Our spies are at it again, this time snapping up pictures of an F-350 mule. At first glance, this truck may not appear significant, until you realize that the taller, raised hood actually houses one of the most important Ford projects-the 2011 6.7L Scorpion turbo-diesel. Diesels make up almost 80 percent of Super Duty sales and the move to Ford's Scorpion engine is expected to permanently end Ford's longtime use of Navistar-built diesel engines in its heavy-duty pickups. Ford has used Navistar diesels in its F-Series trucks since 1982. Our sources tell us the Scorpion-powered Super Duty will also receive a new six-speed automatic transmission, to directly compete with General Motors' and Chrysler's six-speed heavy-duty diesel trucks.
Pickuptrucks.com reports that Ford is working on a midsize variant of the F-150, purportedly called F-100. This new midsize entry will be slightly smaller than the '98-'03 F-150, but bigger than Dodge's Dakota. The F-100 will be built on a modified (shortened and lightened) version of the 2012 F-150 platform and will remain body-on-frame, although other rumors point to a smaller unibody pickup to compete against the Honda Ridgeline that is also in the works. The F-100 is expected to offer Ford's upcoming EcoBoost twin-turbo V-6 as well as a gas V-8 option and will bow in 2011 and will essentially replace the Ranger, which will finish production next year when the St. Paul assembly plant is shuttered. Rumors from AutoSavant.net also point to a Bronco that will be spawned off of the F-100 chassis and will be a true wheeler to compete against the successful Jeep Wrangler and upcoming Hummer H4, complete with solid axles. A world Ranger could return in 2012.
Dodge has announced that the redesigned '09 Ram will be up to 20-percent more fuel efficient, despite the upgrade in engine power from 345 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque to a very competitive 380 hp and 404 lb-ft of torque. This improvement can be attributed to a more aerodynamic package, engine improvements, and lower weight. Highway ratings are expected to be quite impressive-as high as 23 mpg for a Laramie Quad Cab.
General Motor's Hummer division and the nonprofit organization Tread Lightly! recently announced the launch of a new partnership called Hummer's Recreation Rescue, which will provide grants to outdoor recreation sites. The grants will be dedicated towards land-use education, management, and trail maintenance. These grants will help land management agencies implement their new travel management policies in a way that helps both recreationists and the environment. Project sites already selected for 2008 include off-highway vehicle areas in the Sierra National Forest in Central California and the Ocala National Forest in Florida. Other sites are currently under consideration and will be announced by the beginning of summer. Volunteers will be needed to reseed, install signage and kiosks, build trail enhancements, and do other important tasks. Hummer's Recreation Rescue was created under the umbrella of Tread Lightly!'s Restoration for Recreation program. Restoration for Recreation is designed to keep the great outdoors beautiful, healthy, and open to the public by providing much needed resources for trail maintenance, education, and communications initiatives to allow for environmentally sustainable outdoor recreation. The initiative will kick off with a project on the popular Bald Mountain off-highway vehicle (OHV) trail in the Sierra National Forest. Funding and volunteers will help provide trail maintenance, install signage, print quality maps, and develop educational outreach. More information about Hummer's Recreation Rescue and volunteer opportunities can be found at www.treadlightly.org.
The '09 F-150 will offer an upgraded three-valve version of the modular Triton 5.4L flex-fuel V-8 that will hold down the fort until Ford's powerful new engine lineup appears in 2010. The upgraded 5.4L will put out 310 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque on gasoline and 320 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque on E85, falling short of the output of either the Tundra or Ram. However, the F-150 will offer a more efficient six-speed automatic transmission.