Category: Trucks

By on August 13, 2017

Ford Ranger Raptor, Image: Spiedbilde/The Truth About Cars

This ties in nicely with an earlier post detailing the only two options available for midsize pickup buyers wanting more off-road prowess. For now, it’s Chevrolet and Toyota’s arena. Both GM and Toyota dominate the midsize pickup segment — a class that saw its U.S. market share rise to 17 percent of total pickup sales last year.

However, Ford’s late-to-the-game Ranger pickup, arriving on these shores in 2019 as a 2020 model, should bring a third player to the midsize mud and rock jamboree. It might not carry the Raptor name made famous by its bigger brother F-150, but this spied test vehicle shows Ford isn’t willing to send the Ranger to America wearing just work clothes. Read More >

By on August 11, 2017

2018 Ram 3500 Cummins towing, Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Healthy competition lowers the price of consumer goods, the economists tell us, but it also raises torque ratings. Nowhere is this more apparent than among the Detroit Three automakers, with Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles locking horns, crossing swords (keep it clean…), and firing arrows at each other in a heavy-duty pickup war that’s only heated up in recent years.

It comes down to stump-pulling, gravel-hauling, trailer-towing twist. In 2015, the Ram 3500’s 6.7-liter Cummins inline-six turbodiesel topped the Ford F-350 SuperDuty’s 6.7-liter turbodiesel V8 by 5 lb-ft of torque — 865 to Ford’s 860. This clearly couldn’t stand, so for 2017 Ford upgraded the Power Stroke’s torque rating to 925 lb-ft, kiboshing Ram’s 2016 attempt to stay ahead with a 900 lb-ft rating.

With 2017 came further aggressions. This year saw GM pulling ahead to second place with its 6.6-liter Duramax V8, now upgraded to 910 lb-ft, knocking Ram down to third place.

Well, FCA’s having none of it. Just a day after Ford’s unveiling of a newly powerful second-generation 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 and 5.0-liter V8, Ram fires this salvo: a Cummins with more grunt than any other rival. Read More >

By on August 10, 2017

Ford F-150

As promised, Ford is updating the engine lineup in the company’s best-selling F-150 for the 2018 model year, providing improved fuel economy and maximum towing capacity across the board.

While it’s always a good idea to hold out a bit of skepticism until review time, Ford previously low-balled its economy estimates for the F-Series — as such, we’re working with some previously existing good faith.

News has been trickling out regarding Ford’s upcoming styling tweaks, advanced safety tech, and a powerful new diesel engine for the 2018 model. We also knew the F-150’s gas engines would be getting upgraded specs and, while some alterations are minor, there are a few big numbers worth disclosing.

And they have little to do with the 5.0-liter V8.

Read More >

By on August 8, 2017

2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro lineup - Image: ToyotaThere are a number of major consequences springboarding off the early August 2017 announcement that Toyota and Mazda would come together to build an assembly plant in Somewhere, United States.

First, Mazda production returns to the United States for the first time since the Mazda 6 left Flat Rock, Michigan, in 2012.

Second, the Toyota Corolla — produced now in Cambridge, Ontario, and Blue Springs, Mississippi — will be assembled in a second U.S. assembly plant.

Third, Toyota will acquire a 5-percent stake in Mazda, while Mazda returns the favor by claiming a 0.25-percent portion of Toyota.

And to the increasingly pickup-truck-conscious U.S. consumer, the most significant consequence of the Toyota-Mazda partnership will be more Toyota Tacomas. That’s right: more pickup trucks for America. Read More >

By on August 1, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Silverado - Image: ChevroletAmerica’s auto industry is expected to report today its seventh consecutive month of decline, a drop of at least 5 percent based on forecasts and some sharp declines from three of the largest manufacturers: GM, Ford, and FCA.

Incidentally, GM, Ford, and FCA are America’s three biggest sellers of pickup trucks, and for the most part, pickup trucks are allowing a degree of buoyancy at the Detroit Three despite plunging passenger car sales. But after pickup truck sales rose 4 percent through the first-half of 2017, pickup truck sales declined in July 2017. Slightly. Somewhat.

And it was mostly General Motors’ fault. Read More >

By on July 25, 2017

2018 Honda Ridgeline - Image: HondaSuggesting that the automaker is “providing a more compelling value,” American Honda is removing the second-from-the-bottom RTS trim level from the 2018 Honda Ridgeline lineup and extinguishing the all-wheel-drive option on basic RT Ridgelines.

As a result, after a 2017 run in which all-wheel-drive Ridgelines could be purchased for $32,315, the 2018 Honda Ridgeline AWD now has a base price $3,695 higher than before.

$36,010. Read More >

By on July 19, 2017

Mercedes-Benz X-Class Studio - Image: Mercedes-BenzWe don’t know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, exactly what Mercedes-Benz USA has planned for the brand’s new pickup truck, the X-Class.

Importing the Nissan Navara-based Benz pickup seems doubtful. The Chicken Tax, a 25-percent tariff on imported light trucks, would bring a $43,000 X-Class’s price up to $54,000. Moreover, premium  brand pickup trucks — Lincoln Blackwood and Mark LT; Cadillac Escalade EXT — have faltered in the past. The X-Class is also set to be almost entirely dependent on diesel engines, and Mercedes-Benz would almost invariably need a gas powerplant to function in North America, both from cost and emissions standpoints. Plus, Mercedes-Benz’s X-Class would be competing for a slice of a slice of America’s pickup truck pie. America’s pickup truck sector is huge, but 84 percent of it is devoted to full-size, not midsize, pickup trucks.

However, if — and it’s a big if — Mercedes-Benz either determines that importing the X-Class to the United States is viable or decides to build the X-Class in the NAFTA zone, the words of Volker Mornhinweg, Mercedes-Benz Vans’ executive vice president, might just come back to haunt the three-pointed star. Read More >

By on July 18, 2017

2018 Mercedes-Benz X-Class Progressive - Image: Mercedes-BenzSet to arrive in Germany in November 2017 and other global markets — but not the United States — in early 2018, the Mercedes-Benz X-Class is, according to Mercedes-Benz, “the first pickup from a premium manufacturer.”

Lincoln Blackwood? Cadillac Escalade EXT? Lincoln Mark LT? You apparently don’t count.

We’ve seen the concepts before. Mercedes-Benz today revealed the production X-Class, a Nissan Navara-based pickup truck from the three-pointed star. Read More >

By on July 12, 2017

2017 Honda Ridgeline

The Ford Ranger is poised to return to the domestic market in 2019, accompanied by all the fanfare befitting a junior American icon. Unless the Blue Oval totally botches the job, everyone anticipates the reborn Ranger becoming a big seller in the midsize truck market.

However, there’s already a smaller pickup syphoning off volume from its rivals before the Ranger can avail itself. While sales of most midsize truck models have been cooled by the gentle breeze of market stagnation, Honda’s second-generation Ridgeline has returned with a vengeance, enjoying favorable reviews and posting sales volume not witnessed in over a decade. While Honda still doesn’t move nearly as much midsized metal as Toyota’s Tacoma (which sold 191,631 units in the U.S. in 2016), the Ridgeline proves there is space in the marketplace for more than just body-on-frame offerings.  Read More >

By on July 11, 2017

2017 Honda CR-V Touring – Image: Honda

What’s big these days? You know the answer. Avocados. Leasing. Saying “it me” on Twitter. But above all else, crossovers and SUVs.

Not only have utility vehicles become the driving force in the North American automotive marketplace, ownership of these versatile vehicles is apparently becoming harder and harder to quit. More than ever, owners of crossovers and SUVs find themselves bolting from their old utility vehicle into a brand new one.

As for sedan buyers, never has love drained so quickly from a relationship. Read More >

By on July 11, 2017

GM Real People Not Actors Silverado ad screenshot - Image: Chevrolet YouTubeWith the July 10 launch of a new Chevrolet Silverado commercial, General Motors is once again using its Real People, Not Actors campaign in an attempt to tarnish the Ford F-150’s good name.

This methodology doesn’t appear to have had an impact in the marketplace in the past. Yet two years after General Motors displayed conversations between Howie Long and GM engineer Eric Stanczak discussing repair costs on the Ford F-150’s aluminum bed and one year after Chevrolet punctured a Ford F-150’s aluminum bed with 825 pounds of concrete blocks, General Motors is turning to admitted Ford F-150 owners as a means of casting aspersions on America’s top-selling full-size truck.

After earlier rounds, Ford gained ground in America’s full-size pickup truck market in 2016. Indeed, Ford is continuing to gain ground in that same market in 2017. Ford is selling more trucks than its rivals. Ford is selling more trucks with less incentivization. Ford is selling more trucks with less incentivization at higher average transaction prices.

So, GM sends the Chevrolet Silverado back to the same ol’ well. Read More >

By on July 5, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Silverado High Country towing - Image: ChevroletMarch 2017 marked just the third occasion in three years in which Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Ram P/U line outsold the Chevrolet Silverado in the United States.

One month later, in April, Ram did it again.

Then in May 2017, Ram made it a threepeat, outselling the traditional No. 2 pickup truck in America by more than 1,000 units. By the end of May, the Silverado was only 5,055 sales ahead of the Ram on year-to-date terms, a narrow gap which served to highlight the possibility that the Ram could outsell the Silverado for the first time ever in calendar year 2017.

But June 2017 marked an end to Ram’s party, at least for the time being. General Motors reported 50,515 Chevrolet Silverado sales in June, a 2-percent year-over-year uptick and 7,442 more sales than FCA’s Ram truck lineup managed.

How did GM manage to end the trend? By earning less money per truck, naturally. Read More >

By on July 1, 2017

[Image: Ford]

While he’s only been in the big chair for little over a month, Ford Motor Company CEO Jim Hackett has already pinned down a serious problem in need of immediate change. Decision making. Or, more specifically, the need to get the lead out when rapidly changing market trends threaten company profit.

The former chairman of Ford Smart Mobility LLC, who replaced an ousted Mark Fields in late May, was brought in to guide the Blue Oval through a “transformative period” in the industry. One way he might do this is to borrow an idea from the NBA. Read More >

By on June 27, 2017

2018 Ram 2500 Limited Tungsten Edition, Image: FCA

As the current-generation Ram 1500 nears the end of its life cycle and its Heavy Duty siblings await either a refresh or something more significant, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has decided to offer its most luxurious pickup to date. Tungsten, which has the highest melting point and tensile strength of any metal on earth, lends its tough-sounding name to new Ram trim slotting above the existing top-rung Limited.

For 2018, the Limited Tungsten Edition becomes the latest and greatest pickup from an automaker known for tossing out special editions like Halloween candy. What can a buyer expect from a Ram 1500, 2500 or 3500 decked out in Tungsten duds? Well, besides an MSRP above $55,000 for a rear-drive 1500, you’ll find a truck Mick Jagger might enjoy. Read More >

By on June 23, 2017

2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior-016

Now that pickup trucks have graduated from the role of farm and construction site conveyance to family hauler, space and seating have become as important as bed length and payload capacity. Not surprisingly, regular cab pickups and even extended-cab models have become a scarce sight on local roads.

Ram, Toyota and General Motors have since turned their extended cab full-sizers into front-hinged, almost-crew-cab four-doors, leaving Ford and Nissan with the only clamshell layouts in the business. As for regular cabs, who even thinks of those? Not many. So few, in fact, that Toyota beancounters decided to drop the axe.

Yup, there’ll be no regular cab Tundra when the refreshed 2018 models arrive in late summer. Are you sad? Read More >

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