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Catching a problem early usually means avoiding it, but in GM’s case it’s looking like the opposite will prove true.
A special set of circumstances has the planets aligned just right to cause North America’s biggest pickup truck suppliers to bludgeon each other’s prices through the floor this fall.
It may seem odd in these times of austerity and relatively high gas prices but truck sales are remaining buoyant. Not only that, but demand for higher end offerings, with all the bells and whistles is up significantly.
According to brand CEO Fred Diaz, the 2013 Ram 1500 was due to receive a mid-life freshening. However, what’s ultimately emerged is an extensively re-engineered truck, despite looking familiar on the outside.
Key developments, many in a gesture toward improved fuel economy, include a re-designed frame that’s both lighter and stronger than last year’s true. In addition, there’s also an eight-speed automatic transmission (the TorqueFlite 8), that’s teamed not only with the base 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 but also the 5.7-liter Hemi V8. There’s also a rotary shifter on the center stack designed to make engaging gears easier and free up additional interior room.
Is your car using too much gas? Price for gasoline is getting up there, and if you’re not careful enough while driving, you could be spending a lot more than you have to on fuel.
There’s some good and bad news for those looking to get better mileage with each tank. First, the good: it is possible to squeeze out more miles per gallon, even without having to spend money on a new hybrid car, or extra maintenance. The bad news: it’s going to require a change in your driving habits.
Nick Chambers, Green Car Specialist tells us that “even small changes such as driving a bit slower, anticipating traffic lights, trying to come to a full stop as little as possible, accelerating in a steady/relatively slow manner, using cruise control and planning trips to have the least amount of travel and stops, can make big differences.” In fact, these changes can account for as much as a 15 to 20% improvement, he says.
Focused on saving money and the environment from behind the wheel, ecodriving.org lists five “Golden Rules” for gas tank friendly driving, and have some reasoning behind why they work. Let’s take a look at a few tips they provide.
When last we spoke to Scion boss Jack Hollis, his interest in a small truck for the youth brand was undeniable. Now reports of increased production at the automaker’s RAV4 facility in Woodstock, Ontario have spawned new rumors about the as yet unconfirmed sixth model in the Scion lineup.
Increased production of the RAV4 (up by 25%) could simply be a method Toyota is using to keep costs down by reducing the number of RAV4 models it imports from overseas. However, it also supports the possibility that Toyota will build a Scion truck based on the compact crossover platform.
Currently compact pickups are a dying breed, with CAFE rules penalizing smaller trucks that still aren’t tiny. Toyota has bucked this trend with the Tacoma, due mostly to the compact pickup’s dominance in the segment and Toyota’s continued efforts to be a player in the truck segment.
A unibody “truck” that is designed more as a lifestyle vehicle and less as a work machine would continue to help out Toyota’s fuel economy, and could also be rebaged as a Toyota model and sold overseas.
With Toyota currently offering both a 4-cylinder and a V6 in the RAV4, this might also make way for Scion’s first-ever six-cylinder model.
Back in 2002, a special edition Ram 1500 pick-up truck was launched specifically for Texan truck buyers. Called the Lone Star edition, it quickly became the top selling Ram model in the vast state.
“The Ram 1500 Lone Star was the first pickup truck designed by Texans and built specifically for Texans. Native Texans are very proud to be from the Lone Star State. For the last 10 years, this truck has given us the authentic opportunity to proudly connect Ram with Texas’ very proud state motto,” said Ram Trucks president and CEO Fred Diaz.
In the last 10 years, over 80,000 Lone Star edition trucks have been sold in Texas, and the automaker hopes to continue the trend with the new 2012 Ram 1500 Lone Star 10th Anniversary Edition.
The Lone Star 10th Anniversary edition gets new, larger “Lone Star” badges with the prominent red, white and blue Texas state emblem on its front doors and tailgate. The new badges are also part of an exclusive appearance package and replace the “Ram 1500” badging that other models wear.
More than just the badges set this truck apart from other Rams, inside you’ll find Katzkin perforated leather seats with Texas Lone Star logo’s. The glove box and floor mats also get the 10th Anniversary logos.
Powering this truck is the 5.7-liter HEMI V8, which produces 390 horsepower and 407 lb/ ft of torque and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Offered only in the Crew Cab body style, you can choose between black, bright silver, bright white, deep cherry red, flame red, mineral gray and true blue for the exterior.
If interested, you can pick up this pickup sometime around June though a specific date wasn’t mentioned. Pricing for the Lone Star edition starts at $36,440. You also need to be in Texas as this is a Texas only truck.
Early on, many people assumed the truck would immediately succeed the recently discontinued generation as a 2013 model, but those assumptions are turning up false. In fact the new Colorado, pictured above, will take another two years to make its North American debut in 2014 as a 2015 model. While it might seem odd that the small truck is being delayed for this part of the world, there are good reasons for the decision.
GM probably couldn’t bring the new Colorado to market right away, even if it wanted to. Last November the company announced its plans to use the Wentzville, Mo. assembly plant to produce the truck, but preparing for that production is time consuming. While it may be possible to get the plant ready in time, it probably isn’t cost-effective.
Even if it were, the world-marketed Colorado isn’t designed for North Americans. Right now, it’s sold with a 2.8-liter diesel engine and is designed with worldwide customers in mind. The company used much of the same strategy in marketing and designing its Cruze, Spark and Sonic — first selling them globally only to redesign them for the U.S. It seems GM is going about the new Colorado in much the same way.
As is often true, it won’t come as a surprise to find different engine options for the North American Colorado than the version sold globally. Even still, it isn’t clear what to expect when the truck finally launches. According to GM Inside News, the company plans to offer its new 2.5-liter four cylinder or 3.6-liter V6, though there isn’t any word on a diesel variant Stateside.
[Source: GM Inside News]
“Segments like the midsize car, where we need to make a big noise against Honda and Toyota, are much better places for Ford to make strong gains, but where we already have a strong presence and people are holding onto their trucks longer than ever before, we’re likely to continue giving customers what they want,” Eric Merkle said at the Motor Press Guild monthly meeting at the Ford Design studio in Irvine, Calif.
That doesn’t mean Ford fans will have to deal with dated drivetrain tech. Merkle was clear in telling the Chicago Tribune that updates will still happen, though cosmetic changes will be minimal. Instead, major changes will be focused on powertrain updates.
Those updates will probably include smaller, more efficient engines given that the company is talking about doing the same with the Mustang, which probably comes the closest to rivaling the pickup truck community’s V8 fanaticism.
There’s another budding branch in the Ford family tree of pickup trucks, one that we reported in August of last year.
“You know we announced the partnership with Toyota,” Merkle said, “to explore the idea of a hybrid pickup truck. … I think it would be kind of cool to use whatever electric generator that might include to run a bunch of power tools or set up a well-stocked campsite,” Merkle said.
Despite what the hardcore truck community might think, there are changes on the horizon for all gas-thirsty vehicles, pickups included. For now, the loyal old school can take comfort in Merkle’s prediction that the F-150 will stay true for the coming years.
GALLERY: 2012 Ford F-150
[Source: Chicago Tribune]
Despite some of the lineup having off-road capability, Volkswagens in North America rarely sport off-road tires.
The same isn’t true in Europe where the German automaker sells its Amarok pickup truck which has serious off-road prowess. VW chose the 2012 Geneva Auto Show to debut its Amarok Canyon concept, which is a beefed up version of the pickup.
It sits on Mickey Thompson all-terrain tires and a 1.6-inch lifted suspension that give the truck a total 3.4 inches of extra ground clearance over the standard model. Tough-looking 18-inch wheels painted “Adamantium Dark” add further to the truck’s muscular appearance.
Other accenting features add more to that theme, like the tubular roll bar that runs along the bed and over the cab.
Unlike American pickups, the Amarok drivetrain is influenced by European sensibility with a 180-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder twin-turbo-diesel instead of the large engines most North American trucks of similar size have.
The bed is small but functional, with lots of tie-down handles available for securing goods. Realistically, the Amarok Canyon isn’t meant for the same construction site work horse life of an F-150 or the like. It’s crew cab setup and shorter-than-average short box are more designed for ferrying passengers between kayaking trips, which is probably why the concept shown above had that equipment in the bed.
In keeping with the European mentality, the Amarok is available with a six speed manual. That might throw most American truck buyers a curve ball, but it doesn’t matter because this truck isn’t meant for the U.S. market. The Amarok Canyon is still a concept but a more practically oriented version may be available as early as this summer to Europeans.
GALLERY: Volkswagen Amarok Canyon concept
Hyundai‘s U.S. CEO John Krafcik has said that “because the brand resonates with families,” and feels “this is a segment where we have the lowest market penetration,” company product planning, at least in the short term, is focused on crossovers, especially seven-seater CUVs which seem to be the hottest thing going right now.
As a result, the possibility of a Hyundai van or pickup isn’t something that’s likely in the cards. That said, given that Hyundai and sister company Kia are attempting to differentiate their lineups to avoid stealing sales from each other, there’s a better chance of the latter introducing a truck, as Kia attempts to become a bit more of a “niche” brand with sportier and slightly more off-beat product offerings. Kia isn’t entirely a stranger to trucks, having unveiled a mid-size concept back in 2004 called the KC-4 Mojave (shown above).
However, due to shrinking demand for smaller trucks and fluctuating gas prices, the Mojave was left stillborn. Nonetheless, with the recently unveiled utility themed Soulster concept creating a buzz and Kia more firmly established as a legitimate player in the U.S. volume vehicle segment, could the idea of a pickup be floated again?
With the retirement of the Ford Ranger and fuel prices creeping upwards, the idea perhaps makes more sense now than it did in 2004, especially as today, Kia also has far more resources and engineering expertise at its disposal.
[Source: Pickup trucks.com]
5. Nissan Frontier 4.0 2WD: 17 mpg
Trucks aren’t known for fuel economy, but finding a pickup that isn’t a gas hungry beast is a top concern for many truck shoppers. So if you’re looking for a good way to save money, both in terms of overall vehicle cost and especially at the pumps, check out this list of our Top 10 fuel friendly pickups.
The six cylinder Nissan Frontier can achieve a solid 17 mpg when packaged up with the either transmission, or drive-train. That’s right, it doesn’t matter which model of the 4.0 Frontier you choose, you’re looking at exactly the same EPA numbers: 16 mpg city, and 20 mpg highway. That V6 gets 261 hp and 281 lb-ft of torque. The V6 Frontier starts at $22,620 and while it’s not the most fuel efficient, most powerful, or cheapest car on this list, it does offer a nice balance of the three.
There’s a new teaser video for the RAM Laramie Limited pickup on YouTube, featuring the same scantly clad bikini babe as last week, but with more automotive footage.
Dodge‘s truck division released a teaser video last week, but the footage showed little more than a bodacious bikini model stepping from the ocean.
Captions after the actual video revealed that the new line will be featured in conjunction with this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition, but that was all the info we got.
It turns out that the footage is of RAM’s new Laramie Limited pickup, which we reported on during our coverage of this year’s Chicago Auto Show. Coincidentally, our pictures have a pretty girl in them too, but we’re guessing our photos probably can’t compete with a soaking-wet supermodel, so have a look for yourself after the jump.
Dodge is jumping on the bikini band wagon, but can you blame them? There’s no denying that sex sells, especially with most of the pickup truck crowd.
That’s why Ram pairing up with Sports Illustrated and releasing a teaser ad just makes sense. The 37-second spot features a slender woman clad in diving gear and a black bikini walking out of the ocean and pulling a cloth from a Ram pickup. Nearly all the footage focuses directly on the model. The ad actually cuts out before you see more than a silhouette, but it’s got us wondering what’s up the shirt sleeves over at the Ram division.
You can watch the video after the jump.
At present, save from slight trim and equipment (such as the Denali trim package shown above) there really isn’t much to differentiate the GMC Sierra from it’s Chevy Silverado counterpart. However, that’s set to change.
During an interview in Detroit, Mark Reuss, GM’s North American President said that for the next generation of GM full-size pickups, due for launch as 2014 models, the plan is to move the Sierra more upmarket with a greater list of standard equipment, more distinctive sheetmetal and corresponding higher sticker prices; a similar strategy has so far proved quite successful for GMC’s line of SUVs.
Such a move finally sweeps away the last vestiges of badge-engineering at America’s biggest automaker, something the “old” General Motors was notoriously known for.
“I think you will see equipment and models attacked very differently,” Reuss declared. “If we are going to carry two brands, we are going to make them pay their way.”