• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

New big, powerful and fuel-efficient trucks

January 26, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Higher gas prices are hurting consumers who need powerful, heavy-duty trucks as business vehicles. But the auto industry is responding to customer demand.

The new 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 Crew Cab full-size pickup ($33,520 base price) is really on a roll. It just picked up the North American Truck of the Year award. The Ram also picked up the 2013 Motor Trends Truck of the Year trophy earlier this year.

Motor Trend Editor-in-chief Edward Loh said the truck's new attributes deserved the award.

"We chose the Ram 1500 as our truck of the year primarily because of some of the advanced features that it offers," Loh said.

Motor Trend editors were impressed with lots of things about the Ram, like its optional air suspension. They also praised the truck's new engine, not the biggest engine you can get in the Ram, but the smallest; it's a new six-cylinder.

"Fairly high horse power, reasonable amount of torque, and then you pair it with the new 8-speed Torqueflite transmission and it has best in class fuel economy," Loh said.

For many uses, six-cylinders can really do the job. A big help to the Ram is its new 8-speed automatic transmission; more gears means an easier time for the engine and more efficiency. Official ratings for a 2-wheel drive model are 17 MPG in city driving and 25 MPG in highway rating. The Ram's 305 horsepower is enough for light duty hauling and towing, though the V-6 six is way short of torque compared to the beastly 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine.

If you're partial to Ford pickups, they have some smaller engines too. Standard on the 2013 Ford F-150 XLT pickup truck ($31,640 base price) is a V-6 engine making just over 300 horsepower with EPA ratings starting at 17 city and 23 highway.

Smaller engines are becoming a bigger deal when it comes to full-size pickups. In fact, Ford says that in its F-150 more than half of the ones sold have a V-6 instead of a V-8. They even have two V-6's to offer.

The upgrade is their optional Ford 3.5 liter eco-boost V-6 engine ($2,095), equipped with twin-turbos and 365 horsepower but still providing V-6 fuel economy.

So what about General Motors in this efficiency contest? They've teased their upcoming 2014 trucks with new more efficient engines including a lightweight V-6.

It's game-on in this truck battle.

Full-size pickups will probably never get "great" gas mileage, but increasingly, truck buyers can at least expect "good."


Load Comments