Drive! 2014: The Goldilocks effect

Posted on 07 Nov 2014 at 7:30am

Some pickup trucks are powerhouses, some are sporty … and some are just right

Screen shot 2014-11-06 at 4.16.24 PM

GMC’s Canyon, top, rides like an SUV blessed with a flatbed; the reliable Ford F-150, left, is a Texas tradition with an adventurer’s spirit; and the Ram 3500, right, shows what power means in a pickup.

CASEY WILLIAMS  | Auto Reviewer

Trucks are like a certain nursery rhyme where one is too small, one is too large, but right in the middle, one is just right. Of course, some of us prefer smaller bowls of porridge or have an appetite for a larger one, so just right for one may not be just right for all. Nobody will judge the size of your porridge, so rock on with the one you like.

2015 GMC Canyon. You and your hot husband just moved into that chic downtown loft. You’re going to need a vehicle that fits in the parking garage, parallel parks at the restaurant and can haul a load from Crate & Barrel. Style is important, but so is towing an occasional jet ski. Here’s your truck.

Canyon is like an SUV with a flatbed. Load up on navigation, USB, Bluetooth, Bose audio and Pandora. GMC enhanced its IntelliLink infotainment system with text messaging, Siri Eyes Free and wifi hotspot. Forward collision alert, lane departure warning, and rear camera enhance safety. As with larger Sierra pickups, Canyon employs a CornerStep rear bumper, EZ Lift tailgate, GearO system to re-configure the bed and enough tie down locations to make any night interesting.

Step into the 200 horsepower 4-cylinder engine that delivers 20/27-MPG city/hwy., or the 305 horsepower V6 that tows 7,000 pounds. Either way, you’ll haul your wares with panache to spare. If Canyon seems light in its loafers, move up to a bigger bowl of tonnage. Base price: $20,955.

2015 Ford F-150. What does a beer can and F-150 have in common? Nope, not Duck Dynasty. Both contain intensive amounts of aluminum, though the F-150 employs aerospace-grade alloys … until now, the purview of Jaguars and Audis. Ford removed 700 lbs. from the F-150’s weight, allowing it to accelerate faster, haul more and employ more efficient engines.

Under hood is a choice of 325 horsepower 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6, 365 horsepower 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, or 385 horsepower 5.0-liter V8 engines. They’re always ready to engage in a little mud play. Styling is smoother and lit with LEDs, but a drunken drag queen could recognize an F-150. Cool tricks include integrated loading ramps, LED cargo lighting, 110-volt power outlets, and key fob-operated tailgate. Grille shutters enhance fuel efficiency. Safety was enhanced with 360-degree cameras, second-row inflatable safety belts, adaptive cruise, lane keeping assist and blind spot warning.

The high-tech F-150 can easily tow a vintage Chris Craft boat, proving wood and aluminum go together. Need more brawn? Get a bigger bowl. Base price: $25,420.

2015 Dodge Ram 3500. If Noah had one of these, he could have parked his ark anywhere or engaged in light gardening with a tractor or two. Ram 3500 tows up to 30,000 pounds — the equivalent of seven BMW 5-Series cars with a Smart to spare. We’re talking 30-foot mobile mansions or a corral of horses hauling ass through mountains without sweating thy ass.

You’ll care about throbbing powertrains. Ram HD comes standard with a 383 horsepower 5.7-liter V8. But we’re looking for the optional 410 horsepower 6.4-liter HEMI V8 or 6.7-liter Cummins turbo-diesel that kicks out 385 horsepower and 865 lb.-ft. of torque. Supplemental air bags keep the big boy’s rear-end level when bearing heavy loads.

Ram is also stylish. Check the beefy fenders and streamlined contours. Black Forest Green Pearl and Robin Egg Blue paint sounds cute; Case Construction Power Tan, New Holland Agriculture Blue and Case IH Red are more butch. Interiors come basic or luxed-out like a Mercedes. Get the Maybach-inspired Mega Cab. Base price: $31,210.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 7, 2014

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