Ford F-150 4 x 4 Supercrew Pickup

The Ford F-150 was driven to Pirate Radio (104.7) so that George “Elvis” Gray could help me analyze the unit:

When I got my driver’s license, GMC Truck and Coach was building America’s first V-6 powered pickup (pretty much America’s first V-6, period).  At that time (1963) it was customary for most pickups to have V-8 power, and to think of a six-cylinder pickup was to think of a cheap pickup.  That was unless it was a GMC, thought to be a premium brand with its huge V-6s and lots of torque.  I remember farmers bringing their GMC’s into Grant, Nebraska, and chugging around town running errands and rounding up supplies.

Now, 55 years later, Ford Motor Company has moved to V-6 power for their best-selling pickup lineup (both gasoline and diesel).  When I picked up Ford’s 2018 F-150 for this test, I was anxious to experience the V-6 that they employ in these vehicles.  My loaner was powered with a 3.0 liter diesel engine with turbocharger and 250 horsepower at 5,000 rpm.  Torque for the unit was 420 lb. ft. @ 2,500 rpm, enhanced by installing the turbochargers and direct fuel injection.  Ford adds a sound enhancer to the V-6, and thus the driver gets the sound of a V-8 upon acceleration – this one enjoyed it.  A ten-speed SelectShift automatic (console shifter) was also on hand.

The F-150 was the Lariat edition (M.S.R.P. – $62,955.00 with all options and freight), the middle of the road offering of their five models.  Quite fancy it was, with two rows of heated leather seating, navigation, Bang and Olufsen audio system, blind spot monitor, adaptive cruise control, oversized moonroof, tailgate ladder with grab bar, trailering package, electric sliding back glass, heated steering wheel and Lightning blue tri-coat metallic paint.  Additionally, the pickup had a FX4 off-road package with locking rear axle, hill descent control, skid plates and tuned front and rear shock absorbers.

With such equipment, it would seem as if the Ford F-150 would not impress on the highway.  That was not the case, as ride, handling, road noise and guidance were all on target.  Visibility in this truck will surprise a person, and hats off to Ford for putting the scallops in the driver and passenger glass for peeking under the exterior mirrors.

Styling has been a hallmark of Ford pickups for a long time, and the company has enjoyed the number one rung on the sales ladder for over three decades.  For 2018, the vehicle has been restyled, but the big news is the aluminum alloy now used to produce the cab and box.  Ford calls it “high-strength, military-grade aluminum alloy” and it shaves between 500 and 70o lbs. off of the weight of the unit.  Thus, the fuel economy (I got 21.8 mpg), acceleration, and load capacity are all enhanced.  This Ford F-150 Supercrew has quite a range of capabilities.


2018 GMC 1500 SLT “Military Edition” 4WD Crew Cab Pickup

Pirate Radio Review : Matt “The Big Kahuna” Arguello and George “Elvis” Gray!

Four wheel drive – Onyx Black metallic paint – Jet black leather trim – 5 passenger – 229” long – GVW 7,250 lbs. – 53.4 cubic ft. of cargo room in box – Backup camera, navigation and cruise control – XM/AM/FM Bose stereo – 10 speakers – 8” touchscreen – 5.3 liter 8 cylinder engine with 355 horsepower – Six speed automatic transmission – $67,110.00  list price        Built in Silao, GJ, Mexico – 520 miles of range, 17 mpg combined, 16 mpg city, and 20 mpg highway – 26 gallon tank


2018 Toyota Tundra Crewmax 4 x 4 “1794” Edition

The Tundra was presented at Pirate Radio for a review – Matt Arguello and George Gray helped me do the honors.  Listen……

Four wheel drive system with 2-speed transfer case and limited-slip differential  Vintage brown metallic paint – Premium brown leather/suede trim – 5 passenger – 229” long like a Chevy or GMC half-ton crew cab – Heated front bucket seats – Weighs 5,670 lbs. and has 5.5’ bed – Radar adaptive cruise control and lane – departure alert – Power sunroof and rear glass, pre-collision warning and auto high beams – XM/AM/FM JBL stereo with CD player and 9 speakers  – 7” touchscreen 5.7 liter V-8 with 381 horsepower (401 lb.ft. of torque) – Zero to 60 in 6.4 seconds – 6 Speed automatic transmission – 18”  alloy wheels with black accents / 275/65R18 off-road radials – $54,692.00  list         Built in San Antonio, Texas – 14 MPG combined mpg, 13 city and 17 highway – 38 gallon tank



2017 Toyota Tundra 4 x 4 Crewmax Limited

This Tundra was taken to Pirate Radio for an analysis by DJ George Gray:

Four Wheel Drive – Quicksand (tan) paint – Black leather interior – 7” touchscreen with navigation system – 5 passenger – 229” long like a GMC Sierra – Heated front bucket seats – Weighs 5,600 lbs. and tows 9,800 lbs.  XM radio and  premium 8 speaker stereo – 5.7 liter V-8 with 381 horsepower  Torque is 401 – TRD performance exhaust and remote engine start – Power moon roof with sunshade and power sliding back glass – 6 Speed automatic transmission –  2 speed transfer case – 20”  aluminum alloy wheels and 275/55R20 all-terrain radials – $51,985.00  list price – 15 MPG combined, 13 MPG city and 17 MPG highway – 38 gallon tank

Built in San Antonio, Texas

2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD/Pro 4×4 Double Cab Pickup

The Pirate Radio Morning Show Crew (George Gray and Matt Arguello) took a look at the Tacoma over at KELS FM104.7 Studios.  Listen in:



Cement gray paint – 5’ bed – Heated black leather buckets – 5 passenger seating – 7” touchscreen – Weighs 4,445 lbs. and has 9.4” ground clearance – 212” long – Entune premium stereo – 3 .5 liter V-6— 278 horsepower / torque is 265 lb. ft. – Six speed automatic transmission – Four wheel drive with locking differential – Backup camera and navigation – $45,087.00 Window Sticker – 23 MPG on the highway – 20 MPG combined rating – 18 MPG city.  21.1 gallon tank – Made in San Antonio, Texas   

2017 Honda Ridgeline AWD Black Edition


Pirate Radio DJ George Gray joined me in analyzing the Honda Ridgeline Black Edition during the “Morning Show”:

The original Honda Ridgeline came out in 2005, and immediately caught the attention of the public, with competitors putting similar vehicles on their drawing boards.  None produced anything like the Ridgeline, however, and after 2014 Honda even dropped production.  Now the Ridgeline has returned with several improvements and I tested a black one during a recent week.

The Ridgeline can tow 5,000 lbs. and carry 1,584 in its 4′ wide pickup bed with a trunk underneath.  The tailgate is dual action, the interior is mammoth, and the ride is definitely car-like.  A nice car.

The V-6 puts out 280 horsepower and the transmission is a six-speed in this all-wheel drive Black Edition Ridgeline.  The Honda weighs 4,500 lbs. and gets 25 miles per gallon on the highway.  It gets my stamp of approval.


Crystal black metallic paint – Heated black leather five passenger interior – Navigation system with 8” touchscreen – Radar, or adaptive cruise control – LED headlights – 8 speaker stereo – Pushbutton/remote start – LED headlamps – 280 horsepower V-6 – Six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive – Backup camera, blind spot detection and lane watch – Lane departure warning and collision-mitigation – $43,770.00 – 21 MPG combined rating

2016 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X Crew Cab

20160817_193554_HDRListen to a review of the Nissan that took place at Pirate Radio, 104.7FM:


This past week I received for review a new Nissan pickup, the Frontier 4×4 (PRO-4X) four-door crew cab.  Nissan, formerly Datsun, has been in business for 102 years (since 1914), and is now the sixth largest vehicle manufacturer in the world.  The original company name was derived from the three founders’ initials, DAT.  “Sun” was added 17 years later when the company introduced a small car (son of DAT).  “Son” means loss in Japanese; hence the name Datsun.    

At one time, I actually owned a brand new 1971 Datsun pickup when I lived near Cape Canaveral, Florida.  It was the model 1600 and I don’t think it cost over $1,600, even though it was brand new.  I bought it for going to the beach with surfboards loaded up in back, but I subsequently gave up surfing for marriage, and  traded off the Datsun for an automobile.

This Nissan pickup I recently tested was the PRO-4X upgraded model with Bilstein performance shocks, triple skid plates (oil pan/fuel tank/transfer case), 16” two tone finished, six-spoke alloy wheels, locking rear differential, P265/75R16 white-letter tires, hill descent/start controls, Rockford Fosgate CD/XM satellite stereo, spray-on bed liner, Bluetooth phone, and special white-faced gauges.  The Frontier pickup comes in a rear-wheel drive configuration, but the PRO-4X that I tested is four-wheel drive.

The M.S.R.P. for the 2016 PRO-4X is $36,525.00, including freight ($900.00), floor mats ($135.00), and the Pro-4X luxury package ($2,100.00).  The luxury package included navigation (5.8” screen), moon roof, hands-free text messaging assistant, and heated outside mirrors.  Power is supplied by a 4.0 liter, 261 horsepower V-6, backed up by a smooth, five-speed automatic transmission.  Torque rating in this truck is 281 lb. ft.  The four-wheel drive is “shift on the fly”, up to 62 mph – 2 speed transfer case included.  Weight of the vehicle is 4,548 lbs., and the wheelbase/length numbers are 125.9” and 205.5”, or just over 17 ft. long.  The fuel economy figures are 15 mpg city and 21 mpg highway, with a 21.1 gallon tank.  My observance for the week turned out to be 17.3 mpg.

I didn’t anticipate that the Frontier would offer such a comfortable ride and quiet cabin. I enjoyed the smooth five-speed automatic, and the vaunted V-6 performed a lot like a V-8.  Nissan builds this Frontier with a fully-boxed frame and they provide 10” of ground clearance, factors helping the pickup when encountering the bumps and boulders.  For my type of driving the 5’ bed keeps the vehicle manageable for maneuvering in traffic and parking.

The leather seating was coupled with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and console-mounted emergency brake.  The buckets (driver side – eight adjustments) kept me comfortable all week and the floor shift and storage compartments were sensible.  Styling of the truck is fine, and a feature that I liked was the Forged Copper metallic paint as well as the husky luggage rack on top of the cab.

Nissan has little competition in this mid-size pickup segment, so they get to enjoy brisk sales of the Frontier; 52,255 for the first seven months of 2016. They’ve gotten it just about right with this model, and to me it would be a safe pick if I were in the market for a new pickup.