By on June 26, 2018

In 1985, the Coca-Cola Company replaced the original formula of its flagship soft drink and called the beverage “New Coke.” The new label was tucked into the corner, as this was to become the brand’s staple flavor. But the soda company knew better than to gamble its business on an unproven taste, so it retained the old formula and bottled it as “Coca-Cola Classic.” The end result was more sales and a safety net for those unwilling to steer their taste buds into adventure.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is doing the same thing with the Ram brand. The full-size 1500 pickup truck was replaced for the 2019 model year. However, FCA wanted to keep both the fourth and fifth generations of the half-ton hauler on the books.

Since Ram can’t call them both the 1500 and hope people recognize the difference, it’s appending the older model with the Classic nameplate. The brand will offer both the 2019 Ram 1500 Classic, known internally as the DS model, and the all-new 2019 Ram 1500, marked as the DT, at all North American dealers through the 2018 calendar year. (Read More…)

By on June 7, 2018

There are several truths in this world: death, taxes, and the profitability of pickup trucks. General Motors has shown us several iterations of its 2019 half-tons since they dropped one from the sky at Texas Motor Speedway in December, despite the trucks not being scheduled to be found on dealer lots until this fall.

Now, GMC is rolling out another trim of its Sierra cash machine, the Elevation. Think of it as a color-keyed whip that can be opted with an “off-road lite” package. One thing’s for sure: fans of the brand will be spoilt for choice when the new truck appears in showrooms.

And, oh yeah, it’ll come standard with a 310 horsepower inline-four. Will truck buyers embrace a machine with half the traditional cylinder count?

(Read More…)

By on May 30, 2018

It’s time for the third installment of our Crapwagon Garage QOTD series. The first part was all about the hatchbacks, while the second entry focused solely on sedans.

In today’s section of the garage, vehicles with open beds fill our peripheral vision. They are, of course, pickup trucks.

(Read More…)

By on May 24, 2018

Ford’s F-150 Raptor is one of the meanest off-roaders you can purchase from the factory and, for the 2019 model year, the automaker’s doing its part to further improve its trail worthiness. Instead of going for visual upgrades that might tempt impulsive shoppers, Ford is sticking with hardware and technology.

The 2019 Raptor will receive upgraded shocks, Recaro sport seats, and a new Trail Control system that allows the pickup to cruise through seriously rugged terrain at low speeds — allowing the driver to focus on steering, instead of maintaining momentum and traction. According to the manufacturer, the system automatically adjusts power and braking to each individual wheel and is functional up to speeds of 20 mph. It also works for hill ascent and descent, even on craggy landscapes.  (Read More…)

By on March 27, 2018

2019 GMC Sierra AT4

GMC has determined there’s gold in them thar trails, witnessing Ram hoovering up dollars from off-roaders and wannabe off-roaders with the Rebel variation of its 1500 pickup.

The tri-lettered half of The General’s truck duo latched onto the off-road life in the previous Sierra with a trim called All Terrain. It’s back and beefed up on the revamped 2019 model but, taking a page from the Cadillac Book of Alphanumerics, it is now called the AT4.

(Read More…)

By on March 26, 2018

Once upon a time, special edition vehicles were about added performance or cramming in so much luxury you could probably attach a noble title to your name without anyone batting an eye. “Well, he does drive a Cadillac Seville Gucci Edition. I can probably call him Duke from now on if that’s really what he wants,” they would say outside the strip club you owned.

Of course, there were also gimmicky, just-for-fun special editions like the jean-seated AMC Gremlin by Levi and multi-colored Volkswagen Golf Harlequin. But things have changed. For the most part, those limited trims feel kind of like the McRib or that weird flavor of Doritos you come across once in a blue moon. You’d be hard pressed to identify them as unique upon flavor alone, but there is something about their limited nature and novelty that makes them irresistible to some.

This is especially true of modern day trucks. You can get all the hardware you want by optioning a pickup carefully, but you can’t get the special edition title that kicks it up a notch and helps it stand out in the parking lot. That’s why there are so many limited-run trucks. If you want one that proclaims your love of horses, Ram now has you covered.  (Read More…)

By on March 2, 2018

2011 BMW M3 Pickup
With Mercedes-Benz entering the pickup market with its new X-Class, BMW has admitted it may be time to did the same. To be clear, it wasn’t the home office that made this assertion. It was head of BMW Australia Marc Werner.

Aussies love their pickups or, more appropriately, its smaller, low-riding counterpart, affectionately called a “ute.” If you’re unfamiliar with the vehicle category, you probably don’t spend a lot of time in Australia or New Zealand. Bastardized from the term “coupé utility,” the ute moniker used to be reserved for models like the Ford Ranchero or Chevrolet El Camino. The term has since expanded to mean any non-gargantuan pickup truck and has roots going back to the 1930s.

At any rate, Werner says BMW needs to build one and the executive is pushing Germany to get the show on the road. Unfortunately for Warner, Bavaria’s receptiveness toward the segment has been mixed, to say the least. BMW senior vice president Hendrik von Kuenheim called Mercedes’ upcoming X-Class “appalling.” However, he appeared to be speaking more to the perceived subpar quality of the Nissan Navara-based pickup and not the concept itself.  (Read More…)

By on January 30, 2018

Chevrolet C10

You probably never thought you’d see the day when you could look into the eyes of your child and tell them, in your most comforting tone, “Fear not, my dear sweet offspring, the dark clouds that once covered our great nation are breaking. Tailgate thefts have declined slightly this year and we can now see light at the end of the tunnel.”

However, as unbelievable as it sounds, that time has finally come. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), reports of insured tailgate thefts have stabilized since 2014. In fact, such crimes actually decreased by around 5 percent in 2017.   (Read More…)

By on January 25, 2018

2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road front quarter

I was 15 or so, basking in the heady scents of Armor-All, Windex, cheap suits, and desperation. Mom was waiting for the salesman to “check with the manager” as she negotiated for her second of six Corollas. I wandered off, as I typically did when presented with rows of shiny new cars.

You’d think I’d have gravitated to the Supra, or perhaps the Celica, considering my youth and love of motorsports. Nope. The brand new first-generation Tacoma 4×4 is what caught my eye that day. Taut lines and purposeful flares made it look so much more aggressive than the old nameless Toyota Truck. Not that I hated the classic HiLux – while other kids of my era gravitated toward the DeLorean in the Back To The Future series, I lusted after Marty’s black Xtracab 4×4.

It seems that every time I’m looking for a new vehicle, a Toyota truck ends up on my shortlist, but I’ve yet to pull the trigger. I’ve never really needed the capability of a traditional pickup, so I was interested in seeing how the modern midsize crew cab works as a family hauler. This 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Offroad appeared at my door just as I was doing my periodic rationalization of the current fleet. Can this minivan family live with a truck?

(Read More…)

By on January 16, 2018

Image: 1983 Datsun-Nissan 710 King CabRecently, Rare Rides honed in on the little Dodge Rampage. A front-drive alternative compact pickup, it was based on the sporty Dodge Charger. Today we have a look at a well-preserved example of what most buyers of compact pickups chose in the early 1980s. It’s a Nissan-Datsun 720 King Cab, from when all Datsuns were Nissans.

(Read More…)

By on December 28, 2017

Image: Tesla

It’s sometimes hard keeping up with the specific engineering feats Tesla actually plans to pull off and the forward-thinking visions uttered just to keep the tech press salivating (and its readers buying up shares). Is CEO Elon Musk actually sending a tunnel with an elevator in it to Jupiter? Wait a minute — it’s possible that promise fell victim to the purple-monkey-dishwasher chain of distortion before it reached this author’s ears.

One thing we’re more or less assured of now, following Musk’s stint at the Twitter pulpit Tuesday, is that Tesla will build an electric pickup truck. Yes, just as soon as the compact Model Y’s out the door. This means Tesla fan club members and curious buyers will have to wait until after the Model Y crossover finishes development and finds a place in which it can be built — not an overnight process by any means.

What we’re left with is a pickup that’s a blank slate in terms of size and design. Grab your pencils. (Read More…)

By on December 18, 2017

chevy 350

In case you’ve just exited a 60-year coma or immigrated to this country without any prior knowledge of it, Americans have a fondness for pickup trucks. So do automotive manufacturers. Last month, the average selling price for full-size pickups was $47,393. For General Motors, that translates to about $11,000 in profit for each truck sold — but the ceiling is even higher. Two years ago, Ford was rumored to be making $13,000 on each F-Series sold and its domestic competitors weren’t far behind.

Meanwhile, the average haul for an SUV or crossover isn’t likely to surpass $2,000 on its very best days and car profitability is typically even lower (unless you’re Porsche). That’s why “Truck Month” seems to take place five times a year. It’s also why domestic manufactures are going to ensure pickups “dominate” the 2018 North American International Auto Show. Of course, was there ever a year when Detroit’s automotive trade show wasn’t at least partially overrun with trucks?  (Read More…)

By on December 7, 2017

2018 Chevrolet Silverado Z71

General Motors, the company that ran a campaign criticizing Ford for moving away from steel on its F-Series, is expected to implement carbon fiber in the beds of large pickup trucks within two years. Hopefully, the wait gives consumers time to forget some rather negative ads that bemoaned the use of aluminum for its high repair costs and chance of deformation in an impact.

Carbon fiber is ridiculously strong and should hold up in any side-by-side impact test against aluminum. That is, until you start considering price. Carbon fiber costs substantially more to manufacture, form, and fix than either steel or aluminum. That’s probably why GM plans to limit its usage to only highest trim levels, at least until it can figure out a way to keep production costs down.  (Read More…)

By on December 1, 2017

2017 Ford F-150 Towing - Image: Ford

The pervasive opinion among truck enthusiasts and industry experts is that nobody cares about plug-in hybrid pickups. Fuel economy isn’t a major priority among those in the market for something that can haul bales of hay or a stable of horses.

This poses a problem for pickup manufacturers striving for lower emissions and fuel consumption. Ford, which previously lightened the F-150 and outfitted it with a bevy of more economical engines, knows this problem better than most.

However, Ford is pressing onwards. It even intends to bring a hybrid plug-in variant of its ultra-popular pickup to the market in the coming years. But how is it going to market the technology to consumers who are unlikely to care? The company has strategy for that and it’s less reliant on fuel savings than you might expect.  (Read More…)

By on November 13, 2017

Nissan TITAN XD Snow Plow Prep Package

America loves its pickup trucks, evidenced by a segment that’s increased nearly 5 percent compared to the same time last year.

Sure, many trucks across the nation haul nothing but air in their beds, but more than a few actually work for a living. Nissan is attempting to lure both parties into its showrooms by adding a couple of new option packages to its trucks – one for work and one for play.

(Read More…)

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