You can tell the economy is doing well when manufacturers start putting a lot of effort into their pickup truck offerings.
That’s especially true with the heavy-duty pickups made by Ford, Ram and Chevrolet. These are the true professional pickups driven by tradespeople — not just folks who like to drive pickups.
That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with those people. Pickups can be a practical choice, even if you’re not toiling on a construction site or running a working farm with livestock.
We’re talking about the Ford F-250, the Chevrolet Silverado HD and the Ram 2500. These are the working pickup trucks that typically aren’t purchased by casual owners.
2017 Ford F-250
The rock solid 2016 F-250 is virtually unchanged for 2016, so let’s focus on the genre’s looming game changer and new member of Ford’s “Aluminati.” And since the 2017 F-250 will be available late next year, it’s all about tough with the Ford F-250. It gets an all-new, high-strength-steel frame, but what’s really driving interest is the high-strength, military-grade-aluminum-alloy body, which is a first for the segment. Its sibling, the F-150, received the all-aluminum body last year and has been well-received after some initial delays. The F-250 also receives stronger axles, springs and suspension.
As mentioned, these big trucks are used to haul – and Ford has made that easier. The all-new Super Duty offers technology that includes up to seven cameras, trailer-backup-coaching guidance that can warn of a jack-knife condition, a trailer tire pressure monitoring system and blind spot monitoring that warns of traffic in a blind spot even with a trailer attached.
Ford has announced that the XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum models will be available for sale in the fourth quarter of next year.
2016 Chevrolet Silverado HD
It gets a lot easier to drive the 2016 Chevrolet Silverado HD. It features new digital steering assist power steering on some double cab and crew cab models. Its main role is to make hauling and trailering easier and more confident.
It features electronic controls that enhance road holding and stability on the highway – particularly on crowned roads – regardless of whether the truck is loaded. Consistent responsiveness for when the truck is loaded and unloaded is a valuable safety tool. It also offers greater responsiveness and an improved steering feel.
Interior technology is also a highlight of the 2016 Chevrolet Silverado HD. Both its 7-inch and 8-inch entertainment systems have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. Another new feature that should prove especially handy for the forgetful among us is available wireless phone charging.
2016 Ram 2500
Ram continues to push the message that it has best-in-class towing with its 2500 pickup. It can tow 17,810 pounds. That’s almost eight Mazda MX-5 Miatas at once.
Ram also says the 2500 gets best-in-class 410 horsepower and 429 pound feet of torque with a 6.4-liter HEMI V-8. The 6.7-liter Cummins diesel engine (not to be confused with those pesky Volkswagen diesel engines you have been hearing so much about) produces 900 pound feet of torque, which is also best in class.
Pickups don’t sell well anymore if they’re all about the grunt. Owners expect a certain level of refinement, even among the hardest-working trucks. The 2016 model year brings a new Ram Laramie Limited design offering. It offers high-quality materials, such as all-black, full leather seating, real wood interior components and unique badges.
The Limited’s all-new grille is the most prominent change of the exterior. Below the grille sits the new front park-assist system, mounted in the bumper, that gives audible warning of nearby objects. Systems like that are especially valuable because it can be difficult to see over the high hoods of pickups.