What’s under the hood for 2013?

Light duty pick-up trucks are the big news this year, with the Detroit three all putting new power trains in play.

Ford is technically the oldest, having introduced EcoBoost last year. General Motors is the newest with EcoTec.

With the Sierra-Silverado twins, General Motors has dropped the DuraTec name and gone with EcoTec3. The logic is that all its en-gines are optimized for fuel economy and power.

All three engine variants, the 4.3 litre V6, 5.3 litre aluminum V8 and 6.2 litre V8, use direct fuel injection, variable valve timing on intake and exhaust, as well as active fuel management, including cylinder deactivation.

At the same time, power is up. The 4.3 L V6 puts out 285 horsepower and 305 foot pounds of torque.

Next in line is the 5.3 L V8 at 355 h.p. and 383 foot pounds of torque. At the top of the power heap is the 6.2 L V8, coming in at a healthy 420 h.p. and 450 foot pounds of torque.

The transmission was next on the upgrade list. The six-speed automatic is the only transmission, but it is adaptive.

You will wonder what is going on for the first couple of days, but the transmission continues to get better at shifting as it gathers data about your driving habits, which in turn significantly reduces fuel consumption.

Dodge is gone. Ram is now the name for all Chrysler Corp. trucks.

The big news is an engine that we can’t get yet. After decades of complaining about the lack of diesel power in a half ton, Ram is going to do it.

After tantalizing me by showing me the truck, the company would still not commit to an exact introduction date. Look for the fourth quarter of this year at the earliest.

As for the rest of the engines, a new 3.6 L DOHC V6 hits the ground running with horsepower pegged at 305 while torque comes in at 269 foot pounds.

Next on the list is an upgraded 4.7 L V8 that is E 85 capable and will still produce 310 h.p. and 330 foot pounds of torque.

At the top of the heap is the 5.7 L Hemi V8 that puts out 395 h.p. and 407 foot pounds of torque.

Revisions to fuel mapping and other electronic improvements help fuel economy, but the biggest im-provement comes from the eight-speed electronically controlled automatic that is available on most Ram trucks.

It is an adaptive unit that has factory-set driving patterns and can also learn what you do differently from the factory settings.

What all this does is help improve fuel economy in spite of how you like to drive.

Ford made its engine and transmission changes last year, so these engines aren’t really new.

As such, we’ve had a chance to sort through the highs and lows of the engines.

The 3.5 L EcoBoost V6 received all the press during its introduction.

It is basically a turbocharged motor with electronic controls to help provide improvements in fuel economy. It does this, but not as well as expected.

Two groups in the United States are trying to launch class action suits against Ford on the grounds that drivers cannot achieve the advertised fuel economy figures.

I never did either, but I figured 11.8 litres per 100 kilometres on a real world test loop with city and highway sections, including an 11 percent grade with an average speed of more than 70 km-h, was pretty darn good.

If I had a feather foot and drove on some of the flat lands with the wind at my back, I could probably have achieved significantly better economy.

Drive with care or dig a bit deeper into your wallet.

Two unsung motors are the normally aspirated 3.7 L V6 at 302 h.p. and 278 foot pounds of torque and the 5.0 L V8, which thumps out 360 h.p. and 380 foot pounds of torque. Both motors are DOHC units that provide plenty of power.

At the top of the horsepower heap for Ford is the 6.2 L V8, which strokes along to 411 h.p. and 434 foot pounds of torque.

Transmission choice at Ford is limited to a six-speed automatic, which is electronically controlled but not adaptive.

It seems Ford has programmed nearly every possibility into the transmission because it shifted when I wanted it to every time, under every condition, right from the start.

Which truck do you get? It is a difference of opinion that makes for a good truck race. Ford now has 63 percent of the work truck market. Dodge is after a larger chunk of that, as is General Motors.

All three want to steal a bit of the recreational user market away from each other. Interesting times can be fun.

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