With a renewed spirit permeating the nation, those who enjoy the outdoors and the freedom of the road are again enjoying weekend getaways and extended road trips with family and friends.
Along with that renewed wanderlust may come the realization that the pickup you’ve been driving is probably more than a decade old. Time and miles have taken their toll and it’s time to step up to a new truck that’s more reliable, comfortable and functional.
They say timing is everything, and 2013 couldn’t be a better year to make such a move. The new pickups are more refined, powerful and fuel-friendly than ever before.
We have spent seat time in the new four-doors from the Big Three (Chevrolet, Ford and Ram) during the past few months. Improvements that range from engine and transmission technology, interior design, ride and handling, as well as overall comfort is at an all-time high.
So is the integration of today’s wireless technology and advanced computing power. Whatever you need to enjoy time spent in the vehicle is often at your fingertips or can be controlled from the sound of your voice.
Trying to compare a 2003 pickup to a 2013 is like comparing a basic flip phone to a smartphone: Both are functional, but the latter integrates seamlessly into your lifestyle and allows you to do things the old phone wasn’t capable of.
Today’s pickups are almost like smartphones with a lot of towing power.
A few pickups caught our attention as being the ideal package for those who enjoy the recreational trailer lifestyle. Whether you are brand-loyal or not, we think you will find one or more of these particular 2013 pickups will do the job quite nicely.
We like Ford’s F-150 Super Crew 4×2 EcoBoost Lariat 365hp 3.5L with the 6-speed automatic and 3.55 axle.
The twin-turbo V-6 puts most V-8s to shame and delivers 22/16 hwy/city mpg. Order it with Equipment Group 502A and enjoy HID headlights and the MyFord Touch electronics package while towing up to 9,800 pounds using a weight-distributing (WD) hitch (5,000 pounds conventional). Its towing package has the best mirrors in the industry. The back-up camera is a nice bonus.
Higher up is the F-250 Crew Cab Platinum Long Bed 4×4, 400hp 6.7L Power Stroke diesel, 6-speed automatic with 3.55 axles.
This F-250 is filled with all the amenities for serious towing use. The FX4 off-road package adds hill-descent control. It’s ideal for towing trailers up to 14,000 pounds with a WD hitch, 15,200 pounds when towing a fifth-wheel.
At the top end, is Ford’s F-350 King Ranch Crew Cab Dually 4×2, 400hp 6.7L Power Stroke diesel, 6-speed automatic and 3.73 axle. Ford doesn’t make one-tons any nicer than this model. You’ll be the envy of any RV park. Its long wheelbase helps smooth out a cross-country trip. The rich southwestern-styled interior soothes the soul. And it offers a 16,000-pound towing capacity with a gooseneck or fifth-wheel hitch.
CONTACT: Ford trucks; 800-392-3673, www.ford.com
GM’s Silverado/Sierra 1500 Crew Cab Short Box LT 4×2, 403hp 6.2L Vortec, 6-speed automatic and 3.73 axle is ideal for light-duty work. Although most buyers gravitate to the 5.3L, those who want serious towing performance order the NHT maximum trailering package and get the benefit of four-wheel disc brakes and GM’s strongest pickup small-block. The NHT package also brings on 10,600 pounds of towing capacity when using a WD hitch. The 6.2L pickup has guts, but still touts 13/18 city/hwy EPA numbers. Its mid-level cloth trim is nicely appointed and comfortable.
The Silverado/Sierra 2500HD Crew Cab Long Bed LTZ 4×2, 397hp 6.6L Duramax diesel with the 6-speed automatic and 3.73 axle is a solid do-it-all choice. With strong grade-braking performance, built-in trailer sway control and 16,700 pounds of towing capacity, this package is a favorite for mid-size trailer owners in mountain country. It also has the ability to pull a 13,000-pound trailer on its conventional hitch. The LTZ trim coddles occupants in luxury.
The Big Dog
Heavy-duty users should check out GM’s Silverado/Sierra 3500 HD Crew Cab Dually 4×4, 397hp 6.6L Duramax diesel, 6-speed automatic with 3.73 axles. The ability to tow an 18,000-pound trailer on the ball or a 22,500-pound fifth-wheel makes this truck a great choice for the full-time RVer. The 1LT trim package and NavTraffic option brings advanced functionality and richness to the interior.
CONTACT: General Motors; 800-222-1020 (Chevy), 800-462-8782 (GMC), www.gm.com
The Fuel Miser
Ram’s 1500 SLT Crew Cab 4×2 with a 5-foot, 7-inch bed, 305hp 3.6L Pentastar V-6, 3.55 axle and 8-speed automatic is a high-value choice. It’s a V-6 that feels like a small-block V-8, thanks to the new automatic. It offers an estimated 25 hwy/17 city mpg. Its towing capacity is almost 6,000 pounds so this is an excellent package for towing lightweight trailers while keeping the best fuel economy for daily driving.
The Ram 1500 Crew Cab Outdoorsman 4×4 5-foot, 7-inch bed, 383hp 5.7L Hemi, with 3.92 axles and 8-speed automatic is ideal for moderately sized RVs. Order it with the optional air suspension and you have the most technologically advanced Ram half-ton — a sporty, stable towing platform for trailers up to 9,950 pounds.
The Towing King
Ram’s 3500 HD Crew Cab Long Bed Dually 4×2, 370hp 6.7L Cummins, with the 6-speed auto and 3.55 axle is a good choice. If your lifestyle revolves around extended trips with a fifth-wheel, the plush Laramie Longhorn should be capable of towing more than 17,000 pounds, and might be just what you’re looking for.
CONTACT: Ram Trucks; 866-726-4636, www.ramtrucks.com