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Ram Power Wagon Heavy Duty – a Different Kind of Off-Roader

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Ram Power Wagon Hard-Core Off-Roader

Ram HD with Ram Power Wagon Package

Ram Heavy Duty Pickups Land First Punch in 2019/2020 Heavy Duty Pickup Battle  The Ram Heavy Duty pickups are new for the 2019 model year beating Ford and General Motors to the market in the latest round of the Heavy Duty Pickup war.  The Ram Heavy Duty will be on the market in the second quarter of 2019.  While the Ram HD lineup includes six price classes (starting at $33,395 plus $1,695 delivery) the Ram Power Wagon package can be added to any one of them.  Ram contends the Ram Power Wagon is the “Most Off-Road Capable Pickup” available.

While Ford (F-150 Raptor), Chevrolet (Silverado Trail Boss) and GMC (Sierra AT4) might disagree, those off-roaders are based on half ton pickups.  Ford’s Raptor is a go-fast off-roader and GMs are go-slow off-roaders (i.e. more for rugged trails than blasting across the desert).  Maybe the closest a Ford Super Duty could come to the Power Wagon is an F-250 FX-4.

The Ram Power Wagon is based on the Ram 2500 three-quarter ton chassis.  Most Ram Power Wagon units will be loaded with a boatload of nicely profitable additional features.  It’s pretty cool, however, to have a Ram Power Wagon available on its base Tradesman trim level.  The Tradesman Power Wagon would appeal to forest management, border patrol or folks just wanting a pure hard-core off-roader.

What makes the Ram Power Wagon special?  To manage hard-core off-road challenges, Power Wagon has a unique suspension and is lifted higher than the already-high Ram 2500.  Because it is an off-road specialist, the Ram Power Wagon examples available to drive did not include running boards.  A ladder is practically required to get up into one.  All of that gets the Ram Power Wagon higher off the ground.  Getting through the tough stuff requires mechanicals like locking front and rear differentials, a disconnecting sway bar and hill descent control.  There is a 12,000 pound WARN winch integrated in the front end.

During a short, but very difficult and technical off-road excursion, the Ram Power Wagon excelled.  Rock crawling is its forte, but the size of the truck means you have to be really careful about threading the vehicle between boulders waiting to scrape the bodywork.

Limited Model Max Lux Heavy Duty  The Limited trim level (to which a Power Wagon package can be added) includes a sumptuous interior and very functional 12-inch vertical screen in the center stack.  The center console is huge and very configurable.  The Ram HD Limited arguably has the best, most upscale, interior trim and fitments of any Heavy Duty pickups including the yet-to-come 2019 Chevrolet Silverado HD and the 2020 Ford F-Series Super Duty.  Just for reference… the Ram 3500 Heavy Duty Limited we drove had an $89,500 sticker price!  Of course, it had the 1000 lb ft Cummins diesel that is an $11,000 option.

 


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2020 Ford Super Duty Aims to Stay Ahead of Competition

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2020 Ford Super Duty - All New King Ranch Super Duty

2020 Ford Super Duty King Ranch – F-250 Model

Detroit, Michigan, January 30, 2019:  Ford Commercial vehicles generated over $70 billion in revenue in 2018.  That’s equivalent to a Fortune 40 company.  Thought differently, Ford Commercial vehicle revenue was larger than that of Procter and Gamble.  No wonder, Ford is on the accelerator to keep their Super Duty line, Transit vans and Transit Connect small vans more than competitive.  The 2020 Ford Super Duty is the big news, but information on the rest of the Commercial Vehicle lineup will follow.

The Ford Super Duties were all new in 2016 when they adopted the F-150’s cab and many aluminum body and chassis components. The 2020 Ford Super Duty will be released later in 2019, but their competition hasn’t been standing still.  Both General Motors and FCA’s Ram brand will launch their new Heavy Duty trucks earlier in 2019.  2019 is definitely the year of the Heavy Duty pickup.

This mid-cycle change comes four model years following its major change.  Ford management hints that the next major change will be in three years giving this Super Duty generation a seven year cycle.

Consider the 2020 Ford Super Duty changes to be a mild mid-cycle freshening.  The grilles (ten of them; styled differently) are new, headlamps are new, taillamps are new.  You can tell the difference if you are a devoted Super Duty buyer.  The interiors of the three highest trim levels – Lariat, Limited and Platinum have been updated significantly to bring  a more upscale experience for the buyers of these very expensive trucks who want only to spend more.

Ford has gone to town in the powertrain arena as well.  There is an all new 7.3L big block V8 for the F-250 through the F-750.  Ford believes it will be the most powerful V8 available in heavy duty applications.  The 3rd Generation 6.7L V8 turbo diesel is more powerful and has more torque than the 2019 version.  The base engine for these trucks is Ford’s 6.2L V8 that continues as the affordable alternative.

Each engine gets Ford’s excellent 10-speed TorqShift automatic transmission that has everyone impressed with its smoothness and durability.  The 10-speed includes five selectable drive modes – normal, tow/haul, eco, slippery and deep sand and snow.

The Super Duties get safety and convenience features picked from the Ford ProPilot 360 system.  Things really needed in a truck this large like blind spot monitoring, lane keep alert, pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking are either standard or available depending on trim level.

Ford has a substantial lead in the heavy duty pickup market and has enhanced the vehicle offerings to attract government, construction, horse haulers, boat haulers, RV haulers and any other vocation needing a heavy duty pickup.  After all, when you check all the boxes, Ford offers a lineup that can be priced over $100,000 per truck.


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Ram Promaster City – MicroVan Workhorse

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First, it was the Ford Transit Connect van from Turkey that has been ubiquitous in Europe for years before being seen on American roads.  Small, styled with a brash quirkiness, tinny beyond imagination especially in taxi fleets, the Transit Connect caught on.  Then Ford replaced the original Transit Connect with a lower roof, more stylish van built in Spain that is actually fun to drive.  Nissan responded with the Nissan NV200 that is supposed to be the Taxi of Tomorrow for the New York City taxi fleet.  It is assembled in Mexico.  Not so fun to drive and assembled with more than a dollop of plastic.  Most recently is the launch of the Ram (FCA US LLC, aka FCAGroup, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Dodge Trucks) Promaster City.  How would I compare the three?

Ford Transit Connect Van

Ford Transit Connect Van

2015 Ram Promaster City

2015 Ram Promaster City

2014 Nissan NV200

2014 Nissan NV200

Transit Connect Most Minivan-Like  The Transit Connect ($22,330 – $29,185) is the most minivan-like.  It has a instrument panel that mimics that in the Ford Focus.  The seats are comfortable, but a choppy ride offsets the seat comfort.  Performance is adequate with its standard 2.5L 4-cylinder engine having 169-horsepower coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission.  Optionally, the Transit Connect has a 178-horsepower EcoBoost 4-cylinder.  Transit Connect is available in two wheelbases.

NV200 Spartan  The Nissan NV200 ($20,270-$24,435 in cargo van version) is the most Spartan of the three.  Its interior has been stripped bare of most ornamentation and the execution yields the most basic of transportation modules.  A passenger version of the NV200 is not available unless you get the taxicab version starting at $29,700).  Powered by a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine mated to a CVT (continuously variable transmission), the NV200 is the most anemic of the three.  Like the original Transit Connect, the NV200 can be a rattletrap.  That brings me to the Ram Promaster City.

Promaster City Best Driving Feel  Built in Turkey, the Promaster City ($23,130 for van version and $24,130 for the passenger version – maximum $29,275) probably falls between the Transit Connect and NV200 overall.  It does, however, have the best driving feel of the three.  The Promaster City is powered by the Fiat Tigershark 2.4L 4-cylinder engine mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission.  Sounds like the Dodge Dart or Jeep Cherokee.  With much of the North American development work being done in the pothole-filled environs of Auburn Hills, Michigan, the Promaster City suspension has been beefed up and given more travel.  Promaster City also has a fully independent rear suspension.  The result is the ride comfort in the Promaster City is more comfortable in most conditions than the Transit Connect or the NV200.2015 Promaster City R342015 Promaster City Cockpit

The Battle for BIC – Best In Class:  Transit Connect and Promaster City are vying for Best In Class claims.  Promaster City claims best in class horsepower at 178-horsepower.  This is correct for base engines, but if you consider Ford’s EcoBoost at 178-horsepower you have a tie.  Promaster City has a fuel economy rating of 21mpg city/29mpg highway.  Transit Connect is 20/28mpg.  Promaster City claims the largest cargo volume at 132 cubic feet – Ford has 129 cubic feet in its long wheelbase van.  Promaster City claims the highest payload at 1883 pounds – Ford has 1620.  Its 48.4-inches between the rear wheelhouses allows you to put 4-foot wide materials flat on the rear load floor.  The 72-inch load floor length does not allow a 4-foot by 8-foot sheet of plywood to be transported enclosed, however.  So, Promaster City wins the brochure war and its base Tigershark engine and 9-speed automatic transmission edges out the Transit Connect, but it is very close.


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