America loves trucks
Well-heeled buyers who want to combine comfort with capability and use their trucks as everyday transportation are likely to consider luxury models. These trucks tend to be crew cabs with shorter beds so they can carry people as well as stuff. Inside, they are loaded with amenities such as leather upholstery, navigation systems, heated and cooled seats, high-end audio systems, and even heated steering wheels and retractable running boards. It seems like new models are popping up every year. Some have a Southwestern theme, with saddlelike leather upholstery emblazoned with laser-etched filigrees. The $43,125 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn and $42,750 Ford F-150 King Ranch are examples of this type of truck. Other high-end luxury pickups include the $45,460 GMC Sierra Denali and the $44,525 Ford F-150 Platinum.
Beyond the luxury trucks are the special-edition models. They can have tie-ins with complementary brands, be optimized for off-roading, or feature equipment and styling for an outsdoorsy lifestyle. No matter their purpose, they all have personality. Ford offers the $48,995 Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson and the $42,725 F-150 SVT Raptor. The Raptor is a high-performance off-road beast, while the Harley-Davidson model boasts even higher levels of luxury than Ford's F-150 Platinum. Ram says that 62 percent of full-size truck owners hunt, fish or camp, so it offers the Outdoorsman with a towing package, extra lighting inside and out, all-terrain tires and skid plates. Ram's Mossy Oak edition cross-promotes the camouflage-apparel brand of the same name. Trucks that feature a Texas theme include the Ram Lone Star package and the Chevrolet Silverado Chevrolet Silverado Texas edition.
Focus on Fuel Economy
Trucks are among the thirstiest vehicles on the road. That will become a problem as the 2016 and 2025 fuel-economy regulations arrive. While the best pickup fuel economy belongs to the 4-cylinder midsize Toyota Tacoma (21 mpg city/25 highway), several fuel-economy improvements have been made in full-size pickups. General Motors offers the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra hybrids with Environmental Protection Agency ratings as high as 20 mpg city/23 highway. In 2011, Ford introduced an all-new engine lineup with more power and improved fuel economy, the highlight being the 365-horsepower EcoBoost V6 engine with its 16 city/22 highway rating. Ram has had its Multi-Displacement System in the Hemi V8 for years, and for 2013 it is adding a 3.6-liter V6, an 8-speed automatic transmission and start-stop technology, all of which are promised to deliver best-in-class fuel economy.
Helpful Tech Features
Physical equipment isn't the only thing that can make the job easier. Tech features can do the same. They can be as simple as a navigation system to get you to the next jobsite or a rearview camera with a hitch view. We're more impressed, however, by two features from Ford. The Productivity Screen is a trip computer that also provides valuable information for off-roaders and owners who tow. Off-roaders will like the information on pitch, steering and roll angles, and four-wheel-drive power distribution. Towers will be able to name their trailers, track mileage with those trailers, store gain settings for the trailer brake controller, and access a towing checklist. Also offered is Ford Work Solutions, which can keep track of the trucks in a fleet and secure equipment in the bed with a cable lock.
Kirk Bell has served as the associate publisher for Consumer Guide Automotive and editor of Scale Auto Enthusiast magazine. A Midwest native, Bell brings 18 years of automotive journalism experience to MSN, and currently contributes to JDPower.com and Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com.
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@ Tony Lee- People that drive trucks are not below you by any means. It's funny to read posts from city boys like you that say things bashing real working folks that are no doubt 10 times the man you are. Here's a piece of advise: Keep posting online in the privacy of your mom's basement - if you spoke like that to those you refer to as "lowly" and " uneducated" you would get your tail kicked in.
So many whiners here....If you don't need a treck don't get one. Please don't assume your needs also suit others. We live out in the country and use trucks for work. How else can someone tote a 7000 pound tractor around? Little cars don't work for everyone! That said, when I am not using my 2011 Silverado diesel for work I have a 2011 Cruze.
It's about control, the people that wrote this article want us to drive battery powered cars or the lesser hybrids it like that's going to fix the world, you people that want to drive a Leaf or Puris just take yourself out and purchase 1....leave the rest of us alone!
I am a woman and own a truck. I love it. I haven't owned a car in years. It gets me where I want to go no matter what the weather and hauls anything I want. I always am hauling something be it groceries, dirt, manure,plants,rocks, bricks or just plain moving. My truck gets the job done. And when I'm not in my truck I am on my motorcycle feelin' the wind in my face.