Chevrolet Introduces All-Wheel Steering
Turning radius reduced by 19%
By Tudor Hampton

A feature common to heavy jobsite equipment now is available on Chevrolet's Silverado pickup trucks, and buyers expect other manufacturers to join in soon. Called "Quadrasteer," the four-wheel steering system uses an electronically controlled drive-by-wire technology that reduces normal turning radius by 19%, according to John Schwegman, product marketing manager for Chevy Avalanche and Silverado.

Quadrasteer allows rear wheels to turn coordinately with the front in relation to vehicle speed. Schwegman says that truck users who feel that "the size of the truck makes it cumbersome to park or use a trailer" would purchase the option, which typically lists at $4,495. This year, however, Chevy has discounted it to $2,495.

Schwegman says commercial acceptance "is going to be geared even more toward trailering," adding that there is no negative impact on the four-wheel steering system when used in off-road environments.

Truck enthusiasts applaud Detroit-based General Motors for the innovative feature yet acknowledge that it is still a high-priced option. "It seems that people are holding onto their dollars right now, but I think the price of the Quadrasteer option will go down," says Steve Zimmerman, vice president of truck distributor ABCO Services Inc., Toledo, Ohio. "It is worthwhile for vehicles that have to get around in tight spaces," he adds.

"We don't have any in our fleet yet, but I think Quadrasteer is fantastic," says David Greenlee, fleet manager for Anchorage-based Alyeska Pipeline Service Co.

Troy-Mich.-based Delphi Automotive Systems supplies Quadrasteer to Chevrolet. According to Kevin LaVigne, ride-and-handling engineer, Delphi began designing Quadrasteer eight years ago and now is actively marketing the system to automotive manufacturers. Besides Chevy, "several [manufacturers] are looking at unique vehicles to put it on," LaVigne says, but he could not disclose any names.

Says Greenlee, "It is still in the beginning, but I think we will see other manufacturers offering it too."

Ford Overhauls F-150 Ford Overhauls F-150 Truck Line For 2004
New look, engine and suspension tries to expand market share
It is not your basic construction work truck anymore, but Ford Motor Co. tried to keep functionality in mind when it redesigned the F-150 truck line.

The stakes are high. Ford claims that the F-series pickup line is the most successful in the history of automobiles since its introduction in 1948. Over 900,0000 units were sold last year alone.

For 2004, Ford redesigned the frame so that its new fully-boxed form is nine times stiffer in torsion and 50% more resistant to bending than last year's version.

The regular cab and SuperCab models now have a passenger compartment that is 6 in. longer and a cargo box that is 2 in. deeper. Also new is a standard tailgate assist feature.

The front and rear track has been widened by more than 1.5 in. Both 4x2 and 4x4 trucks now use the same car-like MacPhereson strut front suspension to rationalize parts among the models and give better ride. They also share a double wishbone front suspension with cast aluminum lower control arms to reduce unsprung weight. Rear leaf springs have been widened for stability.

Under the hood, Ford is introducing a new 5.4-liter, 3-valve-per- cylinder V-8 engine that for the first time uses variable cam timing and delivers 300 hp at 5,000 rpm and 365 ft lb of torque at 3,750 rpm.

New on the 5.4-liter and 4.6-liter engines is an electronic throttle control. It replaces the traditional mechanical linkage with an accelerator position sensor, electronic control circuit and an actuator at the throttle valve on the engine. The system takes into account the operating status of the engine and ambient conditions to operate the throttle as needed to best deliver the desired result. It helps improve fuel economy while integrating other systems, such as the transmission and variable camshaft timing.

Extended Day Cab Offers Drivers More Room
Adds just 150 lb to vehicle weight
Manufacturer unveils its new pre-production T-800 extended day cab dump truck to provide drivers with more room and storage space. The extended day cab option is targeted to fleets and owner operators running dump trucks who appreciate the value of a comfortable driver environment, says the maker.

The new model is equipped with an additional 6 in. in cab length and a roof raised 5 in. over the company's traditional cab. These new features are designed to provide the driver with a spacious cab that includes two more inches in driver belly and leg room, more headroom as well as a full 21� of recline in the operator's seat.

According to the manufacturer, the T-800 extended day cab is a very lightweight model, with just about a 150-lb increase over the current cab's weight. It also has an additional 2 1�2 cu ft of interior storage space. Options will include Kenworth proprietary corner windows and back-of-cab or side- mounted exhaust stacks.

The T-800 extended day cab also can be used to cost-effectively convert the Kenworth AeroCab sleeper trucks into day cabs, which will open a source of used vehicles to construction companies. The extended day cab can be offered as an aftermarket option for construction companies that want to buy used Kenworth AeroCabs and convert them into day cabs. The manufacturer's modular approach allows a sleeper to be removed and the extension kit added. Kenworth Truck Co., a division of PACCAR Inc.; 425/828-5196;

Dodge Expands Vocational Offering
Dealers take on 22-mpg commercial van
Originally available through Mercedes in Europe since 1995 and Freightliner in North America since 2001, the award-winning commercial "Sprinter" van now will be sold through the Dodge dealer network in the U.S., DaimlerCrysler has announced.

Built in DaimlerCrysler's Dusseldorf, Germany, plant, the Sprinter platform comes in passenger and cargo versions, with three different wheelbases–118 in., 140 in. and 158 in. Buyers can specify two different roof heights for a maximum 473 sq ft of storage space, says Randy L. Jones, Dodge spokesman.

Jones says that the Sprinter cargo van has a base price at $26,675 and is powered by a Mercedes-Benz 2.7-liter diesel engine. It has peak output of 154 hp and achieves 22 mpg. The company has reduced diesel emissions and engine noise by using a common direct-rail injection system, says Jones.

Patrick W. Dougherty, director of Dodge commercial vans, says the Sprinter concept is well suited for construction and utility contractors, who "now have a transport option tailored to their specific business needs."

Pick-up Truck
Vehicle Dynamic Control

The 2003 Frontier Crew Cab Long Bed pick-up features over a dozen enhancements, including two firsts for compact pick-up trucks. Available on 2003 Frontier 4x4s are vehicle dynamic control with traction control system and a tire pressure monitor system. The VDC is a system that controls brake pressure and engine torque automatically in understeer, oversteer or slippery road surface situations. Other enhancements include the addition of 10 hp and 2 lb ft torque to all aspirated V6 models, a new 16-in. six-spoke wheel design, two new exterior colors and the addition of a Supercharged Value Edition for the 3.3-liter V6. Nissan; 310/771-5606

"Big Rig" Double Cab Pick-up
Vertical Power Sliding Full-Rear Window

The all-new Tundra "Big Rig" Double Cab pick-up truck features a stout ladder frame chassis that is longer than the chassis shared by the two-door Tundra standard cab and the four-door Tundra access cab. From nose to tail, the Double Cab's overall length has increased by nearly 13 in. and its wheelbase has increased by more than a foot. The vehicle has an additional 3 in. of rear track and overall width, and an additional 3 in. of overall height. The pick-up bed has been deepened by 4 in. and the manufacturer is offering the market's first vertical power-sliding full-rear window. Toyota; 310/468-4718;