Category: Trucks

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 >

By on June 22, 2017

2017 Ram Power Wagon

Impassioned calls for Ram to drop the Cummins 6.7-liter inline-six diesel into the Power Wagon are not new, nor is Ram’s response. I recently spoke with Jeff Johnson, Ram’s brand manager for heavy duty trucks, who unequivocally stated, “Ram has no plans to offer the Power Wagon with a diesel.”

Johnson pointed to the increased weight of the 6.7-liter Cummins versus the 6.4-liter Hemi V8 presently under Power Wagon hoods, as well as the difficulty of engineering the front end to accommodate both the diesel’s cooling requirements and the truck’s standard 12,000-pound winch.

We accept the reality of these challenges. But could Ram overcome them?

Absolutely, though Ram’s engineers have determined the cost outweighs the benefits. Even setting my enthusiast hat aside, I am not confident that bypassing this opportunity altogether is the best choice for Ram. Read More >

By on June 18, 2017

2017 Ram 3500 Heavy Duty, Image: FCA

It’s hard to hear the name Cummins and not immediately think of a Ram pickup struggling valiantly to pull a gnarled tree stump out of the unyielding earth. Certainly, the company’s diesel inline-six and V8 engines are to the truck world what Nike is to professional sports.

While Cummins’ fossil fuel-powered engines and power systems show no signs of becoming passé, a company ignores the future at its own peril. The green revolution is afoot, we’re told, and internal combustion power will one day occupy the niche currently inhabited by electric propulsion. With this in mind, Cummins has a plan. Read More >

By on June 16, 2017

2017 Nissan Titan King Cab - Image: NissanNissan USA has priced the 2017 Nissan Titan King Cab from $33,745; or $36,775 with four-wheel drive.

In King Cab format — aka extended cab — only the three entry-level trims make it out of the Titan’s Canton, Mississippi assembly plant: S, SV, Pro-4X. The SL and Platinum Reserve are, ahem, reserved for Crew Cabs.

While General Motors’ full-size truck twins, the Ram 1500, and the Toyota Tundra have all switched to conventional front-hinged door configurations for their mid-level cab format, Nissan is sticking with the bodystyle utilized by the best-selling truck in America: Ford’s F-150.

But the configuration may not matter. With savings of just $2,180-$2,680 compared with the bigger Nissan four-door, it won’t be easy to convince buyers to give up their crew cab desires. Read More >

By on June 15, 2017

2018 ford expedition fx4, Image: Ford Motor Co.

Ford Motor Company has announced a series of engine and transmission upgrades for the facelifted 2018 F-150 and redesigned 2018 Expedition, all designed to provide a boost in both power and fuel economy. For the Expedition, the upgrades also include an off-road package available as soon as 2018 models begin rolling off assembly lines this fall.

Starting with America’s perpetual best-seller, the F-150, Ford’s powertrain improvements include the addition of dual injection to several engines, expanded implementation of the 10-speed automatic, and a new motor for base trim trucks. While Ford hasn’t released fuel economy estimates, it promises there will be improvements across the range. It was, however, willing to divulge enhanced horsepower and torque specs for all light truck engines, minus the Raptor’s. Read More >

By on June 15, 2017

2016 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE, Image: FCA

Ram and Jeep fans looking to get into a new 1500 or Grand Cherokee with the highest possible fuel economy picked the wrong year to embark on their search. While owners of 2014-2016 Ram and Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel models wonder whether their vehicles are polluting as the EPA claims, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ 2017 EcoDiesels languish in legal limbo.

At first, the Environmental Protection Agency held up the certification of 2017 models as it slogged through a backlog of extra-stringent testing prompted by Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal. Then, in January, FCA’s hopes of getting 2017 EcoDiesels to dealers hit a brick wall. The automaker was accused of violating environmental regulations after the EPA discovered unannounced emissions control devices on the models — raising concerns of a possible VW-type defeat device scheme.

Then came a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice. So, when can diesel fans get their hands on a light-duty FCA oil burner? It could be a while. Read More >

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