2006 Truck & Van Preview

2006 Truck & Van Preview

As companies keep up production to meet still feverish demand for commercial vehicles, it's very clear truck buyers should have little trouble finding all the standard and optional features they require to specify a truck for virtually any job at hand. Thanks to strong demand for replacement vehicles, as well as at least some pre-buying to avoid '07 engines for as long as possible, another record

As companies keep up production to meet still feverish demand for commercial vehicles, it's very clear truck buyers should have little trouble finding all the standard and optional features they require to specify a truck for virtually any job at hand.

Thanks to strong demand for replacement vehicles, as well as at least some pre-buying to avoid '07 engines for as long as possible, another record year for both Class 8 and medium-duty truck sales is unfolding.


Dodge. Dodge is introducing several new options for its Dodge Ram pickups in 2006. First, the Dodge Ram 1500 light-duty will have a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 gasoline engine equipped with Chrysler's multi-displacement system (MDS) technology, which can turn engine cylinders on and off, depending on driving conditions. According to Dodge, this function can boost fuel economy by up to 20%. Also new is the Mega Cab, available for the complete line of Dodge Ram pickups, including the 1500, 2500, and 3500. With 145.2 cu. ft of interior space, the crew cab package can accommodate six adult passengers and their gear. The company says reclining rear seats are an industry first for pickups. Rear seats also split 60/40, fold down and move forward.

A late addition to the 2005 Dodge Ram line, the 3500 Box-Off 4×2 dual-rear-wheel model, available in both regular and Quad Cab configurations, offers commercial work-truck customers easy upfit capability, thanks to 42-in. frame rail rear spacing. GVWR is 11,000 lb, payload capacity is 5,550, and GCWR is 23,000 lb. The new 4×2 Dually package also features 17-in. wheels and tires, a 35-gal. fuel tank and cab-to-axle length of 57 in.

Dodge is now also home to DaimlerChrysler's Sprinter van, which is available in 118-in., 140-in., and 158-in. wheelbase packages. In addition to a standard roof, the company offers a high roof option that has up to 73 in. of interior height. Cargo room for the 2500 and 3500 Sprinter runs up to 473 cu. ft of load area; maximum payload capacity is 4,824 lb. A 2.7-liter inline, 5-cylinder diesel engine remains the standard powerplant.
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Ford. For the 2006 model year, Ford Motor Co. plans to make some exterior styling changes to its Ranger line of pickups, while leaving the guts of the truck alone. The company's F-150 line will see a range of new options, such as those showcased during the rollout of the 2006 specialty Harley-Davidson F-150 earlier this year.

The Harley-Davidson F-150 for 2006 has a new 5.4-liter, 3-valve Triton V8 gasoline engine that cranks out 300 hp at 5,000 rpm and 365 lb-ft of torque at 3,750 rpm. Configuration choices are 4×2 or a new all-wheel-drive (AWD) system — a first for the F-150, according to Ford.

The new F-series Ford Super Duty offers dual rear-wheel tires and Ford's exclusive TowCommand system, the only available factory-installed integrated trailer brake controller. The Dually configuration offers maximum payload of 5,800 lb and GVWR of 13,000 lb, plus fifth wheel towing capacity of 19,200 lb. Ford's TorqShift 5-speed automatic transmission, standard on the new Super Duty, is designed to complement the torque generated by the optional PowerStroke Turbo Diesel engine built exclusively for Ford by International Truck & Engine Corp.

On the cargo van side, Ford is making some changes to its E-series lineup, which includes the E-150, E-250, and E-350. Standard spec is a V8 gasoline engine; the 6.0-liter Power Stroke V8 Turbo Diesel engine — mated to a TorqShift electronic 5-speed automatic transmission with overdrive that produces 440 lb-ft of torque — is optional. E-250 and E-350 vans will be available in extended-length body styles; a Slimline engine cover console is standard for all models.
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General Motors. In 2006 the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra will have a new Allison automatic transmission package married to a diesel engine for better driving performance and capability.

GM is also going to widen the availability of its Duramax 6600 6.6-liter turbodiesel engine for light trucks in 2006, starting with its Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana full-size vans. The Duramax diesel engine delivers 250 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque and offers a revised variable-geometry turbocharger that's aerodynamically more efficient. The diesel engines in these vans feature a new 32-bit E35 controller, which adjusts and compensates for the fuel flow to improve efficiency and reduce emissions.

The Duramax 6600 is mated to the GM Hydra-Matic 4L85-E automatic transmission in the vans, giving them improved towing and grade capability and helping boost composite fuel economy to 20.2 mpg.

Displacement on demand (DOD) technology for V8 gasoline engines is going to make a wider appearance in light trucks in 2006. DOD turns engine cylinders “on” and “off,” depending on how much power the vehicle needs at any given time. The technology enables the V8s to sip gasoline like a V4 in light inner city and steady highway driving conditions.

GM is also going to offer both its StabiliTrak vehicle stability system and its OnStar satellite communication product as options on light-duty trucks in 2006.
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Honda. The 2006 Honda Ridgeline is the company's first entry into the light-truck market. The vehicle received a five-star safety rating from NHTSA for both frontal and side impact crash test performance.

A key feature of the truck is its integrated full-frame body structure, which the company said is designed to help protect occupants while minimizing the effect of crash energy on smaller vehicles. The unibody frame also allows for greater interior space for enhanced driver and passenger comfort. Other safety features, such as Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) with traction control, airbags all around, antilock brakes, and electronic brake assist, are offered in every Ridgeline truck.

Standard specs include a 255-hp VTEC V6 engine, 5-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission, and an advanced Variable Torque Management 4WD system. Both the standard RT model and the luxury RTL come equipped ready to tow, with standard transmission and oil coolers, heavy-duty brakes, dual radiator fans, and pre-wiring for 4-pin and 7-pin trailer hook-up. Three trim levels are available.
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Nissan. For the 2006 model year, Nissan Titan and Frontier trucks will see some minor changes, aimed mostly at enhanced driver comfort and convenience, according to the company.

The Titan, which is built on the F-Alpha truck platform, features a 5.6-liter DOHC V8 engine that produces 305 hp, a 5-speed automatic transmission, and a towing capacity of up to 9,500 lb. Enhancements for '06 include a tow package available on XE models, a sunroof available on Crew Cab SE models, and power mirrors standard on SE trucks. New power folding mirrors with heat, power-adjust, auto dim, and integrated turn signal are standard on LE models. Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) is also available with locking differential on '06 trucks.

The Nissan Frontier, which was totally revamped in 2005, now closely resembles the Titan full-size pickup. The third-generation Frontier is offered in King Cab and Crew Cab versions and has a 4.0-liter DOHC V6 engine rated 265-hp and 284 lb-ft of torque, and a choice of 2WD or 4WD, including (on 4×4 models) 4-wheel limited-slip ABS.
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Ford. For 2006, Ford Motor Co. is tweaking both its F-series and E-series medium-duty trucks. Base models for the E-series will continue to be the E-350 and E-450, although the company has added a Stripped chassis configuration for 2006. E-series trucks come in 138-in., 158.-in., and 176-in. wheelbase models.

New for all E-series vehicles in 2006 is an Electronic Throttle Control (ETC) as standard. Also new is a 140A alternator as an option on Cutaway chassis specified with the 6.0-liter Power Stroke diesel engines built exclusively for Ford by International Truck & Engine Corp.

For gasoline fleets, the E-350 comes with a 5.4-liter EFI V8 engine, while the E-450 gets a 6.8-liter EFI V10. The transmission package for both engines is a TorqShift electronic 5-speed automatic with tow/haul mode.

For the medium class market, Ford also offers F-series models F-250 through F-750. Several engine options will be available in 2006, including the 5.4-liter 3-valve Triton V8 and 6.8-liter 3-valve Triton V10, both with ECT and optional 50-state emissions system; and the 6.0-liter PowerStroke V8 Turbo Diesel, which now meets federal Low Emission Vehicle certification standards. All engines are available with the TorqShift 5-speed automatic transmission.

Ford will also offer its relatively new Class 4-5 Low Cab Forward (LCF) in 2006, built in conjunction with International. Features include four GVWRs ranging from 15,000 lb to 19,500 lb, a V6 diesel engine with 200 hp and 440 lb-ft of torque, a clean cab-to-axle configuration on top of the frame, and standard 34-in. frame spacing.
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Freightliner. Freightliner Trucks' medium-duty Business Class M2 V (for “vocational”) models, the M2 106V and 112V, boast new options for 2006. For severe vocational applications, a one-piece, heavier-duty bumper is offered. The bumper is constructed of ¼-in.-thick solid steel and is available in chrome or can be painted.

The Business Class M2 Vs can also be specified with a front-engine PTO provision without the standard frame rail extensions. Like other Business Class models, the M2 Vs continue to feature an up-to 55° wheel-cut for maneuverability, as well as a 2,500-sq-in. windshield and low-profile dash to enhance visibility out of the cab. The new M2 V options will be available later this year.

A new standard feature of all Business Class M2 106, 106V, 112, and 112V trucks is a noise abatement package, which minimizes vibrations and blocks noise. A premium noise abatement package is also available as an option for all M2 vehicles.

Now optional on all Business Class M2 vehicles are the latest Bendix/Spicer air disc brakes, which the company says offer improved brake pedal feel and reduced brake fade. To be ordered with the air discs, the truck must be equipped with Freightliner proprietary front axles. These brakes can be specified for 24.5-in. tires.
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General Motors. GM plans to beef up the smaller W-series in 2006 to increase both carrying capacity and power. GM is targeting its OnStar 24/7 satellite communications package, as well as XM satellite radios, for the medium-duty fleet community in 2006. The XM satellite radio package can give drivers instant traffic and weather updates for 21 major metropolitan areas, helping them avoid congestion and thus reduce delays.
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Hino. Hino Motor Sales USA does not plan to make many changes to its Class 4-7 medium-duty conventionals, which were introduced in 2004.

The big news is the addition of a Hino 165 hybrid version, which was unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show last November. The Class 4 hybrid, rated 16,000 lb GVW, is powered by Hino's standard 4-cylinder, 5-liter diesel engine, combined with a proprietary flywheel generator/starter that captures braking force when the vehicle slows, storing it as electrical power in a battery array. The electrical power is then used to augment the diesel on startup, as well as during cruising, improving fuel economy anywhere from 14% to 27%. The standardized battery pack is the same as that used in Toyota's Prius hybrid automobile, which could make replacements easier to find and less expensive because Toyota is the parent company of Hino.

The conventional lineup includes six models, with GVWRs ranging from 14,050 lb to 33,000 lb. All models are equipped with Hino's J-series 5-liter or 8-liter engine, offering between 175 hp and 260 hp.
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International. International Truck & Engine Corp. has announced no major changes to its new CF-series line of low-cab-forward trucks, which entered production earlier this year, or to its existing 4000-series of conventional medium-duties.

The new CF line consists of the CF 500, rated at 16,000 lb GVW, and the CF 600, rated at 19,500 lb GVW. The company says the CF-series marks its entry into the Class 4-5 market with an all-new product designed and produced in North America.

Both CF models are powered by the new International VT 275 diesel. The 4.5-liter V6 boasts peak ratings of 200 hp at 3,000 rpm and 440 lb-ft of torque at 1,850 rpm. The integrated CF powertrain includes a 5-speed overdrive automatic transmission as standard. The CF-series is built on a high-strength, low-alloy steel frame with 34-in. wide frame rails, taper-leaf front suspension, and standard front and rear shocks. PTO capability is offered as an option.

The International 4000-series offers conventional models for Class 6 and higher, including the 4200, 4200 Lo Pro, 4300, 4400, and the 4400 4×2 Mid Cab tractor. Power is provided by International VT 365, DT 466, and DT 570 diesel engines, depending on specific model. Transmission choices include International and Eaton Fuller manuals, as well as Allison automatics.

The newest member of the International XT Family is the RXT, a more than five-ton, 22-ft long 4×2 commercial pickup truck. The RXT is powered by an International VT 365 diesel V8 that boasts 230 hp and 540 lb-ft of torque. It's fitted with an 8-ft long bed and commercial hydraulic brakes for stopping large loads or trailers. Other features include a low step-in height, an aerodynamic hood, and a crew cab that seats five.
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Isuzu. General Motors and Isuzu Commercial Truck have given their N-series cabovers a fresh new look on the outside while adding more features directed at driver comfort and convenience on the inside.

Exterior enhancements include flush-mounted headlamps, cornering lamps and turn signals, and a new composite bumper. Inside, drivers can expect to find lighter colors and a new, breathable cloth seat material. A tachometer has been added for diesel models, to aid PTO operation, and a new rear steel engine cover is designed to improve back-of-cab appearance and help retain heat during cold weather operation.

N-series models (Class 3 NPR, Class 4 NPR HD, and Class 5 NQR and NRR) also feature standard power door locks for '06, a new engine control module mounting bracket for improved body mounting, plus a Donaldson poly-propylene air cleaner (for the diesel single cab) for easier serviceability and more corrosion resistance, according to Isuzu.

Power options have likewise been expanded. An NPR diesel model with a 12,000-lb GVW rating certified in all 50 states is available for '06, extending the diesel-power availability to five GVW ratings: 12,000 lb, 14,500 lb, 17,950 lb, and 19,500 lb. The 5.2-liter Isuzu 4HK1-TC turbocharged, intercooled diesel engine produces 190 hp and 387 lb-ft of torque, and can be paired with a 6-speed manual transmission or the Aisin 450-43LE 4-speed automatic. The gasoline-powered Vortec 6000, 6.0-liter V8 engine can also be specified for the NPR and NPR HD models. It delivers 300 hp and 358 lb-ft of torque driven through a Hydra-Matic 4L80-E 4-speed automatic. Warranties for '06 N-series vehicles have been extended to 36 months/unlimited mileage.

Isuzu has also introduced a series of conventional trucks, dubbed the H-series and available in Class 6 (HTR, 25,950 lb), Class 7 (HVR, 25,950 lb to 33,000 lb), and Class 8 (HXR, 33,000 lb to 54,600 lb) weight ratings. All H-series models feature the Isuzu 6HK1-TC 6-cylinder diesel engine, rated 200 to 300 hp, and with torque output from 520 to 860 lb-ft, driven through an Allison 2400 or 2500 series (2500 is standard on HTR and HVR) or Allison 3000 or 3500 series (HVR and HXR only). The Allison 3000 is standard on the HXR. Manual transmission fans can also chose either the Eaton 6-speed (HTR and HVR) or the Eaton 9/10-speed (HXR).

Cab options include the regular three-person cab (105-in. BBC) or a six-person crew cab (146-in. BBC). Driver and passengers have a variety of seating options, including air seats and a two-person passenger seat that features a fold-down work surface and integrated storage.

Low-cab-forward F-series models will continue to be available in a wide range of configurations for 2006, although no major changes are anticipated. A tandem-axle, 56,000-lb GVWR was added in '05.
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Kenworth. Kenworth Truck Co. has announced no major changes for the 2006 model year for its T300 medium-duty conventional model. The truck is available in Class 6 or 7 configurations, either as a straight truck or tractor, in a variety of wheelbases and with either air or hydraulic brakes. The truck features a 20° sloped hood, 50° wheel cut, one-piece windshield, and Daylite doors, and its aluminum and fiberglass cab with cowl mounted mirrors add strength and durability.

The T300 offers front axle ratings from 8,000 lb to 14,000 lb and rear-axle ratings from 19,000 lb to 40,000 lb. Available engines are the Cummins ISB or ISC or Caterpillar C7 diesels rated from 190- hp to 330-hp. These can be mated with Eaton Fuller AutoShift and Allison automatic transmissions. Options include hydraulic disc brakes.
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Mitsubishi Fuso. Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America completely redesigned its Class 3-7 cabovers in 2005, and they're expected to remain unchanged in 2006. New on all 2006 models, however, are improved warranty programs, including an augmented bumper-to-bumper warranty of 35-month/unlimited mileage and a limited 5-year powertrain warranty. Class 4 FE and Class 5 FG models are covered for 5 years/175,000 miles, while Class 6 FK and Class 7 FM models get 5-year/250,000-mile coverage.

In a mid-year update to '05 models, engineers have focused on making the cab environment friendly and comfortable, with car-like controls used wherever possible. As a result, the FE 120, FE 145, FE 180, and the FG 140 4WD models have cabs with plenty of room for a 6-ft driver plus two helpers. All seats recline and have generous forward-aft adjustment; the seatback on the assistant seat folds forward to provide a flat work surface when not occupied.

If more room is needed, the FE 145 Crew Cab is available to seat seven, with four full-access doors and storage areas under the rear bench seat.

To reduce driver fatigue, all of these models are equipped with one-touch tilt/telescoping steering wheel adjustment, high-mount HVAC vents, easy-to-reach storage slots, adjustable driver's armrest, noise-reducing door seals, high-mount air intake, tinted windshield glass, and power windows and door locks.
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Peterbilt. Peterbilt Motors Co. reports no big changes in the works for its Class 6-7 conventional offering, model 335, which it began rolling out just last year. The medium-duty truck is aimed at a wide range of applications, including pickup, delivery, and utility, and is available as a truck or tractor.

The two-pedal automated Eaton UltraShift transmission is now available on model 335. The automatic transmission is available on the medium truck in 660 lb-ft and 860 lb-ft torque capacities. Both can be mated to the Cummins ISC and Caterpillar C7 engines. The company says the transmission can increase fuel economy compared to a manual gearbox by using computer-controlled shifts for optimal efficiency and performance.

Model 335 boasts an upgraded interior as well, with many features designed to enhance operator comfort, productivity, and ergonomics.
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Sterling. Sterling Truck Corp. reports different axle and suspension offerings on its Acterra and L-Line models for medium-duty (Class 5-7) applications. An enhanced 12,000-lb taper leaf front suspension is available for all Sterling Class 7 and 8 models. The company says this lightweight, low-maintenance front suspension offers up to a 14-lb weight savings when compared to the previous design and provides improved ride quality due to reduced interleaf spring friction.

Also available on Acterra and L-Line trucks is the Hendrickson Composilite ST 13,500-lb steerable pusher axle. It provides a 160-lb weight savings when compared to the HLUS-2 Paralift Ultra axle. In addition, in-line air springs maximize packaging space and avoid undercarriage obstructions both inside and outside the frame rails.

Already offered for powering the Acterra, the Cummins ISC engine is now available on L-Line trucks.
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UD Trucks. Since the UD Truck line built by Nissan Diesel received a complete overhaul for the 2005 model year, only a few changes are being made for 2006.

The company is making four major changes to its all-cabover product line in 2006. First, it's adding a 238.2-in. “R” wheelbase for its UD 2600 model, specifically to give customers who use a 25,950-lb GVWR vehicle more flexibility in choice of body length. The new wheelbase can fit dry van bodies ranging from 26 ft. to 28 ft. Second, a full-depth air-dam style bumper is going to be standard equipment for all UD 1800CS (City Spec) through UD 3300 models in 2006, giving those trucks better aerodynamic performance. Third, cruise control will also be standard on those models.

Another change for 2006 is the addition of an Allison's 2500RDS automatic on the UD 3300.

The UD product line includes nine truck models, with GVWRs ranging from 13,000 lb (UD 1300) to 33,000 lb (UD 3300). Standard engine specs are the 4-cylinder MD 175 diesel for UD 1300, 1400, and 1800CS models, and the 6-cylinder MD 230 for the 1800HD up through the 3300.
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Workhorse Custom Chassis. The new W42 chassis from Workhorse Custom Chassis makes its debut this year as a 2006 model, replacing the P42 commercial chassis. Workhorse began producing a gasoline-engine version of the W42 in July, which will be followed by a diesel-engine option in October.

Workhorse will continue to offer the GM Vortec 4.8-liter and 6.0-liter gasoline engines, and will add a diesel option — the International VT 275 V-6, which cranks out 200 hp and 440 lb-ft of torque. The W42 chassis will also feature Brembo four-wheel disc brakes and a new Westport Wide Track I-Beam front axle with a full 50° wheel cut and a track that is 5 in. wider for more stability and better handling. The rear axle track will also be wider.

The W42 gets an upgraded transmission for its diesel application, the Allison LCT-1000 electronic 5-speed, as well as new parabolic taper leaf suspension springs, front and rear, with custom-tuned 32mm shock absorbers.

Finally, the W42 will offer the Meritor WABCO four-channel ABS system with full J-1939 diagnostics capability, a new ZF variable ratio power steering box, and ZF belt-driven power steering pump, a bigger radiator and cooling fan, and a new Smart Cluster instrument panel with LCD screen for driver and diagnostic information.

Workhorse says that the W42 will be offered in GVWR ranges from 9,400 lb to 14,500 lb, with wheelbases from 125 in. to 190 in. A single rear-wheel option will be available for GVWR up to 12,000 lb.
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