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F-150 vs. Tundra: Just the facts Add to ...

First off, I enjoy your articles. I have a dilemma. With Ford F-150s looking good and the company really making strides, should I consider one over a new Toyota Tundra? All reports still show Toyota well above quality and reliability than the Detroit Three. But are times changing? And is the truck segment different than cars? Can I go wrong buying a new F-150 with regards to quality and reliability? - Sean

Vaughan: Uh, no, you can't. Thanks for your letter, Sean.

Cato: That's it? That all you have to say? Did you not read the letter? Sean is about to drop 30 or 40 large on a new pickup and he wants more than, "Duh, no, you can't."

Vaughan: Well, gimme a break, Cato. He asked about going wrong buying an F-150. Duh, it's only been the best-selling pickup for 31 years in a row. So, no, he can't go wrong, although the Chevy Silverado - and its sister truck, the GMC Sierra - and the Dodge Ram are also great, indestructible vehicles. The question is what kind of "truck" does he need?

Cato: No, the question is F-150 or Tundra and Sean is worried about quality and reliability.

Sean, let's look at some research and skip Vaughan's brilliant opinions. Consumer Reports says Ford is catching up on Toyota in the eyes of customers. That is, the 2011 Consumer Reports' 2011 Car Brand Perception Survey puts Ford and Toyota in a statistical dead heat.

Vaughan: Cato, you just love to haul out statistics and bore everyone to death. Does this make you feel smarter?

Cato: No. But I use facts to make a case. The case for Ford boils down to this: Ford excels in the factors that consumers say matter most: safety, quality and value.

Vaughan: I could tell you that simply by looking at the most important numbers of all - the sales numbers. Ford is No. 1 in Canada and No. 2 in the United States. Whatever Consumer Reports says, real people are spending their real money buying Fords.

Cato: Let's zero in on Sean's specific question, which boils down to Ford or Toyota?

I expect Sean needs a full-size pickup truck to carry the heavy stuff for work. That's why people buy pickups you know - for work. You might not know this, not having done much work in years.

Vaughan: Said Cato, while sipping a cappuccino.

Look, I'm in favour of work. It's good for the people who do it and for the economy, but I'd bet that half the people who are driving around in giant pickups could be just as happy and productive and spend half as much if they had a Ford Transit Connect van.

Cato: You have made a huge, unsubstantiated assumption here - that Sean doesn't need a full-size truck. He says he does.

So what about the Tundra? As little as you seem to know or care about pickups, you have driven the Tundra and given it a good workout. Advice?

Vaughan: For all I know, Sean has a lonely job in a bank or a government office reading the newspaper all day. I don't know if he needs a pickup truck or has just watched too many reruns of a much-younger John Travolta in Urban Cowboy. My position remains the same - too many people buy expensive, gas-guzzling pickup trucks that they don't actually need. Until I have a psychological profile of Sean, I won't offer an opinion.

Cato: I will, and will use facts to support it. First, vehicle longevity. Sean is right to suggest Toyota has everyone else trumped. According to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants, more Toyotas built in the last 25 years are on the road now than any other vehicle brand. Eighty-two per cent of Toyota's light trucks and 72 per cent of Chevy trucks and 64 per cent of Ford trucks. That's the long-range stuff.

In J.D. Power's 90-day Initial Quality Study, the F-150 and the GMC Sierra are both Top 3 pickups. No Tundra there; it's had its problems. The facts suggest Ford and GM pickups are better.

Vaughan: For the record, I also like what Ford has done with the engine lineup of the 2011 F-150.

Cato: Right. New, notably more fuel-efficient engines right across the line. Sean, my first pick is the F-150.

Vaughan: I defer to the great Cato and his facts.


2011 Toyota Tundra Double Cab SR5 V-8 4x4

2010 Ford F-150 SuperCab XLT 4x4

2011 GMC Sierra SLE 4x4

Wheelbase (mm)




Length (mm)




Width (mm)




Height (mm)





4.6-litre V-6

5.0-litre V-8

4.8-litre V-8

Output (horsepower/torque)

310/327 lb-ft

360/380 lb-ft

302/305 lb-ft

Drive system

part-time four-wheel drive

part-time four-wheel drive

automatic full-time four-wheel drive


six-speed automatic

six-speed automatic

four-speed automatic

Curb weight (kg)




Fuel economy (litres/100 km)

14.8 city/10.3 highway

15.0 city/10.5 highway

15.9 city/11.4 highway

Base price (MSRP)




Source: car manufacturers

Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan are co-hosts of Car/Business, which appears Fridays at 8 p.m. on Business News Network and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on CTV.

Follow on Twitter: @catocarguy


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