The following is our annual overview of work trucks.
2017 Chevrolet Silverado HD
New for 2017, Chevrolet Silverado HD trucks (shown above) feature a patented air intake system that drives cool, dry air into the engine for sustained performance and cooler engine temperatures during difficult driving conditions. The intake system underwent extensive testing based on the most challenging real-world driving conditions to ensure capable performance no matter the weather.
Marked by a dramatic hood scoop, the all-new air intake system provides 60 percent of the air to the Duramax diesel engine from an inlet at the front of the hood. The air provided to the engine is very close to the outside ambient temperature and much cooler than the air under the hood.
Cooler air helps the engine run better under load, especially in conditions where engine and transmission temperatures can rise quickly. Running cooler allows the Duramax diesel to maintain full power and vehicle speed for capable trailering in even the toughest conditions.
There’s also a ram-air effect from the incoming air at highway speed that helps pack more air into the engine. The air filter housing also draws 40 percent additional air from a dry location in one of the front fenders. It blends with the cooler air from the hood inlet before funneling into the Duramax’s combustion chambers. This assures the engine can breathe even if the hood is completely blocked.
“The 2017 Silverado HD was engineered to provide maximum utility for our customers in even the most extreme situations,” said Eric Stanczak, chief engineer, Silverado HD. “While developing this all-new induction system, we considered our customers towing a maximum-weight trailer through the Eisenhower Tunnel on a hot, rainy summer day.”
At more than 11,000 feet above sea level, the Eisenhower Tunnel is the highest vehicle tunnel in the world and one of the highest elevations for any roadway in North America.
Maximized engine performance requires more than cool air; the air must also be clean and dry. Accordingly, the functional hood scoop includes a unique air/water separator to ensure only combustion-enhancing dry air is drawn into the engine. The air charge enters an expansion chamber containing a sharp, 180-degree turn on its way to the air filter housing. That creates a velocity change that causes humidity or mist to form larger, heavier droplets that are flung centrifugally against the outside wall of the housing. The collected water drains through a valve, while the air charge continues on to the filter housing and into the engine.
Testing the effectiveness of the system was rooted in real-world driving conditions of every degree — from misty rains to monsoon-level downpours; from powdery snow to wind-driven ice pellets; from desert dust to arctic cold.
Surprisingly, torrential downpours do not necessarily pose the biggest challenge, according to Kevin Dunn, global vehicle performance for splash engineering: “Big, heavy raindrops from a thunderstorm are relatively easy to eliminate from air. The more challenging issue comes from the mist-like spray generated by semi trucks on wet highways. Those very fine water droplets prove more challenging to separate from the air. The air intake is an elegant solution that works well with water droplets of all sizes. For customers, the results deliver maximum engine performance and even greater towing confidence.”
2016 Ford F-Series Super Duty
The 2016 Ford F-Series Super Duty provides best-in-class maximum towing of 31,200 pounds. A Ford-designed, Ford-built 6.7-liter Power Stroke V8 turbo diesel provides 440 horsepower and standard 860 lb.-ft. of torque — both best in class. New options include four-corner LED warning strobe lights, and a rapid-heat supplemental cab heater is standard in cold-weather states.
Ford F-Series Super Duty continues its leadership with best-in-class ratings for maximum towing plus best-in-class diesel horsepower and torque figures of 440 and 860 lb.-ft., respectively.
F-350 Super Duty delivers a maximum fifth-wheel/gooseneck towing capacity of up to 26,500 pounds, and a gross combined weight rating of up to 35,000 pounds.
F-450 tops the F-Series Super Duty pickup truck lineup with maximum gooseneck towing capacity of 31,200 pounds and a fifth-wheel towing capacity of 26,500 pounds. The truck’s gross combined weight rating is a class-leading 40,400 pounds.
Along with the 6.7-liter Power Stroke V8 turbo diesel, Super Duty is available with a powerful 6.2-liter V8 engine that produces best-in-class standard horsepower of 385 along with 405 lb.-ft. of torque.
Both engines are paired with Ford’s 6R140 TorqShift six-speed automatic transmission with standard tow/haul mode for improved capability and efficiency while towing.
New features and color choices for the 2016 F-Series Super Duty include:
- Available rearview camera and prep kit.
- Available four-corner LED warning strobe light kit (fleet vehicles only; requires center high-mounted stop light).
- Standard rapid-heat supplemental cab heater in cold-weather states.
- Shadow Black replaces Tuxedo Black.
- Race Red replaces Vermillion Red.
2016 GMC Sierra HD
The GMC Sierra HD lineup offers comfort, quietness and uniquely crafted interiors.
The Denali series is the ultimate expression of GMC and the Sierra Denali HD is the ultimate expression of the Sierra HD range, offering distinctive styling and exclusive amenities that take the truck’s signature comfort and crafted interior environment to the highest level.
Sierra 2500HD and 3500HD models — including Sierra Denali HD — are offered with the Duramax 6.6L turbo-diesel and Allison 1000 six-speed transmission, a proven powertrain combination enabling a maximum trailering rating of up to 23,200 pounds.
New for 2016, Digital Steering Assist power steering on some double cab and crew cab models helps make hauling and trailering easier and more confident, with electronic controls that enhance road holding and stability on the highway regardless of whether the truck is loaded. It also offers greater responsiveness and an improved steering feel. (Not available on WT models or regular cab.)
A new Gooseneck/Fifth Wheel Trailering Prep Package makes Sierra HD models ready to tow larger trailers right from the factory. It’s available for gas- and diesel-equipped models and features a frame-mounted hitch platform and tray that accommodates a gooseneck ball hitch or fifth wheel hitch mounting brackets, and includes a cargo bed-mounted trailer harness, as well as a spray-in bedliner. A new Gooseneck Completion Kit will also be available from GMC dealers, featuring a 2-5/16-inch ball hitch and two chain tie-downs.
Additional new and updated features for 2016 include:
- GMC IntelliLink with a 7-inch-diagonal capacitive touchscreen features a new HD radio and performance improvements including a faster processer for better performance.
- GMC IntelliLink with an 8-inch-diagonal touchscreen features performance improvements including a faster processer for better performance and, on Denali models, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability.
- HID projector-beam headlamps with GMC signature LED lighting now standard on all models.
- Available wireless phone charging.
- Available remote locking tailgate.
- Exterior colors: Crimson Red Tintcoat (double cab only), Cardinal Red, Deep Garnet Metallic (crew cab only) and Mahogany Metallic (not available on All Terrain or Denali)..
- Also, the 2016 Sierra HDs’ trailering ratings are aligned with SAE J2807 standards, with maximum capacities.
Regular, double cab and crew cab models are offered across the lineup. 2500HD and 3500HD regular cab models are matched to an 8’ box, while 2500HD double cab and crew cab models are available with 6’6” or 8’ boxes. Sierra 3500HD double cab is offered exclusively with the 8’ box, while 3500HD crew cabs are available with the 6’6” and 8’ boxes. Dual-rear-wheel configurations are also available on 3500HD. Trim levels include a Sierra base model (1SA trim), as well as SLE, SLT and Denali.
Additionally, the All Terrain HD premium off-road package is offered on SLT crew cab 4WD models, featuring unique 18-inch chrome aluminum wheels and all-terrain tires (20-inch wheels are available), spray-on bedliner, Z71 suspension with Rancho twin-tube shocks, underbody shield and Front and Rear Park Assist. Exterior cues include an All Terrain grille insert and chrome grille surround, as well as body-color front and rear bumpers. Inside is a heated steering wheel, All Terrain sill plates, carpeted floor mats and a gauge cluster featuring an inclinometer.
The Z71 suspension is also available on SLE and SLT models without the All Terrain package.
Gas and Duramax diesel powertrains are offered across the lineup, including a bi-fuel option that allows the gas engine to run on compressed natural gas. The Duramax has been developed to operate for at least 200,000 miles on a rough-duty cycle without the need for a major overhaul.
The powertrains contribute to the Sierra HDs’ greater payload and towing ratings than previous models, including a maximum conventional trailering rating of 20,000 pounds and a max fifth-wheel/gooseneck trailering rating of 23,200 pounds.
Additional features for the 2016 Sierra HD lineup include:
- Standard CornerStep rear bumper, EZ Lift and Lower tailgate (standard on SLE, SLT and Denali), standard locking tailgate, standard upper tie-downs and other features that make cargo handling easier.
- Standard StabiliTrak with Trailer Sway Control on all models, including 3500HD dually.
- Integrated cruise control, auto grade braking and diesel exhaust braking for greater driving control and reduced brake wear on grades.
- New Digital Steering Assist power steering.
- Available Gooseneck/Fifth Wheel Trailering Prep Package offered on Duramax-equipped models.
- All models are backed by GMC Pro Grade Protection, including a three-year/36,000-miles bumper-to-bumper warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Isuzu Class 6 F-Series truck
Isuzu Commercial Truck of America, Inc., distributor of America’s best-selling low cab forward trucks, unveiled an all-new entry in the Class 6 medium-duty truck segment — the 2018 Isuzu FTR. The company made the announcement at the National Truck Equipment Association’s 2016 Work Truck Show in Indianapolis.
The F-Series truck is slated to go into production in the United States in mid-2017.
“This truck represents our vision of the future of the medium-duty truck industry,” said Shaun Skinner, executive vice president and general manager of Isuzu Commercial Truck of America.
The FTR will be powered by Isuzu’s renowned 4HK1-TC 5.2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine — a first in the segment. “As fuel economy and emissions regulations become stricter, you’re going to see more and more competitors in this class turning to four-cylinder engines,” Skinner said. “Isuzu is a pioneer in developing and building four-cylinder transportation solutions.”
Although horsepower and torque ratings have not been finalized, the company noted that the 4HK1 engine is well known for its high torque output. The powerplant will be mated to an Allison 2000 Series automatic transmission. The engine carries a B10 durability of 310,000 miles — meaning that 90 percent of engines should reach that mileage before requiring an overhaul.
An incredible cruising distance can be achieved by the FTR, thanks not only to the truck’s miserly use of fuel but also its available aluminum 50- or 100-gallon fuel tank.
Flexibility and capability
Eight wheelbase configurations will accommodate bodies from 16 feet to 30 feet, allowing for a wide variety of body applications.
The all-new cab features a clean back-of-cab design that can provide more space for body applications compared to the previous F-Series truck.
Like all Isuzu trucks, the FTR will feature a low-cab-forward design that increases visibility and markedly improves maneuverability — especially important in the crowded city centers where the FTR is expected to be in greatest demand. “With a 50-degree wheel cut, there’s not a truck in this class with a tighter turning radius,” Skinner said.
The FTR cab’s wide step and wide-opening doors allow easy entry to the spacious interior, which features three-across seating and extra space for storage behind the seats.
Additional interior amenities include a side under safety mirror, overhead console, and a suspension driver’s seat with armrest specially designed to increase comfort and reduce driver fatigue.
Pricing, available configurations, power ratings and additional features and specifications will be released in mid-2017.
“The overall concept of the FTR is to bring to our customers the next generation medium-duty low-cab-forward truck, one that features a clean, durable, highly efficient four-cylinder engine,” Skinner said. “The letters ‘FTR’ don’t stand for ‘future,’ but this truck represents the future, and it will be here — soon.”
2016 Ram Heavy Duty
Ram 2500 and 3500 Heavy Duty trucks offer innovative features, including a five-link coil suspension with optional air suspension on Ram 2500 and a supplemental air bag suspension option on Ram 3500.
Heavy-duty trucks generally have suspensions equipped for constant, heavy payloads. This can result in a harsher ride when unloaded. The Ram 2500 offers a choice between two segment-exclusive rear suspensions for best-in-class ride and handling: a five-link coil system or air suspension system.
The five-link coil design provides better articulation over obstacles than a leaf spring system, and the robust coil springs are more than up to the task of handling the loads required of the Heavy Duty Ram 2500 — up to a segment-best 17,980 pounds for towing.
The Ram 2500 also offers a rear air suspension system. An air bag replaces the coil spring, much like on the Ram 1500. Load capacity is not sacrificed and the Ram 2500’s best-in-class ride and handling gets even better, crushing the competition with two doses of engineering innovation — five-link coil standard and air suspension option. Another benefit to the air suspension design is the load-leveling capability, which automatically detects load on the rear suspension from a trailer or payload. The air pressure increases until the vehicle reaches normal ride height, leveling the truck and improving stability and loaded ride.
The Ram 3500 continues to utilize the rear Hotchkiss leaf spring system, but now offers a supplemental air suspension system on single rear-wheel (SRW) and dual rear-wheel (DRW) applications. By adding supplemental air bags to the rear suspension, Ram Truck engineers were able to soften the leaf springs, allowing for more unladed suspension movement. When a high-load capacity condition exists, the air suspension automatically fills the rear air bags to level the truck to improve stability and ride quality — even when pulling a best-in-class 31,210-pound load.
In the front, the Ram Heavy Duty line features an advanced three-link front suspension to ensure roll stiffness. Greater roll stiffness, also known as body roll, is an important characteristic in taller vehicles, especially trucks with heavy payloads. Roll stiffness is measured by the amount the truck’s body tips side-to-side, independently of the wheels, during cornering.
Ram 2500 and 3500 offer gooseneck (center-positioned ball in the bed) or fifth wheel (similar in appearance to a tractor-trailer connection) capability. Ram is unmatched in terms of offering the most complete “hitch ‘n go” Towing Prep Package found anywhere in the heavy-duty category. Additionally, Ram features an in-box connection junction and a standard Class 5 receiver hitch with a four- and seven-pin connector on the bumper.
Ram offers two different dual alternator systems on its heavy-duty pickups, providing additional power for higher electrical loads from commercial vehicle upfits and accessories. Ram Heavy Duty models equipped with the Cummins 6.7-liter diesel engine offer dual 220-amp alternators (best-in-class 440 amps). Both the Ram 2500 and 3500 equipped with the new 6.4-liter HEMI V-8 gas engine also offer a dual-alternator system — the first gas-driven application of its kind in either class — which combines 220- and 160-amp units for 380 amps of total best-in-class output.
Although the Ram Power Wagon benefits from a five-link rear suspension, it also utilizes a unique front suspension system to maintain its leadership in off-road capability. The modified front three-link system incorporates high-movement links, allowing for additional flexibility and axle articulation. The Power Wagon is powered by the 6.4-liter HEMI V-8 engine contributing to Ram Power Wagon’s title: the most capable production off-road truck in the industry.
The Ram Heavy Duty also features another innovation, the industry-exclusive Ram Active Air intake system. When the intake system senses extreme heat, it draws cooler air from the front of the vehicle — a function that also engages at high altitudes for superior throttle response in low oxygen environments. When conditions are wet from snow, ice or water fording, the system pulls air from an under-hood inlet, clear from snow packing and water. The Ram 3500 boasts a best-in-class GCWR. A contributor is the 11.8-inch rear axle matched with the high-output diesel engine boasting a 300mm hypoid gear set, a four-pinion helical differential and a cooling-fin-equipped aluminum differential cover for optimal thermal management.