As a Construction Superintendent, your vehicle is more than a statement, it is who you are and who your company is. It is an identity. So we decided to to dive into the topic and look at all the options today and come up with a list that not only will serve the domestic and “die hard” Chevrolet, Ford and Dodge aficionados but also the import and the hybrid (and soon to be electric) cult like customers. Here, in our estimation, are the ten best 2016 pickup trucks for construction superintendents. We went with alphabetical order to not show any bias or favoritism.
The 2016 Chevy Colorado 1500 has won the top rating of Car & Driver magazine for mid-size pickups. It is also Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year for 2015 and 2016.
The 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine yields 200 horsepower and 191 foot pounds of torque. With a top speed of 98 mph, there is enough power for normal Interstate driving.
For owners who prefer diesel, there is the optional Thai-made 2.8-liter Duramax turbo-diesel. The oil burner’s 181 hp produces torque of 369 foot pounds. However, this raises your price by about $3,700. Also available is a 3.6-liter Duramax with 305 hp.
We are sure that a construction superintendent does not expect the same fuel efficiency as mid-size or compact sedans, so they can live with 22 mpg in the city and 31 on the highway (Car & Driver tested this at 17/24). This is balanced against the 1,540-lb. maximum load and towing capacity of 7,700 lbs.
Part of the reason for top ratings of the Colorado is its Smart Truck Technology. The touch screen radio is more than a sound system. Besides radio stations, Sirius XM, and MP3 music, it also links to an iPad phone, has My Link Navigation and responds to voice commands. Fingertip controls are located on the steering wheel. Like all GM vehicles, the Chevrolet Colorado 1500 has OnStar for emergency help.
Smart Truck Technology includes safety features. A key one is the rear view camera. Colorado also has Forward Collision Alert to warn about getting too close to a vehicle in front and Lane Departure Warning to sense someone in the next lane.
The Dodge Ram 1500 Big Horn is on the large end of mid-size, enough so that Dodge refers to it as a “full size” light duty pickup, a designation shared by the Ford F-150 Lariat (see below). It is hefty enough to carry 1,880 pounds of cargo and tow 10,650 lbs. Dodge tags the Big Horn as “King of the Road, Royalty at the Ranch.”
According to Dodge, their 3.61-liter, 305-hp Pentastar® V6 Engine and Torqueflite® 8 Eight-speed Transmission get 20 mpg in the city and 28 on the road. Automotive journalists who’ve test driven the Big Horn rate the mileage at 19/27, not far off.
Other engine options are the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine with 240 hp and a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 with 395 hp. The company claims “exceptional torque” with less CO2 emissions. They also claim that for full-size pickups, the fuel economy of the 1500 Big Horn is “the best.”
The version we are describing has a crew cab and a short box. As far as Ram trucks are concerned, 1500 Big Horn passengers have more legroom than in the other models (41″ in the front, 40.3″ in the rear). Having been a passenger in a pickup truck on long trips to job sites, I appreciate that. A Construction Superintendent may or may not transport welders, materials, etc., but they may take clients, architects, consultants, city or county officials whom they want to impress, in which case comfort is a real value. Depending on the front seat configuration, it can accommodate 5 or 6. For the driver’s comfort, the steering wheel is wrapped in leather. This both cushions the hands and improves the grip, allowing full control of the vehicle without a tight grip.
Keep in touch with the office, the dispatcher, or the job site crews with Uconnect® 8.4. The 8.4″ touch screen eases navigation of the radio or phone. You can also tap into Sirius XM radio stations for entertainment or information, or find your way with its navigation interface.
The prices for a Ram 1500 Big Horn begin at $33,760, but can go over $43K with the options.
4×2 rear wheel drive is standard on the Ram 1500 Big Horn, but 4×4 all-wheel drive is available.
Ford calls its F-150 “First in Class.” Dodge and GM fans may call this into question, but the oldest company sounds like a proud parent, and it does have some points on its side. Just a few are the use of high-strength, military-grade, aluminum alloys, a 360-degree camera with Split-view Display, Remote tailgate release, LED sideview mirror spotlights, Segment-first Pro Trailer Backup Assist™ and Smart Trailer Tow Connector.
A two-per for Ford is the use of aluminum to reduce the vehicle weight of the F-150. The body is totally made of aluminum alloys with “military grade” strength. This is bolstered by a ladder-style steel frame. The engine block is high temp aluminum alloy. The lighter vehicle weight allows for greater load capacity while increasing fuel efficiency.
Depending on the engine, the F-150 can carry 3,270, 3,240 or 2,210 pounds.
The standard engine for the F-150 Lariat is the 2.7L V6 EcoBoost®. This motor is equipped with Auto Start/Stop Technology, which saves fuel by letting the truck coast going downhill and restart when going up again.
The F-150 Lariat’s transmission is an electronic 6-speed. It can be put in a haul or tow mode. 4×4 trucks have a 2-speed automatic transmission. Another option is the SelectShift automatic, which has Progressive Range Select.
It doesn’t matter if your legs are short or long. You don’t have to stretch your legs or cramp them to use the pedals. The F-150 Lariat has “Power-adjustable pedals with memory” to fit the pedal height to you. If two differently sized drivers alternate use of this pickup, their settings can be saved for one-touch adjustment.
A key option is the 8-inch Productivity Screen. Using this, the driver can monitor several parameters and make any adjustments.
Another key feature is the keyless entry. This is quickly becoming an almost universal aspect of motor vehicles for both convenience and security. On the F-150, the driver’s door has a SecuriCode™ keypad. Related to this is the passive anti-theft system, SecuriLock®.
An overhead console is available in Super Cab and Crew Cab versions.
An interesting option for the 2016 F-150 Lariat is the CNG Prep Package. When installed, it enables the truck to run on compressed natural gas. Ford is not the only vehicle manufacturer offering the option of running on natural gas or propane. Chevy and Dodge offer it for heavier models. This option is rather expensive, so its practicality and profitability depend on the availability of bottled gas and the relative prices of gas and gasoline. If you want to go “Ford Tough” but don’t want to shell out too much, consider the F-150 Lariat.
The 2016 Silverado 2500 HD Regular Cab, Long Box RWD is one of the more affordable heavy duty pickup trucks with the MSRP beginning at $34,150. With $2500 cash back, this comes to $31,650.
The 6.0-liter V8 Vortec engine with Variable Valve Timing SFI is E85 compatible. This is a Flex Fuel Vehicle (FFV). It can run on gasoline with or without ethanol.
An option is the 6.0L V8 SFI Gaseous CNG Engine, which runs on compressed natural gas.
Also available is the 6.6L Duramax TurboDiesel, paired with an Allison transmission.
The heavy-duty transmission is a 6-speed automatic. This is controlled electronically, and has overdrive, making it a truck that drives like a car.
The suspension package has twin tube shock absorbers (51mm). On the front is a 33mm stabilizer bar.
Heavy hauling puts a lot of stress on an engine, with accompanying heat. The Silverado 2500 HD has external cooling for both the engine oil and the transmission fluid.
If your jobs are in a cold climate with freezing temperatures in the winter, the heavy duty 720 battery can put out 80 amp hours cranking when cold. Chevrolet says this battery is maintenance free, and has reserved power. It is charged by a 150-amp alternator.
The frame has recovery hooks mounted in the front.
The tire carrier on the Chevy Silverado 2500 HD is lockable. But you don’t need a separate key. The one for the door and the ignition will do. It also works on the tailgate. The door also has keyless entry.
The headlamps on the Silverado 2500 HD are halogen with projector beams. There is also a light for the cargo bed.
The payload capacity for the Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD is 3,583 lbs. It can tow 14,000 lbs. Mileage for heavy duty pickups is not as good as for mid-size models. The EPA rating for the Silverado 2500 HD is 11 City/16 Hwy.
The Tradesman is the entry level version of the Dodge Ram 2500 series of heavy duty pickup trucks. It is for those who want the beef of an HD truck (3,990-lb. max. payload) without too many bucks. With an MSRP starting at $31,780, it is anything but cheap. But it still has the muscle and the backbone to haul and tow more than a mid-size pickup.
The amenities in the 2500 Tradesman are less than those in the 1500 Big Horn. For instance, the Uconnect 3.0 radio in the Tradesman is not as glamorous as the Uconnect 8.4 communication system in the Big Horn. Driving up to a job site in the 2500 Tradesman will show you’re practicality, beef over butter.
2WD rear wheel drive is standard on the 2016 Ram 2500 Tradesman with a regular cab. If you need an 8′ box, the MSRP goes to $32,975. That is all right for a construction superintendent bringing supplies to a job site, but not more than two people. If you do carry personnel, a crew cab is also available.
The standard engine for the 2500 Tradesman is a 5.7 liter Hemi® V8 with 383 hp. This is enough to pull a 17,980-lb. towing load. The trailer hitch is certified for 18,000 lbs.
Other available engines are a 6.4L V8 with 410 hp and 6.7L inline turbo-diesel with 350-370 hp.
One owner reported the fuel mileage for a Ram 2500 HD as 16-17 mpg in the city and 18-19 mpg on the highway, and another as 16.5 overall. This is better than for the Chevy Silverado 2500 HD.
In its review, Car & Driver said the Tradesman’s ride was smooth, but cross winds made it shaky.
Ford classifies trucks in its F-250 series as “Super Duty.” This classification is also applied to the F-350 and F-450 series as well, each series representing a load rating category. F-250 vehicles are 1-ton vehicles. The F-250 series has five models: XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum, putting the F-250 XLT just under the middle of the group.
Besides the heavier load rating, the F-250 has useful features, such as the standard manual telescoping trailer-tow mirrors. Both the flat glass and the spotter mirror are power heated to prevent fogging and frosting. They can be brought in close to the body for regular driving, but extended out to see around a trailer. An option for this is the fold-away feature, allowing more room next to the cab when parked.
Another practical feature is the optional Tailgate Step with Tailgate Assist™. This step with a grab handle makes it easier and safer to handle heavy loads.
Another option is the tonneau cover, sized for the 6¾-foot and 8-foot beds. This cover can be rolled up to be out of the way for loading or for high loads In place, it protects the bed and the load as well as streamlining the truck for better handling and fuel efficiency at highway speeds.
An option specific to this model is the XLT Value Package. This includes fog lamps, keyless entry SecuriCode™ keypad on the driver’s door, automatic lock & unlock, auto rain lamp, auto-dim rearview mirror, Reverse Sensing System, power adjustable pedals, six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, and a 4¼” LCD screen on the instrument panel accessing vital vehicle status and performance information.
Depending on whether you have a little or a lot of gear to store inside, or how many passengers you carry, you can choose a regular cab, super cab, or crew cab. The box can be 6¾ or 8 feet long. If your F-250 XLT has wheel well liners, it can also have the optional Stowable Bed Extender.
The F-250 XLT comes with either a gasoline or a diesel engine. The gasoline engine is a 6.2-liter 2-valve flex-fuel V8. It can run on fuel with or without ethanol. The 6.7-liter diesel engine is a 4-valve V8 Power Stroke® Turbo Diesel. The fuel tank is 35 gallons for the gasoline engine. For diesels, it is 26 gallons for SWB (wheelbases shorter than 157″), and 37½ gallons for LWB (longer than 157″).
The F-250 XLT has a TorqShift® 6-speed SelectShift Automatic™ transmission.
The F-250 can tow up to 12,500 lbs. with conventional towing. With a 5th wheel gooseneck, it can tow up to 15,900 lbs. with the gasoline engine, depending on the rear axle ratio, and 16,600 lbs. with the diesel, depending on the rear axle type and ratio. The maximum payload is 7,050 lbs.
Fuel efficiency for the F-250 XLT is about 17 mpg for driving on back roads.
The MSRP for the F-250 XLT begins at $36,375. With options, this could put you at close to $40K. The bumper-to-bumper warranty is for 36 months.
The Ford F-650 Supertruck is not a regular series or model. These supertrucks are made in Montana by Super Truck with custom bodies on Ford F-650 frames. The customization can also extend to the power train, though they primarily use the Ford systems.
Some of the custom Supertrucks have a practical rational, such as the 6-door models which can carry more passengers or have them in a conference room configuration. It often includes more or larger fuel tanks. A Supertruck can also have living space in the cab for extended travel, a truck/motor home hybrid.
Most of the F-650 Supertrucks are really dream trucks, with unique paint jobs and luxury amenities. For a general contractor, this could be a corporate statement, painted in the logo and company colors, fitted for clients, media and PR. The F-650 Supertruck would be a rolling billboard.
Back to the practical side, the cargo bed of a Supertruck could haul materials and supplies. Or it could pull a hefty trailer, especially with a fifth wheel.
Obviously, prices for F-650 Supertrucks vary widely, as well as fuel efficiency.
The Frontier S King Cab is Nissan’s entry level pickup truck made for the American market. As such, it is basically more affordable in price with an affordable level of fuel efficiency. The standard features are simpler than for Big 3 pickups, because they essentially do not have true mid-size models. The Frontier is a genuine mid-size pickup truck.
How does this appeal to construction superintendents or the general contractors they work for? First, this is the less expensive alternative. Lowering the costs of business allows the firm to bid lower on projects while still having a reasonable margin of profit. Second, unless the superintendent needs the greater payload and towing capacity, why spend more? When the superintendent drives up in a real mid-size pickup, it displays frugality and responsibility with the client’s money. The message: “We care about maximizing your budget for you and for your employees & shareholders.”
The 5-speed manual transmission gives the driver full control over fuel efficiency. It can also provide more precise control in icy weather, even without four-wheel drive.
Power steering in the Nissan Frontier S is sensitive to the truck’s speed. According to Nissan, “It becomes more nimble at low speeds, making parking and reversing easier. At high speeds the system becomes more rigid, increasing feel and response.”
Nissan has equipped the Frontier with double-wishbone suspension in the font, coupled with a stabilizer bar. They call it “rugged and tough.” This is designed for off-the-road travel, which includes bumpy construction sites. The rear suspension puts the leaf springs over the axle instead of under it. Here the frown is better than the smile, because it means more ground clearance.
The Frontier S does offer a nice selection of sound systems, beginning with Nissan Connect and other choices, such as Sirius XM and Rockford Fosgate sound system. It also has a hands-free mobile feature which reads texts out loud and takes dictation. Keep in touch with the team, and the office with your hands on the wheel.
A key safety feature in the Frontier S is the rear view camera. Even with a load blocking the view, the driver can still see what’s directly behind the truck.
A structural safety feature is the Zone Body Construction. Guard beams for the side doors and crumple areas in the front and the back protect the cab and its occupants.
One safety feature is mechanical and electronic: Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC). Also known as stability control, it keeps track of vehicle movement, braking and steering. Adjustments are made to wheel-specific brake pressure and engine speed.
A common feature on late model cars and trucks is TPMS-Tire Pressure Monitoring System. Sensors in the wheels report the pressure in each tire. The driver can tell if the pressure is low in any tire and correct the issue. This benefits safety, fuel mileage, and tire life.
Nissan Motors may be a Japanese company, but their Titan XD S is an all-American truck. From concept to assembly, the process is done in Michigan, California, Mississippi, Arizona and Indiana. A full-size pickup, it is a one-ton vehicle. According to The Car Connection, it has a better ride than the F-250.
While Nissan used basically the same design in its 2016 Frontier line as in previous years, the Titan is a totally new design. Last year’s model was the latest edition of what then was “the oldest pickup truck” in the United States.
Nissan touts the new Titan with, “Wear your capability on your sleeve.” The question customers will be answering is, “Does it live up to its expectations?”
The Titan XD S is the entry level model in this series. The standard engine is a Cummins 5.0-liter dual overhead cam V8 turbo diesel with 32 valves. That’s 4 valves per cylinder, which has been the standard for gasoline fueled passenger cars for several years. This means smoother operation and better fuel economy. This turbo diesel has 310 hp producing 555 ft-lb of torque.
The buyer of a Titan XD S can choose 4×2 or 4×4 configuration. In mountainous areas and places with icy winters, the 4×4 is preferred.
This power is applied to the wheels by an Aisin® 6-speed automatic transmission.
Like the Frontier, the Titan XD S has independent front suspension with a double wishbone and a stabilizer bar. It also has disc brakes front and back. Both ends are vented.
The 40/20/40 split bench front seat is roomy enough for the driver and one passenger. A middle seat can be flipped down if needed. The King Cab (called super cab, club cab, and extended cab in other makes) has storage room behind the seat.
The entertainment/communication center has a 5″ screen along with radio and device inputs. With a Bluetooth connection, it can read and write text messages hands-free. The Nissan Connect can work with a Sirius XM subscription to provide information, navigation, etc.
Another great feature, it will fit into the same garage as a regular sized sedan. This also makes it easier to park. Nissan’s Convenience & Utility Package for the Titan XD S includes an overhead console. The trailer hitch and the electrical connector are on the rear bumper.
The steering column is adjustable to fit the driver. The shift lever is on the column for better visibility. Now there is room in the center console for other things.
Speaking about room, there are three bed sizes to choose from.
For the construction superintendent driving a Nissan Titan XD S, it speaks of preferring American made and having what is needed to get the job done.
Toyota has been a big name in trucks for many years. The 1 ton series of Toyota pickup trucks is the Tundra (Tacoma is the ¾ ton series). The TRD Pro is near the top of the line in the Tundra series, right behind the 1794 Edition and the Platinum. As such it has more features than the SR, SR5 and Limited.
A Toyota Tundra TDR Pro usually comes with one of two engines: a 5.7-liter V8 with 381 hp or a 4.6-liter V8 with 310 hp. The 4.6 is standard. The 5.7 boasts an aluminum block. Power is delivered through a 6-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission (ECT) with a logic-driven sequential shift mode and uphill-downhill adjustment. At the rear axle this is translated in an Automatic Limited Slip Differential.
Depending where you are located, a Flex-Fuel Vehicle may be available for using fuel from regular unleaded to 85% ethanol. This truck has been classified as a Low Emissions Vehicle, Level II.
The off-road version of the TDR Pro has skid plates to protect the engine and the fuel tank. The off-road Tundra TDR also has high clearance, which comes in handy on some job sites, as well as tow hooks on the front.
Also available with a TDR Pro is a tow package, with a 4.3 ratio in the rear axle and a mode switch for the transmission. The Tundra TDR Pro is suited for heavy hauling and off-road operation with its heavy-duty suspension. The front end has a high-mounted double wishbone with a stabilizer bar. The shocks are gas-filled. The rear end has trapezoidal multiple-leaf springs.
The Titan TDR Pro may not be the top of its series, but it can do the heavy work. The communication/information/entertainment center keeps the construction superintendent or supervisor up-to-date on conditions and in touch with the crews and the office.
The crew cab facilitates bringing customers, company officials and workers with him to construction project locations.
Off work, a boat or RV trailer can be hooked up to the TDR Pro for the weekend or vacation. The crew cab accommodates the family. The company logo on the side serves as a rolling billboard.
Conception for the proposed Jeep Gladiator a few years ago that was never produced
Trucks are nothing new to Jeep. In fact, Jeep trucks go all the way back to just after World War II. Willys-Overland Motors, the developer of the Jeep, expanded their signature product line from the all-terrain vehicles they made for the military. By extending the body and adding a cargo bed, they made a pickup truck, the first off-road pickup.
The first Jeep pickup was in production for a long time, with incremental upgrades as time went on. Other pickup models followed, including the Jeep Scrambler, built on the Wrangler chassis. The Scrambler was President Reagan’s favorite vehicle for driving around his ranch.
Ronald Reagan and his Jeep Scrambler
Willys Overland Motors eventually became a part of American Motors. When Chrysler bought American Motors, they discontinued Jeep trucks, seeing them as competition for their Dodge trucks. Since then, there have been a few proposals for re-introducing Jeep pickups, mostly as a niche vehicle. The latest concept with a prototype for auto shows, was the Gladiator (pictured above this section), again based on the Wrangler.
J-10 Jeep Pup
In 2015, the CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automotive confirmed that FCA will develop a new Jeep Pickup, also based on the Wrangler. It is to be built in the Wrangler plant in Toledo, Ohio. The name has not yet been released, so for now it’s called the Wrangler Truck. They are expected to be ready for either 2017 or 2018.
Chassis and drive train for proposed Ford hybrid truck
At this present time, there are no hybrid pickup trucks on the American market. There are hybrid cars, made by a few manufacturers. For the most part, hybrid vehicle technology is still in the development stage.
I assume that the intended readers of this article know what hybrid vehicles are. Just in case someone else reads this who doesn’t know, we’ll briefly explain.
Hybrid vehicles use both electric power and internal combustion to operate. As the internal combustion engine is running, it charges a bank of electric batteries. When feasible, the vehicle uses these batteries to run electric motors. Each wheel has its own motor. When more power is needed, such as on a steep grade, or the batteries run low, the engine kicks in again. Except in hilly terrain, this usually uses less fuel than using only the engine.
As stated above, hybrid vehicle technology is still in a state of development. With their heavier vehicle weight and heavier loads, hybrid trucks, including pickup trucks, are not yet feasible. Not, unless, it is the size of the old Ford Courier or Chevrolet LUV.
In August 2011, Toyota and Ford agreed to work together on developing hybrid truck technology. That partnership ended in December 2015, and both companies are pursuing their own concepts of applying hybrid technology to their trucks.
Though they are both pursuing the development of a hybrid pickup truck, the likelihood of success is uneven. Toyota is the leader in hybrid cars, so they are more likely to produce the first hybrid pickup.
On the other hand, don’t count Ford out yet. The “experts” could be surprised.
Honda Ridgeline shown in Car and Driver
As someone said, “What’s new is old, and what’s old is new.” That is the case with the Honda Ridgeline. Scheduled for 2017, it has been a decade since this unibody pickup was sold.
What happened? Frankly, unibody construction in a light truck was ahead of its time. When it first came out, sales of the Honda Ridgeline were good. There is speculation on what really happened, but sales declined and Honda suspended production.
What has happened in the meantime? First, SUVs, passenger vehicles on a truck chassis, with unibody construction have become popular.
This is not exactly the same Ridgeline. It is a unibody. It still has a trunk under the cargo bed and a two-way tailgate. Now the bed is 5′ wide inside and over 5′ in length. Added are tie-down cleats (8 of them), an audio system (how about that for a tailgate party), and a 400W AC inverter to power tools and devices.
The chassis will be like or the same as in the 2014 Acura MDX and the Pilot.
The engine for the new Ridgeline will be a 3.5L V6 (the same as in the Pilot) with an automatic transmission. The transmission is 6-speed, fairly common now. The computer will shut off cylinders when not needed. This will improve both mileage and emissions.
Drivelines include front-wheel and four-wheel.
The expected MRSP is from $30K.
There are few things to take into consideration when buying a truck. These include types of fuel, hauling, locations of projects, terrain and roadways, climate, environmental concerns, and economic issues.
The most used fuels for pickup trucks are gasoline and diesel. In many places, gasoline is mixed with ethanol, sometimes as high as 85% ethanol. But there are still places where unleaded gasoline does not contain ethanol. The engine in a Flex Fuel Vehicle can run on gasoline with or without the ethanol.
Diesel is more like kerosene than like gasoline. Rather than a spark plug, it is ignited by high compression after being mixed with air. For heavy hauling, diesel has many advantages over gasoline. On the average, diesel is used more in heavier engines.
What you will be hauling and towing is a consideration in what pickup truck is suitable. This includes both size and weight. Smaller items need to be secured somehow, and larger items need more room.
Where are your construction projects located? Are they long distances from your base? Or are they closer to home? What is the terrain? How well developed is the area? How good are the roads?
Climate also plays a part in selecting a work vehicle. In hotter climates, air conditioning is practically a necessity. But in colder climate you have more than heating the cab, and perhaps the cargo, to worry about. Road conditions can be hazardous in the winter, and you truck should be engineered to handle that. Besides four-wheel drive, the transmission, wheels, tires and brakes play a role. And don’t forget the windshield, windows and outside mirrors. You need to be able to see to be safe.
The environment should be taken into account. Emissions is the first environmental consideration in operating motor vehicles. Also consider how your fuel and the materials in your truck are produced.
Economic issues are always a consideration. That is unless you’re in the “I don’t need to ask how much it costs” category. How much does it cost to run this truck? To maintain it? How long does it take to pay for itself? We may have to downsize our tastes if we overreach.