By Mike Milne
Pickup trucks are the top-choice tow vehicle for most boaters. And four new models introduced this year — one 2018 and three all-new 2019s — make it easier to find one that fits your boating lifestyle.
Fans of mid-size trucks will be most excited about the new 2019 Ford Ranger. With the return of the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon for 2015 and the ongoing popularity of the Toyota Tacoma, the return of the Ranger seemed inevitable.
The new Ranger won’t be available until much later this year but is sure to find a ready market among fans who have been waiting patiently since Ford dropped the previous Ranger about six years ago. True to its mini-truck roots, the new Ranger will be powered by a four-cylinder engine. The 2019 version, though, is the 2.3-L EcoBoost, with a twin-scroll supercharger.
Final specs aren’t available, but that engine puts out 280 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque in the Ford Explorer. So towing capacity could be in the 7,000-lb (3,175-kg) range. That would make the Ranger suitable for a wide range of trailerable boats. Its size will make it much easier to handle for everyday use in urban surroundings.
But because everyone doesn’t want a smaller truck, the all-new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado is bigger: 1.6 inches (41 mm) longer overall with its wheelbase stretched by 3.9 inches (100 mm). Changes in materials help the new Silverado shed about 450 lb (204 kg). The weight loss is accompanied by more fuel-efficient engines including new 5.3-L and 6.2-L V8s that electronically turn off any number of cylinders when they’re not needed. Diesel fans can order their new Silverado with one of the new Duramax 3.0 L inline six-cylinder turbo-diesels.
An all-new GMC Sierra, likely sharing much of the Silverado’s technology under different sheet-metal, was expected to be released this spring.
Along with a new look and maximum towing capacity (up to 12,750 lb or 5,783 kg), the all-new 2019 Ram 1500 takes a novel approach for truck fuel efficiency — a “mild” hybrid system on both the 3.6-L Pentastar V6 and 5.7-L Hemi V8 engines.
Dubbed eTorque, the system combines a 48-volt battery pack and a belt-drive generator to allow torque assistance and energy regeneration from braking. It adds up to 90 lb-ft of torque to the V-6 engine and up to 130 lb-ft to the V-8. New Ram 1500s are expected to arrive at dealers this spring.
As for North America’s long-running pickup truck sales leader, the Ford F-150 is now available — for the first time — with a diesel engine. The 3.0-L Power Stroke V6 diesel has 250 hp, 440 lb-ft of torque and delivers a towing capacity of 11,400 lb (5,171 kg). The engine provides automatic stop-start technology that will be ideal for everyday driving; the target highway fuel consumption rating is 30 mpg (7.8 L/100 km). That’s a combination or towing power and fuel efficiency that’s sure to appeal to many trailer boaters.
Whether they are looking for smaller, bigger or more fuel-efficient tow vehicles, truck-shopping trailer boaters have even more choices this year.