Nothing Says "We Love You" Like Pickup Truck of the Year
Your 2010 Pickup Truck of the Year test (Mar. '10) was a bit stacked. I suppose Toyota fans should be flattered that you felt the 2010 4.6L SR5 pickup was fair competition for the test, but come on, part of the eligibility criteria was being all-new or substantially revised. The Tundra SR5 has remained largely unchanged since 2007. The Ford Raptor is top-of-the-line with a much bigger engine, and the horsepower rating is the same as the Tundra. Perhaps you should have used the 5.7L TRD or Limited versions, considering that the staff was complaining about a boring interior in the base SR5. They're not even close on MSRP either, comparing the $33,000 Tundra to the $56,000 Dodge. You're not even close to comparing apples to apples. Furthermore, what was the reason for having two Dodge trucks? Where was the Chevrolet or Nissan? The overall competitive analysis sucked. Come on, testing a Dodge diesel Megacab on the trails? Give your head a shake. Maybe next time throw in a Ford Ranger and see how it compares.
Sure, the next time Ford offers up a new or substantially revised Ranger, we'll be happy to test it. Which apparently will be never, at least in the U.S. Is that our fault, too?
We explained in detail why each truck qualified for our competition, but to recap The Tundra qualified for testing on account of its new-for-2010 4.6L V-8: The Raptor qualifies with its off-highway package (the engine was the carry-over 5.4L V-8, not a "much bigger" engine-that comes next year), and the Rams both feature the new-for-HD body styling, with all-new interiors.
Also, we do consider price as a parameter in our scoring, so the Dodges took a hit in that department versus the Toyota. As far as trim level goes, we test whatever the manufacturers make available to us. And while we'd love to test the Silverado and the Titan, and everything else too, we simply lack the time and resources to testdrive every single pickup truck, every single year.
Wants Mo' Power for Lifted Sidekick
I have a '95 Suzuki Sidekick with 30-inch tires and a 5-inch total lift. What can I do, affordably, about my power issues?
Big Clifty, KY
Assuming that you're running the 16-valve version of the 1.6L, you don't have a lot of power options, but there are a few out there-Doug Thorley makes a Tri-Y header for it, and K&N has a higher-flow replacement air filter. Calmini offers an after-cat exhaust, and if you're really feeling adventurous and want to dig into your internals, Hawk Performance has a re-grind Torquer 260 cam available to maximize low-end power. All of these are reasonably affordable upgrades that won't set you back more than $250 apiece (or less), on average.
If it were up to us, though, we'd rely on gearing to multiply your available torque rather than trying to squeeze a few more horsepower out of your engine. Trail Tough offers a replacement "Rockmonster" 4.24:1 low-range gearset for your transfer case, and Rockcrawler also has a 4.30:1 low-range gear; if you're running the stock five-speed and 5.13:1 ring and pinions, either of these upgrades will give you an (approximate) 80:1 crawl gear for the trail while leaving your stock (two-wheel drive) street gearing unaffected. Throw in a pair of ARB Air Lockers, and we'd say you've got a near-perfect Trailkick. However, these upgrades are all quite a bit pricier than the engine hop-ups mentioned above, so it all depends on the size of your budget.