Pickup Wars: MPG, Not Horsepower – Car Pro News

Coming this fall: The pickup wars resume, with a twist.
Expect boastful claims of horsepower, torque, towing capacity and durability, but this year the Ford and Ram brands also plan to duke it out over fuel economy.
Over the past year, amid $4 a gallon gasoline, Ford Motor Co. has won pickup buyers with fuel-efficient F-series pickups powered by V-6 engines.
Now Chrysler Group plans a direct assault on Ford’s claim to the high ground in fuel economy. When the re-engineered 2013 Ram 1500 arrives in showrooms this fall it will challenge Ford’s F series, which got a new engine lineup in 2011, for the title of most fuel-efficient full-sized pickup.
The mpg fixation by two of the Detroit 3 is a stark departure from past strategies for attacking the pickup market. For decades, automakers squabbled over whose truck could haul more or last longer.
General Motors, whose redesigned Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra are expected to arrive in showrooms next spring, plans a more traditional line of attack. GM wants to “keep that Silverado and Sierra as workhorses,” says GM North America President Mark Reuss. Unlike Ford or Chrysler, it will offer a mid-sized pickup for buyers concerned more about fuel economy than about size and muscle.
The Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan big pickups aren’t due for redesigns until 2014.
New engine options are a likely bet for Nissan Motor Co.’s big truck. That has been the primary criticism of the modest-selling Titan since it first appeared in 2004. It has been available with only one engine, a 5.6-liter V-8, and Nissan has been touting higher fuel-economy ratings on its recent model redesigns.
The Toyota Tundra currently offers two V-8s and a modestly selling V-6 that falls shy of the mpg numbers for Ford’s V-6.
Ram executives won’t reveal the re-engineered 1500 pickup’s mpg numbers, but they insist the truck, offered with a Pentastar V-6 engine teamed with an eight-speed automatic transmission, will produce best-in-class fuel economy. That would mean topping the 17 mpg city, 23 mpg highway of the two-wheel-drive Ford F1-50 powered by a normally-aspirated 3.7-liter, 302 hp V-6 engine. Ford’s biggest selling V-6 truck engine is the more powerful 3.5-liter EcoBoost, which cranks out 365 hp and gets an EPA rating of 16 mpg city and 22 mpg highway.
“We’re going to be best-in-class fuel economy in both the V-6 and V-8 segments,” Ram brand CEO Fred Diaz told Bloomberg when the Ram 1500 was revealed this spring.
Diaz also took a shot at Ford’s EcoBoost, telling The Detroit News that “turbos are very expensive to replace.”
If Chrysler’s talking trash, Ford executives are ready for a fight.
“We’ve heard what they’ve said. We’ll see what they deliver when the EPA numbers are available,” said Doug Scott, Ford’s head of truck marketing. “The beauty of that is it will drive more interest and attention to the segment. We’re generally on the shopping list as the segment leader.

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