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Heavy-Duty pickups were designed for abuse. And in order to see just how much they can handle, website Pickup Trucks.com put together it’s Heavy-Duty Hurt Locker Comparison test.
The idea was to pit the latest H-D offerings from Ford, General Motors and Ram (in this case the F-350 Super Duty, Sierra HD 3500 and Ram HD 3500) in a series of extreme towing tests, covering a distance of some 2,200 miles across the American West . The tests included navigating some of steepest grades in the country in some of the most extreme climates, hauling fifth-wheel gooseneck trailers of some 19,400 lbs behind each truck.
And when the dust finally settled, the GMC Sierra HD 3500 was judged the overall winner. “The GMC Sierra led with best-in-class performance, with wins in almost every test we put the trucks through,” declared Pickup Trucks.com’s editor Mike Levine.
GM engineers have instigated some changes on the 2012 model Sierra and Silverado HD, in order to improve towing capability; these include reinforced pickup box sills, stronger rear springs and box mounts and revised suspension tuning.
The result is an increase of some 2000 lbs in tow rating capacity, which now stands at an impressive 23,000 lbs. To see how the Sierra performed against its chief rivals in the Heavy Duty Hurt Locker test, watch the video below.
Hit the jump to see the video
After losing around 70 percent of his ‘fun money’ savings, former Ford Employee Gary Mueller found a unique way to enjoy his retirement, delivering large recreational camper trailers to their owners across North America.
Mueller bought himself a brand new 2002 Ford F-350 Super Duty and has been performing the task ever since. Today he’s been to all lower 48 states and seven Canadian Provinces, racking up a total of 1,020,000 miles in his truck. Equipped with the 7.3-liter Powerstroke Diesel, Mueller averages between 600 to 800 miles per day of driving, with the trailers weighing 11,000 lbs or more.
People started telling Mueller that once his truck reached the 300,000 mile mark he should consider replacing it, but more than 700,000 miles later, it’s still running strong. To help conserve fuel he drives steadily, avoiding false starts and stops wherever possible and keeping the revs below 2000 rpm on the open road, usually cruising at speeds between 60 and 62 mph. “I will see the same people pass me two or three times a day,” he says. “They’re going 70 or 80 mph, and have to keep stopping for fuel.”
Apart from regular oil changes and maintenance, including 10 sets of tires, Mueller has done virtually nothing to his truck and as long as it remains economically viable, he’ll keep on hauling campers with his ‘02 Super Duty. “I don’t think I could be happier with a truck,” he says.
It’s just a concept right now, but Ram‘s Heavy-Duty based Long Hauler, is already making waves. Based on a Class 5 Heavy Duty Chassis Cab, it features an 8-foot long dually pickup box and extra fuel provisions – a 60 gallon resevoir mounted between the cab and the bed, plus a further bed mounted fuel tank that holds 50 gallons.
That results in a total fuel capacity of 162 gallons, which, combined with the proven Cummins 6.7-liter straight-six diesel and six-speed automatic, should give this truck the ability to cover distances of around 1,600 miles between fill ups when pulling a large trailer (think tri-axle). That means, you could drive this thing from the East Coast to the West, only having to stop for fuel twice.
As it’s been conceived for long-distance hauling, this rig is not surprisingly loaded to the gunwhales with creature comforts; adjustable rear foot rests, tray tables, built-in refrigerator and Wi-Fi are just some of the features.
Given that the Long Hauler has a Gross Combined Vehicle Weight (GCW) of a staggering 37,500 lbs, it needs a suspension that is up to the task, as a result the front and rear 19.5 inch wheels and tires are connected to a Kelderman air-bag suspension with automatic self-leveling.
Whether Ram division will actually build the Long Hauler remains to be seen, though there is undoubtedly a gap in the market between 1-ton pickups and Class 6 over-the-road trucks like baby Freightliners and Peterbilts, especially for those that need a tow vehicle for rodeos or high-end race cars.
Currently, the Long Hauler is doing the rounds at various events across the US to gauge public opinion. It’s next appearance is scheduled for the Kentucky Derby on May 6-7. So, if the Long Hauler is something that floats your boat and you happen to be in Louisville that weekend, be sure to check it out.
Since they both debuted updated heavy-duty pickups for the 2011 model year, Ford and General Motors have been locked in a battle for supremacy – who has the highest tow capacity ratings?
Now, Ford is set to reclaim bragging rights, thanks to towing hardware upgrades, designed to complement changes made to the Super Duty’s frame last year, namely higher strength crossmembers. Along with an increase in power and torque on the PowerStroke 6.7-liter turbo diesel, up to 400-hp and 800 lb-ft; Ford spokeswoman Anne-Marie Gattari said the F-340 and F-450 can now pull up to 17,500 lbs of weight, just using their ball hitches (GM by contrast rates their trucks at a maximum of 16,500 lbs – 17,000 in 4×4 configuration).
In addition, the F-Series Super Duty also boasts the highest payload capacity (7,070 lbs) and fifth wheel towing capacity of 22,600 lbs (24,500 for the F-450).
However, when it comes to pulling conventional trailers, Ford’s weight carrying hitches are still limited to 8,000 lbs, beyond that, the trucks will require a weight distribution hitch which places a tongue weight on the ball to more evenly distribute the load between the truck’s frame and the trailer.
GM’s HD trucks, by contrast, only require a weight carrying hitch to pull trailers at their maximum load capacity.
Given the announcement by Ford, it will be interesting to see how GM and possibly Ram respond to the Blue Oval’s latest claim.
[Source: Pickup Trucks.com]
Chrysler has announced that it is recalling a total of 76,122 2010-11 Ram Heavy Duty models equipped with the 6.7-liter Cummins turbo diesel engine, due to a fault with the brake lights.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the problem stems from the vehicle’s hydro-boost brake system that uses hydraulic pressure from the power steering to provide brake assist. Residual pressure in the steering system, caused by inadequate ventilation from the power steering cap results in a slower return travel of the brake pedal, causing the brake lights to stay on longer, potentially increasing the risk of a crash.
The affected vehicles were built between March 2009 and October 2010 and so far, 175 instances of slow brake pedal return have been reported to Chrysler. Owners of the affected trucks will have the problem fixed free of charge and contact Chrysler at 800-853-1403 or NHTSA’s safety hotline at 888-327-4236 for more information.
[Source: Pickup trucks.com]
Just prior to the annual Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia over the weekend, Motor Trend‘s Editor-in-Chief Angus MacKenzie, presented General Motors CEO Dan Akerson with the coveted truck of the year award, in reference to the 2011 Chevy Silverado HD.
It marks the first time since 1979 that both a GM car and truck garnered MT‘s annual vehicle awards (the Chevy Volt was recently named MT‘s car of the year for 2011).
Introduced last summer the 2011 Silverado HD is highlighted by a new, improved chassis, better suspension and steering, plus a new Duramax diesel engine and Allison transmission. Said MT‘s MacKenzie, “on the outside the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD appears to have been given a subtle makeover, but it’s what’s under the skin that makes this truck a winner.”
“With more capability and technology than ever before, we believe the Chevrolet Silverado HD sets the bar for heavy-duty trucks,” said Akerson. “It’s a great honor to have such a respected authority as Motor Trend agree.”
According to a recent press release from Ford Motor Company; the 2011 Super Duty is currently accounting for 50 percent of total heavy-duty pickup sales in the United States.
Given quality and reliability issues in the past, this represents a major gain, especially in a market segment that, despite doom and gloom over predicted high fuel prices, has grown by 17 percent since last year.
And a lot of that growth has apparently been due to the S-D’s 6.7-liter PowerStroke diesel engine. The first to be designed and engineered completely in-house by Ford, the PowerStroke churns out 400 horsepower and a stomping 800 ft-lbs of torque, making this rig one of the most capable in its class.
“As always, our goal is to better satisfy the needs of our customers,” said Doug Scott; current Group Marketing Manager for Ford Trucks. “Super Duty’s continued sales and share leadership is validation that whether those needs are capability, durability, quality, power, performance, fuel economy, technology or safety, we are succeeding.”
It’s also been interesting to note, that along with little brother F-150, the Super Duty enabled Ford’s entire F-series line to sell more than 400,000 units in 2010 – the first nameplate to top this ‘magic’ sales figure over the last 12 month period.
Ever since it’s inception, the Federal Government’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards program has never been far from controversy. With the proposed 35 miles per gallon standard less than a decade away; auto manufacturers are struggling to find ways of meeting these fleet average targets. Because light trucks as well as cars are now included in the targets, domestic automakers like Ford, GM and Chrysler are likely to find the new regulations particularly tough to deal with, since a great deal of their profit still rests on truck production. Now, thanks to a meeting in May, when President Obama called on the EPA and Department of Transportation to included medium and heavy-duty vehicles within the CAFE umbrella (under different and yet undisclosed fuel economy standards), things have become even more messy and complicated.
Recently a 414 page report, issued by The National Academies (a group made up of academics, business leaders, scientists and consultants from the financial, oil and transportation industries) stated that in order for pickups, especially medium-duty ones to meet CAFE targets greater than current fuel economy standards; new technologies will have to be utilized or the automakers risk heavy fines.
Either way, sticker prices could increase by as much as $15,000 per truck once the regulations are enforced. According to Charlie Territo, a spokesperson for the Washington D.C. based Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, “costs will depend on the specific fuel economy targets and the cost of the technology that needs to be added. What remains to be seen is whether consumers are willing to pay those costs.”
The report cites a number of potential avenues for saving fuel on pickups, including turbocharging and using smaller displacement engines; hybrid drivetrains and more efficient diesel engines, still another, more simpler proposal is raising taxes on the fuel itself. However when it comes to technology the key issue is being able to balance more fuel efficient drivetrains with weight savings, especially difficult considering the amount of safety equipment is now mandated by the Feds on modern vehicles.
Whatever the proposed medium and heavy-duty CAFE requirements end up being, you can bet that they will likely hurt small business and contractors, those that currently rely on medium and heavy-duty pickups and represent the largest segment of buyers in this market. And to make matters worse, much of America’s wealth is built on small businesses, the kind that use pickups. So while the CAFE regulations might have had good intentions – reducing greenhouse gases and oil dependence, at this juncture, given the targets already outlined, the economic effects are likely to be disastrous in an already depressed business environment, unless significant changes to the CAFE standards that include more realistic short term targets are added.
They haven’t been on the market that long, but some customers have noted a problem with the hill start assist feature on the 2011 Heavy Duty Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra. The hill-start assist, which is integrated with the trailer brake control function is designed to apply the brakes for an additional 1.5 seconds after the pedal is released, if the truck is parked on an incline of five percent or greater. However, there have been instances where it hasn’t engaged, instead the truck rolls as soon as brake pedal is released.
Not beating around the bush, GM quickly discovered that the problem lay with improper software calibration on the hill-start start system and is now issuing a recall. All brand new trucks will have the fix performed before they leave for the dealerships, while GM is actively looking at ways to get trucks already owned by customers back to have the software glitch corrected.
[Source: Pickup trucks.com]
Not too long ago, if you had a 3/4 or 1 ton pickup that made 600 ft-lbs from its diesel engine, it was a really big deal. No longer. In 2010, both Ford and GM heavy-duty trucks top 700 ft-lbs from their turbo diesel engines with Ford claiming 735 ft-lbs and GM recently upping its number to 765 ft-lbs. But in what has become perhaps a new performance war, Ford is set to up the ante once again, this time by tuning it’s 6.7-liter PowerStroke turbo diesel to deliver 400 horsepower and a whopping 800 ft-lbs of torque.
It’s been claimed that these numbers are possible with the current powertrain due to such engineering features as a graphite iron block employed on the 6.7-liter version of the PowerStroke, along with Ford’s beefy six-speed automatic transmission, which was designed from the outset to handle extreme torque loads. At this stage it’s too early to say exactly how the increase in power and torque will be achieved, but expect revised engine mapping to be a prime factor, along with some hardware upgrades. However, given industry lead times and because 2011 Super Duty trucks are already on sale, the more powerful diesel will likely become available late in the model year, much to the chagrin of those that have already purchased one of the 2011 model year trucks. As somebody once said, the best things often come to those who wait.
And given the tug of war going on between Ford and GM, it will be interesting to see how the General responds to this latest salvo.
[Source: Pickup trucks.com]