Heavy gooseneck transports, big livestock trailers, flatbeds and dump boxes — the workhorse medium-duty truck has always been versatile. Three of this year's models are all that and more. The basic trucks are getting better engines, frames and suspensions. And as four-door crew cabs become more popular in this category, some buyers are choosing a customized medium-duty truck equipped with a pickup-style box and fancy trim to let them haul down the highway in style.

International 7300

The tough 215-hp DT466 International engine, full-time 4-wd versatility, and up to a 140-gal. diesel fuel tank make this medium-duty truck a favorite choice for municipal snowplowing and hauling. Transmission options include Allison automatic or up to a 10-speed manual shift.

Farmers sometimes pick up the used plow versions of these trucks at auction, but by that time, wear and tear on the old warhorses can be substantial. A new or slightly used 7300 might be a better choice if you need a reliable truck.

Rear-axle GVWR* rating of 17,000 lbs. plus front-axle rating at 10,000 makes this a Class 7 truck. An optional, 30,000-lb. rear-axle option takes the truck up to Class 8. Or International can de-rate the truck into a Class 5 vehicle to get it below the 26,001-lb. limit for Class B commercial license requirements.

This de-rated option has been popular with buyers who choose to customize the truck into a super “Big Red” pickup truck. Truck Trend magazine may have overstated the case by proclaiming that “the International pickup is back” in its October issue. This customized beast based on a dump truck frame is nothing like the International pickup trucks grandpa drove. But it might be a better alternative to a pricey Class 4 heavy-duty pickup. And it's sure to be more reliable and useful than a Humvee. On request, International will contract with a third part outfitter that can customize the truck at International's Garland, TX, assembly plant.

Prices range from around $40,000 to $68,000. For more information, call International at 800/448-7825, visit www.internationaldelivers.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin.

Chevy Kodiak/GMC Topkick C4500-C5500

If you think the phrase “rides like a lumber wagon” applies to all medium-duty trucks, it's time you took a ride in one of the new GM products. New, quiet cabs and better suspensions have reduced noise, vibration and harshness by 50%. These trucks have significantly improved visibility and have a tighter turning radius. Available engines include 6.6- or 8.1-l gasoline V-8, 7.8-l Duramax 6-cyl. turbodiesel, and the Caterpillar 3126E diesel.

The GVWR of the entry-level C4500 Kodiak is 16,000 to 17,500 lbs., and it is 18,000 to 19,500 lbs. for the C5500. Models are available with antilock hydraulic disc or air brakes. Transmission options include Allison automatic or up to a 10-speed manual. The Allison automatic now provides a PTO with the standard cab. A Crew Cab seats up to six people comfortably. GM offers models in configurations tailored for towing or hauling with a dump box. Or, if you want more versatility and a slick look, Monroe Truck Equipment will customize these trucks into a super-sized pickup that can haul or tow. Price ranges from $28,290 for a simple flatbed to $60,000 for a fancy custom job equipped for heavy trailering on the interstate.

For more information about the trucks, contact your local GM dealer, visit www.gm.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin.

For more information about Monroe Truck Equipment, contact the company at 1051 W. 7th St., Monroe, WI 53566, 800/356-8134, visit www.monroetruck.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin.

Ford F-Series Super Duty/Commercial

The F-series Super Duty truck lineup is manufactured at Ford's 4.6-million-square-foot Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, KY — the largest truck plant in the world. The F-350, F-450 and F-550 are available in regular cab, Super Cab and Crew Cab configurations in XL, XLT and Lariat trims.

The 6.0-l power-stroke V-8 turbodiesel delivers 325 hp. The 5.4-l Triton V-8 with 260 hp has been the winner of Ward's AutoWorld's 10 Best Engines Award for six consecutive years.

The 6.8-l V-10 produces 310 hp at 4,250 rpm and 425 ft. lbs. of torque at 3,250 rpm.

Prices start in the low $20,000s for a base model F-350 flatbed and move higher according to package and options selected. For more information, contact Ford Customer Relationship Center, Dept. FIN, Box 6248, Dearborn, MI 48126, 800/392-3673, visit www.ford.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin.

* GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) refers to the maximum loaded weight of a vehicle, including fuel, fluids and full payload.