MONSTER PICKUP, ANYONE?

The top-dog Ford F-150 pickup also got the wheels-up treatment last year, as did the Super Duty line two years before – but Big Blue is not sitting idle for 2010. The truck-maker is already promoting changes to come on its 2011 models, which will debut later this year, along with a monster high-performance off-road pickup for 2010, the F-150 SVT Raptor.

Image

Ford's F-150 pickups offer contractor-friendly on-board computer networking, fleet and inventory tracking, and tool security options.

Aptly named for the fighter jet or dinosaur – take your pick – the Raptor is aimed at pickup buyers who need serious off-road capability. It's powered by an optional 6.2-liter V8 gas engine that delivers a massive 411 hp and 434 pound-feet of torque, or a base 5.4-liter V8 with 320 hp and 390 pound-feet of torque. Maximum payload is 1,020 pounds with up to 6,000 pounds in tow power. As if this weren't enough, Ford is planning a limited production run of 50 "turnkey professional" FR Raptor XT off-road racing versions with 500-plus horsepower; they'll be priced at $99,950, more than double the cost of the "standard" SVT Raptor.

Later this year – for 2011 models – the Super Duty line will get a new Ford-built, 6.7-liter V8 turbocharged diesel engine (see "Truckin' Around," Fall 2009) as an option, or a new base 6.2-liter gasoline engine, both of which deliver improved fuel economy while maintaining Super Duty's always-impressive towing and payload specs (2010 ratings were not available at press time). The diesel will be compatible with biodiesel fuel up to B20, and the gasser can run on E85 ethanol. Ford's proven 6.8-liter V10 gas engine continues to be available for F-450 and F-550 chassis cab upfitters.

Also offered on diesel-equipped 2011 Super Duty pickups is a heavy-duty 6-speed transmission with optional Live Drive PTO (power take-off). An accessory common on diesel tractors, the PTO allows the vehicle's transmission to power auxiliary equipment such as dump beds, cement mixers, and tow-truck lifts.

For contractors, it's worth noting that Ford continues to stay way out in front in technology among truck manufacturers with its Work Solutions options. This suite of smart, onboard-computer applications includes broadband-capable programs that allow users to print invoices, check invenories, and access documents stored on their home or office computer networks; a radio-frequency inventory and tracking system for tools or equipment stored in the vehicle; fleet management and dispatch programs; and a built-in cable locking system for tools and equipment.

Ford's SUV-based Sport Trac survives unchanged for 2010 but gets a new Trailer Sway Control system for improved handling under load. Power plants include a 3.5-liter V6 with 5-speed automatic overdrive (210 hp, 254 pound-feet of torque), or 4.6-liter V8 with 6-speed automatic overdrive (292 hp, 315 pound-feet of torque).

Although the Mazda compact pickups are history, the Ford Ranger continues with little change for 2010. A Class III trailer hitch is now standard equipment. Engine options include a base four-cylinder 2.3-liter engine that produces 143 hp and 154 pound-feet of torque, or a 4.0-liter V6 that puts out 207 hp and 238 pound-feet of torque. Maximum towing capacity for the Ranger is 9,500 pounds, and peak payload is 1,260 pounds.