Horsepower and fuel efficiency
By Pat Bolen*Products
Trucks: New 2008 models reviewed.
For the 2008 model year, domestic truck makers are offering rental operators more power under the hood, more towing and hauling options and more comfort in the cab while also offering ways to increase mileage and save on fuel.
Ford’s F-250 Super Duty returns for duty with a revamped interior, a new diesel engine and big-truck capability that will continue to keep it as one of the favourite buys for rental owners.
The F-Series Super Duty trucks are offered in three cab styles – regular, super and crew cab – and in two bed lengths. While the exterior changes are few, underneath the hood, there is a new 6.4 litre PowerStroke diesel that features twin sequential turbos for linear boost through the operating range and a particulate filter that brings emissions down to a level comparable to that of an equivalent gasoline engine, according to Ford. Power output has been increased to 350 horsepower, with 650lb.ft of torque available at 2000rpm.
The still-available 6.8 litre Triton gas V-10 (mostly unchanged and still rated at 362 horsepower) also uses the new design five speed TorqShift transmission found on the diesel, but can be ordered with less aggressive 3.73:1 rear end ratio.
A six speed manual remains available on base model work trucks powered by the 5.4 litre Triton gas V-8 (300 horsepower). Fuel tank capacity ranges from 30 gallons (114 litres) to 38 gallons (144 litres), depending on the model.
An integrated, factory installed TowCommand trailer brake controller, power telescoping trailer-tow side mirrors with memory, adjustable pedals, foldable/stowable bed extender and that very handy tailgate step (with a telescoping pole/grab handle, too) add functionality as well as convenience.
The Silverado-Chevy’s full-size pickup was done over last year and little has been changed in 2008. Three cab styles are available – regular, extended and crew cab – as are three cargo box lengths (5ft8in, 6ft6in and 8.0ft). The Silverado comes in WT, LT and LTZ trims with either rear wheel or four wheel drive.
Engines offered begin with a 4.3 litre, 195 horsepower V-6 and continue through 4.8 litre (295 horsepower) and 5.3 litre (315 horsepower) V-8s, cresting in top-of-the-line models with a 367 horsepower, 6.0 litre V-8 and all models use a four speed automatic transmission. The 5.3 litre engine is available with E85/flex fuel capability and the Silverado can tow as much as 10,500 pounds when properly equipped.
Changes to the Silverado 1500 for 2008 include standard XM satellite radio, an available power seat on regular cab models and more brightly lit instrument pointers. An integrated trailer brake controller is available on extended cab and crew cab models.
The Chevrolet Avalanche gains standard curtain side airbags on all models. This reconfigurable pickup truck is essentially a crew cab version of Chevrolet’s Suburban SUV with a folding mid-gate separating the cab from the cargo bed.
Lowering the mid-gate extends the bed to 8.2ft from 5.3ft which rental operators should find handy. Avalanche seats up to six and comes in LS, LT and LTZ trims. Each is available with rear wheel drive or full-time four wheel drive that can be left engaged on dry pavement and includes a low range gear for off-roading.
Standard on the two wheel drive Avalanche is a 320 horsepower 5.3 litre V8 engine and four wheel drive models get a 310 horsepower version of the same engine. Both are capable of running on E85 ethanol blended fuel and optional on LT and LTZ models is a 366 horsepower 6.0 litre V8. All engines have GM’s Active Fuel Management cylinder deactivation and they team with a four speed automatic transmission. Available safety features include front side airbags, curtain side airbags, ABS, traction control and an anti-skid system. GM’s Autoride load-leveling suspension is standard on the LTZ and optional on the LT models. Options include a navigation system and DVD entertainment.
The GMC Sierra adds a new off-road themed model. These large trucks were redesigned last year along with the similar Chevrolet Silverado. Sierra offers regular, extended and crew cab body styles. Extended cabs have rear-hinged back doors that do not open independently of the front doors.
Regular cabs can seat up to three passengers, while the extended and crew cabs can seat up to six. Available cargo bed lengths are 6.5ft and 8.1ft for regular and extended cab models and 5.8ft for crews. Available engines, depending on cab/bed configuration, are a 195 horsepower 4.3 litre V6, 295 horsepower 4.8 litre V8, 315 horsepower 5.3 litre V8 and 367 horsepower 6.0 litre V8. Some versions of the 5.3 V8 can run on E85 ethanol fuel. That engine and the 6.0 V8 have GM’s Active Fuel Management cylinder deactivation.
The Dodge Dakota has an all-new 4.7 litre V8 engine that produces 302 horsepower and 329lb.ft of torque. Rental companies looking for more power to safely tow equipment will appreciate the 31 percent increase in horsepower and 13 percent increase in torque compared to the previous Dakota V8. At the same time, companies that are also being squeezed on fuel costs will like the new engine that offers a five percent increase in fuel economy and is capable of operating on E85 ethanol fuel, which qualifies the Dakota as a flexible fuel vehicle.
Dakota continues to offer two different cab configurations, both with four doors. The crew cab has four full-size, front-hinged doors, while the extended cab has smaller rear-hinged rear doors that open a full 170 degrees for maximum access.
Inside, changes have occurred to improve comfort and utility with a new instrument panel, new seats and a new centre console containing a variety of storage options. The extended cab offers 30 cubic feet of interior space, while the crew cab has 37.1 cubic feet.
The new, more powerful 4.7 litre V8 engine features a higher compression ratio, new combustion system and two spark plugs per cylinder, like the Dodge Hemi to increase power while also improving fuel consumption. The Dakota is rated to tow up to 7050 pounds. -end-
Plenty of cargo
Maximizing the amount of cargo that can be hauled per trip is vital for rental operators and as is the case with other vehicles of its type, the Dodge Sprinter is all about utility, interior room and transporting large numbers of passengers or plenty of cargo.
The Sprinter made its North American debut in 2003 after being previously sold around the world as a Mercedes-Benz since 1995. In the rental industry it has found a niche among party rental stores and suppliers, both of which require a fuel efficient vehicle to transport a multitude of different products from small tools and equipment supplies to plates and dishes.
This is assisted by the interior of these cargo vans which utilize a load-securing and lashing rail
system allowing straps to be attached at multiple locations for enhanced cargo carrying capacity.
The Sprinter is normally powered by a 3.0 litre V-6 turbo diesel engine with 154 horsepower and maximum torque of 280lb.ft at 1200rpm to 2400rpm.
Towing capacity for the 2500 model is 5000 pounds, while the 3500 model tops out at 7500 pounds.
In 2007, the Dodge Sprinter got a complete makeover, gaining additional length, width, height and power while retaining its European style and ambiance. -end-
• www.edmunds.com/dodge/sprinter/review.html -end-
*Pat Bolan is a freelance writer based in Exeter, Ontario.
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