crop of half-tons includes some very interesting and useful new
features that extend pickup truck capability, efficiency and safety
to new heights. Here's our look at the best features for 2009.
Real-Time Traffic, Weather and Fuel Prices
Five years ago, it was novel simply to have GPS in a truck.
New for 2009 on the Ford F-150, Dodge Ram 1500, GMC Sierra
and Chevy Silverado is an advanced navigation system that includes
real-time traffic to help you avoid accidents and plot alternate
F-150 extends its navigation features even further by adding
real-time fuel prices to make filling the truck a bit less painful,
plus real-time weather radar so you can see if there’s
bad conditions ahead on the road.
bad you can’t get
real-time updates for your spouse’s mood (but they’re
probably working on that, too).
Load Floor in Crew Cabs
tried to quickly load something into the backseat of a crew cab
pickup, only to be stopped by the driveline hump running to the
rear wheels? Ford has completely flattened the second row’s
floor to make loading and storing items in the back of the cab
a cinch. Simply fold up the rear seats and stow away!
Integrated Trailer-Brake Controllers
GM and Ford both offer optional integrated trailer-brake controllers
that couple a truck’s braking system with a trailer’s
electric brakes. When you apply the truck’s brakes, they also
activate the trailer’s brakes.
With this option, you can just check a box on the order form rather than reaching
up under the dash to sift through a nest of wires and sharp plastic to manually
install an aftermarket kit -- saving the hassle and your hands.
the ever-increasing trailer-towing capabilities of half-ton pickups,
new safety features help ensure that both driver and load arrive
safely. Both Dodge and Ford are offering trailer-sway control
technology for the first time.
the case of the 2009 Dodge Ram 1500, its stability control system
has been enhanced to counteract unintended trailer motion. It
does so by using the truck’s
antilock braking and traction control systems to apply individual
wheel brakes and/or reduce engine power.
Ford F-150 uses a more sophisticated trailer-sway control system:
By taking advantage of its integrated trailer-brake controller,
the F-150 can apply both its and a trailer’s brakes to stop sway, making the
road safer for other drivers, too.
Fuel Economy Models
Regardless of any innovative new features truck-makers are
inventing in order to separate their pickups from the rest
of the herd, all are trying to offer better fuel economy. By
using some of the numerically smallest rear axles we’ve
seen in years, plus low-rolling-resistance tires and deeper front chin spoilers,
Ford and GM quickly responded to high prices at the pump with new FE (fuel economy)
models. The Ford
F-150 SFE and Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra XFE
pickups get identical mileage estimates of 15/21 mpg city/highway, an improvement of
around 5 to 7 percent compared to non-FE pickups. Simple, smart and cheap.
for a similar -FE Dodge Ram 1500 fuel economy model to debut some time