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2003 Ford F350 Super Duty - Insider Report

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Posted August 1, 2003

Double Trouble Tundra

Because this magazine is authoritative, privy to the highest level of gossip, and awesomely clairvoyant, this column informed readers last year that Toyota was developing a crew cab Tundra "Double Cab" pickup.

So here's the new Tundra Double Cab Toyota that showed at February's Chicago Auto Show and will be selling this fall as an '04 model. But this is no mere new cab plopped atop the existing frame with a shriveled bed. Instead, it's a new cab built over a much longer frame with a fullsize bed. How much bigger? Well, how about almost 13 inches longer than the current extended Tundra Access Cab in overall length, on a wheelbase stretched nearly as much. That means this truck is more than 230 inches long - which is more than 6 inches longer than Ford's upcoming '04 F-150 SuperCrew. However, that's still a good chunk of length less than the Chevrolet Silverado Crew Cab shortbed pickup's 237.2 inches. Beyond that, the Double Cab has an additional 3 inches of rear track for increased stability, and the cab is 3 inches taller than other Tundra cabs. The bed is not only as long as that on the Tundra Access Cab, but also about 4 inches deeper.

In response to (fully justified) criticism that the Tundra Access Cab's rear seat is too upright and provides too little leg room, the Double Cab gets a 60/40 folding rear seat that's raked back a comfortable 24 degrees, with a relatively long, lower cushion for better thigh support. Toyota will also offer SUV-like options for the Double Cab, such as a DVD system with a roof-mounted drop-down LED screen for rear-seat viewing. The one unique offering is a full-width power sliding rear window that totally retracts for an open-air feeling, or stays closed for a no-air feeling.

Toyota hasn't said anything about the truck's drivetrain choices, leading us to assume that the current 4.7L DOHC V-8 will likely be the only engine offered with the Double Cab. However, we hear rumors that the five-speed automatic used in the Land Cruiser and 4Runner could show up in the Tundra and the Sequoia SUV offshoot next year.

One More H2
At the National Automotive Dealers Association conference in February, General Motors announced that it will add a Sport Utility Truck (SUT) version of the Hummer H2 to its lineup for 2004. Similair to the Chevy Avalanche, the H2 SUT will have a folding bulkhead that can be dropped down in order to accommodate longer loads. It's scheduled to go on sale in the second quarter of 2004. The H2 SUT was shown in concept form back at the '01 New York Auto Show (the photo is of that concept).

In the new SUT configuration, the oversize egos of Hummer owners can now be accommodated without the confinement of a roof stretching all the way back to the tailgate.

2003 Ford F-350 Super Duty Power Stroke
It used to be that diesel pickups were marginal products sold only to hard-core towing fanatics. Today, diesels are mainstream. The development of turbocharger systems, high-pressure fuel rails, and instant cold-start combustion schemes have made diesels attractive enough to most buyers who do any serious towing at all. It seems every three or four months brings another leap forward in the art of pickup diesel. And this month, it's Ford's turn to respond to GM's Duramax (all-new in 2001) and Dodge's heavily revised Cummins (almost all-new this year) in the form of a new version of the Navistar-built Power Stroke turbodiesel V-8.

The two most apparent changes to this new Power Stroke is that it drops in displacement from a big 7.3 liters down to just 6.0 liters, and it now sports four-valve heads. Everything about the engine is new, from the cast-iron block and heads to the variable vane turbo. Maybe there are some bolts that are common with the old Power Stroke, but power doesn't come from bolts. Power comes from solid design and the efficacious use of advanced technology, and the Power Stroke has both of those in abundance.

Using the excellent respiration of the four-valve heads (controlled via pushrods by a single in-block cam), the precise fuel metering of direct injection, and the flexibility of the variable vane turbo, the new 6.0L Power Stroke pumps out an impressive 325 hp at a screaming (for a diesel) 3,300 rpm, and a vast 560 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 rpm. And the power is delivered with a lively, sweet-revving friendliness unique in the world of truck diesels.

Both those output figures are new records for light-truck diesels, overwhelming the 305 hp and 555 lb-ft of the new High Output Cummins available in the Dodge Ram Heavy Duty that about a moment ago surpassed the standard set by the GM Duramax. However, the Cummins does make its power and torque peaks lower than the Power Stroke, maxing out its horsepower at 2,900 rpm and knocking out its peak torque at just 1,400 rpm. Depending on the types of loads being carried and the driving style of the driver, some may prefer the Dodge. However, the High Output Cummins isn't available with an automatic transmission, and the Power Stroke comes with a new five-speed automatic that is simply astounding.

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