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Detroit’s Big Three are redesigning their pickups for 2019

This year, Ford, GM and FCA’s Ram brand marketing staff had a lot to talk about at the major auto shows. All three have given their pickup truck lines some serious overhauls, with new engines and a wider range of materials in their bodies and chassis, plus new drivetrain configurations all working their way into next year’s models.

Better fuel economy is the driving force behind many of those changes, and the new Ram 1500 is a prime example of that, as the brand’s engineers have worked to reduce their fuel appetites while not losing anything when it comes to performance.

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Under the hood of a new Ram, buyers can opt for a 3.6-litre Pentastar V-6 or the classic 5.7 Hemi V-8 engines, which are integrated into a “mild hybrid” eTorque drivetrain. That combines a 48-volt battery pack with an engine start-stop function and offers short-term torque assist and brake energy regeneration.

Energy is stored in a 430-watt-hour lithium-ion nickel manganese cobalt (NMC)-graphite battery. The small-suitcase-sized, air-cooled battery pack mounts to the rear wall inside the Ram 1500’s cab.

Interactive Deceleration Fuel Shut Off (iDFSO) pauses fuel flow to the engine cylinders when the vehicle is decelerating.

The short-term power boost from the eTorque adds up to 90 pound-feet of torque to the 3.6 litre and 130 to the Hemi. The new generation TorqueFlite eight-speed transmission delivers power more efficiently, according to the company, and gives the vehicle what marketers call a new “more powerful” computer control.

The Ram’s body design also gets a new face at the front end, and the trucks shed 225 pounds compared to previous models, despite being 0.5 inches wider and available with a longer frame and wheelbase. All that is thanks to the use of more aluminum components.

When it comes to the use of non-traditional materials, however, GM’s Sierra pickups move to the front of the line with their CarbonPro boxes. The interior sidewall and bed floor are made of carbon fibre, which is stronger than an equal amount of steel by weight.

GM’s Sierra line of pickups has carbon fibre interior sidewalls and bed floors built into the 2019 model truck boxes.
photo: GM

The 2019 Silverados are 450 pounds (204 kilograms) lighter than last year’s models, while the Sierras have shed about 360 pounds (163 kilograms).

A notable addition to both the 2019 GM truck lines is the introduction of a 3.0-litre in-line, six-cylinder, turbocharged diesel engine, which means diesel power is now available in both the Silverado and Sierra 1500 Series trucks.

The new 5.3-litre and 6.2-litre V-8 options will get Dynamic Fuel Management, which actively shuts off any number of cylinders, in a variety of combinations, depending on immediate needs to optimize fuel economy. This, says GM, will result in instant power when called for. And although GM has had a cylinder shutoff system on earlier models, the company claims this version of the technology is an industry first.

GM’s Silverado pickups shed 450 pounds compared to previous models due to the increased use of aluminum and other lighter materials.
photo: GM

Just like the Rams, the GM trucks grow a bit, with a 3.9-inch (100 millimetre) longer wheelbase and an overall length increase of 1.6 inches (41 millimetres). The cabs get stretched too, offering three additional inches of rear seat legroom.

Not to be outdone in the engine department this year, Ford announced it is joining the ranks of automakers offering a diesel engine option in half-ton pickups. The 2018 F150 will be available with a total of six different engine choices, and for the first time that includes a 3.0-litre V-6, turbocharged diesel capable of 30 m.p.g. (7.84 l/100 km).

The 250-horsepower diesel puts out its maximum 440 pound-feet of torque at just 1,750 r.p.m., and it gets mated with its own 10-speed transmission programmed to make optimum gear selections based on that torque specification.

Ford is introducing a 3.0-litre Powerstroke diesel engine option for F150 trucks in 2019.
photo: Ford

The engine uses a compacted graphite iron block paired with a forged steel crankshaft to reduce weight. There’s also a cast aluminum oil pan that houses a two-stage oil pump that the brand claims helps reduce parasitic power loss inside the engine.

All the 2019 models will begin arriving at dealerships early this fall.

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