Pickup trucks have come a long way from their beginnings as utilitarian work vehicles. They’ve gone from a single bench seat, rubber floors and “three on the tree” or “four on the floor” shifting
to regular cab, extended cab, crew cab, even super cab models.
Instead of seating three people cramped side by side, truck cabs can accommodate up to five — and often in luxurious comfort. In the box, cargo organizers and bed extenders make loading easier.
During that time, life has become a lot easier and safer for pickup owners, whether they use their truck for work or play or both. Every year, there are more usable features added to light trucks — for every use. For instance, Ford has 35 different configurations of the popular F-150 for 2009, including a new Platinum luxury model.
Building from a new, stronger,
boxed frame, F-150 payload and towing capacity has been increased in every cab configuration, while features have been brought down from the heavy-duty F-Series lineup to make life a little easier.
The new truck eliminates knee-knocking after-market trailer brake controllers by offering a factory-installed integrated controller neatly placed in the dash. It’s simple to use and easy to reach.
Standard equipment includes AdvanceTrac with roll stability control and trailer sway control. You can also get a rearview camera, which not only makes reversing a lot easier, its position looks down on the trailer hitch meaning
one person can easily manoeuvre the truck into position to hook up a trailer.
Anybody who has to get in and out of a pickup box frequently will love the new endgate with built-in step and assist bar. Just drop the endgate, unfold the step, lift the hand-bar and step on up.
Loading from the side is also simplified with a kick-out side step. With the side step, you don’t have to climb onto the rear wheel to access the truck box from the side.
You can get anything you want, from plain-Jane interior to high-tech audio systems to cabs with 30 interior storage bins.
Dodge has rolled out a brand new Ram 1500 pickup (rated the best new pickup by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada). Bigger than past models, it also rides on a new coil-spring five-link rear suspension, which drastically smooths out the truck’s handling on rough roads and in off-road applications.
The Ram also offers three cab configurations, including the model’s first crew cab. Interiors run from utilitarian to downright luxurious. Like F-150, it can be ordered with every comfort and convenience feature you’d find on a high-end sedan.
Other than the new rear suspension, the optional Ram Box is a highlight for 2009. The cargo management system includes weatherproof, lockable, illuminated and drainable storage bins in the box sides. There’s a two-foot bed extender, bed dividers and cargo rail system with sliding adjustable cleats.
Ram outdoes Ford in the storage wars with 42 cab-integrated spots including store-in-the-floor bins brought into the truck segment from the Dodge and Chrysler mini-vans.
Meanwhile, General Motors has stood pat for the time being with Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra designs, although integrated trailer brake control is now offered along with a cargo organizing system with bed extender.
Harry Pegg is an automobile writer based in Calgary.