mounted behind the cab. A Kohler gasoline engine with 29 horsepower provides power.