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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Comparison: The Big 3 American Trucks in 1:64 Scale

In the United States nothing is more popular than the pickup trucks, especially full-size ones, and from American brand names.  The top four best-selling vehicles in the US are the Ford F-series, Chevy Silverado, and Ram 1500.  Since then diecast manufacturers have always followed the game with the latest pickups from these three, but in the last decade some things have changed:  The Imports from Toyota and Nissan not only arrived in real life but in diecast as well.  The other issue was a somewhat strange blackout of full-size trucks from every manufacturer, save Ford, from the diecast lines at the end of last decade.  Unless your Hot Wheels which had all five makes covered by 2012, even though not all had the same cabs, ground clearance, and age range.  Today its a different setup as other manufacturers found out there's more than just Ford F150's to make as new full-size trucks, and all of them in this competition are the same identical cabs, ride height, and setup.  The Toyota and Nissan from Hot Wheels has been left out due to their different ride heights.

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New on the block is the 2015 Ford F-150, with a body that is now made out of aluminum alloy and a new set of engines.  The styling is more brawny with a grille that cans the vertical nostrils of past trucks and feature LED lighting front and rear.  The tailgate has a nice print that flows with the taillights, along with a spoiler at the edge of the tailgate.  Compared to the 2009 F-150, the 2015 model seems smaller despite the same length, and bolder with chunky 6-spoke wheels and a slightly-higher ground clearance.  The Chevy Silverado may not seem new in the real world, but unless you're Hot Wheels it doesn't matter for other diecast makers because none made the previous-generation.  The front has a bold chrome grille with detailed headlights, larger cab and bed, detailed rear-end with corner steps in the bumper, and a wheelbase that is as wide as the length of the truck.  Sadly, the rear door gaps are crooked and the ride height says HD than 1500.  Finally is Greenlight taking off where they never got to finish with the 2009 F-150 with the 2014 Ram 1500.  Large bed, large cab, and several different variations (shown is a blue Sport with bed top from the Country Roads series).  It is one of the best-detailed trucks of the bunch and ties it with the Ford for this segment.

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Both offer roomy seating for five...or it seems.  The Silverado only seats four in racing style seats with a 3-spoke steering wheel that looks like it was lifted from a 1976 Pontiac Trans Am.  Otherwise it has the same setup as the stock Silverado.  The F-150 has seating for five with an improved dash that now houses the Microsoft Sync touchscreen in the center, and a large skyroof.  Problem is, the dashboard will look dated very quickly over time as it almost resembles the outgoing F-150.  The Ram wins with an even larger cab and rear seat.  The console is cleared up thanks to the rotary shifter for the 8-speed automatic, and the layout is nicely-done and up-to-date.

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All feature the good old V8 power, which is surprising since the F150's big news is dropping the large 6.2 V8 for a smaller EcoBoost V6.  Hot Wheels preferred the 5.0L DOHC V8 from the Mustang that produces 385 hp. and 387 Ib-ft. of torque through a 6-speed automatic and dual exhaust at the rear.  The Ram uses the 5.7 pushrod HEMI V8 with the same 4-valve count as the Ford and cylinder deactivation like the Chevy to produce 395 hp. and 410 Ib-ft. through an 8-speed automatic to dual exhaust at the rear bumper.  The Chevy is the weakling with the 5.3L pushrod V8 that produces 355 hp. and 383 Ib-ft. of torque through a 6-speed automatic.  All four trucks feature part-time four-wheel drive with full-time auto setting.

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Acceleration, Braking, and Handling

None of these trucks are sports cars, but it is important that they do in situations where hauling and towing are involved.  The F-150 is the fastest thanks to its light weight, with the Ram in second as being surprisingly fast despite being the heaviest in the group.  The Silverado was last.  The brakes on all are four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, yet still all of them battle their size.  The Ram was the shortest with the Silverado the longest.  All of these trucks have the same suspension and live rear azle, but the Ram has rear coils and for higher trim levels like the Sport air springs.  So while not a handler, the Ram would be comfortable on the highway.  The Silverado suffers the same fate thanks to the longer wheelbase, but the F-150 is the briskier one of the bunch.

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Hauling, Towing, and Off-Road

Three segments that these trucks are designed to do as well.  For hauling, a roll of coins was placed at each bed and driven around to see if the trucks can handle the load and if the load can stay put.  Good news:  The loads stay and the trucks managed.  Bad news:  The Ford was the only one with a lighter front as the bed, which hangs further off the rear axle, shifted the weight.  The Ram, surprisingly  hauled the most and felt like nothing happened loaded or not!  Now for towing, thanks to the other Ram's in-car trailer, for some hauling.  Good News:  Ram has no problems with the integrated hitch.  Bad News: The Chevy and Ford do not have any trailer hitches, so how on earth did I manage to hitch the trailer to the other two?  By using the cup where the ball goes at the edge of the tailgate.  While awkward, it works.  All three had similar effects, so not too shabby.  Finally is the off-road challenge with slight inclines and hills to climb over.  The Chevy is the winner with the best ground clearance and approach and departure angles.  The Ford was not too far behind with the beefiest tires of the bunch and acceptable ground clearance.  The Ram was last because it sits too low and is rather large to maneuver.

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Features and Price

The Ram is the winner for most features, variations, and tons of details and functionality.  The Ford follows up next with an impressive design, performance, and nice detail touches like the sunroof and the larger tires.  The Silverado, while nice, is last because it shows the downside of Matchbox's current theme and how it impacts even the nicest realistic castings like the Silverado.  The good news is the Chevy's entrance price is likely the least expensive of the bunch, though the Ram will run around in various trim levels, including a Tradesman work trim model.  The Ford would sit somewhere in the middle of the bunch.

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Third place is the Chevy Silverado.  I give credit for Matchbox for bringing back a modern half-ton pickup to the line with more versatility than some sport trucks like the last decade, but Matchbox messed up a few key areas that led to its last-place finish.  Second is the Ford F-150.  It's an impressive truck and one I like more than the 2009 version while still retaining the functionality of the previous truck, but there's a truck that offers a little more than the Ford offers, and that's the first-place winner the Ram 1500.  Plenty of models, plenty of variations, plenty of room inside and in the cargo area, never breaks a sweat towing, and has the most up-to-date feature.  But for how long?  The competition is fierce and growing; who knows the next time you'll see this comparo it'll probably involve larger scale trucks.

As for the 2009 F-150, it features a large bed, seating for five, running boards, and dual exhaust.  The Gray with Hot Wheels logo was first, followed by the blue.  Finally is the flat blue with Grafitti graphics on the sides.  Unlike the 2015 F-150, the 2009 has never had good luck with a clean color scheme.

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