Five of the six 2009 half-ton pickups on the market offer wide-angle
rear backup cameras mounted on the tailgate to improve safety when
backing up and to help reduce guesswork when lining up a truck
and trailer without a human spotter. Some of these backup displays
are mounted in the rearview mirror, while others display in the
navigation screen. Kudos to Ford for displaying helpful markings
in its Reverse view to show distance even in a fisheye view of
Coil-Spring Rear Suspension
Leaf springs and pickups go together like trampolines and acrobats.
Leaf springs are simple suspension components that enable trucks
to perform amazing load-carrying feats. But leafs trade ride
comfort and lateral rear axle control for their simplicity. Dodge
thinks it has a better idea. The 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 is the first
pickup in more than 30 years to offer a multi-link coil-spring
rear suspension instead of leaf springs. The result? Excellent
ride and handling, particularly when the truck is unloaded, and
the same load-carrying capability as last year’s
Ram, plus a bonus weight savings of 40 pounds.
Two-Mode Hybrid System
Can a full-size pickup be considered a green vehicle? If any
truck can, it’s
GM’s twin Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra half-tons. GM’s two-mode
gas-electric hybrid system gets 40 percent better fuel economy in city driving
than its conventional 6.0-liter V-8 gas engine. Perhaps even more remarkable
is that, in our
experience driving it, GM’s hybrid pickup was able to tow
5,000 pounds up to 15 mph using electricity only. How’s that for fuel savings?
Truck owners have been improvising or purchasing aftermarket storage solutions
for pickup beds since the inception of the truck, from roped-down milk crates
and drop-in cargo boxes to Hide-and-Side storage. It was only recently that truck
manufacturers began to get in on the act.
The Chevrolet Avalanche debuted in 2002 with two small, weatherproof, secure
cargo pouches built into the bed rails that could hold up to 3.5 cubic feet of
cargo. The 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 offers the slickest solution yet, called RamBox.
The RamBox has 8.6 cubic feet worth of dry lockable side saddle storage space,
with room to squeeze a 4x8 sheet of plywood between the bed walls. The only drawback?
Price. At $1,895, the cost has a good chance of making this feature a non-starter
for trucks shoppers on tight budgets.
Ford Work Solutions
For most of the past decade new features in half-ton pickups were
aimed primarily at casual truck buyers. Now those buyers are
fleeing big trucks for smaller vehicles. Core truck buyers are
making up ever larger percentages of half-ton purchases. Ford
hasn't forgotten commercial customers' needs. The company is
introducing a game-changing suite of work
productivity applications that includes an in-dash computer with high-speed wireless internet
and a printer; “Crew
Chief,” which monitors and helps route fleets of trucks in real time;
and “Tool Link,” which uses radio frequency tag readers in the truck
to keep track of tools so they aren’t left behind at home or a jobsite.