Talking Trucks Tuesday: Which Parts Matter Most?

2016-Chevrolet-Silverado-LTZ 1 II

By G.R. Whale

Half a century ago pickup trucks looked more similar than today, and many were purchased based on what was underneath — whether the parts there were from the truckmaker or from a particular brand that supplied the component. A Dana 70 axle or NP205 transfer case may have been more important to a buyer than the latest exterior styling.

Today, engines and transmissions are all that remain in terms of choices for pickup truck buyers. It began with Mitsubishi, Navistar and Cummins supplying diesel engines to truckmakers along with transmissions from manufacturers such as Muncie, BorgWarner, Getrag, Aisin and ZF.

And truck buyers immediately wanted more engine and transmission options. When Dodge added the Cummins BT5.9, torque went way up and fuel economy doubled, yet owners complained because they couldn't get a Dodge Ram with an 8.3-liter Cummins C-Series engine and Allison 3000 transmission, even though the two clearly would not fit under the hood. Now the Cummins ISB6.7 delivers nearly the output that the 8.3-liter engines did 25 years ago — on less fuel and with far fewer emissions.

Should a drivetrain choice in a pickup be the most important issue in a new truck purchase? Was it for you? Or do you base your decision on whether the drivetrain is gas, diesel, hybrid or which manufacturer offers the most options? In a perfect world, how would you power your next pickup? Let us know in the comment section below.

Cars.com graphic by Paul Dolan; manufacturer image

 

Comments

The most powerful engine available (6.2 L) in a half-ton pick-up along with the 8 speed transmission was why I bought a 2015 Silverado. The combo delivers great fuel economy and incredible pulling power when needed.

In a perfect world I would want a no electronically controlled diesel.

Manual trans with a granny gear.

4.10 gears, SFA for the front axle. Lifted and skinny M&S tires like old school 1960's.

Back in the day, the GMC 350 was a better motor then the Chevy 350, 4 bolt mains vs 2 bolt mains. GMC's were more of a truck then a Chevy.

First thing I look at is engine and transmission. Had planned on buying a 2015 Colorado for years, then they used an old tranny and engine. Why buy new, old school stuff.Then hoped Ford or Ram would come out with something new in the midsize segment. Still waiting and 2 year later Chevy is putting in a brand new engine and tranny in the Colorado. To bad they did not do that 2 years ago, as I might just wait for the Ford Bronco or Chevy Blazer to show up.

I think today, more than ever, powertrain is an important deciding factor.

For the most part, all the big players have comparable fit/finish/interior amenities. Ford used to stand out in that the King Ranch and Platinum were truly unique and special trim packages with exterior and interior styling that that could not be mistaken with any other truck in the range, but now (especially the KR) are just a different flavor of Lariat with slightly different colored leather and a big tailgate emblem.

So we get back to powertrain being the deciding factor, just like it used to be (and really always has been).

The Power stroke diesel, no bad injectors like the duramax, or no chevy shake like the gas engines do, or the 6.2l fuel economy matters none since you pay more for premium gas than diesel, and with the military grade body, only part that matters is that emblem on the front grill that say FORD.

Has to be a reg cab and 8ft box with basic trim(manual locks and hand crank windows). Then I look at who has the most simplistic and strongest power train on the market, which means test drive!!!!:D

If chevy had ford powertrains I'd buy chevy. The 6.2 GM is good but too much $

The new Ford 3.5 EB is a monster V6 motor but I don't like fords seats.
Ram has the best diesel on the market in the Cummings.
GM's have way too many problems for me.
Toyota is too expensive and sucks way too much gas.
If the Tacoma had a top name diesel and an 8 sp tranny that would be the truck I'd buy.

Engine, Trans, matter to me which why I got a V8 GM. They been building the best for over 100 year now.

A levitating truck

Dive an ecoboost and you'll buy an ecoboost. Just wish they kept the prices from 20 years ago

because the automakers no longer offer a half ton with a stick shift, the choices have changed some.

Today's automatics are impressive but I just want an engine with suitable torque and a 5 speed trans. I wish you could get a 2wd with a low-range option, but the only way to get that approach today is these modern 8 speed autos and AWD.

Today's diesels are very impressive for someone who doesn't mind the extra cost of ownership.

"Should a drivetrain choice in a pickup be the most important issue in a new truck purchase? Was it for you?"

YES. (Or, at least it is for me, and that means a manual transmission and good tires among other things.)

-------------------
"Or do you base your decision on whether the drivetrain is gas, diesel, hybrid or which manufacturer offers the most options?"

NO. (But don't want diesel or hybrid, and couldn't care less about "options".)

-------------------
"In a perfect world, how would you power your next pickup?"

GASOLINE ICE (supercharged, with 700 HP and 800 lb-ft of torque, making delightful roaring sounds, with 0-60 in 5 seconds, and a big honking 6-speed manual transmission. Actually, the new Ram Rebel TRX comes to mind, in some aspects:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_m1pEWgFgdE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kqF6WP_6jU

==========================

A manual transmission is important to me, but unfortunately that is a dying breed. I prefer a manual especially if for hauling a load but for the most part manuals are limited to midsize base model trucks except the larger Rams. Even then I would still get a base or WT Colorado just to get a manual transmission.

Of course it matters! I'm a mopar guy and it posses me off when I drive up to a dealership and she a regular cab short bed 4x4 black express ram that has a hemi, 8 speed, and 3.92 gears but has an open differential! Wtf! Why at chrysler is the anti spin differential not standard and a locker not available?! And the very trucks That should have it never have it. I've gotten into arguments over this with cheap @$$ car salesmen trying to tell me that brake based fake limited slip differential that chrysler and nissan use as standard is sufficient. I had an automatic challenger with that crap and the brakes locked up on the spinning wheel everything till I got a diablosport tuner just to find out it was truly open diff.

Cab/bed config were the top points on my recent purchase. Im a Ford guy but I almost bought a dodge as I couldnt find a Ford with 4x4, single cab and short bed with a V8. Finally found a Ford but I think I would have been happy with the Dodge had it come to that.

Well...if it was not for Dodge bringing back the Power Wagon, back in 2005, I would have a Ford F-250 right now instead of a Dodge.

So to answer the original question; Dodge's Power Wagon drivetrain is what made me choose a Dodge over my preferred brand Ford.

I'd like to have a Ford F-250 with a Cummins engine and an Allison transmission.

The diesel engine was why i bought the 2016 Canyon. 34 mpg and lots of torque to pull a good size travel trailer. The 6L50 is also working well behind the 2.8L Duramax.

"Today, engines and transmissions are all that remain in terms of choices for pickup truck buyers."

That's just a ridiculous statement.... We have more choices than ever! Three different bed lengths, 3 different cab configurations, countless suspension combos (coil, leaf, torsion, air bag, etc.), solid axle or IFS... and that's ON TOP of dozens of engine choices!

I bought new Ford trucks in 1974 and 1978 because the base model came with a chrome front bumper and Chevy's base came with a painted bumper. The Ford offered upgrades as standard that were optional or part of an option package on the Chevy. Dodge was out of the question then because the lean burn technology they used didn't work and the vehicles ran like crap. Drive trains were different between manufacturers but each had a direct competing engine line and transmissions. The final decision is the most bang for the buck.

Now this are news fresh out of the oven.

EPORT Dec 12th 2016 at 1:15PM 27
FCA delays Grand Wagoneer and next-generation heavy-duty Ram trucks
LICENSE
2019 Jeep Wagoneer Dealer Leak Spy Shots Front End


Jeep's 75th...

Jeep CJ66 SEMA...


Image Credit: KGP Photography
Joel Stocksdale
The upcoming Jeep Grand Wagoneer has had a tumultuous gestation thus far. At one point it was essentially confirmed, but later it was rumored to have been cancelled. In that context, the latest report from Automotive News is something of a mixed blessing. According to the publication, the Grand Wagoneer has simply been delayed, as has the next-generation Ram heavy duty truck line. This does not seem to affect the fully redesigned Ram 1500, which was previously reported to have been pushed back slightly to 2019.

Automotive News says the information came from unnamed sources at the company. Nothing was said about how long the vehicles would be delayed. The publication also conjectures that FCA is delaying the models to save some money to help cover the company's $7 billion of debt, since re-tooling both the heavy-duty truck plant and eventual Grand Wagoneer plant will be expensive.

2019 Ram 1500 Dealer Leak Spy Shots Front End


Jeep's 75th...

Jeep CJ66 SEMA...


Image Credit: KGP Photography


We reached out to Chrysler for more information on the subject, but the company wouldn't comment on the report. Even so, we wouldn't be too surprised if FCA is indeed delaying these products. The company has delayed a number of vehicles in recent years. In fact nearly every major FCA truck and SUV, including the Grand Wagoneer and Ram line, were delayed about a year and a half ago.

We certainly hope the company doesn't delay the Grand Wagoneer for too long, since it's possible it will have a price tag of over $130,000. The profit margins on an SUV with that kind of MSRP would go a long way to helping to pay down the company's debt.

They are going broke as a joke.
Hahahahahahahaha.

I buy my truck based on the reputation of the local dealer.
I will buy from the dealer I like best over the brand of truck I like best.

The 5.7 Hemi is what got me to test drive a Ram. The perfect shifting transmission and the comfortable seats sealed the deal. I can't imagine going back to a Silverado or an F150 ever again.

Same here Bob, the 5.7 and 8 speed transmission are just wonderful. I also love the drivers seat. Just a damn fine driving truck with lots of power.

I have bought Ford and GMC recently. I buy for which will be the best value in the long run. I decided on GMC mainly this time because they had the longest run with minimal power train changes. The previous Ford I bought largely as a work only truck and the dealer was very close by. I did have a few issues with the Navistar 6 liter and are very glad they are building their own engines now. Had way to many issues with Dodge Ram to ever consider one of those again as long as I live.

I am a Chevy guy, but I can't get the options I want. Larger gas tank, 3.73 gears, and 8 speed auto not available on the 5.3 in the mid trim package I want. All these are available on any trim level Ram. Also, I couldn't get 3.73 gears on the 5.0 Ford trim level I built on their website. I have to be able to get these options if they want me to buy their trucks. The rear gears are hard to get and will probably be phased out soon.

@papjim, curious as to the statement of increase in cost of ownership? What extra cost? I can only compare my 09 ram to my 2011 diesel, and cost is down substantially, reason being, I mostly use my truck to tow the camper and boat, oil changes are around 3k miles more a year than the hemi sure more oil and also the fuel filters(x2) every other change cost more, but when you factor in the difference in interval vs the extra 5 mpg when towing heavy loads better resale, its better than the hemi was.

I'd like to see more focus on the lower and middle ends of the power-train and capability spectrum...we get 400+ hp motors to pull 12,000 lb trailers in a 1/2 ton when I honestly think anyone who tows anything more than about 6-7,000 lbs regularly just gets a 3/4 ton anyway. All of that "extra" is going to waste.

Why not focus on a reasonable midsize capability (6-9k lbs towing with 1800-2000 lb payload), fuel efficiency and low cost? (I know that there is bigger profit in offering max capabilities...I just wish that wasn't the case)

Ford came close with the 2.7 ecoboost but the mpg's have been terrible (hoping that the 10-speed works its way down quickly). Ram has the ecodiesel but no payload capacity on that particular rig.

I want my cake and to eat it too :)

I bought a taco back in 99 to get the 190hp V6 over the Ranger's 160hp V6. It was the right move. But honestly the brakes ended up impressing me far more on that truck than the engine.

I would only buy a Ram for the Cummins and the manual tranny but even then there are so many advantages elsewhere that they have that market far from cornered. The Alison is probably the best auto tranny in a HD but seems like everyones building a good auto finally.

I tend to stay away from brand new engines/power trains. I want 5 or 6 years and to see and hear from people with over 100k and notice the trends. My dad deliberately avoided a 2017 F150 because the new 10spd auto is just too damn new. He went with a 2016 3.5EB with the 6spd because it thoroughly impressed him far more than the V8s he tested.

The current Tacos lack of rear discs and GM taking FOREVER (compared to the competition) to put them on half tons are big issues to me. I pay close attention to brakes now.

Everything is a balance with the money involved and I demanding at least a decade and over 150K with little or no trouble have high standards and look everything over very closely.

Im willing to make more compromises (even brands) for a considerable improvement in powertrain as I certainly wont be buying a junk powertrain. Im a Ford fan at heart but there will never be a 6.0PS or an E40D in my fleet. GM has tried my patience (grew up with them) and Fiat sometimes treads water (worked at a Chrysler dealer in college). Im not blind to the faults or strengths and I play the game and keep my eyes open even if I do have a biased (and I do).

@Clint: Your bias is obviously preventing you from enjoying the the Duramax, Allison, GM combination.

When G M (or most anyone ) offers a midsize extended cab long bed 4x4 diesel they can sell me a truck.

Does the drive-train matter? Yes and no. A large percentage of buyers get way too much truck for what they actually need. I routinely see 1 ton diesel HD's towing 8-10k trailers or running around empty 5 days a week. Most 1/2 tons are used as family cars.

If you are a truck guy....... then YES it matters.

@nitro

compare the price difference between the two and get back to me.

The 5.7 Hemi is what got me to test drive a Ram. The perfect shifting transmission and the comfortable seats sealed the deal. I can't imagine going back to a Silverado or an F150 ever again.

Same here Bob, the 5.7 and 8 speed transmission are just wonderful. I also love the drivers seat. Just a damn fine driving truck with lots of power.

I agree, the hemi motor is hands down the stoutest motor on the market right now. As long as ram continues to offer the hemi in their trucks I'll probably buy another one. Also, the 545rfe and 66rfe are a very strong and smooth shifting setup able to withstand gobs of torque going through them.

@ GovMSRGREAT... Havent been in the market for a diesel but know know the Duramax has never been as good as the Cummins and depending upon the model lags behind the PS. While the Alison tranny was vastly superior to other autos when it came out that gap has been narrowed to the point where it no longer shows/matters.

I believe you are far more blinded by bias than myself as I have driven other makes and models and worked for companies and with products not of my choosing/preference and will acknowledge the shortcomings of my preferred brands.

@papa. my ram new was 34K, my low mileage diesel 1 year old diesel was 37K. My ram was worth 12k at 4 years old, my diesel at 5 years old is worth 34k, what say you?

@ GovMSRGREAT... Havent been in the market for a diesel but know know the Duramax has never been as good as the Cummins and depending upon the model lags behind the PS. While the Alison tranny was vastly superior to other autos when it came out that gap has been narrowed to the point where it no longer shows/matters.

The main reason cummins skunks the others is that they have a far richer history in diesel technology and more diesel r&d at their disposal. In fact, even though RAM is an excellent truck, cummins is what pulled them out of a hole years ago and cummins is what sells probably 50% of their heavy dutys(and probably more if the EPA wasn't cramming regulations down their throats) lol

Also, just like the cummins sells a large percentage of ram trucks, the Allison is what sells most of GM's heavy dutys. Everyone I asked that drives a duramax all they talk about is the transmission. They all say the engine has it's issues but it is ok then they talk about the Allison and how flawlessly it performs. Some even say they wish they had a RAM with the cummins and Allison combo.

1 )The Box is the most important
it has to be 6 foot at the bare minimum

2) reliability and durability and crash worthiness has to be a known factor and must be highly rated

3) Drive train should be refined and efficient though not at the expense of off road ability meaning both low and high gearing must be present ,low first gear and big overdrive gearing 7speed minimum

I value long term cost of ownership above other factors, so the drivetrain is my highest priority. The 6.0 Liter gas engine from GM has a long track record of trouble free extended service. That will drive my choice of truck. A gas hog, and a very boring choice, but highly over represented among vehicles on the road with over 200,000 miles.

If I didn't want a 3/4 ton I would pick another boring gas hog, the Tundra.

Today, all trucks in every segment have powertrains with tons of power that will last a long, long time if moderately cared for. Seems like the bigger differences are to be had in the small-moderate stuff: Ball-joints, wheel bearing, brakes, body electronics, HVAC components... Good friend remarked about his first Cummins Ram (turned-up 12V with NV4500) that it was an awesome truck, if you didn't mind fixing stupid sh't all the time. I mind.

Ive been very satisfied with reliablity of my Chevies over all these years and dont ever see me buying any other brand..

In a perfect world Id get me one of these

https://youtu.be/JDynVAv8-MU

With this drivetrain
https://youtu.be/oOYrJm23OpM

@papa. my ram new was 34K, my low mileage diesel 1 year old diesel was 37K. My ram was worth 12k at 4 years old, my diesel at 5 years old is worth 34k, what say you?

@Nitro

I went to public schools but I can do basic math. Based on the info you shared, you lost 22K on your Ram gasser in four years. Ouch!

Is there anything Chrysler touches that does not turn to sh*t?

@pap, correct, which is why I didnt buy new the next time and went to Diesel.......so not exactly apples to apples but if you do it right you can easily come out in the green buying a hardly used diesel....

@Nitro

1. I think diesel makes sense for some truck owners but the cost of building the engine is a lot higher than building a gasser. So, the cost up front is higher.

2. Then there's the extra tax the Feds place on diesel fuel. Where I live diesel is about the same price as unleaded premium. Ouch.

3. Lastly, repair work on diesels is highly specialized. You don't want some shade-tree mechanic working on your Cummins.

a new gm 6.2 v8 specifically tuned for regular gas, 10 speed auto, 4wd, offset crash safety improvements, no front air dam, completely defeatable traction control, stability control. driver assist/safety systems that stay off when turned off. bonus points if they can raise the speed limiter to 120 mph.

I hear u syntheticjuice! I'm hoping for an SRT Ram 1500 with a 6.4 Hemi.



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