Four-wheel-drive Dakotas now get rack-and-pinion steering for the first time, and the available full-time 4WD transfer case has been modified to eliminate 2WD completely. The regular manually shiftable transfer case is now controlled by a new shifter in a new housing, which should make choosing high and low range easier.
The Dakota-based Durango SUV gets most of the same changes as the pickup. That includes replacing the Magnum 5.2 V-8 with the new 4.7 (but 4x2s still get the 5.2). Furthermore, there's a new 4x4 front axle, which is supposedly both lighter and more robust, and the transfer case shifter has been modified for easier operation. There's also a new Sport trim package, and the interior features more color-coordination. Both 4x4s and 4x2s can upgrade to the 245hp Magnum, 5.9L OHV V-8.
The big Ram pickup has had its front suspension tweaked on all models for improved steering and better control. The Quad Cab models can now be had with an SLT luxury package, which includes a unique overhead console and other touches. But this is still much the same Ram, and the Magnum engine choices range from the 3.9L V-6, through 5.2L and 5.9L V-8s, and on up to the massive 310hp 8.0L OHV V-10 and the 460 lb-ft of torque available from the 5.9L Cummins turbodiesel six. A tasty new Off-Road package for 1500 short-wheelbase Ram 4x4s includes a limited-slip differential with 4.10 gears, skidplates, tow hooks, foglamps, and a slightly taller suspension designed to work with LT275/70R17 tires on 17x8 cast aluminum wheels.
Fordwww.ford.comFord's range of four-wheel offerings is breathtaking, and it's going to get even bigger next year when Ford introduces a mini-ute. But there is no Bronco.
The Explorer is unchanged except for the addition of a reverse-sensing radar warning system. At mid-year the two-door Explorer will be redesigned into the '01 Explorer Sport, and the half-SUV, half-truck '01 Explorer Sport Trac will appear. Both will be powered by either the 160hp 4.0L OHV V-6 or the 210hp 4.0L SOHC V-6. No word on whether the 5.0L V-8 used in the four-door Explorer will be offered. A new four-door Explorer, with all-independent suspension and new engines, should appear soon afterward.
The Ranger compact pickup is unchanged for 2000 except for the addition of a Trailhead model that mixes the 4x4's suspension with two-wheel drive to wind up with something even a teenager can insure. A 115hp 2.5L SOHC four, a 150hp 3.0L OHV V-6, and the 160hp 4.0L OHV V-6, are offered across the Ranger range.
The F-series trucks can be had in virtually any version except a convertible for 2000. In early 2000 the '01 SuperCrew version of the F-150 will be available, bringing four conventional doors to the line for the first time. Otherwise the lighter-duty F-series gets some trim changes and new interior tidbits in both regular and four-door extended cab models. Power offerings start with a 205hp 4.2L V-6 and moves through the familiar 220hp, 4.6L and 260hp 5.4L SOHC V-8s.
New last year, the Super Duty pickups enter 2000 with antilock brakes now standard on models with just two rear wheels, some interior trim changes, and rear bumpers now standard. Power ranges from the 5.4L V-8 to the 6.8L, 275-horse SOHC V-10 and the torque-rich 7.3L Power Stroke turbodiesel. Both the regular cab and four-door extended cab continue.
The Expedition SUV carries over with the addition of a reverse-sensing system, electronically adjustable pedals, and some minor trim changes. But the massive new Excursion, the largest SUV ever offered, makes up for that lack of Expedition news. Based on the Super Duty truck line, the Excursion can seat up to nine and could probably accommodate skeet shooting off the fantail too. The Excursion's powertrain options mimic the Super Duty's, and the beast can tow up to 10,000 pounds.
GMCwww.gmc.comDetermined to become the premium truck division of GM, GMC's big news is, of course, the new Yukon and Yukon XL SUVs.