This may be the best time in more than a decade to buy a new pickup truck.
In past introductory years, dealers got full list price or at least close to it. This year the tables are turned. Dealers are eager to deal, and manufacturers are supporting them with significant incentives.
Pickup trucks are essential in our industry, so we will examine the new ones on the market. First, we look at the Dodge Ram 1500, whose unique features are ride and storage, and then the Ford F-150.
The smallest Ram engine is the 3.7-liter (226 cu. in.) V-6 with a chain-driven, single overhead camshaft (SOHC) driving two valves per cylinder. It puts out 210 hp and 235 lb-ft of torque, enough for many operations, but not four-wheel drive. Fuel economy is estimated at 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway.
Dodge expects the most popular seller to be the SOHC 4.7-liter (287 cu in) V-8. Just a few years ago, 250 hp was high power in a pickup, but this engine cranks out 310 hp and 330 lb-ft. That's more than adequate for four-wheel drive in off-road operations and all but the most demanding service.
If you do lots of off-road driving, carry a full crew, haul and tow lots of equipment, and operate in hilly terrain, consider the 390 hp "Hemi," with 407 lb-ft. Surprisingly, this 5.7 liter (345 cu. in.) engine delivers an estimated 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway, the same as the V-6, in two-wheel drive. The pushrod Hemi (for hemispherical combustion chambers) gives this half-ton pickup payload capacities up to 1690 pounds and the ability to tow trailers exceeding 8500 pounds.
Tailgate height is just under 35 inches. With 20 inches for pickup body height, lift-over height when loading from the side is 4 feet 7 inches. Comfort and storage are are the really new features. The crew cab has a significantly larger rear door, with equal interior space. And with the rear seats folded up, there's almost 64 cubic feet of inside storage behind the front row.
The Ram is the first, and so far, the only truck to break from traditional leaf springs with a coil rear suspension. It has a softer ride, with a multi-link suspension providing control and stability.