December 15, 2017 by Jill McIntosh
You always want “the right tool for the job,” and that includes one of a contractor’s most important tools, the work vehicle.
It can be hard to choose with so many on the market, but that also gives you a wide range of sizes, engines, features and capacity so you can find the one that’s best for you.
Full-size trucks may seem like an obvious choice, but if you do a lot of light-duty jobs, you may also want to consider adding a midsize to your fleet. This year, we’ve included full-size and compact cargo vans as well.
Ford gives its F-150 a makeover for 2018, including an all-new 2.7-litre turbocharged engine, new front-end styling, and a maximum 13,200-lb. towing capacity.
The F-150 is available in Regular Cab, SuperCab or SuperCrew, each with two box lengths. Engine choices are a 3.3-litre V6; 2.7-litre EcoBoost V6 making 400 lb.-ft. of torque; two versions of a 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 making 470 or 510 lb.-ft. of torque; and a 5.0-litre V8 making 400 lb.-ft. All use a 10-speed automatic transmission.
Later in the model year, the F-150 will also be offered with a 3.0-litre Power Stroke V6 diesel engine.
Available features on F-150 include blind spot monitoring that accounts for a trailer, 360-degree camera, and lane-keeping assist. Maximum payload tops out at 3,270 lbs.
Redesigned with an aluminum body for 2017, the Super Duty comes as the three-quarter-ton F-250; one-ton F-350 with single or dual wheels; and 1.5-ton F-450. Two engines are available: a 6.2-litre V8 making 430 lb.-ft. of torque, or 6.7-litre Power Stroke turbodiesel with 925 lb.-ft. of torque. The Super Duty tows a maximum 21,000 lbs. conventional, and 27,500 lbs. with fifth-wheel.
Ford offers two work vans. The full-size Transit comes in 150, 250, 350, and 350 Heavy-Duty, in three lengths and three roof heights. Engine choices are a 3.7-litre V6, 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6, or 3.2-litre Power Stroke five-cylinder diesel. The E-Series Econoline van, which the Transit replaces, is being phased out and is only sold as a cutaway or chassis cab.
The compact Transit Connect Cargo Van uses a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine with six-speed automatic transmission. Its maximum payload is 1,610 lbs., and it offers up to 4,219 litres (149 cu.ft.) of storage space.
Chevrolet or GMC models. They’re mechanically identical but have slightly different styling, and the list of features in each trim level varies by brand.
The full-size Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra are mostly unchanged from 2017. All models now receive a standard rearview camera, and the tire pressure monitoring system has a “fill alert” to indicate you’ve added enough air to a tire. The eAssist option, a mild hybrid system that provides an electric power boost to the gasoline engine, is available across the country following its earlier, limited introduction.
Both brands come in Regular, Double or Crew Cab, with a 4.3-litre V6; 5.3-litre V8 making 383 lb.-ft. of torque; or 6.2-L V8 at 460 lb.-ft. All engines have cylinder deactivation for fuel efficiency. Maximum towing capacity is 12,500 lbs.
Heavy-duty models come in 2500 or 3500 configuration, with a 6.0-litre V8 making 380 lb.-ft. of torque, or 6.6-litre Duramax V8 diesel at 910 lb.-ft. Maximum towing capacity is 20,000 lbs. conventional, and 23,300 lbs. for fifth-wheel.
Midsize truck models are the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, with 2.5-litre four-cylinder, 3.6-litre V6, or 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel, which makes 369 lb.-ft. of torque. Maximum towing capacity is 7,700 lbs., while payload tops out at 1,574 lbs.
The company’s full-size work van comes as the Chevrolet Express or GMC Savana. Available in 2500 configuration, it uses a 4.8-litre V8, 6.0-litre V8, or 2.8-litre four-cylinder Duramax diesel that makes 369 lb.-ft. of torque. It can tow up to 10,000 lbs., with a 4,192-lb. maximum payload.
Chevrolet also offers a compact van, the City Express, which is a rebadged version of Nissan’s NV200. It uses a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, with a top payload of 1,500 lbs.
Designed primarily for consumers, Honda’s SUV-based pickup could be a good choice as a light-duty fleet addition for service calls. It uses a 3.5-litre V6 making 280 horsepower, with a front-biased all-wheel-drive system that sends torque to the rear wheels as needed.
The Ridgeline can tow a maximum of 5,000 lbs., with top payload of 1,570 lbs. Its bed is made of non-corrosive composite material and includes a locking trunk under it, while its tailgate opens both conventionally or sideways like a door, making it easy to access the load. The interior also contains considerable storage space, and the rear seats are on folding legs so that items can be placed under them while passengers sit up top.
The German automaker offers two vans, both of them available in cargo configuration, for those who prefer an alternative to a pickup truck. New for 2018, all Mercedes-Benz cargo vans include a standard rearview camera.
The Sprinter, which was the first European-style work van to come to Canada, comes in 2500 and 3500 ratings, both in two wheelbases and three body lengths. The 2500 offers standard and high roof heights, while the 3500 comes in high roof or super-high roof. All models use a 3.0-litre diesel engine making 325 lb-ft. of torque, with a five-speed automatic transmission. Unique among current work vans, the Sprinter is also available with four-wheel drive.
The Metris is sized halfway between a compact and full-size. With an overall height of 189 cm (74.4 inches), it’ll fit into underground garages where taller vans might not fit, along with a tight turning radius. It uses a turbocharged 2.0-litre gasoline engine with seven-speed automatic transmission, making 208 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque.
Nissan’s commercial offerings are virtually unchanged for 2018, save for some minor trim tweaks.
The largest pickup is the Titan XD, which Nissan says “spans the gap” between half- and three-quarter-ton trucks. It’s rated at a maximum 12,038-lb. towing capacity, and while some half-tons can tow more, the XD handles it easily and could be a better choice for consistent towing near the limit. The XD uses a 5.6-litre V8 making 401 lb.-ft. of torque, or 5.0-litre Cummins V8 diesel, rated at 555 lb.-ft.
The Titan half-ton also uses the 5.6-litre V8, rated here at 390 horsepower and 394 lb.-ft. of torque. It offers a maximum towing capacity of 9,220 lbs., and payload of 1,610 lbs. Both the Titan and Titan XD come in Single Cab, in 4×2 or 4×4, or as a Crew Cab in 4×4 only, and both are covered bumper-to-bumper for 5 years/160,000 km.
Nissan also offers the midsize Frontier pickup, with 2.5-litre four-cylinder or 4.0-litre V6 engine, and a maximum towing capacity of 6,700 lbs. It’s available as a King (extended) Cab with standard bed and in two- or four-wheel drive, or Crew Cab in two bed lengths, and in 4×4 only.
Two vans are available. The full-size NV uses a 4.0-litre V6 or 5.6-litre V8 and comes in 1500, 2500 or 3500 configuration, with standard or high roof, and a maximum payload of 3,890 lbs. The compact NV200 uses a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, with a top payload of 1,480 lbs.
Offering its 1500 half-ton pickup, and the heavy-duty 2500 and 3500 models, Ram is also largely unchanged for 2018. There are new top-line Limited Tungsten Edition trim levels, new connectivity with a WiFi hotspot, and a remote switch in the bed to turn on the LED box lights.
The Ram 1500 comes in Regular, Quad and Crew Cab with three bed lengths, while HD models are Regular, Crew or Mega Cab, in two bed lengths. All trucks come in 2WD or 4WD.
Engine choices in the 1500 are a 3.6-litre V6; 5.7-litre Hemi V8; or 3.0-litre V6 EcoDiesel, making 420 lb.-ft. of torque. Both the 2500 and 3500 use the 5.7-litre V8; a 6.4-litre Hemi V8; or 6.7-litre Cummins inline six-cylinder diesel. The Cummins diesel can be ordered with a manual transmission if desired. Depending on the truck and transmission, the diesel makes between 660 to 930 lb.-ft. of torque. Maximum towing for the Ram 3500 tops out at 31,210 lbs.
Available features on certain models include locking bedside RamBox storage boxes, a fold-out flat rear floor, and four-corner or rear-levelling air suspension, although its weight cuts into the payload.
Ram also offers two vans, the full-size ProMaster and compact ProMaster City. The ProMaster comes in 1500, 2500 and 3500 configuration, with three wheelbases and two roof heights, along with chassis cab or cutaway. It’s the only full-size with front-wheel drive, which gives it a low step-in and floor height, and its square styling maximizes cargo space. A backup camera is standard. Engine choices are a 3.6-litre V6 or 3.0-litre inline four-cylinder EcoDiesel.
The compact ProMaster City is also front-wheel drive and uses a 2.4-litre four-cylinder with nine-speed automatic. Maximum payload is 1,901 lbs.
Toyota makes a few trim changes to its full-size Tundra for 2018. All models now come with the company’s Safety Sense-P, which includes adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high-beam headlamps, and pre-collision braking with pedestrian detection. There’s also a new grille and headlamp design, LED daytime running lights on all models, and a TRD Sport Package edition.
The Tundra comes in Regular or Double Cab in two- or four-wheel drive, and as the CrewMax in 4×4 only. The 4×4 Double Cab offers a 4.6-litre V8 making 310 horsepower and 327 lb.-ft. of torque, while all other models use a 5.7-litre V8, rated at 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque. Towing capacity ranges from 6,493 to 10,196 lbs in 4×4 configuration, and with a maximum payload of 1,710 lbs.
Standard features on all trim levels include a rearview camera, touch-panel audio, locking tailgate, heated mirrors, and manual-levelling headlights.
Toyota’s smaller Tacoma pickup also gains the Safety Sense-P program on all models. Available in Access Cab in 4×2 or 4×4, or as the Double Cab in 4×4, the Tacoma comes with a 2.7-litre four-cylinder or 3.5-litre V6, depending on trim and configuration. While primarily considered a consumer truck, its smaller size may work for several applications.