By on September 22, 2017

2017 Hyundai H100 Korea pickup - Image: Hyundai“We’ve been talking about it for a number of years now,” Hyundai Australia’s chief operating officer, Scott Grant, said at the Genesis G70 global reveal.

No, he’s not talking about the G70, or any Genesis for that matter. He’s not talking about the H-100 pictured above. He’s not talking about the Tucson-based Hyundai Santa Cruz that finally seems destined for production after years of back-and-forth indecision.

Hyundai is now considering a true pickup truck. “We’re confident of having something on the other side of 2020,” Grant says.

Hyundai’s coming for your pickup truck market share, Nissan. (Read More…)

By on September 14, 2017

Mercedes-Benz X-Klasse – Ausstattungslinien POWER und PROGRESSIVE - Image: Mercedes-Benz“They build fantastic cars,” BMW senior vice president Hendrik von Kuenheim told Australian automotive media at the Frankfurt Motor Show. “But this one was a disappointment.”

von Kuenheim is talking about the Nissan Navara-based Mercedes-Benz X-Class pickup, a truck not presently destined for North America but one that will appear across the region for which von Kuenheim is in charge: Asia, Australia, South Africa.

“I saw that car in Geneva and was actually disappointed,” BMW’s von Kuenheim says. “Very disappointed.” Calling the X-Class “appalling,” and suggesting we “would have expected something more serious,” von Kuenheim’s comments about the body-on-frame Mercedes-Benz pickup accompanied a number of revelations regarding a future BMW truck.

Don’t expect a BMW pickup to rival the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2. (Read More…)

By on September 13, 2017

Nissan Mexico NP300 "New Frontier" - Image: nissan“The dedicated employees here in Canton look forward to building
the next generation of one of the best pickup trucks in America.”
– Steve Marsh, VP Manufacturing, Nissan Canton Vehicle Assembly Plant

Nissan has announced that a next-generation Nissan Frontier will be built in Canton, Mississippi, the same plant that’s been building the nearly 13-year-old second-gen Frontier since 2012.

But the platform on which the next Frontier will be based? And the precise timing of the unveiling and on-sale date?

Still unknown. (Read More…)

By on September 6, 2017

IIHS small truck overlap crash test

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently ran eight pickups through the small overlap front crash test, which replicates one of the most infamous and deadly of accident types — one where the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or object. The segment, which the IIHS called “small pickups,” could easily be categorized as midsize. But, with no smaller options currently available in the domestic market, their terminology works well enough.

So, how did the smaller pickups stack up when hurled toward a concrete pylon at 40 miles an hour? A little better than you might expect.

If we were absolutely forced to drive into a brick wall, we’d probably prefer to be seated in a full-size truck — specifically the Ford F-150 SuperCab. But the junior pickup group wasn’t a segment full of deathtraps. In fact, they suffered less structural deformation overall and posed less risk of injury to the lower leg region when compared to their full-size brethren. There were exceptions, however.  (Read More…)

By on September 1, 2017

2017 Nissan Frontier King Cab - Image: NissanNoteworthy year-over-year sales declines were reported in August 2017 by the three lowest-volume members of America’s five-strong midsize pickup truck category. As a result, U.S. sales of midsize pickups tumbled 8 percent last month, driving their share of the overall pickup truck category down from 18 percent in August 2016 to 16 percent in August 2017.

The Honda Ridgeline, America’s lowest-volume pickup truck in each of the last two months, reported a 24-percent drop to 2,610 units. For the 2018 model year, Honda will make the all-wheel-drive Ridgeline distinctly less affordable. The GMC Canyon, which persistently and predictably generates far less showroom traffic than its Chevrolet Colorado twin, tumbled by a fifth to 2,698 sales. And the Nissan Frontier, which last year reported its best calendar year results in 15 years, continued its 2017 tumble with a 51-percent plunge to only 4,637 units, its lowest-volume month since January.

But those are low-volume midsize trucks, scarcely relevant in the overall pickup truck scheme. Total pickup truck volume rose 4 percent in August because full-size trucks jumped 6 percent, thanks mainly to the best-selling vehicle line in America: Ford’s F-Series. (Read More…)

By on August 22, 2017

Hyundai santa cruz concept

Hyundai intends to launch a small pickup truck in the United States as part of its plan to catch up with the industry’s shift away from sedans. Up until now, that strategy has involved cramming as many SUVs onto the market as possible. But Hyundai brand sales are still dragging behind 2016’s monthly averages in the U.S., with end-of-year estimates falling short of company goals.

The solution is to keep pushing the Tucson, start deliveries on the Kona mini SUV before 2018, and begin development of a pickup truck based on the Santa Cruz concept from 2015 (seen above). Hyundai is also rumored to be planning on adding three additional sport utility vehicles or crossovers to its North American lineup by 2020 — helping it shore up waning sedan and hatchback sales. (Read More…)

By on August 16, 2017

2018 Ford F150 - Image: FordAs Ford prepares to launch the refreshed 2018 F-150 with a thoroughly updated engine lineup, Blue Oval product planners expect 2017’s engine selection to continue. That means the 5.0-liter V8, while mildly upgraded for 2018, will be found under the hood of only one in four 2018 F-150s.

The transition has been a rapid one. Twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6s were surprisingly effective when, in early 2011, 35 percent of F-150 buyers made the leap from conventional naturally aspirated powerplants. Three years later, when Ford was planning to expand the F-150’s EcoBoost lineup with a less costly 2.7-liter variant, Ford expected 56 percent of F-150 buyers to choose one of the turbocharged units.

Heading into 2018, Ford’s truck marketing manager Todd Eckert tells Automotive News that the 2.7-liter EcoBoost will be the most popular F-150 engine followed by the 3.5-liter EcoBoost. Together, they’ll claim 65 percent of all F-150 sales, leaving 10 percent for the new entry-level 3.3-liter, and roughly 25 percent for the five-point-oh.

So how many V8 engines is that? (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 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 21, 2017

Mercedes-Benz X-Class Nissan Navara - Images: Mercedes-Benz & NissanAustralia’s pickup truck markets wants to know: is the Mercedes-Benz X-Class more than just a badge-engineered Nissan Navara?

“This is hardly a double badge,” Mercedes-Benz Vans’ global boss Volker Mornhinweg told Motoring.

But there’s a tendency to see matters another way. The production X-Class, not yet bound for North America’s nonexistent premium midsize pickup truck market, isn’t exactly a carbon copy of the X-Class Concept shown in late 2016.

Moreover, that X-Class gear lever looks downright familiar to Navara drivers. (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 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…)

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