LIGHT CLASS 1-2

Dodge Despite its ongoing bankruptcy reorganization efforts, Chrysler is still moving forward with updates to its Ram line of trucks. The 2010 heavy-duty Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 models still carry the same standard engine as the 2009 models a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 with 383 hp. and 400 lbs.-ft. of torque in addition to an optional 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel engine cranking out 350 hp. and 650 lbs.-ft.

Dodge

Despite its ongoing bankruptcy reorganization efforts, Chrysler is still moving forward with updates to its Ram line of trucks. The 2010 heavy-duty Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 models still carry the same standard engine as the 2009 models — a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 with 383 hp. and 400 lbs.-ft. of torque — in addition to an optional 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel engine cranking out 350 hp. and 650 lbs.-ft. of torque. The big change comes from a new adjusted suspension, a design enhancement aimed at improving the driving quality of these models.

While there are similar designs borrowed from the light-duty Dodge Ram 1500 models, the heavier versions carry a front bumper that is exclusive to the 2500 and 3500 models. The larger models also feature new wheel fenders with advanced aerodynamic qualities.

As for the interior modifications, a new option is a two-compartment console big enough to support a laptop and several piles of paperwork. Towing capability is supported by a new “Electronic Range Select” application that allows the driver to limit the highest gear manual and permit manual upshifts and downshifts depending on the engine's speed and road's feel. Restructured trailer-tow mirrors now come with bigger convex glass, puddle lamps and memory functions, Dodge said. The heavy-duty models are expected to enter the market this coming fall and should carry a base price of $30,000.

At the moment, the Dodge Sprinter van — built for Dodge by Daimler AG in one of two factories in Germany, disassembled, and then reassembled in a factory in South Carolina — seems to have a future as the new Chrysler-Fiat corporate structure takes shape in the U.S. Sold alongside Dodge's medium-duty conventional trucks, the Sprinter won't see any changes for its 2010 model year after a big overhaul two years ago.

Measuring wider, higher and longer than 2008 and older models, the 2010 Sprinter should continue to feature a V6 diesel as well as an optional V6 gasoline engine, along with higher maximum gross weight ratings and a range of active safety systems added as standard equipment. The Sprinter remains available in three lengths (233, 273 and 289 in.) and two wheelbases (144 and 170 in.) plus three roof heights, including an 84-in.-high “Mega” option.

Maximum cargo capacity for the Sprinter tops out at 600 cu. ft. and GVW ratings are offered up to 11,030 lbs. for both van and cab-chassis versions.

The truck's 3-liter V6 turbodiesel produces 154 hp. and peak torque of 280 lbs.-ft. and is fitted with a diesel particulate filter. The gasoline engine option is a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 254 hp. and 250 lbs.-ft. peak torque. Both engines are mated to a 5-spd. automatic transmission.

Other features include 16-in. wheels, high-density halogen headlamps with cornering lights, park assist that incorporates front and rear bumper sensors, power windows and mirrors, and automatic rain and light sensors to control the windshield wipers and headlights.
www.dodge.com

Ford

The big news from Ford on the light-duty side of the ledger for 2010 is updates to the venerable F-150 pickup truck line alongside full production of its new cargo van, the Transit Connect. The Ford F-150 comes equipped with a 5.4-liter, three-valve engine, rated at up to 320 hp. and 390 lbs.-ft. of torque and mated to a 6-spd. automatic transmission. It features settings of 4×2, all wheel drive and 4×4 high. A high-strength, lighter-weight chassis delivers more horsepower, fuel economy, towing and payload capacity than before. The unique Harley-Davidson edition F-150 crew cab model sports a distinct front fascia, grille and 22-in. forged aluminum wheels.

The design of the Transit Connect cargo van was imported from its European operations and retooled for the U.S. market; it goes on sale this summer priced at $21,475, including destination charges. Powered by a Duratec 2L dual overhead cam (DOHC) I-4 engine with fuel economy rated at 22 city/25 highway mpg, the Transit Connect offers 135.3 cu. ft. of cargo space, a payload capacity of up to 1,600 lbs., and a 4-spd. transmission. It comes equipped with split rear cargo doors that open at a standard 180 deg., or an optional 255 deg. door setup. The cargo area opens up to a maximum of 59.1 in. of floor to ceiling height, with load width of 48.1 in., between the wheel arches and load length of 72.6 in. — or more than 6 ft. of cargo floor space. A battery-powered version of the Transit Connect, built in partnership with Smith Electric Vehicles, a part of the U.K.-based Tanfield Group of companies, is going to be rolled out in late 2010 as well.
www.ford.com

General Motors

Only minor changes are in the works for General Motors' Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, as well as for its Chevrolet Savana and GMC Express commercial vans. On the van side of GM's fleet ledger, the Savana and Express 2500 and 3500 models receive Hydra-Matic 6L90, 6-spd. automatic transmissions and revised rear axles to help improve low-rpm torque, highway fuel economy and overall drivability. Two new features for both van models are automatic grade braking and remote vehicle start with remote keyless entry — an option that includes two transmitters.

For its pickups, the Silverado and Sierra 1500 models will feature “FlexFuel” capability with 4.8-, 5.3- and 6.2-liter engines so they can run on E85 — a fuel comprised of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. Variable valve timing on the 4.8- and 5.3-liter engines improves fuel economy, while a 6-spd. automatic transmission on regular and extended cab models with a 5.3-liter V8 engine is a new option, along with a 3.08 axle ratio and fuel saver mode standard. Side curtain air bags and seat-mounted side air bags are now all standard on the 1500 models, with USB connectivity on all radios (except base model trim) enabling stored audio files to play through the audio system, and battery charging for some handheld devices. Revised interior door trim and a rearview camera will be available on some models, with StabiliTrak electronic control system now standard on all 1500 models.

The Silverado and Sierra HD pickups now come with USB connectivity in center console, with the GMC Sierra HD getting OnStar 8.2 with long-range remote start and traffic probe. Finally, the Silverado and Sierra Hybrid pickups will now feature a 6-liter V8 engine compatible with E85. www.gm.com

Honda

Refreshed just last year, the 2010 version of Honda's Ridgeline pickup will only feature minor changes at least for now, including a body-style shift that grafts the nose of Honda's light-duty SUV, the Pilot, onto the Ridgeline. Still waiting in the wings are efforts to add an aluminum-block 4.3- or 4.4-liter V8 engine to the power plant offerings, along with a V6 diesel based on Honda's successful European-only, 2.2-liter diesel model and a gasoline-electric hybrid version. Aerodynamic styling changes, especially a sleeker windshield and underbody structural changes, are also being discussed for future models as ways to improve the vehicle's current 15 city/20 highway mpg ratings. Those plans, however, are on hold pending improvements in the global automotive market outlook.

The four-door, five-passenger Ridgeline remains built on a closed-box, unit-body frame powered by a 250-hp., 3.5-liter VTEC V6 engine. A 5-spd. electronically controlled automatic transmission and a variable torque management 4WD system (VTM-4) are standard features, along with a fully independent suspension with MacPherson struts in the front and a multi-link suspension design in the rear that contributes to a smooth ride and responsive handling.

Standard equipment for towing includes an integrated tow hitch, transmission and oil coolers, heavy-duty brakes, dual radiator fans and a wiring harness for a 7-pin trailer hookup (pre-wiring only on the RT model), with all models rated for a maximum tow capacity of 5,000 lbs. Designed for 1,550-lb. total vehicle payload, the Ridgeline also features a vehicle stability assist (VSA) system with active yaw control to monitor lateral stability by integrating traction control, 4WD, antilock braking, throttle control and stability control functions.

Standard safety equipment includes electronic brake distribution to help balance braking forces, and a tire pressure monitoring system to alert the driver when air pressure reaches an unsafe level.

Also available is the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System with voice activation, which includes an integrated rearview camera for backing up and parallel parking assistance. It provides on-screen directions to more than seven million destinations.

RTL models add a 115v power outlet for laptops or other electronics devices. www.honda.com

Nissan

A new light commercial vehicle concept introduced by Nissan earlier this year dubbed the NV2500 is supposed to be turned into a production-line-ready light truck in 2010, though the ongoing economic downturn may affect the timing of its roll-out. Nissan's Titan pickup truck is feeling the impact of the downturn more deeply, as the company is due to stop building this truck in 2010; it will be replaced in 2011 with a new pickup built in partnership with Chrysler on the Dodge Ram platform. Those plans, however, may be up in the air as Chrysler is currently in bankruptcy protection.

Nissan touts its NV2500 concept as a “fresh approach” to one-box utility vans and is built to highlight multi-purpose utility solutions for commercial vehicle users in North America. Its three-zone interior is constructed to offer more flexible utility and storage solutions.

Built on a modified Titan full-size pickup, all-steel, fully boxed ladder frame, engine choices would be selected for competitive power and fuel efficiency. Other under-skin components include an automatic transmission and solid rear axle.

Dimensionally, the NV2500 offers a 147.6-in. wheelbase and measures a full 19.5 ft. bumper to bumper. It stands 8 ft. tall and is 6.6 ft. wide. Inside, from the front of the passenger compartment to the rear door, there is room to carry objects up to 10.5 ft. long with the passenger seat moved out of the way. Along with wraparound-style windshield/front door windows, the NV2500 concept features lower door-glass cutouts and an oversized, fixed-glass roof panel that stretches from behind the B-pillars to the rear doors, adding a visual lightness to the design and illumination to the interior.

Additional exterior features include large, retractable outside mirrors; motorized flip-down AMP Research side and rear door steps; LED headlights and taillights; and dual-purpose tow hooks located in the grille that also serve as steps for easier access to the engine compartment. www.nissan.com

Toyota

New engine and commercial work truck packages are on tap for the 2010 model Toyota Tundra pickup, along with a spate of other new standard and optional features.

The new 4.6 liter, iForce V8 engine will be available on all 2010 model-year Tundras, mated to a 6-spd. automatic transmission and providing 310 hp., 327 lbs.-ft. of torque, plus fuel efficiency estimates of 15 city/20 highway mpg on 4×2 models.

Revised work truck packages are aimed at commercial truck buyers requiring a tough, no-frills truck. These specialized pickups include vinyl seating and rubber flooring and will be available in regular and double cab configurations with a V6 or one of two V8 engines. This includes Tundra's 5.7 liter V8, which cranks out 381 hp. and offers towing capacity of up to 10,800 lbs. Tundra models equipped with optional work truck packages will carry a price adjustment that ranges from $195 to $1,030 less than the truck's standard MSRP, depending on the model.

Prices for the 2010 Tundra will range from $22,960 for the Regular Cab 4×2 standard bed with a V6 engine and equipped with a work truck package to $42,155 for the CrewMax Limited 4×4 with a 5.7L V8 engine. The new MSRPs reflect an average overall increase of $557.

All new models also feature a redesigned front grille and taillamps, with the Tundra-grade model equipped with a new two-bar grille design and the Limited grade decorated with a unique billet-style grille. Additional standard equipment on all Tundra models includes driver and front passenger knee airbags, height-adjustable headlamps, and a redesigned seven-pin towing hitch connector that sits above the hitch to help avoid damage during high departure angle driving. Also, a shelf to help organize storage space has been added to the lower glove box. www.toyota.com

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