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2009 Pick-up Farm Truck Review

The 2009 Canadian Truck King Challenge fell victim to the unprecedented economic turmoil we saw last year. Simply put, manufacturers were fighting for survival rather than crowns and opted out of the challenge; not everyone, mind you, but I felt it would be unfair to run a competition where only some of the vehicles were represented.

April 7, 2009  By Howard J. Elmer

The 2009 Canadian Truck King Challenge fell victim to the unprecedented
economic turmoil we saw last year. Simply put, manufacturers were
fighting for survival rather than crowns and opted out of the
challenge; not everyone, mind you, but I felt it would be unfair to run
a competition where only some of the vehicles were represented.

But as you and I know, the truck business is not going away; not today
or tomorrow and I continue to watch it closely. What follows is a
roundup of what is happening today and what I see coming for the
Canadian pickup truck market.

Consider that despite the current market upset ’09 is the setting for
all new pickups from all three of Detroit’s builders along with
promises of additional new engines to come. So, rather than dwelling on
a dismal market we are all familiar with let’s look at what we can
expect to see in the next two years.


First, fuel-saving measures from the truck makers will be coming fast
and furious; new smaller diesel engines are supposed to available in
the Dodge and GM half-ton trucks by the 2010 model year. This direction
assumes that half-ton owners want a diesel option. But the demands on
light-duty pickups are different and the price difference between gas
and diesel engines, and fuel, may take some of the shine off these new
half-ton diesels.

That is why GM is covering its bets by offering a hybrid pickup as
well. In fact the GM two-mode hybrid system is now available in the ’09
Chevy Silverado: I drove one over Christmas and it works seamlessly. 
Ford had planned on offering a half-ton diesel in 2010 but rumour now
has it that this move is on hold. Instead it is pushing EcoBoost, a
fuel injected gas-turbo combination that Ford says is fuel efficient
and affordable. And with the price of gas they may well have it right.
I reviewed purchase numbers for diesel engines, which are favourites
among Ford HD truck buyers, and found they had taken a sharp dive in
2008 as the mileage on the new 6.4L Power Stroke turned out to be lower
than expected, and the price of diesel higher than gas.

Can someone explain to me why that is, other than greed?
EcoBoost is said to offer up to 20 percent better fuel economy, and
make 15 percent less CO2 than an equivalent non-EcoBoost gas engine. It
is also coming in a V-6 version, which will probably make it into the
F-series pickup. Still, Dodge says that with its Cummins clean-diesel
technology, its all-new turbo diesel engine the truck maker intends to
deliver in the light-duty Ram pickup will increase low-end torque,
offer up to a 30 percent improvement in fuel economy and a 20 percent
reduction in CO2 emissions, compared to an equivalent gasoline engine.

The engine GM intends to put into its half-tons is a new 4.5L V8
Duramax turbo-diesel. In comparison to a similar sized gasoline engine
GM says the 4.5L will improve fuel efficiency by 25 percent and reduces
CO2 emissions by 13 percent. This new V8 diesel engine will fit the
same as a small-block V8 gas engine. This then opens up the possibility
of swapping engines across the line should future markets demand it.
Output on this engine will be rated in excess of 310 hp and 520 lb-ft
of torque.

Toyota is the other big question mark right now. But having invested
over $2 billion in a new truck plant in San Antonio, Texas, building
just the new Tundra, it is obvious the company is committed to being a
player in the half-ton market. But its problem is that it has the
fewest engine options of all the builders and, while I asked, how or
when they will move forward with new powertrain offerings is a closely
guarded secret; I am just sure they will, as they also have a depth of
world diesel experience.  But for ’09 anyway there are no significant

For ’09 the F-series has expanded its offerings with a new longer
wheelbase that supports a stretched four-door SuperCrew (six inches
more for the backseat alone) without robbing the cargo bed for that
stretch. Other choices include three box sizes (5.5, 6.5, 8-ft) and
three rear axle ratios to choose from (3.15, 3.31, 3.73). There are
also three engine choices and two automatic transmissions, and those
seven trim levels. With these choices, as many as 35 differently
configured trucks can be ordered.

The new six-speed tranny has a responsive low end and a double set of
overdrive gears. This new gearbox alone contributes a four to six per
cent fuel savings over the old four-speed. Also standard in ’09 is an
integrated trailer brake controller, pull-out tailgate step,
retractable box-side steps, stowable bed extender and available cargo
management system. 

 Wheelbase:  126-, 133-, 144- and 163-inch 
 Cab Style:  Regular, SuperCab, SuperCrew
 Engine:  4.6L (two-valve) V8 
 4.6L (three-valve) V8      
 5.4L V8  
 Power:  248 hp and 294 lb-ft of torque
 – four speed auto
 292 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque
 – six-speed auto
 320 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque
 – six-speed auto
 Max Payload:  3000 pounds
 Max Tow Rating:  11,300 pounds

NOTE: A new standard anti-sway system works automatically with the
truck and trailer brakes and is designed to bring a fishtailing trailer
back into line.

This new Ram gets some rounding of the fenders and a forward-tilt to
the cross-hair grille, yet the truck has kept its old silhouette by
pulling the lights back over the new one-piece bumper. The bigger story
is inside though. The new interior features redesigned, bolstered
seats, soft-touch material in two and even three colour patterns,
rather than nasty hard battleship gray plastic. Elements include a new
centre console, upper and lower glove boxes and a sculpted dashboard
featuring chrome, leather and cloth accents, including items like real
saddle stitching across the dash. Other available options include power
adjustable pedals, double the number of previous storage spaces and for
the first-time items like heated and cooled front seats, heated rear
seats and even a heated steering wheel. Engines too are largely the
same as 2008 with only the 5.7L Hemi getting a few tweaks, bumping up
torque and hp with added VVT. But the tranny remains a five-speed
versus the F-series six-speed gearbox. Dodge has gone with a new coil
spring rear suspension that changes the ride of the solid rear axle for
the better.

 Wheelbase:   120-, 140-inch
 Cab Style:  Regular Cab, Quad Cab, Crew Cab
 Engine:  3.7L V6 (four-speed automatic)
 4.7L V8 (five-speed automatic)
 5.7L V8 Hemi MDS (five-speed auto.) 
 Power:  215 hp and 235 lb-ft of torque
 310 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque
 390 hp and 407 lb-ft of torque
 Max Payload:  1900 pounds
 Max Tow Rating:  9100 pounds

NOTE: Mega Cab, the oversized four-door crew that put a new spin on the
term Cowboy Limousine is gone from the 1500 series; it is strictly an
HD option now.


This two-mode hybrid is designed to power the full-sized Silverado
pickup truck from zero up to 30 km/h on electric power in one mode,
then to assist the cylinder deactivation function of the V8 engine by
adding in power at highway speeds so the engine can remain in
four-cylinder-only operation for as long as possible.  That is its
second mode. The net result is a possible fuel savings of up to 30
percent says GM.

The key to this capability is the ECVT or electric continuously
variable transmission. With its unique setup of two 60 kW electric
motors. Also at stoplights the engine shuts off while all the
electrical functions remain on. This too saves fuel, particularly for
trucks used mostly in the city. But if you do hit the gas hard, the
engine responds normally. This Hybrid can handle normal pickup payloads
and will also tow as well.

 Wheelbase:  143.5-in.
 Cab Style:  Crew Cab   
 Engine:  6.0L V8
 Power:  332 hp and 367 lb-ft of torque 
 – four speed auto 
 Max Payload:  1459 pounds
 Max Tow Rating:  6100 pounds 

Note: This particular hybrid system is the only one rated to tow this
much weight; I have driven it and it works well. The question is, is it
worth $10,000 more than a non-hybrid?

Into the second year of its last major half-ton overhaul, these GM
pickups are pretty much the same for 2009. In fact they have been well
received in the market and continue to sell well. They have won a
number of awards and they offer enough versions to satisfy pretty much
any need.

GM 1500-series
 Wheelbase:   119-, 133- and 157.5-inch
 Cab Styles:  Regular Cab, Extended Cab, Crew Cab 
 Engine:  4.3L / 4.8L V8 / 5.3L
 FlexFuel V8/5.3L AFM
 V8 / 6L AFM V8
 Power:   195 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque
 295 hp and 305 lb-ft of torque
 315 hp and 338 lb-ft of torque
 315 hp and 338 lb-ft of torque
 367 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque
 Max payload:  1952 pounds 
 Max tow rating:   10,500 pounds

For the Tundra, 2009 is a hold steady year, though there are a few
small changes. First the 4.7L engine option has been dropped, so the
5.7L V8 is the only engine for this year. A new A-suffix base model
will offer 40/20/40 Split bench seat, steering column shifter, 18 inch
styled steel wheels and manually-adjustable driver seat for more of a
work truck. At the other end of the scale Tundra now offers an
“i-Force” package which includes things like 20 inch aluminum alloy
wheels, tri-fold hard tonneau cover, bedliner, stainless steel side
step bars, front and rear parking sensors, special colours and
detailing. Tundra continues to offer a four-door cab called CrewMax.
This last one mimics the MegaCab introduced by Dodge in 2007.

 Wheelbase:  126, 145.7 and 164.6-inch
 Cab Style:   Regular, Double, CrewMax
 Engine:   5.7L V8
 Power:   381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque 
 Max Payload:  1900 pounds
 Max Tow Rating:  10,800 pounds

NOTE:  Previously hinted at expansion into the medium-duty truck market
seems to be on hold as does the diesel – in fact they do not seem quite
as gung-ho as they did in 2007 about being in this market.


DODGE 2500 – 5500
This year Dodge offers new Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cab models. The
two engines of note are the 5.7 Hemi, which has added Variable Valve
Timing and the 6.7L diesel that is now available with a remote start
feature. The Hemi’s fuel economy is up four percent and its horsepower
now hits 380 as a result of VVT. The Cummins diesel with automatic
transmission also offers a unique engine exhaust brake that can save
money on rotors and pads.

NOTE: There is an all-new Gooseneck Trailer Hitch for Dodge Ram
Heavy-duty Pickups. The gooseneck trailer hitch from Mopar mounts in
the pickup bed using a kit that attaches directly to the frame rails.

 2500, 3500, 4500 and 5500 Series
 Wheelbase:  120.5-, 140.5-, 160.5-, 188.5-inch
 Cab Style:  Regular Cab, Quad Cab, Crew Cab, Mega Cab 
 Engine:  6.7L I6 diesel – six-speed auto
 5.7L V8 – five-speed auto
 Power:  350 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque
 345 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque
 Max payload:  11,800 pounds
 Max tow rating:  18,050 pounds

For 2009 Ford’s TowCommand System returns as an option. It includes a
factory-installed electronic brake controller that now works with the
anti-lock braking system The TorqShift five-speed automatic
transmission also has Tow/Haul mode. Also available is a PTO feature
and dash-installed extra power switches for any number of custom
applications and/or ready for upfitters equipment installations. Twin
alternators in the Super Duty supply enough power for multiple uses
including hydraulic add-ons. PowerScope trailer tow mirrors are large,
heated mirrors that slide-out at the push of a button affording a clear
view down the sides of a towed trailer. A stylish new “Big Dog Daddy”
F-450 has in excess of 24,000 pounds of towing capacity and a max
payload of 6000 pounds

NOTE: I found out the hard way that the new 6.4L diesel has a flaw.
After getting a “check air filter” warning I found it packed with snow.
Ford is aware of the problem and is now providing a winter front cover
as a remedy to any customer who experiences this problem. Make sure you
ask the dealer about it.

 SuperDuty F250, F350 and F450 
 Wheelbase:  137-, 141.8-, 156.2-, 158-, 172.4-inch 
 Cab Style:  Regular Cab, SuperCab and SuperCrew
 Engine:  5.4L V8 / 6.8L V10 / 6.4L V8 diesel
 Power:  300 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque
 362 hp and 457 lb-ft of torque
 350 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque
 Max payload:  6120 pounds
 Max tow rating:   24,000 pounds

GM HEAVY DUTY 2500 – 4500
The 2009 3500-series pickup trucks come standard with the 6L V8 and the
six-speed Hydra-Matic transmission. Included are two overdrive gears
and a manual range selector with tap up/tap down gear shifting.
Optional is the new Duramax 6.6L diesel and the new six-speed Allison
automatic. Moving in step with Ford and Dodge, GM now has an all-new
4500 chassis cab that they say will offer a best-in-class payload. It
will be available with either the Vortec 6.0L or the Duramax 6.6L turbo
diesel. Both come with a new Hydra-Matic four-speed automatic
transmission or the six-speed Allison.

 2500 and 3500-Series
 Wheelbase:   133-, 143.5-, 153-, 157.5-inch
 Cab Style:  Regular Cab, Extended Cab, Crew Cab 
 Engine:  6L V8 / 6.6L V8 diesel
 Power:  353 hp and 373 lb-ft of torque
365 hp and 660 lb-ft of torque
 Max payload:  9100 pounds
 Max tow rating:  16,700 pounds


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