Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne on Wednesday said the automaker would rely more heavily on profitable Jeeps and Rams in North America and Europe to help its business remain profitable in other sagging areas and regions.
“We are not of the view that this industry is facing an impending demise,” Marchionne said before announcing FCA’s adjusted earnings of $1.78 billion in the fourth quarter.
Marchionne and CFO Richard Palmer said Jeep’s success in North America and Europe led the company last year and would be the “bedrock” for the automaker’s future. The automaker laid out specific plans to bring forward a Jeep pickup and Wagoneer, and let wither less-profitable models such as the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart.
In the war for ever-lucrative pickup truck money, conspicuous consumption is key. General Motors’ latest salvo in the pickup arms race has mudders, LED lamps, a spray-in bedliner and the letter “X” in its name, jack.
GMC announced Wednesday that it would sell this spring a Sierra 1500 All Terrain X package, which is derived from its All Terrain trim, and includes a handful of goodies thrown on at the factory instead of at the dealership to pry a few more hundred dollars out of the burning pockets of pickup buyers.
Interestingly, the All Terrain X package is available on its 5.3-liter V-8 (with performance exhaust!), not the hi-po 6.2-liter V-8 because product planners will have a name for that later.
Toyota’s small trucks have long been associated with bulletproof reliability ( and occasionally militant militias). Despite the Tacoma splitting from the legendary Toyota Hilux bloodline in 1995, the Taco (as some fans refer to their trucks) has continued Toyota’s rugged and reliable image. A big factor in the Tacoma’s long-term reliability is the Toyota’s philosophy to change: it should happen slowly and only when necessary.
Although the 2016 Tacoma is dubbed an “all-new third generation,” just like we see in the Camry, large portions of the design are carried over from last year’s model. This is excellent news for some, but may come as a disappointment for others. The changes are enough to keep brand loyalists happy, radical enough to be called a re-design, but sedate enough that folks eyeing a GMC Canyon may not be swayed by the lure of Toyota’s legendary reliability.
In a nutshell, Toyota swapped in a set of tried-and-true transmissions, fitted a Lexus V-6 under the hood, tweaked the frame with stronger steel and covered the truck in new sheetmetal. On the inside, we get a new dashboard, infotainment systems from the Toyota Highlander and a steering wheel from the larger Toyota Tundra. If you’re a Taco man, that’s all you need to know before you run out and buy one. For the rest of us, click past the jump.
Have you recently wondered, “What would the face of the redesigned Civic look like plastered on a desert-ready racing truck?” Honda has your number. This is the new Ridgeline.
Except it’s not.
The Japanese automaker announced its return to the Baja 1000 at SEMA on Tuesday and revealed the machine that will carry HPD’s HR35TT race engine — a 550 horsepower, a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 — across the finish line.
Chrysler’s flathead (aka “L-head”) straight-six engine is one of the forgotten heroes of prewar and postwar Detroit, being produced from 1929 through some undefined year in the early 1970s (for stationary use, e.g., in generators and irrigation pumps). There was even a five-bank, 30-cylinder version made for tanks. It appears that it was possible to buy a new Dodge truck with the flathead six through the 1968 model year, though some say that Uncle Sam was the only buyer for the last few years of flathead Dodges. Most buyers opted for futuristic overhead-valve engines by the 1960s, anyway, but here’s a D-series pickup in a California wrecking yard that still has its L-head.
2015 Ford F-350 King Ranch 4×4
6.7-liter OHV V-8, turbodiesel (440 horsepower @ 2,800 rpm; 860 lbs-ft @ 1,600 rpm)
6-speed 6R140 automatic
Not tested under EPA regulations*
14.1 (Observed, MPG)
Tested Options: King Ranch trim, Super Crew cab, 4×4, 6.7-liter turbodiesel engine, 3.31 locking rear axle, Ruby Red paint, 5th wheel prep, spray-in bedliner, heated seats, upfitter switches
Base Price (F-350 XL Regular Cab 4×2 Flex-Fuel V-8):
* Heavy-duty pickups are exempt from EPA fuel economy ratings.
** Prices include $1,195 destination charge.
There was a time when a 1/2-ton pickup could haul around 1,000 pounds of payload and a 1-ton truck was good for around 2,000 pounds. Twenty years ago a good tow rating for a 1/2 ton truck was 7,500 pounds and 1-ton trucks were used by ranchers for hauling 14,000 pound cattle trailers around. Today things are different.
Now we have a Ford F-150 that can tow over 12,000 pounds and haul 3,300 pounds in the bed without batting an eye. In this world, we have 3/4- and 1-ton trucks boasting towing abilities that would have required a Class 5 medium-duty truck in the 1990s. It’s in this world that the F-350, F-450 and Ram 3500 now exist.
These trucks have pushed the envelope, boasting towing capabilities that 99 percent of pickup truck shoppers can’t even legally test. With massive turbodiesel torque figures, Ford and Chrysler’s latest trucks can tow 21,000 pounds more than my plain-old California Class C license allows. With the 2017 Ford Super Duty on the horizon sporting more aluminum than an Alcoa factory and Chrysler nearing the sale of their re-tweaked Cummins engine and its 900 lb-ft of torque, let’s deep-dive into the Super Duty you can buy now.
Renault has released their latest global pickup concept, the Alaskan, and by global they mean almost everywhere except Alaska.
Regardless, the Alaskan looks like a beefed-up version of the Hyundai Santa Cruz pickup concept revealed in Detroit. Renault said the Alaskan is part of a new global push for their LCV business. We bet Mercedes will have something to say about this very soon.
2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro
4-liter, DOHC V-6 with variable-valve timing (236 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm; 266 pound-feet @ 4,000 rpm)
5-speed ECT-i automatic
16 mpg city/21 mpg highway (EPA Rating, MPG)
17 mpg combined (observed, 40 percent highway/20 percent city/40 percent off road/100 percent totally bruh!)
Tested Options: TRD Performance Air Filter $90; Bed Mat $120; Paint Protection Film $395; Security System $469; Front Skid Plate $205.
As Tested Price:
* Prices include $885 destination and handling fee.
Forgive me for getting all emotional here.
The 2015 Toyota Tacoma represents to me the end of the road for the truck I knew so well, complete with a growl more familiar to me than my own father’s voice. Like many mountain-state millennials, the Tacoma seemed for me to be just the right size for a party in the mountains, a last-minute move (or eviction, perhaps), a camping trip or hauling an over-welded pig smoker and cherry picker to a friend’s backyard.
I expected the 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro to be a greatest hits album, replaying the most successful tunes from my young adulthood through its chunky tires and searing orange paint package.
It turned out to be more of a remix.
When I had the chance to drive the all-new 2016 Toyota Tacoma and the 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro back-to-back, I presumed that I’d get misty-eyed and nostalgic for one; geezerly and cynical for another.
In a way, I am. The TRD Pro feels like a rough-and-tumble truck, the kind of burnt orange brick to throttle through your neighbor’s window if they call the cops too many times for loud music. The 2016 Tacoma has a 3.5-liter engine like a Camry for chrissakes.
I just didn’t count on the fact that I grew up.
Like an NFL expansion team in Los Angeles, music in the hallways during passing periods, “welfare queens” and the full-time McRib, Jeep’s mid-sized Wrangler-based pickup might be the only thing we ever talk about. Guess which one may happen now?
According to Automotive News, the Wrangler-based pickup may make an appearance in 2018-ish, after the iconic Jeep platform gets is overdue overhaul, moves to an 8-speed automatic (maybe diesel, too) and incorporates more aluminum into its structure.
The General Motors twins prove there’s room in the segment for something not called a Tacoma or Frontier, so a mid-size makes sense — but a seven-slot grille up front may not.
Automotive News is reporting that Jeep will produce a Wrangler-based pickup at its Toledo, Ohio plant and shift production of its Cherokee to another site.
The details were reported by the outlet as part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ ongoing negotiations with the United Auto Workers union.
Officials from FCA didn’t comment on the report.
Ford released photos and video Friday of its newest Raptor off-road testing in Northern Michigan.
The truck, which will go on sale next fall, has better ground clearance than the outgoing Raptor, although Ford isn’t giving us official specs yet. We know the last generation’s fording depth was officially 30 inches up to 4 mph and that capability likely won’t decrease — but we don’t know if it’ll go up.
“The all-new Ford Raptor will be more capable than the previous Raptor, including improved wheel travel and ground clearance,” Ford spokesman Mike Levine told us.
Last week, rookie TTACer Aaron Cole called the RAM Rebel a Jeep pickup. I don’t think it would be impossible to make the case that the Rebel is a successor of sorts to the J10 and J20 full-sizers like the one that Jalopnik is rebuilding right now. Those pickups were discontinued after Chrysler acquired AMC because there just wasn’t enough money in the hopper to update them and do a new Dodge Ram truck. Shame, really, because the “FSJ” did have some fans and there are still people willing to pay sixty grand for a ’91 Grand Wagoneer.
Chances are, however, than when you think of a “Jeep pickup” you’re not thinking about a full-sizer at all. Rather, you’re envisioning what’s known as a “CJ-8”. It’s perfectly possible to buy a modern CJ-8. It’s also perfectly impossible that Jeep will ever be willing to sell you one. The reason? Why, it’s basically the same reason that the Camry V6 is not the most popular cop car in existence.
2016 Toyota Tacoma 4×4
3.5-liter D4S (direct and port injection) Atkinson cycle V-6 with variable valve intake and exhaust (278 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 265 pounds-feet @ 4,600 rpm).
2.7-liter DOHC I-4 with variable valve intake (159 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm; 180 pounds-feet @ 3,800 rpm)
Standard 5-speed manual (2.7-liter); optional 6-speed automatic with ECT (2.7-liter)
Standard 6-speed manual (3.5-liter); optional 6-speed automatic with ECT (3.5-liter)
Fuel Economy Ratings
19 mpg city/ 21 mpg highway/ 20 mpg combined (2.7-liter 5-speed manual 4×4)
19/23/21 (2.7-liter 6-speed automatic 4×2)
19/22/20 (2.7-liter 6-speed automatic 4×4)
19/24/21 (3.5-liter 6-speed automatic 4×2)
17/21/19 (3.5-liter 6-speed manual 4×4)
18/23/20 (3.5-liter 6-speed automatic 4×4)
Prices start at $24,185 *and go up to $38,705*.
*Price includes $885 destination
Let’s get this out of the way first: there is no groan long enough or loud enough for how I feel about the 2016 Toyota Tacoma’s ballyhooed interior GoPro mount. The 30 cents of branded plastic to film your “eXtreme!” adventures feels more contrived and commercially unnecessary than a TedX talk at your nearest community college. It’s there, it’s usable and I want to talk about the tens of thousands of other parts around that windshield mount.
For the most part, the world of mid-sized pickups has stayed the same since the Clinton administration. (I mean Bill’s years for anyone reading this in 2017.)
Updated slightly in 2005, but mostly unchanged since the 1990s, the Toyota Tacoma has stayed firmly ahead of its time despite playing catch up to the full-size galoots. What I mean is, the Tacoma has a habit of selling far more at the end of its lifecycle than it does at the beginning. Go fig.
For example, take the last year for the Tacoma. Despite being a truck that hasn’t changed much for 10 years, the Tacoma managed to sell more than 17,000 trucks in July, its best sales month ever, en route to 180,000 sales this year, which would be its best sales year, ever. By volume, the Tacoma is the fifth best-selling truck in America, just behind the GMC Sierra, and well behind the three domestic full-size big boys. (The, um, new Tundra was sixth, by the way.)
Plummeting gas prices has helped moved metal, and so has cheap money, but the Tacoma is a very, very solid pickup and the growing chasm between reality and the price of a full-size truck leaves something to be desired for $25,000-$30,000 out the door.
So why fix something that isn’t broken? Toyota said it had nothing to do with Chevrolet and GMC hopping into the mid-size market with the Colorado and Canyon respectively. It doesn’t even have anything to do with the new Nissan Frontier coming to market soon too.
Nope, Toyota says it updated the Tacoma to step on the necks of the others and bring forward the Tacoma into the 21st century. This is as close as Toyota will get to going for the jugular.
2015 Ram 1500 Rebel Crew Cab 4×4
5.7-liter, variable valve timing, multi-displacement system Hemi V-8 (395 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm; 410 pounds-feet @ 3,950 rpm)
8-speed 8HP70 automatic
15 city/21 highway/17 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
15.1 mpg, 60 percent highway/30 percent off-road/10 percent at a lousy, never-ending stoplight (Observed, MPG)
Tested Options: Rebel Package; Dual rear exhaust with bright tips; Luxury group, $560 (Heated mirrors, auto-dimming mirrors); Protection group, $150 (Transfer case and front suspension skid plating); Monotone paint; Rear Camera and Park Assist, $595 (Backup camera, ParkSense rear park assistant); ZF 8-speed automatic, $500; Anti-spin differential rear axle, $325; 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, $1,150; Rebel instrument cluster, $175; Four corner air suspension; Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen w/nav, $1,005; RamBox cargo management system, $1,295; Trailer brake control, $230; Spray-in bedliner, $475.
Base Price (Ram 1500 Rebel 4×4):
As Tested Price:
* All prices include $1,195 destination fee.
Any debate about Jeep inevitably ends on a common, agreeable topic for all parties involved:
“Jeep really needs to make a pickup already.”
The idea that stuffed shirts at Auburn Hills, who make more in a day than we do in a year, have somehow missed the point is entirely possible (remember the center-mounted exhausts in the Grand Cherokee SRT8, effectively prohibiting any sort of towing?) but highly unlikely.
In fact: Jeep now has a pickup. It’s called the Ram Rebel.
Obligatory disclosure: I have no skin in the pickup game. None. My father owned exactly one of the following: A white Ford F-150, a black Chevrolet Silverado and a green Dodge Ram (when they were called as such). They were all new when he bought them, of 1990s-era vintage and equally pampered. No, we were not a wealthy family, and no, I still couldn’t back up a trailer with a gun pointed to my head.
To be even clearer: The only pickup I fondly remember is a dingy 1996 Toyota Pickup (pre-Tacoma years) that my brother took to college. It was five in speeds and six in cylinders; gutless and indestructible. It couldn’t run up a hill and run the A/C at the same time, but it felt like it could run over anything.
Put simply, in the domestic pickup war for dominance, I am Switzerland.
Now that you know where my allegiances fall, let’s get on to the important stuff.
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- Sgeffe Any PR position seems to require a Marketing degree (which I hope is a Bachelor of Science degree, but I digress! ;-) )And as I've opined before, all a Marketing degree really consists of is a degree in shoveling bovine excrement!
- Dwford Ford. They have over committed to EVs with the cancellation of all sedans as well as the recent cancellations of most of their gas crossovers. Too soon. GM has a whole new lineup of gas crossovers coming, while also introducing new EVs: the correct strategy.
- The Oracle The Chinese team needs a new name other than something you’d find on Amazon for a cheap product.
- FreedMike Smart idea. EVs are a far easier sell to someone who can charge them at home.
- Dwford This is just going to become part of selling EVs. Automakers need to make it as simple as possible to buy an EV. And the process of hiring an electrician etc is a barrier many people will not want to deal with.