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Detroit heavyweights: 3/4-ton pickup options

11/05/2013 @ 9:45am

Comparison shopping for a heavy-duty (¾-ton and larger) pickup may appear to be as simple as sizing up different tractor makes  – until you wade into the massive diversity of sizes, styles, and configurations available on the market. You quickly discover that generalizing about Detroit’s heavy-duty trucks is a tall task since they are the infinitely customizable vehicle.

For comparison sake, add up all the variations offered on all makes and models of tractors over 100 hp. (throw in four-wheel drives, for good measure). You won’t even be in the same ballpark in terms of all the choices available with just four makes of pickups – two of which (Chevrolet and GMC) are nearly identical.

For starters, the heavy-duty market offers the following seven major variations:

  • Classes. Ford, for example, offers three SuperDuty model versions.

  • Two-wheel or four-wheel drive.

  • Engines. Chevy and GMC offer three different engines, due to adding a market-exclusive compressed natural-gas version introduced this year.

  • Transmissions. Dodge provides three different trannies linked to their different engines.

  • Rear-axle gear ratios. Ford offers as many as four different ratios depending on model.

  • Cabs. Dodge provides up to three selections.

  • Styles. Ford offers three variations in styling.

That doesn’t even include the vast optional features that are available.

Sizing up the base standard model

This Buyers’ Guide targets the smallest truck model equipped with farmer-

favorite packages that include a diesel engine, automatic transmission, four-wheel drive, standard axle ratio, regular cab, and an 8-foot cargo box.

With this target vehicle in mind, you’ll see a base comparison of four vehicles in the table on the next page.

You’ll notice that Detroit, which excels at customization of trucks, is also adept at competitively pricing their vehicles.

Look at the suggested retail prices on the accompanying table, and you’ll notice there is $1,150 difference (that’s a 2% difference in the vehicles’ $41,155 to $42,305 list price range) among the four pickups.

You’ll see other consistencies, too. Variation in horsepower output is nominal. Gross weight rating and towing capacity differences are in a tight range. Cargo and cab dimensions, along with fuel tank sizes, are nearly identical. Their power train warranties are certainly identical.

It would be easy to assume that such consistencies occur among similarly equipped vehicles in other classes such as Chevy and GMC’s 3500, Ford’s F-350, and Dodge’s 3500, particularly when all of these trucks are equipped with diesel engines, four-wheel drive, automatic transmissions, a crew cab, and long box, for example.

That’s not necessarily the case, and it is crucial to remember this when shopping for a pickup. You need to establish the base vehicle you are looking to buy and then take your requirements to competitive dealers so you can compare apples to apples.

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