Hauling into the New Year

From the December 2020 print edition

The year 2021 will offer new electric truck models, though we haven’t seen them yet. Still, Rivian, Fisker, Bollinger, Altis and Tesla say we will. What we have seen are more versions of traditional pickups with an emphasis on off-road capability, across all auto manufacturers. This trend has been growing for years and seems to be more important than ever to the market.

Ford F-150

Also new for the coming year:

  • We get a new Ford F-150 and Super Duty;
  • Ram has just released its TRX – a serious off-road truck;
  • Toyota is increasing the number of TRD-Pro models; and
  • The Nissan Titan, in Canada, is discontinued.

The 2021 Ford Super Duty was launched in January 2020, just before the COVID-19 shutdown. The big news is a new 7.3L gas engine which offers best-in-class 430hp and best-in-class 475ft-lbs of torque. The optional 6.7L Power Stroke diesel is also updated and gets a new 10-speed TorqShift automatic transmission (also used with the 7.3L) These are available now. The F450 has a maximum payload of 7,850lbs and a maximum towing capacity of 37,000.

Nissan Titan

The 2021 Ford F150 is the first major update since the all-aluminum body debuted in 2015. A new hybrid engine, based on the 3.5L EcoBoost, is on offer. It’s 47hp electric motor has been integrated into the 10-speed transmission to create a new powertrain – called the PowerBoost. They claim this engine will have a range of approx­imately 1,100km on a single tank of gas. Another new, unique feature is called Pro Power Onboard. This generator (with plug-in outlets in the bed) will push enough power (as much as 7.2KW) to run 28 average refrigerators, says Ford. Tech upgrades include a new generation of SYNC (4) that includes over-the-air updates. The new centerpiece is a 12-inch screen that is the heart of the infotainment system. An interesting new feature is fold-flat front seats. More than just a full recline – the seat folds back and the bottom lifts up to form a flat bed. This new PowerBoost drivetrain is rated at 12,000lbs max towing. Other powertrains are still available. The maximum payload is 3,270lbs and the towing capacity is 13,200lbs.

Meanwhile, the 2021 Ford Ranger is selling well and remains unchanged for the 2021 model year with a maximum payload of 1,860lbs and maximum towing capacity of 7,500lbs.

The 2021 Ram 1500 is a carry-over year for the 1500. However, the Ram 3L diesel, in its third incarnation, is now available in any version of its 1500-series truck – not the case with all brands. The maximum payload is 2,300lbs and towing capacity is 12,700lbs.

Also new to trucks is the Ram 1500 TRX. This serious off-roader challenges the Ford Raptor. Powered by the 702hp supercharged 6.2L Hemi V8 engine, it delivers a top speed of 190km/h, making it the quickest, most powerful mass-produced half-ton pickup truck in the world.

The TRX differs from the standard Ram 1500 by being eight inches wider and taller to accommodate the new 18-inch wheels supporting the 35-inch Wrangler Territory All-Terrain tires from Goodyear. This combination, paired with an all-new custom suspension, produces even more capability on the street or in the desert. Its payload is 1,310lbs and towing capacity is 8,100lbs.
This is also a carry-over year for the Ram Truck HD 2500 and 3500 as 2019 was the update. Its interior is still one of the best with a seven-camera surround-view system broadcast on the 12-inch centre stack screen. Its payload is 7,680lbs and the towing capacity is 35,000lbs.

Jeep Gladiator

The 2021 Jeep Gladiator is powered by the Pentastar 3.6L V6 and can be ordered with a manual six-speed. For 2021 it is also available with an optional diesel as well as a 1,600lbs payload and 7,650lbs towing capacity.

This is a carryover year for the Toyota Tacoma. For 2021 more features are offered in the Pro editions along with limited annual colours. There is also a new base SR package that combines entry-level price with all the up-to-date infotainment options. Payload is 1,500lbs and towing capacity is 6,500lbs.
A generational update to the Toyota Tundra should arrive in 2021. The last one occurred in 2014, and Toyota tends to stick to the seven-year update cycle. The big rumour is that the 5.7L V8 will be dropped in favour of a six-cylinder turbo. Payload is 1,710lbs and the towing capacity is 10,000lbs.
This is a carry-over year for the Chevrolet Silverado HD 2500 &3500 (GMC HD Sierra). A major update came last year along with upgraded 6.6L diesel engine, a new 10-speed transmission and a new gas engine as a base – a 6.6L V8. Payload is 7,374lbs and towing capacity is 35,500lbs.

This is a carryover year, however the GM 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 3.0L diesel with the 10-speed automatic is now fully available. Of note: A new Chevy Tahoe was released in November with an all-new interior – I expect it to move into the pickup, although the question is, when? The payload is 2,250lbs and the maximum towing capacity is 13,400lbs.

The 2021 GMC Sierra is also in a carry-over year. Along with the Tahoe came a new GMC Yukon. Its interior is also updated, however for the first time ever the Denali version got its own unique, exclusive design. This should also move into the Sierra Denali pickup. The maximum payload is 2,250lbs and the towing capacity is 13,400lbs.

Ram 1500

The mid-size twins are in another carryover year. Sales remain strong for the 2021 Canyon and Colorado. In particular, the Chevy ZR2 off-road version featuring front- and rear-electronic locking differentials, DSSVTM damper technology, a lifted frame and 31-inch Goodyear Duratrac off-road tires. Payload is 1,620lbs and the 2.8L I-4 diesel’s towing capacity is 7,700lbs.
The 2021 Honda Ridgeline offers some ‘editions’ – new, mild appearance packages while its mechanicals remain the same. It continues to serve its limited market well with a maximum payload of 1,600lbs and towing capacity of 3,500lbs.

On a sour note, Nissan has announced that 2020 is the last year the Titan pickup will be available in Canada. It continues in the US however no promises have been made past the 2021 model year. The Frontier, on the other hand, remains and is very overdue for a generational update, which should be in 2021 – probably as a 2022 model.