Consumer Reports’ top-rated truck for 2013 is the Chevrolet Silverado. It’s a fair choice. The Silverado has a best-in-class (16 mpg) fuel economy rating, can tow up to 11,200 pounds, has a low step-in height, an easy up/down tailgate feature, and clever handhold and corner bumper steps to help one climb into the bed.
However, in a rare twist of commentary, the magazine’s test staff concludes that the No. 2-rated Ram 1500 may be a more comfortable daily driver for less than heavy-duty use.
That underscores the varied driving conditions that pickups face in a market niche still ruled by Ford.
“We design our trucks for work,’’ says Ford spokesman Mark Levine. “That’s what our customers demand.’’
At its Romeo, MI, proving grounds two weeks ago, Ford played a video of an F-150’s life on the grounds of Grimmway Farms, a major California carrot grower.
The video showed the truck’s 24/7 heavy duty use in carrying equipment and people and bouncing through mud and rough terrain.
After the video, Doug Scott, Ford’s truck and SUV marketing manager, pulled the cover off a truck in the garage. Instead of a sneak preview of a coming model, it was one of the Grimmway Farms fleet of F-150s.
The farm truck, a 2011 model, showed some wear on the driver’s seat and rubber floor mats as well as gouges in the bed rails and bed liner itself, but overall it managed to “clean up nicely’’ and didn’t look at all out of place after 90,000 miles of rugged use.
“All we did was wash it and vacuum it,’’ says Levine.
“The farm says they’ve saved $300,000 in fuel costs since they switched to Fords with EcoBoost engines,’’ says F-150 chief engineer Jackie DiMarco.
Interestingly, the vehicle it was parked next to was a 2014 Ford Tremor, a sport truck that’s much the opposite of a work truck.
It’s the first application of the company’s EcoBoost engine in a regular-cab, short-bed sport truck, complete with 20-inch flat-black wheels, special FX appearance graphics, and HID headlights. The use of HID lights gives a whole new appearance to the truck’s front fascia.
“It’s been an interesting project, one that uses existing parts and trim in a sports package,’’ says Scott.
That truck will be available in both two-wheel and four-wheel-drive configurations. Pricing starts in the $38,000 range.
Coupled with a 4.10 differential gearing, it will be a good performer with the twin turbo EcoBoost engine.
Ford this month is celebrating the building its two millionth EcoBoost since the twin turbo engines were launched in 2009.
Many readers have heard about Long Islander Irv Gordon and his 1966 Volvo P1800 over the years.
He logged 500,000 miles the first 10 years he owned the car. In 1987, he reached the one million mile mark while doing a loop around the Tavern on the Green in New York’s Central Park, an event highly publicized by Volvo.
Over the years, the retired science teacher has continued to pile up the miles, reaching 2 million in 2002 while driving through Times Square.
On Sept. 17, he passed the 3-million-mile mark on Alaska Highway 1, the Seward Highway.
Volvo has continued to embrace Gordon’s Guinness Book of World Records status, launching a 3MillionReasons.com website to update Gordon’s journeys.
How far will he go?
“Whether I drive 4 million miles is more up to me than it is the car. The car may be able to take it, but I’m not so sure about me,’’ says the 74-year-old.
At Lease’s End
There are three major profiles of people who lease cars.
1. The driver who enjoys a new car and is ready to get into a new vehicle every two or three years
2. The driver who has fallen in love with the car and wants to keep it after the lease ends.
3. The bottom-line lessee who is interested in the better deal.
So which is the better deal?
According to Philip Reed, a consumer advice editor at Edmunds.com, the decision should be based on two numbers: the car’s buyout or residual price and its current market value.
“If the residual value is less than the market price, then buying it can be a good deal; otherwise the smart play is to turn it in and move on to the next vehicle,’’ he says.
Other items can factor into the decision: any ‘purchase option’ fee that adds to the buyout price; the possibility of negotiating down the buyout price; buying the car and flipping’ it for a higher fee or trade-in.