Woah! I just had a very interesting experience in the world of truck shopping. And I have to confess my sins of pride here in front of God, Dodge lovers, and everyone else.
I just got done saying how much I hate Dodge trucks. Blah, blah, blah, just trashed them. And how great Ford trucks are, blah, blah, blah, just praising them to high heaven.
Well get ready for this.. a complete 360.
Now let me defend myself by saying up front that my Ford has been a most excellent, trouble-free, really enjoyable truck. As were it’s several Ford predecessors. I liked them all very, very much, and frankly, if I didn’t have to sacrifice my F250 for the sake of working, I wouldn’t do it.
Especially now, after having looked at, looked in, looked under, and having driven a good variety of Ford and Dodge trucks.
Maybe it’s the economy. Maybe it’s because Ford had hard times by not taking the government bail out money. Maybe Ford engineers think that it’s good to sacrifice quality for the sake of reducing curb weight. Maybe someone high up at Ford is simply a complete imbecile. I don’t know where to lay the blame, but I have to eat crow and I really, really want to blame someone!
And there is still that pesky GCWR that we can’t get around. Or can we? Remind me to get back to this point in a moment. I have to explain my sudden flip-flopping…
Here’s what happened. We went yesterday and dedicated the entire day to looking at the Ford trucks. I had already peeked into a Dodge and turned up my spoiled little nose at them, thinking they were junky looking and beneath me. Yes, I admit it, I was being an utter snob toward Dodge.
But then it happened. Sitting there in my nice old Ford, comparing it with the brand new stripped down version, I suddenly realized how, well, cheap and shabby the new XL Ford interiors really are. So I had to check and see what the devil was going on. One of the things I have loved about my Fords are the sturdy, solid interiors, the convenient, easy to operate controls, and the good 6-way adjustable seats. The new XL’s just plain disappointed me. They were not what I would expect to see in a modern Ford truck. Not anywhere close.
We went and looked at the consumer version of the trucks just to compare the interiors. Now, most of my Fords have had the XLT interior and were really nice trucks! The Ford I drive now has the Lariat Sport leather upgrade, and is a really nice truck! Apparently, to get similar quality in a new Ford, you have to go for one of the luxury trim packages, like the King Ranch or the Lariat. And even more disappointing to me, the dashes in both of these new model luxurious trucks were the same ugly new dash with the same cheapish looking knobs, radios, and switches that are on the XL. And you can’t touch one for under about $60 grand.
Ok, now that really set me back for a while. So I stressed and fretted over it last night trying like mad to actually build myself a decent work truck that I could live with as far as some nice features for functionality. And I was able to do it, but only at a high price. No matter how I sliced and diced it, a Ford to my specs would run me a bare minimum of 54,000 big ones. Yikes!
And I’m not talking about building a Lariat or King Ranch, oh no, just a basic XLT package so that I could get a 6-way adjustable driver’s seat. After driving the XL, I immediately knew that the standard split bench seat would give me problems. It wasn’t comfortable to me even taking it for a test drive.
And worse, the ride in the Ford was more like driving a team of mules pulling a buckboard than the normal Ford ride I have come to know, love, and expect. Now don’t laugh at me here, I knew going in that the stiffer heavy-duty suspension and the absence of a truck bed on a Cab and Chassis would give a rougher ride. But I did not expect to be bucked around like I was.
Ok, so today we started over and I slunk my way back onto the Dodge lot with my formerly snooty tail tucked between my legs. To my surprise, there was an array of 3500s and 4500s instead of the solitary 3500 Chassis & Cab we had seen on our last visit there. Hmmm…
This time I started looking at the Dodge without my former Ford snobbery. After my complete disillusionment with Ford’s abysmal plunge in finish quality, and their oh, so high prices, I had to.
After seeing the new Ford XL package for myself and comparing the Dodge SL package, I have to eat my former Dodge-disparaging words and at least a little crow, as the Dodge has the Ford beat hands down. I never thought I would say that! And it hurts me, but I have to tell the truth here.
What I saw this time sans my rose colored Ford glasses was this. In a nutshell, Dodge trucks have improved over the years whereas Fords have declined.
I found a 3500 with the SLT package, the equivalent of Ford’s XLT. The difference in trim quality was immediate and stunning. The Dodge that I formerly called a cheap rattletrap (if I recall my own dissing) suddenly looked more like a luxury truck in comparison. I’m not kidding.
And even the stock split bench seat in the Dodge 4500 with the ST package is as comfortable as the XLT power seat, it just doesn’t move up and down, and is manual, not powered.
The quality in construction showed in the ride. I drove both the 3500 and 4500 and was amazed by the difference in the ride quality between the Dodges and the Ford. There is simply no comparison. Dodge floats their cab on little gel bags and honestly, the Dodge now has the ride the old Fords once had. Now this may be different on the smaller Fords, they may still have a good ride. But the bigger Fords simply cannot compete.
Ok, have I eaten enough crow yet? Maybe not. Here’s the kicker and I am so aggravated with myself for not seeing it before…
We’re back to the GCWR. That persnickety gross weight rating put on trucks by the manufacturer telling you that you can’t go over it without being in danger and voiding your warranty.
The thing that has bothered and plagued me about this rating is the fact that all of the light duty trucks over 3/4 ton have the same rating. F-450, Dodge 3500, all but the F-550. And what is that rating? 26,000 pounds combined weight of truck, trailer, and cargo. Hmmmm…
My light bulb finally went on this afternoon prompting my husband to ask me why I just slapped the heck out of my own head. Why? The magic number is 26,000 lbs. Come on you drivers, think about it! GCWR… Gross… Combined… Weight… Rating…. hint, hint, hint…
Ok, time is up. I’ll tell you what I realized. It’s all about DOT regulations. Yeah, really! Call me crazy, but isn’t it true that if you drive a vehicle with a combined weight of 26,001 lbs or more, and one of the vehicles is a trailer with a GVWR of 10,000 lbs or more, you have to have a class A CDL to drive it?
Yeah, I thought so. Should have warned you… that forehead slapping hurts.
So in my opinion I’ve been being a good little blockhead in thinking that something bad could happen to my truck if I towed more than 26,000 lbs. What was bothering me was the fact that the trucks, suspensions, and rear-ends get beefier the farther up the ladder you go with the model of the truck. After looking at and comparing 3500 and 4500 rear ends and suspensions this afternoon it struck me like a big rock that there is no way on earth that a 4500 should be mechanically incapable of towing over 26,000 lbs if the much less beefy 3500 can do it.
So I guess I’ll just end this post right here after saying one last thing… Yes, yes, I was wrong and am eating that crow as we speak (or I type.) And finally, mea maxima culpa.
Yes, I know it’s Latin, look it up…