Launch Slideshow

Image

Power to the Pickup

Power to the Pickup

  • Image

    http://www.pwmag.com/Images/tmp52D%2Etmp_tcm111-1335839.jpg?width=300

    true

    Image

    300

    Photo: Ford Motor Co.

    The new Ford F-150 series pickup goes on sale in October.

  • Image

    http://www.pwmag.com/Images/tmp52E%2Etmp_tcm111-1335841.jpg?width=200

    true

    Image

    200

    Photo: Ford Motor Co.

    The F-150's box side step makes it easier for anyone to load the truck.

  • Image

    http://www.pwmag.com/Images/tmp52F%2Etmp_tcm111-1335843.jpg?width=300

    true

    Image

    300

    Photo: Dodge, a brand of Chrysler LLC

    Although the 150 (Ford) and 1500 (Dodge) trucks are all powered by gasoline engines, announcements of diesel models are expected for 2010. Diesel availability today starts with the 250/ 2500 series “Super Duty” trucks.

FROM WORK TRUCK TO LUXURY

The new Ford F-150 comes in seven trim levels, from the luxury Platinum Series to the XL down-to-earth work truck.

Ford hasn't yet released power or fuel economy ratings, but all engines will be V-8s. The biggest is the 5.4-liter, three-valve Triton, capable of running on E-85 (85% ethanol, 15% unleaded gasoline). Two 4.6-liter models are available, one with the three-valve head, the other with a traditional two-valve. The latter has the fuel economy of a V-6 with more power. The two three-valve motors pull through a new six-speed automatic transmission.

If I'd ever buy a truck for a single feature, it would be Ford's tailgate step, introduced on last rear's Super Duty. Its pull-out, swing-down step and swing-up handle make it easy for anyone to climb into the bed. The tailgate step is now available on the F-150, along with a new box side step that swings out or stows with a push from your foot. Each 11-inch-wide step holds 500 pounds. The steps are positioned to help you lift cargo over the side of the box.

The four-door Super Crew cab has additional secure storage. A mechanically actuated seat flips up, allowing more than 57 cubic feet of cargo to be stowed behind the front seats. Regular and super cab models can be had with the Midbox, capable of 26.3 cubic feet of lockable storage that's integrated into the bed.

Both Dodge and Ford have improved noise levels and electronic stability systems that make trailer towing safer and easier.

These are just the highlights of two of the most functional, practical, and luxurious trucks that will be available soon. Optional luxury features abound, even on the basic and mid-level models. Check online or at your dealer for when they start deliveries. For me, these two were the shining stars of the show.

— Paul Abelson is a former director of the Technology and Maintenance Council of the American Trucking Associations, a board member of Truck Writers of North America, and active in the Society of Automotive Engineers.