E-volution – 2021 Service Vehicle Round-up
Despite more talk about electric vehicles, for now service truck and van updates in 2021 focus more on fuel efficiency and convenience features.
You can’t do a day’s work without a vehicle, and you need a vehicle that’ll also do a day’s work and then some. There are numerous truck and van choices for 2021, from minor updates to all-new, and we’ve rounded them up to help you determine which ones are right for you.
The F-150 is all-new for 2021 and includes an available gas-electric hybrid system. It can run on gasoline, electricity, or a combination, and switches automatically depending on driving conditions. It makes 570 lb-ft of torque, and rather than a stand-alone model, the system is an option on all trims.
F-150 engine choices are a 3.3-litre V6 and 5.0-litre V8; 3.0-litre V6 Power Stroke diesel; and turbocharged “EcoBoost” 2.7-litre V6 or 3.5-litre V6. The turbo 3.5-litre is the hybrid system’s engine also. Cab choices are regular, supercab, and supercrew.
Available features include an interior work/lunch table, flat-folding front seats for lunchtime naps, and tailgate with built-in clamp pockets and rulers. A 2.0-kilowatt onboard generator is available; while the hybrid has a standard 2.4-kilowatt unit, or optional 7.2-kilowatt generator, all with plugs inside the bed.
The super duty – F250, F350, and F450 – carry over from 2020 with minor trim changes, and with three cab configurations. Engine choices are a 6.2-litre V8, 7.3-litre V8, or 6.7-litre Power Stroke turbodiesel making 1,050 lb-ft of torque.
The full-size Transit van now has better rear-area access between the front seats, and the overhead shelf is optional should you prefer more headroom.
A crew van is available with an extra row of seats. Transit comes in three lengths and three roof heights. Engine choices are a naturally-aspirated or turbocharged 3.5-litre V6, and all-wheel drive is available.
The smaller Transit Connect is unchanged for 2021. It comes in two wheelbase lengths, and with 2.0-litre four-cylinder, or 2.5-litre four-cylinder that’s available with a compressed natural gas/liquefied natural gas (CNG/LNG) fuel prep package.
The mechanical-twin Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra are largely unchanged for 2021, but the Silverado now has the available multi-flex tailgate from the Sierra.
This gate-within-a-gate has six functions, including two-tier loading, cargo stop, or bed step.
Both trucks come in regular cab, double cab, and crew cab, and with five engine sizes: 4.3-litre V6; 5.3-litre V8; turbocharged 2.7-litre four-cylinder; 6.2-litre V8; and 3.0-litre inline-six turbodiesel. Some have fuel-saving cylinder deactivation, either active fuel management (AFM) that shuts the same ones off each time, or dynamic fuel management (DFM), which uses various patterns.
The Silverado and Sierra heavy-duty trucks come in 2500 and 3500 configurations, in three cab sizes, and like their competitors, with available 4×4 and dual rear wheels. Engine choices are 6.6-litre V8 gasoline, or 6.6-litre Duramax turbodiesel with 910 lb-ft of torque.
The Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana are the market’s oldest van designs, but there’s something to be said for longevity. Both come in 2500 or 3500, and both in regular or extended wheelbase. Engine choices are a 4.3-litre V6, 6.6-litre V8, or 2.8-litre Duramax four-cylinder turbodiesel.
For 2021, the Sprinter brings back its 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine, making 288 lb-ft of torque. Other choices are a turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine, or 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel making 325 lb-ft of torque.
The Sprinter comes in 2500, 3500, 3500XD (heavy-duty) and 4500 configuration. As a cargo van, it comes in three lengths, and with standard or high roof; while the five-passenger crew van comes in two lengths with high roof. Four-wheel drive is available on specific models.
The Metris, in rear-wheel-drive only, is the market’s only midsize van. It has more capacity than a compact van, but it’s able to get into sites like underground garages where a full-size might not. For 2021, it gets styling updates, a new nine-speed automatic transmission, and new available features including emergency front braking and digital rearview mirror. The cargo version comes in two lengths, both powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre gasoline engine.
This is Nissan’s last year in the trades. It is discontinuing its vans, and will stop selling the Titan and Titan XD pickups in Canada at the end of the 2021 model year. All vehicles have a five-year/160,000-km comprehensive warranty on almost everything, and Nissan Canada confirms dealers will stock replacement parts until at least mid-2031.
The Titan and larger Titan XD come in crew cab and 4×4, with a 5.6-litre V8 engine. The advertised 413 lb-ft of torque is only on premium fuel, and drops to 394 on regular-grade.
The full-size NV van comes in 1500, 2500, and 3500 configuration, and has two roof heights. Depending on the configuration, engine choices are a 4.0-litre V6 or 5.6-litre V8. The compact NV200 van uses a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, mated to a continuously-variable transmission (CVT).
The Ram 1500 carries over for 2021 but with some new available features, including a head-up display, trailer reverse control, and digital-camera rearview mirror.
The 1500 comes in quad or crew cab, and engines are a 3.6-litre V6, 5.7-litre V8, or 3.0-litre EcoDiesel V6. A mild hybrid called eTorque is standard on the 3.6-litre, optional on the V8. It improves fuel economy by assisting on acceleration, the truck can’t run on battery alone.
As a lower-priced alternative, the last-generation Ram from 2018 is still built and sold as the 1500 Classic. It comes in three cab configurations, and with either the gasoline V6 or V8, depending on the model, but without eTorque.
The heavy-duty Ram 2500 and 3500 are unchanged for 2021. They come in regular, crew, or mega cab, and with a 6.4-litre V8 or available 6.7-litre Cummins inline-six turbodiesel that makes 850 lb-ft of torque. As with the Ram 1500, the 2500 can be optioned with an air suspension, although its weight cuts into the payload.
The Ram ProMaster is the only full-size van with front-wheel drive, which makes for a lower step-in height. For 2021, it gets standard crosswind assist; blind-spot monitoring and emergency front braking; and a digital-camera rearview mirror. It comes in 1500, 2500, and 3500 configuration; three wheelbases; regular or extended body; and two roof heights, all with a 3.6-litre V6 gasoline engine.
The smaller Ram ProMaster City is unchanged other than minor trim additions. It’s powered by a 2.4-litre four-cylinder making 178 horsepower, mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission.
The Tundra is unchanged for 2021, other than new appearance trim packages. It comes in double cab or crewmax, and in 4×4 only. Both are powered by a 5.7-litre V8 that makes 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque.
While it likely won’t be your primary vehicle, a midsize truck could be the right size for lighter-duty service calls.
The Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are the only trucks available with two- or four-wheel drive. They come in extended cab or crew cab, and with 2.5-litre four-cylinder; 3.6-litre V6; or a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel with towing capacity of 7,700 lbs.
Ford offers its Ranger in supercab or supercrew, in 4WD only, with a turbocharged 2.3-litre four-cylinder that makes 310 lb-ft of torque, and towing capacity of 7,500 lbs.
Nissan presents an all-new 2022 Frontier, arriving in the summer of 2021, in king cab or crew cab, in 4WD only, and carrying a 3.8-litre V6 with towing capacity of 6,490 lbs.
Toyota’s Tacoma comes in access or double cab, in 4WD only, and with a 3.5-litre V6 mated to stick-shift or automatic transmissions.
Ram doesn’t make a midsize truck, and with its removable roof and doors, the Jeep Gladiator is more lifestyle than work machine. You might think that of the SUV-based Honda Ridgeline too, but it’s surprisingly useful. It’s AWD only, with a 3.5-litre V6, with considerable storage including a locking trunk in the bed.
PLUGGING AWAY AT THE FUTURE
All-electric fleet vehicles are coming, and while they’re not here yet, some of the major manufacturers are very close. Whether they’ll work for you depends on a variety of factors, including price, payload, range, and charging facilities.
Mercedes-Benz already sells its all-electric eSprinter van in Europe and plans to bring it to Canada, possibly by 2023. It’s expected to have three battery options, but no specifications are available yet.
Ford says the 2022 E-Transit will arrive later this year, with three lengths and three roof heights, plus chassis cab and cutaway, and with 317 lb-ft of torque and an estimated range of up to 203 km. It will also offer a 2.4-kilowatt onboard generator.
General Motors plans to build electric delivery vans in Ontario, the first is a light commercial van the EV600, expected to start in late 2021. Actual production dates are hazier for electric commercial vehicles from other manufacturers or start-ups, including Tesla, Rivian, Bollinger and Lordstown. <>
Jil McIntosh is an automotive writer and reviewer with a specialty in trucks and commercial vehicles. McIntosh writes for numerous outlets including the National Post and AutoTrader.ca, and is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). Her work can be found at WomanOnWheels.ca.
All photos supplied by manufacturers
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June 20, 2021