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Chassis cab cruising

June 24, 2019 -  By
Chassis cab (Photo: Ford)

Upfit it Consider upfit options like dump bodies when making your decision. (Photo: Ford)

When it comes to choosing the right chassis cab, design/build professionals must sift through a truckload of options.

We spoke with two chassis cab experts — Kevin Koester, medium-duty and super-duty fleet brand manager at Ford, and David Sowers, head of commercial vehicle marketing at Ram — to help make the decision easier.

1. Cab size
Landscape pros should first determine how many crew members will be regularly riding in the vehicle.

“Obviously with a landscape crew, you’re probably going to want to bring more than one person on a trip,” Koester says, adding that most landscape pros typically opt for Ford’s crew cab or super cab, which offer between five and six seating positions, instead of the regular cab that seats about two to three people.

Similarly, Ram offers regular and crew cab options, seating up to three and six passengers, respectively.

2. Intended upfit

With upfit options including flatbeds, stake beds, dump bodies and more, landscape pros must choose a chassis that supports the truck’s body.

“How well does your upfit work in harmony with the chassis?” asks Sowers, adding that a dealer may be the best bet for helping determine an appropriate upfit. “We try to focus on making our chassis cab the best blank canvas it can be.”

Pay attention to the chassis’ measurements, such as the width of the frame rails and the length from the back of the cab to the rear axle.

3. Class

Sowers says truck options in classes three through five tend to be the most popular among landscape pros.

Koester adds that it’s important to not overspec or underspec your intended truck.

“Just because you have the ability to get the highest gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) truck you can doesn’t necessarily mean that you should,” Koester says. “If you get the heaviest truck you can and you have a fairly light load, the ride is going to be very uncomfortable.”

4. State and local CDL laws

While it may not seem blatantly obvious, it’s also important to keep an eye on a region’s commercial driver’s license (CDL) laws.

“We often see landscaping crews get pulled over for CDL violations because of a mistaken belief that the only factor determining if a CDL is required is whether
GVWR of the truck is 26,000 pounds or more,” Koester cautions.

Items such as trailer weight and region may play a role in whether or not a driver needs a CDL.

5. Cost of ownership

To tally up the total cost of ownership, Sowers says it’s important to factor in the cost of acquisition, the truck’s fuel economy, maintenance costs, as well as the residual value.

Koester says factoring in feedback from crew members about topics like maintenance items also can help with purchasing decisions.

“Talk to your drivers and mechanics. They are the people who know the trucks in your fleet the best,” he says. “Talk to them early, talk to them often and log their feedback.”

Sarah Webb

About the Author:

Sarah Webb is Landscape Management's former managing editor. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University, where she studied journalism and Spanish. Prior to her role at LM, Sarah was an intern for Cleveland Magazine and a writing tutor.

1 Comment on "Chassis cab cruising"

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  1. Stan says:

    The truth these contractors are pulled over is NOT a CDL issue but of over loading/unsecured loads. Being on the cheap and buying a lightweight truck because registration and insurance is based on a trucks base weight or GVW is a safety and productivity mistake, buy a chassis that can safely transport crew and equipment with a ROI on productivity, reasonable maintenance cost, and reliability.
    Buying a class 3-5 truck today is easier than buying a sedan. If you know what body and payload you want and the crew size to be transported , there are BOTH Chassis and Body builder online tools to help select the truck you want. Knowing in advance that Trucks with a CA over 84″ come in Standard cab configuration that you might have to buy the class 4-5 chassis AND a Crew cab Pickup to transport the crew