DaimlerChrysler's Sprinter continues to be badged either a Dodge or a Freightliner. Commercial versions of the Class 2 van are available as cargo, cab/chassis or passenger units. The cargo, passenger and cab/chassis versions all offer a choice of three wheelbases (118, 140 and 158 in.) and two GVWRs (8,550 and 9,990 lb.). Cargo and passenger models can be had with a standard (64.3 in. inside) or high roof (73 in. inside).
The OEM points out the Class 1-2 trucks boast straight frame rails, integrated body-mounting rackets and a fuel system integrated into the cab to ease body installations. Standard features include an Electronic Stability Program (ESP) on 2500 models only. The OEM says ESP helps reduce the danger of skidding by helping the driver handle critical driving situations more effectively through electronic intervention.
All Sprinters are powered by a 2.7-liter Mercedes-Benz CDI turbodiesel that generates 154 hp. at 3,800 rpm and torque of 243 lb.-ft. at 1,600 to 2,400 rpm. It is driven through a Mercedes-Benz 5-sp. automatic transmission with electronically controlled shifting. Other features include power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, a body structure designed to channel the force of an impact to the frame, full-size driver and passenger airbags, and four-wheel disc ABS brakes.
DaimlerChrysler's Dodge truck division has put together an all-new Dodge Dakota mid-size pickup for 2005. It offers a stronger and more durable fully boxed frame, along with new front and rear suspensions to provide 7,000 lb.-plus of towing capability and a gross combined weight (GCW) of 11,500 lb. The '05 Dodge Dakota is 3.7 in. longer than its predecessor, primarily ahead of the front axle, to provide added crush space for improved impact performance. The bumpers are extended slightly farther fore and aft to increase their protective capabilities in low-speed impacts, and the body is 2.7 in. wider.
Dodge is also offering new engine options for the '05 Dakota: a standard 3.7-liter Magnum V-6 rated at 210 hp. and 235 lb.-ft. of torque; a 4.7-liter V-8 Magnum rated at 230 hp. at 4,600 rpm and 290 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,600 rpm; and a new 4.7-liter High Output Magnum V-8 with 250-plus hp. and 300 lb.-ft. plus of torque. Both V-8 engines are rated between 3% and 4% more fuel efficient than the previous Dodge Dakota V-8 engines, the company says.
The interior has been upgraded as well: The Dakota Quad Cab is available with six-passenger seating, and can be equipped with heated cloth seats if desired.
Ford Motor Co. continues to tweak its popular F-150 pickup, despite a complete overhaul of that line last year. For 2005, Ford is offering a new 4.2-liter V6 gasoline engine option and a 5-sp. manual transmission option, along with a new electronic throttle and powertrain control module.
Aside from those changes, Ford continues to tout the improvements it made to the F-150 line overall for the 2004 model year: a 50% stiffer frame, six additional inches of room added to the Regular Cab and SuperCab models, an exclusive overhead rail storage system, and enhanced noise-dampening to make the F-150 cab much quieter.
The F-150 still comes in three cab styles, Regular, Super and Crew; three box lengths, 5.5, 6.5, and 8 ft.; two box styles; and five distinct series, the XL, STX, XLT, FX4 and Lariat. Maximum tow rating is 9.500 lb. and maximum payload capacity is 2,900 lb.
Also for 2005, Ford's Mercury division plans to roll out a four-door luxury pickup based on the F-150. Looking ahead to 2006, Ford noted that its compact Ranger pickup line is earmarked for a major overhaul to improve power, for greater towing and hauling capability.
General Motors is beefing up the brake systems for its 2005 model-year GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado pickup trucks. Working with Robert Bosch AG, GM says the '05 versions of both pickup lines should show dramatic braking improvement, reducing braking time by two seconds and cutting stopping distance by 85 feet.
The OEM expects the half-ton crew cab versions of the Silverado and Sierra should continue to be big draws in '05, along with its specially equipped Z71 Off-Road Silverado model. These half-ton Crew Cabs provide four full-sized doors; roomy, comfortable six-passenger seating; and a new 5-ft. 8-in. cargo bed that permits easy handling and parking, said GM.
GM is formally introducing a hybrid version of the Silverado and Sierra pickup for '05. The new trucks will be powered by GM's 5300 Vortec V-8 engine and Hydra-Matic 4L60-E 4-sp. automatic transmission, coupled with hybrid technology that delivers 10% to 12% improved fuel economy over current GM half-ton pickups. According to GM, the hybrids have reduced emissions and unique accessory power capability, without any sacrifice in load-carrying, towing and grade-climbing capability. In addition, four 120-volt, 20 amp electrical auxiliary power outlets located under the rear seat of the cab and in the pickup bed can accommodate up to four accessories while driving or when parked.
www.chevrolet.com and www.gmc.com
Nissan is revamping its Frontier pickups for 2005 along the lines of its forceful redesign of the Titan pickups in 2004. The new Frontier is larger and more powerful than its predecessor, and shares a number of features with the full-size Titan: similar suspension; factory spray-in bedliner; utili-track bed channel tie-down system; and a fully boxed, all-steel frame based on the Titan platform. Nissan plans to offer the 2005 Frontier in both King Cab and Crew Cab body styles, with both vehicles available in 4 × 2 and 4 × 4 configurations.
The wheelbase is 9.8 in. longer than the current model; overall length is slightly longer at 205.5 in. Width and height measurements have been increased and the suspension layout gains the design benefits of the Titan, including an all-steel double-wishbone front suspension and rigid leaf rear suspension with overslung leaf springs and a long suspension stroke for better off-road ride. Power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering and 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS are standard.
Power for the Frontier comes from a new 4.0-liter DOHC V6 engine offering 250-plus hp.; a 2.5-liter DOHC inline 4-cyl. engine is standard on the base model King Cab. Transmission choices include a 5-sp. automatic or a 6-sp. manual. Four-by-four models include a shift on the fly 4-wheel drive system and an optional off-road traction system featuring performance gas shocks and alloy wheels.
Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. is introducing the all-new Tacoma X-Runner pickup, one of several new Tacoma redesigns for 2005. “The new Tacomas will offer an extensive variety of body-and-bed configurations with substantially more passenger room, cargo volume and towing capacity than ever before,” says Don Esmond, Toyota Div. senior-vp and general manager.
The X-Runner will ride on a wheelbase that has been extended by a full five inches, and a track that has been widened by four inches compared to the previous-generation Tacoma S-Runner. The increased size translates to an extra four-and-one-half inches of interior shoulder and hip room.
Chassis for the X-Runner will sit one inch lower than the standard Tacoma frame, resting on 18-in. 45-series V-rated performance radials wrapped around alloy wheels. Firmer and shorter springs are mounted at all four corners, while specially tuned gas shocks are positioned outboard of the frame rails for increased stability. Power comes from a 4.0-liter, 240-hp. V6 engine that cranks out 275 lb. of torque, and a 6-sp. close-ratio manual transmission. Safety features include ABS (standard) and optional side-curtain airbags and electronic vehicle stability control.