The late Carroll Shelby told us once that the biggest thing he would change about the auto industry would be to convert all cars to run on compressed natural gas (CNG), simply because there's much more of it than oil. The latest heavy-duty version of GMC's Sierra is equipped to use CNG or gasoline with a 6.0-liter V-8, and since these trucks get regular workouts by fleets, they have easy access to CNG fuel stations. New last year, the sturdiest Sierras are available with GM's highly refined 6.6-liter turbodiesel V-8, with a range of 680 miles and it's rated for B20 biodiesel. With proper towing equipment, the 3500 HD model can tow 18,000 lb. with a rear frame hitch or 23,100 lb. with a fifth-wheel setup. Tenfour, good buddy.
All new last year, the heavy-duty (HD) versions of the Chevy Silverado get even more payload and towing capacity for 2012. Fifth-wheel towing capacity moves from 21,700 lb. to 23,000 lb., which is more than what the largest semi-truck tractor weighs. It can also pull a normal trailer of 18,000 lb. Add in the exhaust brake system introduced on last year's optional 397-bhp 6.6-liter V-8 diesel model, and you can't help but feel like wearing cowboy boots and yellin' into a CB radio microphone driving the big Chevy, good buddy. For gasoline junkies, the 322-bhp 6.0-liter V-8 is standard. Like other Chevy trucks for 2012, the big ones get mobile WiFi capability, too.
The Ford Escape is a mid-size sport-utility vehicle, which incorporates the latest technology and style; setting a high standard in the SUV category.
The five-passenger Escape is available in S, SE, and Titanium trims, in either front or four-wheel drive. Engine choices start with the 168-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder. Also, a 173-hp 1.6-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine is available. For even more power a 231-hp 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine is offered. All variations are paired with a six-speed select-shift automatic transmission. Impressive features offered on the Escape include a Panoramic Vista Roof, satellite radio, SYNC, MyFord Touch, a trailer towing package, heated leather seating, navigation system, auto park with cross traffic alert, Sony audio, MyKey, and an industry first hands-free power liftgate. Standard safety features include seven-airbags with drive knee airbag, passive anti-theft system, AdvanceTrac stability control with anti-rollover technology, four-wheel disc brakes, and tire pressure monitoring.
The Sierra HD has been hitting the weight room over the summer, and boasts a pumped-up towing capacity for its efforts. The 3500HD can now drag 23,000 lb. behind it, and the 3500HD regular cab gasoline dually has an increased payload capacity of 7215 lb. There’s also a high-idle switch available this year for the 2500HD. But it’s not all sweat and blood for 2012. There’s a new navigation radio for the Denali and SLT; cruise control is now standard on the Work Truck; and heated and cooled leather seats (and a rearview camera) come standard on the Denali. The Sierra HD was heavily revised last year, so much carries over—6.0-liter gas V-8 or 6.6-liter turbodiesel, 6-speed automatic, tough independent front suspension and a solid warranty.
R&T Overview:The lightest-duty Silverado 1500 pickup is available with three V-8 engines, all able to run on gasoline or 85-percent ethanol. The 1500 is by no means light-duty and can be configured with rear- or 4-wheel drive, three cab sizes to hold from three to six passengers, and towing equipment to pull more than five tons. Standard for 2012 is automatic trailer sway control, as well as new grilles and bumper caps. The basic Work Truck model comes with a raucous 4.3-liter V-6, which is not the most frugal in the lineup—that would be the midlevel 5.3-liter V-8 with the special dual-mode Hybrid model that gets 20 mpg city/23 mpg highway. The V-6 manages just 15 mpg city/20 highway, but it's priced near a subcompact car.