When making a list of items a rural builder can’t live without, pickup truck ranks somewhere just behind “cell phone” and just ahead of “circular saw.” According to a 2005 survey of Rural Builder readers, about 91 percent of rural contractors own at least one truck. The average rural builder owns two or three.
These guys are putting the trucks to good use, as our average reader is willing to travel up to 63 miles to erect a building, with many others going even further (see story, page 26). All that wear and tear on these vehicles leads to regular turnover: 11 percent of our readers plan to purchase or replace at least one of their trucks in the coming year.
They’ll have plenty of options from which to choose, both foreign and domestic. This year’s truck lineup does not include any splashy new entries like last year’s Honda’s Ridgeline, but manufacturers’ options are, as always, new and improved.
Unveiled to much hoopla at the Chicago Auto Show in February — “It’s a gargantuan leap to the head of the pack,” says Toyota president Jim Press — Tundra has been supersized. It rides on an all-new platform with a wheelbase of 145.7 inches, and bumper to bumper measures 10 inches longer than the Access Cab it replaces. It has a towing capacity in excess of 10,000 pounds.
Under the hood is an all-new 5.7-liter i-Force V8 that carries the largest displacement of any Toyota truck in the company’s history. The torque developed by this engine will be distributed by an all-new six-speed automatic transmission, the first Toyota has offered in a truck.
Other features include heavy duty front disc brakes with four-piston calipers and new rotors nearly 1-1/2 inches larger, plus standard rear disc brakes nearly as big as the front; a bigger, wider frame with 30 percent higher tensile strength steel; a rear differential with a 10-1/2-inch ring gear; and extra-duty cooling and electrical systems needed to accommodate Class 4 towing capabilities.
The F-150 does a little bit better, with a best-in-class towing capacity of 10,500 pounds, and a best-in-class payload of 3,050 pounds. Ford has upgraded the line for 2007 with a tire pressure monitoring system, enhanced seats, new factory-installed accessories, and new colors. It comes in three cab choices, three box lengths, two box styles, and five unique series. All cabs feature four doors for easy access.
Other features include a 5.4-liter E-85-capable flexible V-8; 4.6-liter V-8 horsepower increases from 231 to 248; a new available DVD-based navigation radio with in-dash screen; and power-folding exterior mirrors.
Ford’s Super Duty line, the F-250 and F-350, introduces the all-new Lariat Highline SuperCab and Lariat Outlaw Crew Cab. A 4.10:1 non-limited-slip axle is now standard on F-250 and single-rear-wheel F-350 with the 5.4-liter Triton V-8. A cloth 40/20/40 split bench seat is now available on XL models, as is a power equipment group. A tilt steering wheel is optional on XL for Fleet customers.
New colors for the Harley-Davidson line include Black with Medium Wedgewood Blue Flames, Medium Wedgewood Blue with Black Flames, and Dark Stone with Black Flames.
The 2007 Silverado lineup is built on an all-new platform that supports a smoother ride and responsive handling while delivering segment-leading capability and power. A lineup of six powerful, Gen IV small-block V-8 engines complements the stronger chassis to deliver the light-duty segment’s highest-rated towing capacity (10,500 pounds), horsepower (367), and fuel economy, with a maximum payload capacity of 2,160 pounds.
Three cab styles — regular, extended, and crew cab — and three cargo box lengths — 5 foot, 8 inches, 6 foot, 6 inches, and 8 foot — are available. The pickup is available in three trim levels: WT, LT, and LTZ, and is available in two- and four-wheel-drive.
A large grille, wider and taller than previous models, and a prominent gold bow tie are flanked by reflector-optics headlamps. The power dome hood rises from the front end, and the 57-degree sloped windshield conveys improved fuel economy.
The Silverado Classic line incorporates the 1500 Hybrid Classic, the SS Classic, as well as the 1500HD, 2500HD, and 3500HD models. The VortecMAX performance package with enhanced heavy duty towing is designed to increase the towing capability of four-wheel-drive models of the Classic 1500. The package includes a high-output Vortec 6-liter engine rated at 345 horsepower and 380 foot-pounds of torque, 17-inch wheels, a heavy-duty trailering package, 9-1/2-inch rear axle, and automatic locking differential.
The Silverado 1500 Hybrid Classic offers up to a 10 percent fuel economy improvement through its ability to automatically stop and restart the engine under different operating circumstances. Instead of a conventional starter motor and alternator, hybrid pickups use a compact, 14kw electric induction motor or starter generator integrated between the engine and transmission.
Based on GM’s new, full-size SUV platform, Avalanche features more power with segment-leading fuel economy and flex-fuel capability. Its unique Midgate, which gives the model flexibility to function as an SUV, truck, or both, includes a central-locking tailgate, remote vehicle starting system, and cargo covering retaining straps. The new tailgate is spring-loaded to reduce the effort needed to open or close it.
Sierra models for 2007 deliver the light-duty segment’s highest-rated towing capacity (10,500 pounds) and offer a maximum payload of 2,160 pounds. They are available in several trim packages, including work truck, SLE and SLT, along with two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive configurations. Three cab styles and cargo box lengths are available.
A family of 17- and 20-inch wheels and tires is available throughout the Sierra range, with Sierra Denali offering unique wheels. Sierra work truck and SLE come with a “pure pickup” interior that features larger controls and door handles that are easier to use with gloves. SLE1 models on regular, extended, and crew cabs are equipped with a new 40/20/40-split front bench seat, which features a fold-down armrest and storage compartment. SLE2-equipped vehicles add a six-way power-adjustable driver seat. It is available in nine exterior colors: Deep Blue Metallic, Medium Brown Metallic, Steel Gray Metallic, Onyx Black, Stealth Gray Metallic, Summit White, Silver Birch Metallic, Fire Red, and Sport Red Metallic.
The Sierra Classic is offered in a diverse array of configurations. Half-ton, three-quarter-ton, and one-ton models deliver payload and towing capability for almost any need. An array of Vortec engines is offered for the 2007 model year in 1500 models: a 4.3-liter V-6, a 4.8-liter V-8, three models of the 5.3-liter V-8, including an E85-capable FlexFuel version, and the powerful Vortec 6.0-liter V-8. The workhorse 8.1-liter V-8 and Duramax Diesel 6.6-liter engines pull more than their weight in heavy duty models.
Sierra 1500 Classic has payload capacities ranging from 1,216 to 3,129 pounds. Sierra Classic Heavy Duty pickups offer a wide range of weight ratings, body styles, and powertrain combinations, including diesel.
Ram 1500 features three engine options: 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, 345 horsepower, 375 foot-pounds of torque; 4.7-liter Magnum V-8, 235 horsepower, 300 foot-pounds of torque; or 3.7-liter Magnum V-6, 215 horsepower, 235 foot-pounds of torque. A properly equipped Ram 1500 has a 14,000-pound maximum gross combined weight rating, 8,850-pound towing capability, 6,350-pound maximum gross vehicle rating, and 1,356-pound maximum payload capacity.
For handling, Ram 1500 features rack-and-pinion steering, 4×4 independent front suspension, optional electric transfer case, and refined suspension tuning. For cargo, the truck offers two-tier loading, four nautical-style cleat tie-downs, and compartmentalization.
Of the heavier-duty Rams, the 3500 Chassis Cab is a powerful new option, with a new, from-the-ground-up commercial-grade chassis. A Cummins Turbo Diesel is available in new 6.7-liter displacement. The standard V-8 features a 330-horsepower Hemi, 121.7 cubic feet of interior room for Quad Cab models, and clean frame rails with 34-inch frame rail spacing.
The i-370 4×2 Extended Cab and i-370 4×2 Crew Cab join the already announced i-290 4×2 Extended Cab and i-370 4×4 Crew Cab to double the size of the 2007 Isuzu pickup lineup. Both models will be powered by a Vortec 3700 3.7-liter inline five-cylinder engine developing 242 horsepower and 242 foot-pounds of torque mated to a four-speed Hydra-Matic automatic transmission. Other standard equipment includes power windows, power door locks, power outside mirrors, remote keyless entry, and body side moldings.
Not much new for 2007 with the Titan, which continues to offer Wide-Open rear doors that open 168 degrees for better interior access, a high-utility bed that includes a factory-applied spray-on bedliner, a Utili-track tie-down system for cargo hauling flexibility, and an integrated, lockable bedside storage compartment. Titan is built on Nissan’s F-Alpha pickup platform, featuring a powerful 5.6-liter DOHC V-8 with increased horsepower and torque, and a maximum towing capacity of up to 9,500 pounds for King Cab and 9,400 pounds for Crew Cab.
The Escalade EXT features a new powertrain, chassis, safety, and interior systems. The 6.2-liter all-aluminum V-8 engine features variable valve timing technology. The Generation 7 OnStar system with Turn-by-Turn navigation helps drivers get around. Articulating running boards are a mid-year addition.
Ridgeline, which was named Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year for 2006, has a 5,000-pound towing capacity and 1,550-pound total payload capacity. The strength comes from an integrated closed-box frame with unit-body construction and a 247-horsepower, V-6 engine with four-wheel independent suspension. Other features include a five-passenger crew cab, lockable In-Bed Trunk, and a dual-action tailgate.
For 2007, Mark LT has increased its capability and luxury appointments. Both 4×2 and 4×4 versions are now available with a longer, 6-1/2-foot cargo bed in addition to the standard 5-1/2-foot cargo bed. The long-bed version sees an increase in wheelbase from 138-1/2 to 150-1/2 inches, and in overall length from 223.8 to 235.8 inches. The increase in bed length provides the long-bed Mark LT with an additional 10 cubic feet of cargo capacity.
Rural builders have a certain public image to uphold, and their vehicle is a big part of that image. For instance, what would a farmer or business owner think if a builder rolled up to their first meeting in a Saturn? For the builder who needs a tough-looking ride without all the payload, we present the 2007 line of mid-size trucks.
The 2007 Colorado boasts new four- and five-cylinder engines. A new 2.9-liter four-cylinder with variable valve timing replaces the previous 2.8-liter and delivers 185 horsepower with 190 foot-pounds of torque. Similarly, a 3.7-liter five-cylinder replaces the previous 3.5-liter and is rated at 242 horsepower and 242 foot-pounds of torque.
Other changes include a more powerful 125-amp alternator, a standard tire pressure monitoring system, a new transmission input speed sensor, and three new exterior colors: Pace Blue, Imperial Blue Metallic, and Deep Ruby Metallic.
Colorado’s tailgate opens fully to almost 90 degrees, but can be set at a 55-degree opening. That puts the tailgate edge at the same height as the top of the rear wheel wells within the cargo box, creating a sturdy, flat platform to conveniently transport longer items or 4×8 panels.
Ranger emphasizes safety and security for the 2007 model year, with Ford’s Personal Safety System, tire pressure monitoring system, and SecuriLock passive anti-theft system all included as standard equipment. The Personal Safety System includes a front-passenger sensing system and dual-stage driver and front passenger air bags.
Two new 16-inch wheels are available on the Tremor, XLT, 4×4, Sport 4×2 and 4×4, and FX4 Off-Road Package. New colors include Pueblo Gold Clearcoat, Vista Blue Clearcoat Metallic, and the reintroduction of Screaming Yellow.
Explorer Sport Trac, which combines attributes of the F-150 and Explorer SUV, is new from the ground up, including its innovative cargo box with tiered storage and a trio of integrated storage bins, complete with drain plugs. A new three-valve, V-8 engine option delivers 292 horsepower and an upgraded V-6 that produces less smog-forming emissions than a Honda Accord Hybrid. The new frame is 444 percent stiffer than the previous model, and a new independent rear suspension delivers refined ride and handling.
Dakota is bigger in every respect, including the most powerful line of engines in its class, best in class available torque, and best in class maximum available towing capacity when properly equipped. Available engines include two 4.7-liter Magnum V-8s and a 3.7-liter V-6, which offer between 210 and 260 horsepower and between 235 and 310 foot-pounds of torque. Dodge says Dakota also has the most standard payload and longest standard cargo bed in its class.
Upgrades for the Canyon\ mirror those of the Colorado, with new 2.9- and 3.7-liter engines. Aesthetic improvements include a new chrome-finish version of the popular 15-inch, five-spoke wheel, and chrome accents added to SLE and SLT interior, including door handles, air outlet control knobs, front door sill inserts, small speaker bezels, and instrument cluster trim rings.
Three suspension choices let customers tailor Canyon to their needs: the Z85 suspension standard on two- or four-wheel-drive models, the lower-riding ZQ8 sport suspension for two-wheel-drive models, and the Z71 off-road suspension in both two- and four-wheel-drive. Canyon is built with a reinforced safety cage and side guard door beams for safety.
Tacoma is now available with a Vehicle Stability Control off-switch and roll sensing side curtain airbag off-switch when the VSC or CSA option is selected. Across all models, Tacoma prices have increased only 0.5 percent from 2006.
The i-280 Extended Cab 4×2 has been replaced by the i-290 Extended Cab 4×2. Trim levels remain unchanged, with the i-290 available in base S trim, with Preferred Equipment, LS, and luxury packages optional. The base i-290 is now available with automatic as well as manual transmission.
No information about the 2007 Mazda B-Series Truck, Nissan Frontier, or Mitsubishi Raider was available at press time.
About 28 percent of Rural Builder readers own a work van, a significant number. But compared to those who plan to buy or replace their truck in the next year, van owners are content with what they have — turnover figures to be small. In the event you’re in the market for a new van, here are some to consider.
Chevy discontinued the Astro and Safari, but many building customers told the company they used the mid-size vans for trade applications. So for 2007, Chevy introduces an Astro Body package on the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. The new Astro package delivers more capacity than the original mid-size vans. Compared to the 2005 Astro and Safari Vans, the Astro Body is taller, longer, and can carry wider items safely and securely inside the vehicle. Astro Body customers also can carry more cargo than they could in the original Astro and Safari, and total payload capacity is nearly that of the mid-size vans. The new package delivers enhanced safety and security by improving the driver’s field of vision alongside and behind the vehicle. Side-view visibility is enhanced by the new Velvac mirror.
The Express Conversion Van can accommodate up to nine adults in comfort and delivers plenty of convenience, space, versatility, and safety. The standard engine on the Express 1500 model is the Vortec 5300 5.3-liter V-8, which delivers 295 horsepower and 335 foot-pounds of torque.
Savana’s versatility is its calling car. A proven passenger hauler able to accommodate up to 15 passengers, it is a reliable and durable commercial cargo van, and it forms the foundation for conversion vans. Savana is powered by a Vortec FlexFuel 5.3-liter V-8 engine that delivers 295 horsepower and 335 foot-pounds of torque, resulting in segment-leading acceleration. Customers also can order a GM FlexFuel E85 version of the Vortec 5.3-liter that runs on ethanol fuel or a mixture of ethanol and gasoline. For customers who require more performance, Savana offers the Duramax 6.6-liter turbo-diesel V-8 engine.
E-Series vans and wagons now feature a standard oil cooler on all models, and a larger rear stabilizer bar and larger-diameter aluminum driveshaft on E-150 models. The AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control is now standard on all E-350 wagons powered by the Triton 5.4-liter V-8. Reverse sensing is now available on van and wagon models with rear step or contour bumpers. E-Series models include a commercial van, recreational van, an XL, XLT, and Chateau Wagon, and a cutaway and stripped chassis.
Sprinter’s common rail direct injection combines longer life, lower maintenance costs, and better fuel efficiency with a smooth, clean, quiet performance. The 2.7-liter CDI engine delivers strong acceleration peaks near 4,000 rpm, 154 horsepower at 3,800 rpm, and 243 foot-pounds of torque at 1,600 to 2,400 rpm. Aside from towing up to 5,000 pounds when properly equipped, Sprinter has 473 cubic feet of interior cubic volume and payload capacities up to 4,824 pounds. The largest full-size van also provides the tightest turning diameter in its class.