The New Horse Trailer Power Haulers

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Speed Williams has owned three of Freightliner's Ranch Haulers with pickup beds, says Brian Aneshansley, a Freightliner sales coordinator.

"With horse trailers just getting heavier and heavier and people wanting to take everything with them, it's sometimes no longer what a pickup can handle," he adds. "When a horse trailer weighs three or four times as much as what's towing it, the basic law of physics says stopping will be tough."

Freightliner has completely redesigned its M2 body style. The Sportchassis is quieter with a passive noise reduction system, so it "doesn't sound like you're sitting in a big diesel truck." The new cab has a real leather interior, tooled console, built-in electronics and a DVD navigation system. The stereo can store up to 30 gigabytes of music and is blue-tooth enabled, plus it works with your phone as a built-in hands free kit. The in-motion satellite system and DirectTV on a back screen mean you never have to quit watching television.

Six new colors are available now, including viper red, mocha frost, slate gray and pearl silver metallic. The truck, which is titled as a pickup, is four inches longer than a Ford crew cab dually and the same width, but sits up higher. It features a six-speed Allison transmission, power everything, an engine brake, and sticker price of about $125,000. The truck gets about 10 to 12 miles per gallon, and should run for a half-million miles.

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One of the newest pickups out for 2007 is a full-size Toyota Tundra with a 10,000-pound towing capacity. The truck, which can haul six adults, features a new 5.7-liter, i-Force V-8 engine, coupled to a heavy-duty, six-speed automatic transmission. It also has super-duty disc brakes with four-piston calipers and vented rotors for stopping power. Also, there's talk the company will up the model's weight ratio and maybe even introduce a turbo diesel later on.

The new heavy-duty Ford truck has a few changes up front for 2007. It's taller with more rectangular headlights and a more squared-off grille. The F-450 has a new power-equipment chrome package, while the F-250s come in a new Lariat Outlaw package featuring ebony and red leather accents. Ford's also offering three new colors in its Harley-Davidson designs.

The new Powerstroke, built by International, features a diesel V8 that will displace 6.4 liters, feature a pair of sequential turbos and generate 350 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque. Changes to the interior of the Super Duty include plenty of power outlets and easily accessible storage space. Also, you can still get the sophisticated TorqShift, five-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. And Ford's factory-installed and warrantied Tow Command braking system helps prevent loss of control when your antilock system detects poor traction.

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Dodge continues to offer a wide variety of transmissions in its 2400 and 3500 heavy-duty Cummins series, including four- and five-speed automatics and five- and six-speed manuals. Its Ram Mega Cab has been a big seller, featuring room for six adults, easy entrances and wide-opening full-size rear doors. The truck, with a six-foot, three inch box, is more than a foot longer than a Ford crew cab. It also features gas-charged shocks in its rear suspension.

General Motors has a new version of its Duramax 6600 turbo diesel V-8 for 2007, with less compression but the same horsepower and torque readings. The lower compression ratio allows more fuel to be burned, producing power with less waste and better mileage. Its variable-geometry turbocharger provides exhaust braking (Jake brake) for better control, and its upgraded Allison 1000 six-speed automatic transmission has cruise-control-grade braking that automatically downshifts on downhill grades.

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Also available from GM is the special Britt Bockius edition of the new Cinch truck, featuring a seat package with distressed leather captain's chairs, the MTX Thunder Dome Axial Speaker upgrade, custom console with DVD player and 15-inch flip-down TV/entertainment system with mounted speakers. GM's big Cinch truck features the new "So Low" suspension, which lowers the box by four inches to about the same height as a Chevy dually box.

Considering current fuel prices, it may also pay to look for aftermarket upgrades that may improve fuel monitoring and exhaust systems on your truck in order to increase horsepower and improve mileage. Edelbrock Corporation of Torrance, Calif., is one company selling the chip and exhaust-system combination.