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It’s really turning into the pickup season.  Ford just introduced a new version of the F-150, the best-selling vehicle in the US for a million years; Chevrolet just announced pricing for the Silverado Hybrid; and Dodge just introduced the new Ram pickup.  It’s like Christmas for truck buyers.

2009 Dodge Ram Laramie

2009 Dodge Ram Laramie

The 2009 Dodge Ram came out first, sporting a new, more sophisticated look and a host of new features.  The new look that hits you first (maybe literally, but I hope not) is the grille.  It has a forward-leaning top edge, similar to the Dodge Charger.  Other exterior changes are even more subtle, but give the big pickup a more aggressive and larger appearance.  If you’re not into studying the details, you will not even notice the difference.  The Ram also (finally!) has a true crew cab configuration.  They’ve been getting by for a few years with a crew cab wanna-be called the quad cab.  It has 4 front-hinged doors, but the rear doors are smaller than a true crew cab’s, so the addition of the crew cab will certainly be welcomed by dealers and customers.  The most interesting and innovative, though, is the RamBox cargo management system (available on the crew cab) includes weatherproof, lockable, illuminated and drainable storage bins built into bed rails.  RamBox bins hold up to 10 cases of 12-ounce “beverages”.

The interior sports significantly ugraded look and materials.  The most obvious change is the new floor console with the shifter moved from the steering column.  Other interior changes are “store in the floor” storage bins with removable liners, large enough for ten 12-ounce beverages and ice, heated and ventilated front seats (heated rear seats also available), heated steering wheel, live SIRIUS Backseat TV™ and surround-sound audio system.

Under the hood, the new Ram has improved, but carryover engines, including the 3.7L V6, 4.7L V8 and 5.7L Hemi V8.  Both V8s have increased power, torque and fuel economy.

Also just introduced is the new 2009 Chevy Silverado Hybrid pickup.  The starting price is $38,995, including destination charges, but not including the $2200 federal tax credit.  Production will begin in December, arriving in dealerships in “early 2009”, according to Chevrolet.  The Silverado uses GM’s two-mode hybrid system, and delivers 21 mpg in the city, 22 on the highway for the 2WD models.  4WD models get 20 city and highway.  These numbers are 40% better in the city and 25% overall.  The hybrid can still tow up to 6100 lbs and can drive in electric-only mode up to 30mph.  It’s available as a crew cab only.

2009 Ford F-150 XLT

2009 Ford F-150 XLT

The 2009 Ford F-150 is all-new as well.  The new styling mimics the F-150’s big brother, the Super Duty, with the 3 bar chrome grille and headlamps.  It also has the tailgate step bar from the Super Duty.  With 3 cab styles, 4 box options and 7 unique trim levels, the F-150 comes in 35 different configurations.  The new top trim level, the Platinum, was created when the Lincoln Mark LT was cancelled late in the program.  They had already engineered the luxury truck, so why not use it?  Ford claims it maintains its lead as the most capable pickup on the market, delivering towing capability of 11,300 pounds across all cab configurations and payload of 3,030 pounds.  The SuperCrew model has increased interior space due to a 6″ stretch over last year’s model.  The F-150 also benefits from a better sound management package, making it much quieter inside.  Under the hood, the F-150 no longer offers a V6 entry-level engine; the 4.6L 2V V8 is the base engine – but it offers better power for the same fuel economy as the 2008 V6 (14/19).  The next step up is a 3V version of the 4.6L V8, giving more power and better fuel economy than the 2V (15/20).  The top engine is the 5.4L V8, which has more power and torque, with 12% better fuel economy than 2008.  The F-150 also comes with a full complement of safety equipment, including AdvanceTrac® with RSC®; ABS;

2009 F-150 SFE

2009 F-150 SFE

Safety Canopy® side curtain air bags with roll-fold technology for enhanced head protection in rollovers and side impacts; front seat-mounted side air bags; Personal Safety System®; and new seats and restraints.  The F-150 includes many other new features including the box side step, EasyFuel Capless Fuel-Filler System, Advance Trac with Roll Stability Control, trailer sway control, integrated trailer brake control, reverse camera and Ford’s SYNC system.

With all of these new choices, and gas prices down so significantly, maybe these new trucks will be successful for their makers.  With all of the bad news coming out of Detroit and Washington, some good news would be a welcome change.  So drive on down to your local truck dealer – and don’t forget your belt buckle.

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