Jan. 15 2021 06:00 AM

The 2021 model year brings features that make trucks safer and more versatile.

No matter how else the past year has changed the industry for landscape and irrigation professionals, one aspect isn’t likely to shift: Contractors rely on their trucks.

This year’s truck models deliver on features that make the day-to-day job go more smoothly, with safety upgrades and connectivity boosts.

“In the truck segment and in this industry, we’re continually trying to improve capability for the owners,” says Brian Bell, F-150 and Ranger marketing manager for Ford Motor Company, Dearborn, Michigan. “It’s a tool to do a job. We want to give them the best tool we can.”

To start, look for trends in improvement in towing and payload, as well as other efficiencies, he says.

Features that help in working with a trailer can save both time and labor, says Mark Namuth, commercial sales manager for Nissan North America, Franklin, Tennessee. Some include features that allow contractors to check the lights of a connected trailer from the key fob or a camera setup that assists in hooking up the trailer quickly.

“Probably the biggest cost in the landscape business is labor,” Namuth says, as saved time for the crew in getting a trailer set up and to the job site more quickly saves money overall.

New features don’t have to just be on the outside of the vehicle either, as OEMs get more savvy about a truck doubling as an office in the field. Some bring new features that make it easier to handle paperwork or use a laptop or tablet comfortably while on-site, says Bell. On-board modems and Wi-Fi capabilities provide even more options to streamline mobile work.

“Connectivity is big,” Bell says. “It becomes your mobile office so you can use it as your Wi-Fi hotspot instead of your cell phone.”

Namuth also notes a current trend toward jobs at smaller residential properties for landscapers. “That’s really making a need for smaller vehicles to get into these spaces,” he says. That’s another position where extra cameras and viewpoints can be critical to easy maneuvering around a work site for both a truck and trailer.

Safety items also include features like intelligent cruise control, where a vehicle uses sensors to determine and match the speed of the vehicle ahead on the road, causing less shifting back and forth between modes, he says.

Safety features in new models also extend to using sensors to help prevent collisions, both on the road and in closer quarters, says Brian Tabel, executive director of marketing for Isuzu, Anaheim, California.

That includes concepts like audio and visual alerts when pedestrians are in range or when another vehicle is in a blind spot during a lane shift. Those features can help track lane drifting by sensing the center line or right line on the road, to help get the crew from the garage to the job site safely.

“Lane detection is really paramount from the standpoint of making sure that everyone’s paying attention to their surroundings as they drive a commercial vehicle,” he says.

Making the right choice

When looking at buying a new vehicle this year, start by really considering the application, says Namuth. Have you recently scaled your business because of extra work due to COVID-19? Will your crew need to haul a lot of tools to the site, and will they need a power supply once there? Drill down on what you’ll need and make certain that the vehicle you’re looking at will deliver.

“These guys will go to great lengths to inspect a lawnmower or zero-turn mower,” Namuth says. “Do that same due diligence on your vehicle.”

Have a good understanding of how much you’ll be hauling or towing, and know the weight that truck will need to be able to move reliably, he says.

“All OEMs provide a little bit of leeway into their spec in terms of what they need,” Namuth says. “But still, if you’re running 10% over what that OEM’s max towing is, that’s just going to lead to a lot of expensive problems.”

Keep those extra connectivity capabilities and user comfort features in mind as well, given how much time your crew spends in the cab, says Bell. The truck needs to be able to support the team not just by hauling equipment but also in its usefulness in being an organized mobile office.

As landscaping jobs increased through last season, there was an immediate need for trucks in the field, Tabel says. It’s important to keep in mind dealer and vehicle availability when making a purchase this year. Make sure they can meet your need within the timeframe you’re working with.

Even if you’re not running a large crew to a site, a crew cab vehicle is a solid consideration, says Namuth. That way, you’ll have room for potential expansion later without having to invest in a brand-new vehicle.

Look through some of the features in this year’s new models and see which truck will help you get the job done.

The author is editor-in-chief of Irrigation & Green Industry and can be reached at kylebrown@igin.com.

Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD & 3500 HD

This year’s Silverado HD includes two heavy-duty powertrain options, new towing technologies and a large Durabed.

Its maximum towing capacity has increased to 36,000 pounds, and it now carries a maximum available payload of 7,442 pounds. It maintains its two powertrain options from last year’s model. The first is a 401-horsepower 6.6-liter V-8 gas engine with direct injection and variable valve timing and castiron block for durability, providing 464 pound-feet of torque with a six-speed automatic transmission. The other choice is a 445-horsepower Duramax 6.6-liter V-8 engine with a segment-exclusive air induction system and variable geometry turbocharger. That engine provides 910 pound-feet of torque with a 10-speed Allison automatic transmission.

The frame has multiple options and is constructed with seven different types of steel chosen to be stronger and more durable than the previous generation, with a gross combined vehicle weight rating of up to 40,000 pounds.

Its segment-first Advanced Trailering System creates customized trailer profiles to monitor information from hitching to driving. These can be tracked through the on-board information system or a mobile device with the app and include features like predeparture checklists and exterior trailer lighting diagnostics.

The model offers up to 15 different camera views, including six available driving views such as the transparent trailer option that allows the driver to virtually see through a trailer to the road behind it.

Both the Silverado 2500 and the 3500 are available in five trim levels including Work Truck, Custom, LT, LTZ and High Country.


  • New inside rearview mirror with partial video display
  • BedSteps feature CornerSteps, both standard, easing loading of cargo bed
  • Removable skid plate and front air dam for straightforward snow plow installation

Ford F-150

The F-150 provides updates to its design and powertrain, as well as brand-new additions to improve customer productivity.

The exterior has been redesigned, including an updated headlamp design, new power dome hood and wrap-around bumpers. It has higher front fenders and larger-diameter tires pulled out threequarters of an inch.

The interior has also been redesigned around utility and technology, with soil-resistant seats and a new standard dual glovebox. It introduces a new 12-inch center screen standard on XLT high series and above. The new optional Interior Work Surface provides a flat working space for signing documents, working on a 15-inch laptop or enjoying a meal when parked. It is available in both bench and captain’s chair configurations.

An all-new 3.5-liter PowerBoost full hybrid V-6 powertrain available on every trim level from XL to Limited adds electric torque to the V-6. It has an EPA-estimated range of about 700 miles on a single tank of gas and delivers at least 12,000 pounds of available maximum towing. The PowerBoost combines the EcoBoost engine and SelectShift automatic transmission with an integrated 47-horsepower electric motor with software calibrated for truck use. The electric motor applies regenerative braking energy capture to help recharge the 1.5-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery.

An available Pro Power Onboard expands the truck’s capabilities by bringing generator levels of exportable power to work sites, with a 2-kilowatt-hour output on optional gas engines, while PowerBoostequipped F-150 comes standard with 2.4-kilowatthour output or 7.2-kilowatt-hour output. Power is accessible through in-cabin outlets and up to four cargo bed-mounted 120-volt 20-amp outlets.


  • Ford Co-Pilot360 2.0, with standard pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection
  • Available Active Drive Assist, which allows for hands-free driving on more than 100,000 miles of divided highways in the U.S. and Canada
  • New SYNC 4 is standard across trim options

GMC Sierra 1500 AND Sierra 1500HD

The Sierra HD brings several new available features centered around trailer technology.

Those include a new trailer length indicator on the center console screen, showing a red overlay twice the length of the compatible trailer and when other vehicles could be in the way during a lane change. It also has a new jackknife alert that tracks the position of the trailer in relation to the vehicle. If the front of the trailer approaches the rear of the vehicle, a warning is displayed for the potential jackknife situation.

Another new feature is an enhancement to the cargo bed view, which now includes a zoom view and bed hitch guidance, assisting in aligning and hooking up a gooseneck or fifth-wheel trailer.

The Sierra offers five available engines, including an available 3.0-liter Duramax Turbo Diesel, providing 460 pound-feet of torque and 277 horsepower.

Compared to last year’s model, that engine adds an additional 1,900 pounds of trailering capacity on 2-wheel-drive configurations with a maximum capacity of 9,300 pounds. The 2.7-liter turbo provides 348 pound-feet of torque and 310 horsepower, and pulls 2,300 pounds more than last year’s model, reaching 9,200 pounds maximum trailering capacity.

Other new features for the Sierra Heavy Duty include new surround vision and bed view cameras as standard on the Denali trim. The Sierra HD Denali Black Diamond Edition will also include powerretractable assist steps.

The Sierra SLE crew cab carries a maximum payload of 1,550 to 2,140 pounds with 62.9 to 71.7 cubic feet of cargo volume.


  • Available six-function Multi-Pro tailgate
  • Front leg room of 44.53 inches in the SLE, Elevation and SLT Crew Cab
  • Up to 15 camera views available on SLT

Hino M Series

The Class 4 and 5 model M Series (formerly the 155 and 195, respectively) have new features to increase safety and overall capability, including a new grille design and optional LED headlamps to better illuminate the road ahead.

The Hino JO5E Series diesel engine provides 210 horsepower with 440 pound-feet of torque, alongside an Aisin A465 HD 6-speed automatic transmission. It has proprietary Selective Catalytic Reduction technology to lower nitrogen oxide emissions by more than 80%. The M Series has a 28.8-gallon center-mounted fuel tank standard. The M4 has a gross vehicle weight rating of 14,500 pounds with a gross combined weight rating of 20,500 pounds, and the M5 takes that up to a gross vehicle weight rating of 19,500 pounds and gross combined weight rating of 25,500 pounds. Both are available in day and crew cabs, seating respectively three and seven crewmembers, with available rear heat and air conditioning for all climates.

The truck is connected to Hino Insight, a platform that combines telematics, remote diagnostics and case management into one system. The system monitors statistics such as idle times, heavy braking, speed, location and distance traveled. The diagnostics platform will notify you of trouble codes, next steps and urgency, and case management will assist with the service process.

The truck includes a fully integrated lane departure warning system and has a new shifter layout with a gear hold feature. It also has a driver’s seatbelt sensor, steering wheel controls and a gauge layout with a 4.2-inch LED multi-information display.


  • Steel constructed with a 78.5-inch-wide cab
  • High driving position provides a wide perspective of the road
  • Optional keyless entry

Isuzu N-Series and F-Series LCF

The Isuzu N-Series and F-Series LCF line of cab-overengine trucks offer a variety of options depending on class size. Class 4-6 trucks are equipped with an EPA-certified diesel engine and the Class 3-4 N- Series trucks have gasoline alternatives.

The gas engine options include a 6.0-liter Vortex V-8 engine that provides 297 horsepower with 372 pound-feet of torque, and a GMPT Gen V L8T V-8 engine supplying 350 horsepower with 425 pound-feet of torque. The diesel option is a 5.2-liter 4HK1-TC turbocharged intercooled engine that provides 215 horsepower and 452 pound-feet of torque, and it should last for a service life durability of 375,000 miles. The engines offer power options for gross vehicle weight ratings from 12,000 pounds to 25,950 pounds.

Changes for this year’s models include a new cab latch switch with an I/P indicator and buzzer and a new spare key PIO option that offers two additional chassis keys for four in total. The NPR Gas and NPR HD Gas models also have new increased steering angles of 49.5 degrees and 46.5 degrees for 16-inch and 19.5-inch wheels respectively. Those two models also feature new 38.6-gallon stainless steel fuel tanks. The FTR has a new Hendrickson HAS 230 air suspension with a 23,000-pound capacity and in-cab air dump switch.

Available cab and chassis combinations offer standard three-seat cabs or crew cabs with seating for seven. The N-Series can accommodate truck bodies ranging from 10 to 20 feet and offer wheelbases between 109 and 176 inches.


  • N-Series includes Aisin A465id 6-d speed double overdrive automatic transmission with lockup torque converter plus PTO opening
  • Isuzu Diagnostic Service System provides a “health report” and performance data for diesel-model owners from Isuzu dealers
  • Optional Mobileye passive safety system, which provides warnings for forward and pedestrian collisions, lane departures and headway monitoring

Nissan Titan and Titan XD

The 2021 Titan and Titan XD carry forward their complete redesign from the 2020 model year. The models are still powered by Nissan’s 5.6-liter Endurance V-8 gasoline engine, which is rated at 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque. The engine connects to a 9-speed automatic transmission with a large final gear ratio of 3.692:1, providing coverage for both standing starts and highway passing. The engine features the Variable Valve Event and Lift technology, combining hydraulic-controlled variable valve timing and electronically controlled variable valve lift on the intake side to provide performance and response. It also has Direct Injection Gas technology to provide better wide-open throttle performance, fuel economy and emissions performance.

The Titan XD is 3 inches taller, 11.8 inches longer in wheelbase and 14.8 inches longer than the Titan overall. The extra length includes a full-size 6.5-foot bed and a unique frame.

The Titan’s front suspension is a double-wishbone design, with leaf springs and leaf bushings along with twin-tube shock absorbers for the rear axle. Pro-4X models use Bilstein mono-tube off-road shocks. All models feature an Off-Road Gauge that displays the vehicles tire angle, relative pitch and roll angles.

It features Safety Shield 360 standard, a set of six driver-assist systems including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, high beam assist and rear automatic braking. It also includes Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, which uses a radar sensor in the front of the truck to assess the distance and speed of other vehicles on the road.

The Titan is offered in three King Cab grades and five Crew Cab grades in both 4×2 and 4×4 drive. The Titan XD is offered in Crew Cab 4×4 models with five trim levels.


  • Integrated Command Center with 8-inch touchscreen, 9-inch touchscreen available
  • Available LED headlights and bed rail lighting
  • Available Utili-track bed channel system with adjustable tie-down cleats

Ram 1500

The new Ram 1500 brings multiple engine options for various applications and provides several new driver assistance options to boost safety and efficiency on the job.

The truck comes with four engine options, including a 3.6-liter eTorque Pentastar V-6 with 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque, a 3-liter EcoDiesel V-6 delivering 260 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque and a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 or 5.7-liter eTorque Hemi V-8, both with variable-valve timing at 395 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque. The half-ton truck has a maximum payload of 2,300 pounds and a maximum trailer tow of 12,750 pounds.

Its air suspension enhances fuel efficiency while providing greater off-road capability and loadleveling. It has configurations in 4×2 and 4×4, with a Quad or Crew Cab and a 5-foot, 7-inch or 6-foot, 4-inch bed.

New driver assistance options begin with a new full-color heads-up display that can show up to five different content areas at once with customization through an available Uconnect 4C 12-inch touchscreen. The HUD can show details such as Lane Departure, Lane Keep Assist, adaptive cruise control, turn-by-turn navigation and current speed. A new digital rearview mirror is available with a 9.2-inchwide LCD monitor, displaying video in real-time from a rear-facing camera and can be turned off to revert to a reflective mirror. The Trailer Reverse Steering Control option assists in guiding the truck and trailer while backing up. The new Snow Plow Prep option includes a 220-amp alternator, truck-side plow wiring harness and a rear power-sliding window with a defroster.


  • Wired trailer camera prep kit is available on all 2021 models
  • Full-speed Collision Warning Plus is now standard on Laramie, Rebel, Longhorn, Limited Longhorn and Limited models
  • Available in nine models such as Tradesman and Big Horn

Toyota Tundra

The 2021 Tundra has several new edition and driver comfort options while continuing to provide the capabilities of last year’s model.

New this year is the Tundra Nightshade edition, based on the Limited trim level, featuring a darker design throughout, including black leather-trim seating, exterior trim details and 20-inch alloy rims.

Only 5,000 of the Tundra Trail Special Edition will be made, based on the SR5 CrewMax trim. It provides added lockable storage space as well as features such as all-terrain tires and all-weather floor mats.

All models of the Tundra are powered by the 5.7-liter i-Force V-8 with DOHC with dual independent Variable Valve Timing with intelligence and 4-2-1 tubular stainless-steel exhaust manifold. The engine offers 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. It connects to a six-speed automatic transmission and is capable of towing up to 10,200 pounds with a maximum payload of 1,730.

The Tundra’s TripleTech frame features an integrated tow hitch receiver. It has an available Integrated Trailer Brake Controller and standard Trailer-Sway Control, which adjust the amount of trailer braking and mitigate trailer sway by applying brake pressure at individual wheels. The 4×4 models include an A-Trac system that optimizes traction across the front and rear axles simultaneously to improve grip.

The Tundra has an available 8-inch touchscreen display and integrated navigation. It’s outfitted with Toyota Safety sense, which includes pre-collision with pedestrian detection, lane departure alerts, automatic high beams and dynamic radar cruise control.


  • Standard backup camera and optional blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert
  • Standard automatic limited slip differential
  • Available deck rail system with four adjustable tiedown cleats, each rated at 220 pounds

Mitsubishi Fuso

Mitsubishi Fuso announced that it would discontinue new truck sales of its medium-duty cab-over trucks in the U.S. and Canada, citing a heavily competitive market. The company will shift to a service-focused operation in those markets. The company will maintain its Logan Township, New Jersey, headquarters and its parts distribution and technical training centers.

Mitsubishi Fuso plans to support U.S. and Canada customers through its authorized service network through 2028. Customers should contact their dealership for more information.