New trucks for 2001

A preview of exciting options for next year's trucks. "Change" is the operative word for describing what's happening to truck manufacturing. Not only are the new products poised to enter the market in 2001, but new companies as well - the result of mergers and acquisitions in an industry that keeps consolidating.

One reason truck manufacturers are combining is to widen their product lines, trying to serve the entire industry, not just one or two select niches. Truck manufacturers continue to roll out new and more advanced products, customized and stylized to meet a larger audience. GMC overhauled and beefed up its HD sierra pickup line for 2001 in order to compete better with Fords' popular Super Duty F-Series, which continues to expand as well.

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Fleet Owner editors have taken pains to assure that all of the 2001 truck model information presented is as comprehensive and accurate as possible. In some cases, 2001-model plans were not available at presstime, so efforts have been made to give a glimpse of what might be coming from those manufacturers down the road.

Dodge DaimlerChrysler's Dodge subsidiary is looking to expand its Big Red Truck concept into a production-line commercial vehicle. Fashioned from a Dodge Ram 3500 Quad Cab 4x4 pickup, the Big Red Truck is designed with an 11,000-pound maximum towing weight. The vehicle's 5.9-liter Cummins engine is electronically controlled, fuel injected, intercooled and turbocharged. The engine provides 253 hp at 2,700 rpm, with 460 pound-foot of torque at 1,400 rpm. The truck comes equipped with an automatic transmission, 18-inch raised aero roof and side engine exhausts that run under an integrated self-cleaning step. Cold air intakes are molded into the truck's modified hood. The vehicle is also equipped with a fifth-wheel hitch, 16-inch oversized tires and integrated two-way mirrors.

Ford The one major change in Ford's 2001 F-Series lineup is the introduction of an F-150 crew cab. Called the F-150 SuperCrew, the new 4-door model rides on a 139-inch wheelbase and comes with the 4.6-liter Triton V8 as its standard engine, which sees a power increase this year to 240 hp. Other 2001 changes for all F-150 models include 4-wheel ABS as standard equipment and a new work truck option group.

Rated at 8,800-pound GVW, the Super Duty F-250 is the lightest member in Ford's commercial truck lineup and will see only minor changes for 2001. Those changes include a power increase for the optional 7.3-liter Power Stroke V8 diesel to 250 hp. A trailer towing package and 4-wheel ABS also become standard equipment on all trim levels of the 2001 Super Duty F-250. As in past model years, engine options for the lightest Super Duty will include the 5.4-liter Triton V8 and 6.8-liter Triton V10 as well as the Power Stroke diesel.

The Econoline E-Series van will continue with only minor changes in 2001. Commercial versions of the E-150, E-250 and E-350 will now come standard with a heavy-duty 78-amp battery and a passenger air bag.

Ford's compact Ranger pickup will get a minor facelift in 2001 with new grille, bumpers and headlamps. Ford will also introduce a new 2.3-liter inline 4-cycle engine as the standard powerplant for the Ranger and replace the optional 4-liter OHV 6-cycle engine with a new 4-liter SOHC model.

General Motors The new model year sees General Motors filling out the GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado lineup with new "HD" commercial models. Introduced in 1999 as the Sierra and Silverado 1500 1/2-ton full-size pickup, both will now get 2500HD (3/4-ton) and 3500HD (1-ton) models with GVWs ranging up to 12,000 pounds. Although only preliminary details are available for the 2001 HD models, GM says they will be offered with the new Duramax 6.6-liter turbodiesel jointly developed by GM and Isuzu, as well as the Allison 1000 Series 5-speed automatic transmission and the ZF 6-speed manual transmission.

All three levels of the Sierra and Silverado will be available with regular, extended and crew cabs, and the HD models will be offered in both pickup and chassis cab configurations. Standard engines will be the 4300 V6 (200 hp) for the 1500, the 6000 V8 (310 hp) for the 2500HD and the 8100 V8 (340 hp) for the 3500HD. The 6-cycle Duramax diesel produces 300 hp and a peak torque of 520 pound-foot. Full details on the Sierra and Silverado HD models will be released in September.

The one change to note for the Chevy Express and GMC Savanna full-size cargo vans and cutaway chassis is the availability of the 8.1-liter V8 engine. Both vans and cutaways are offered with GVWs ranging from 7,100 to 12,000 pounds. The midsized GMC Safari and Chevrolet Astro vans are carryovers from 2000, as are the 2WD versions for the Chevy S-10 and GMC Sonoma compact pickups.

Nissan Nissan Motor Corp. has "radically redesigned" its Frontier pickup line for 2001. Some 14 different models will be available, including a Regular Cab, King Cab, 4-door Crew Cab and the 2WD Desert Runner package. The Frontier 4-door Crew Cab models will feature 4- and 2WD options. Power choices include a 143-hp, 2.4-liter inline 4-cycle engine or a 170-hp, 3.3-liter SOHC 6-cycle unit. Nissan is also offering a factory-installed supercharged version of its 3.3-liter, 6-cycle engine, rated at 210 hp and 240 pound-foot of torque, on the 2001 Frontier line. In addition, Frontier pickups can be equipped with either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed electronically controlled overdrive transmission; antilock brakes are standard.

An optional leather interior will be available on all supercharged models, as well as the SE Crew Cab pickup. The Crew Cab's bed is 20 inches shorter than the other Frontier pickup models, but Nissan will offer a bed extender for its 2001 models to correct that.

The Desert Runner Frontier pickup is a 2WD model built on the 4-wheel drive chassis, giving it the same rigidity, ride height and ground clearance as its bigger brethren, yet cutting 500 pounds out of its weight. It can also be equipped with the supercharged engine.

Toyota Introduced last year as an all-new model, the Toyota Tundra is a full-sized pickup developed specifically for the North American market and built in Indiana. Although details for 2001 were not available at presstime, no major changes are expected.

The Tundra is offered in two versions: a regular cab with an 8-foot bed and the 4-door Access cab, which seats 6, comes with a shorter 6.5-foot cargo bed. Both ride on a 128-inch wheelbase and are rated 6,050 pounds GVW. The Tundra's nominal payload is 1 ton, and it offers towing capacity up to 7,200 pounds.

The standard engine for the Tundra is a 190-hp, 3.4-liter V6, and an optional 32-valve double-overhead cam V8 produces 245 hp and a peak torque of 315 pound-foot. A 4-speed automatic transmission is standard with both engines, and a 5-speed manual is offered as an option with the V6.

Workhorse Workhorse Custom Chassis offers both complete step vans, in 10,000- and 14,000-pound ratings, and Class 1-2 commercial stripped chassis.

Workhorse FasTrack vans are so-named because by standardizing on common models, the OEM says it can produce finished vehicles in just 4 weeks from receipt of an order, instead of the 9 to 14 weeks usually needed when a dealer works with both a chassis maker and a body builder. The step van line consists of four gasoline-powered models featuring aluminum bodies.

The FT1260 has a 12-foot, 6-inch load space, 10,000-pound GVWR, 133-inch wheelbase and independent front suspension. The FT1460 has a 14-foot, 6-inch load space, 157-inch wheelbase and can be ordered either as a 10,000-pound-GVWR model with an independent front suspension or as a 14,000-pound-GVWR model with I-Beam front axle. Both have a 157-inch wheelbase. The FT1600 has a 16-foot load space and can be spec'd with a 10,000-pound GVWR with independent front suspension and 157-inch wheelbase or as a 14,000-pound I-beam model with 157- or 178-inch wheelbase. The FT1800 has an 18-foot load space, I-beam front axle, 14,000-pound GVWR and 178-inch wheelbase.

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