By on September 20, 2016

2015 Ford F150

Are the economic successes of Wall Street not being passed down to Main Street? Are concerns over the future post-November direction of the country fostering caution in the minds of consumers? Did certainty regarding forthcoming autumn incentives postpone summer purchases?

And might the benefits of a burgeoning midsize pickup truck class finally be inhibiting demand for full-size pickup trucks?

Whatever the reason, U.S. sales of full-size pickups declined in the summer of 2016 after growing much faster than the overall market coming out of the recession.

In fact, in August 2016, all six nameplates in the category produced fewer sales than they did one year earlier. During the same period, sales of midsize pickup trucks jumped 39 percent. (Read More…)

By on August 16, 2016

2016 Toyota TacomaAmerica’s midsize pickup truck segment grew 19 percent in the first seven months of 2016. But as demand for midsize pickups expands throughout the remainder of 2016, it’s increasingly unlikely that the Toyota Tacoma will be able to make the most of the heightened interest.

Tacoma inventory has been tight for months, requiring Toyota to take full advantage of very specific modifications put in place at the San Antonio, Texas, and Baja California, Mexico, production lines a number of years ago.

No longer does a Tacoma roll off the San Antonio line every 65 seconds — it now takes only 60 seconds. There’s even a Saturday shift that drives the San Antonio plant up to 123-percent capacity. (Read More…)

By on August 15, 2016

2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab

Nissan’s second-generation Titan arrives in crew cab, V8 form with a U.S. base price of $35,975, including $1,195 for destination and handling.

A terribly long run for Nissan’s first full-size pickup truck effort resulted in only 471,242 U.S. sales between 2002 and 2015, roughly the total number of Ford F-Series pickups sold every seven months. Nissan has forged a unique strategy for the Titan’s relaunch, with the heavier-duty — though not quite Heavy Duty — Titan XD already on the market with a 310-horsepower Cummins 5.0-liter V8 diesel powerplant.

Now the regular-duty 2017 Nissan Titan is arriving in concert with an upgraded full-size pickup truck warranty that matches Nissan’s commercial van coverage: bumper-to-bumper, five years/100,000 miles.  (Read More…)

By on July 14, 2016

2005 Nissan Frontier & 2016 Nissan Frontier

The recent introduction of a thoroughly re-engineered Toyota Tacoma is propelling sales of the segment’s top seller to all-time highs. After an elongated hiatus, there are new options from General Motors, and they’re selling more frequently than GM anticipated. Just last month, Honda began selling an all new, second-generation Ridgeline, a pickup at the opposite end of the spectrum from the rough and tumble Frontier. That Ridgeline, we told you yesterday, is selling like it’s 2008.

Moreover, demand for small/midsize pickup trucks is roughly 30-percent smaller than it was a decade ago.

At Nissan, there are plenty of factors, internal and external, working against the Frontier. The current-generation pickup is more than a decade old. Yet Nissan USA is on track to sell more Frontiers in 2016 than at any point since the current truck debuted on the Titan’s F-Alpha platform in January 2004 at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show. (Read More…)

By on July 13, 2016

2017 Honda Ridgeline

American Honda reported 2,472 sales of its all-new, second-generation Ridgeline pickup in June 2016, the truck’s first month of rather limited availability.

June was the Ridgeline’s first four-digit sales month since August 2014, the Ridgeline’s first month above the 2,000-unit mark since October 2008, and the best Ridgeline sales month since August 2008.

In fact, if American Honda simply maintained the June 2016 sales pace for the rest of the year, total 2016 calendar year Ridgeline sales would essentially match 2013’s total for an eight-year high in U.S. Ridgeline sales.

Indeed, on an annualized rate, based simply on the Ridgeline’s first month back from a long hiatus, Honda is already selling more Ridgelines than at any point since 2008. (Read More…)

By on July 11, 2016

2017 Ford Fusion Sport

Even with an all-time first-half U.S. sales record, Ford’s SUVs and crossovers huge year-over-year gains weren’t enough to counteract the significant losses in Ford’s car lineup.

And that’s where the Ford F-Series steps in.

Overall Ford Motor Company sales rose 4.4 percent in the first half of 2016. At the Ford brand, specifically, every passenger car nameplate produced fewer sales than during the same period in 2015. (Read More…)

By on June 17, 2016

2016 Ram 1500 Tradesman 4x4 EcoDieselAt this moment, according to AutoTrader and Cars.com, there are fewer than three dozen new Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Tradesman 4×4 Regular Cab pickup trucks available in the United States.

That’s right, of the roughly 8,000 Ram EcoDiesels and nearly 80,000 Ram 1500s available in the United States, there are approximately 30 available in a traditional working pickup truck format: diesel power, two doors, long box, base trim, four-wheel drive.

This is no slight on Ram or Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ dealers. They’re simply responding to the market’s demands.

You, by which we mean the truck buying collective, don’t want real trucks. So you can’t have one. Because it’s highly unlikely you can find one, because dealers know you don’t want one. (Read More…)

By on June 16, 2016

Chevrolet vs. Ford rock drop

After watching General Motors drop 825 pounds of rock into the beds of a Chevrolet Silverado and a Ford F-150, I wasn’t caught up in fairness or relevance or with the advertisement’s status as a marketing stunt. Some observers asked whether GM crossed an unwritten line shared by Detroit’s cross-town truck rivals, as if in a year when presidential candidates toss deeply personal insults around like water balloons at a summer picnic a pickup truck critique would be over the line.

To me, it simply seemed clear from the moment of the ad’s YouTube launch that the Chevrolet Silverado’s apparent toughness advantage would be more frequently viewed than a traditional truck commercial. As of this writing, Chevrolet’s YouTube channel has racked up 4.4 million views with “Silverado Strong: Steel Bed Outperforms Aluminum Bed,” ten times more views than the channel’s 22 previous ads have generated in the last month, combined.

The Silverado could use the increased attention. U.S. sales of GM’s best-selling model line are flat despite a six-percent sales increase in the truck market so far this year. (Read More…)

By on June 13, 2016

2014 Toyota Tundra 1794 CrewMax

Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Dan Neil fairly torched the 2016 Toyota Tundra CrewMax in a recent review for The Wall Street Journal’s Rumble Seat.

“It is not the strongest, the swiftest and definitely not the most fuel efficient,” Neil wrote in a particularly stinging paragraph which began by Neil calling the Tundra, “not the most technically advanced truck on the market.”

The Tundra faithful, not particularly numerous at the best of times relative to rival Detroit nameplates, is an ever more compact group of individuals. With each passing month, America’s truck buyers make increasingly clear that they heartily agree with Dan Neil. (Read More…)

By on May 13, 2016

2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE, Image: FCA

You know the world is a bit upside-down when master wordsmith Jack Baruth spins a web so tight in favor of the EPA and CARB that even the Best and Brightest can’t see through it.

Jack makes a valid point today: light-duty trucks, especially those of the diesel variety, are often driven by people who don’t need the capability that those trucks provide. It’s those diesel pickups that spew tons of particulates and NOx into the atmosphere, both of which are harmful to human health. Goodbye, he says to the light-duty diesel truck, before we turn into Europe. Turbo-fed gasoline engines offer just as much torque as their diesel-powered brethren, he exclaims. There’s no need to buy an $80,000 phallus extender. What do you think of this twin-turbo V6 Raptor?

However, Mr. Baruth stopped just short of saying recreational use of light-duty diesel trucks should be outright banned, instead offering up a solution that’s analogous to gun control.

(Read More…)

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