Half-Ton Pickup Truck Fuel Economy Takes New Priority

Luke Vandezande
by Luke Vandezande
2013 Ford F-150 Lariat: This series now features standard SYNC(R) with MyFord Touch(R) voice-activated driver controls in addition to a powerful yet fuel efficient 5.0-liter V8. (6/2/2012)

Marketing for the half-ton pickup segment will change tack this fall with Ford and Chrysler facing off in a new realm: fuel economy.

Until then, the blue oval brand maintains a stranglehold with its fuel-efficient EcoBoost-powered F-150, but Chrysler’s RAM truck brand is gunning to change that by offering a Pentastar V6-powered pickup. As fuel costs rise year-over-year, the two companies see value in luring customers with higher mpg numbers, something GM doesn’t necessarily agree with in the segment.

Mark Reuss, president of GM North America, recently told Automotive News that his brand sees the truck market being thinned to exclude those that don’t actually need one. He says the result will be remaining demand for trucks that emphasize durability, towing capacity and power over conservative consumption.

But that isn’t what the industry is showing through Ford’s sales numbers. Long the industry leader, it’s F-150 is most popular with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 that offers 365 hp and 16/22 mpg in the city and on the highway.

While it won’t offer a half-ton to meet those marks, the General will continue selling midsize trucks under both the Chevrolet and GMC brands.

It’s true that RAM is jumping aboard the V6 band wagon, but that doesn’t mean it plans to copy Ford’s playbook verbatim either.

When the Pentastar-powered pickup debuts, it will do so with a naturally-aspirated 3.7-liter making 302 hp, something brand CEO Fred Diaz says is actually an advantage. The company hasn’t offered any fuel numbers just yet, but insists that its entrant will have best-in-class economy. That fuel economy will come courtesy of an eight-speed automatic transmission. Geared correctly, it could also make up for the gap in torque.

Furthermore, Diaz said his company’s truck will be better in the long run because “turbos are very expensive to replace.”

Outside the Detroit 3, there really isn’t too much to look out for. Toyota offers a V6, but isn’t competitive with the EcoBoost and Nissan’s Titan is only available a 5.6-liter V8.

Updates for the Titan and Tacoma also aren’t due until 2014, leaving the American automakers plenty of time to fight amongst themselves first.

[Source: Automotive News]

Luke Vandezande
Luke Vandezande

Luke is an energetic automotive journalist who spends his time covering industry news and crawling the internet for the latest breaking story. When he isn't in the office, Luke can be found obsessively browsing used car listings, drinking scotch at his favorite bar and dreaming of what to drive next, though the list grows a lot faster than his bank account. He's always on <A title="@lukevandezande on Twitter" href="http://twitter.com/lukevandezande">Twitter</A> looking for a good car conversation. Find Luke on <A title="@lukevandezande on Twitter" href="http://twitter.com/lukevandezande">Twitter</A> and <A title="Luke on Google+" href="http://plus.google.com/112531385961538774338?rel=author">Google+</A>.

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  • Gregd01 Gregd01 on Jul 06, 2012

    Real world fuel economy of a small block v8 chevy against the real world numbers others are getting with these v6's are very comparable.

  • Fanatic0 Fanatic0 on Aug 28, 2012

    Ha ha, Dodge..."turbos are expensive to replace"...what about eight speed transmissions? Something that does fail on heavily used trucks. Turbos rarely ever need to be replaced. Just look at the thousands of diesel trucks that go year after year on stock turbos. Like mine...246,000 miles on a 2000 F-250 that is used to pull a 29 foot trailer with two ATV's on another 3,500 lb. axle trailer behind that. My turbo (and transmission) are still going strong after twelve years. You make me laugh, Mopile.