Truck News: New towing ratings, new engines and hints of things to come

There’s been some interesting news in the truck industry recently, so let’s get to it.

First up, Americans bought 1 million trucks in the first half of 2014. USA! USA! USA!


Ram has made all its trucks’ towing ratings compliant with the J2807 standard. It’s the first of the big three to make this leap with its entire line.

Chevrolet and GMC have made their 1500 pickups J2807 compliant already, but not their HD pickups. Ford has promised that its new 2015 F-150 will be tested according to the standard. Meanwhile, Toyota’s Tundra has been compliant for some time.


Sharp-eyed photographers spotted this little test mule running around in Michigan. Several journalists note that it looks like Fiat Strada beneath all that cladding, which could mean that Ram is looking at doing the same thing with the Strada that it did with the Ducato (ProMaster van, anyone?)

So what does a Strada look like under normal conditions? Like this:


Ford has finally showed how much weight this aluminum body shaves off its 2015 F-150: More than 700 pounds.

It’s worth pointing out that the comparison Ford set up for the press compared a 2014 F-150 with the 5.0L V8 with a 2015 F-150 with the new 2.7L EcoBoost V6, but it’s still quite a bit of weight savings.

Also noteworthy is that Ford says that new little EcoBoost engine will make 325 horsepower and 375 pound-feet of torque.

Here’s a video Ford made where it set up some towing drag races between the F-150, Ram’s EcoDiesel and Chevrolet’s 5.3L V8.

Two more things: it’s pretty much official that Ford’s 6.2L V8 will no longer be available for the F-150, so if Ford’s Raptor will continue past 2014, it might have some special plans for a big engine up its sleeve. Also, a global Ford Ranger was spotted doing some test driving in Colorado, so maybe Ford is trying to be ready to compete with GM if the new little trucks prove popular.


The public launch of the updated Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon approaches, and we finally know how much power the trucks’ gas engines will have.

The 2.5L inline four will make 200 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque, while the 3.6L V6 will make 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque.

Official numbers on the 2.8L Duramax diesel that will come with 2016 Canyon/Colorado pickups are still unavailable. There’s all sorts of rumors and speculation on how much power it’ll have, but we’ll just have to wait.

And if you want to see how big these trucks are, here’s a GMC Canyon next to a Ram 1500.

Speaking of rumors, folks in Detroit are whispering that Chevrolet is working on special off-road version of the Colorado that would compete with Ford’s Raptor.

As for the full-size trucks, starting with 2015 models the trucks with the 6.2L V8 will get eight-speed transmissions.


Last month, it sounded like Nissan had a new truck for us. It turns out, it has a new truck for everyone but us (for now).

Nissan’s big reveal was the NP300 Navara for the global market. Some think it’s what to expect from the next Nissan Frontier. Maybe. Maybe not.

For now, we can wonder if the next Frontier will have the diesel engine Nissan’s been teasing about. Here’s a video of The Fast Lane Truck taking that concept for a test drive:

Lucky guys.

Truck news: Nissan’s got something coming, Toyota is moving and more news about pickups

It’s time we went through what’s going on in the truck industry lately. Here’s what’s happening with trucks.


The big news from Nissan just this morning was its hint via Instagram of its new pickup, which it says will be revealed June 11.

Jalopnik has more analysis of this news. I wonder if this might be the new Frontier, and if it could have that diesel I4 that they teased earlier this year.


Toyota dropped some big news about its American operations last month: It’s moving lots of jobs to Plano, Texas. Toyota already makes its Tundra pickup near San Antonio, but now its headquarters will be in the state too.


Chevrolet is now offering this Silverado SSV to police departments.

GMC announced a new All Terrain package for HD Sierra pickups:

Ram and Jeep

Fiat Chrysler’s new five-year plan came out last month. The plan is ambitious and shakes up several brands in the company.

The Ram 1500 will get a refresh in 2015, and a complete redesign for the 2017 model year.

Jeep, though, has some big plans. There will be a new Wrangler and Grand Cherokee in 2017, and the Grand Wagoneer will return in 2018 as a large luxurious SUV. It also is introducing some smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles that it expects to be very big sellers.

Also, remember that Power Wagon Ram revealed earlier this year? Some complained that it got a big gas engine instead of a Cummins diesel. Here’s why Ram took the gasser route.


The Blue Oval sold its 500,000 F-150 with an EcoBoost engine in May. Starting this fall, Ford will offer two different EcoBoost V6 engines in its aluminum-bodied F-150, and it will be interesting to see how those engines perform.

Ford is releasing more information about its new F-150 and they are doing everything they can to show customers how strong and durable their aluminum-bodied trucks can be. For example, they announced last week that they had sent a few prototype aluminum-bedded trucks to a few customers for some undercover testing back in 2011. And here’s a collection of torture-test videos with the F-150.

Also, Ford just released this video about the assembly process going into its new pickups:

All brands

Truck News: What’s happening in the truck world?

There’s been all sorts of news in the pickup truck world lately. Here’s a digest of some of the things you might have missed.

First up, let’s talk about Ram.

Ram caught up with Chevrolet in pickup sales in March. Ram sold 42,532 trucks while Chevy sold 42,247. This is the first time this has happened since the 1990s (and Ram was part of the Dodge name).

Ram also recently revealed a few updates to its truck lines. For starters, its Pentastar V6 is so popular Ram is making it available on more truck models, including the fancier-trimmed ones.

Here is the new Ram Power Wagon.

You can read all about it here or watch it here:

And Ram is also offering its Ram Black Express trim on HD pickups.

Now, here’s some news about Chevrolet. Like I mentioned above, Ram pulled ahead of them in March, and there are plenty of reports that indicate Chevy’s folks were not too happy about it.

Chevrolet rolled out plenty of incentives in March, and it’s keeping those incentives coming this month. It also rolled out its High Country trim level for HD pickups. Take a look:

But here’s some really good news for Chevrolet: and Vincentric are saying that when you account for insurance, depreciation, reliability, fuel and all over factors, the Chevy Silverado is actually the cheapest truck to own over a 5-year-period.

Meanwhile, Ford is still selling trucks — what else — by the truckload and getting ready for its updated 2015 F-150 to hit dealer lots. In case you haven’t heard, the new F-150 will have an all-aluminum body.

There have been plenty of stories about all the steps Ford has taken in planning this process out. For example, it’s doing a new recycling plan that’s supposed to save it $125 on each one of these new F-150s.

Ford knows that a lot of customers are skeptical about these new aluminum-bodied F-150s and has been putting a lot of effort into showing how much testing and abuse it’s been throwing at them. Check out this video, for example:

This new F-150 will have a second EcoBoost option: a smaller 2.7L V6. And it’s spending half a billion dollars on a facility to make those engines in Ohio. The truck is also supposed to get some really awesome LED headlights, too.

Ford got some especially good luck recently when TV host Jimmy Fallon chose its F-150 King Ranch pickup on his program after discussing the issue on several episodes. He even had a little competition to decide which Ford salesperson would get to sell him the new truck. The winner was an Illinois dealer.

The current F-150 was also recently named one of the most “Made In America” vehicles you can buy today.

The Blue Oval is also rolling out some new Super Duty trucks soon. Here’s a look at the new F-350 King Ranch.

Finally, here’s a piece of news that will not only affect all trucks, but pretty much all consumer vehicles: Starting May 1, 2014, 100 percent of vehicles with less than 10,000 pounds GVWR will have to have rearview cameras installed at the factory.

Just look at these new trucks!

The automotive media is abuzz thanks to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. While there are some pretty cars being revealed at the show, a big component of the excitement comes from two new pickups that were unveiled in the past 24 hours: the 2015 Ford F-150 and the 2015 GMC Canyon.

Here are what several news outlets are saying about these new vehicles:

Copyright General Motors Corp.

The return of the GMC Canyon

General Motors pulled the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon after the 2012 model year due to disappointing sales. The returning Colorado appeared late last year, and now the GMC Canyon is back too.

Before the unveiling, GMC did a fair amount of teasing on social media, including these shots:


Automotive News reports the Canyon has a distinctly different look from the Colorado:

“While the Chevrolet Colorado is sporty and sleek, the Canyon, its corporate sibling, looks a bit like a little brother to the GMC Sierra full-sized pickup. And that’s by design.”

Automotive blog Jalopnik has been advocating for smaller pickups for some time now. It was pleased with the Colorado, and its reaction to the the Canyon has also been warm. Blogger Andrew P. Collins even said this Canyon is a worthy truck for taking on Toyota’s Tacoma:

“Both the Colorado and Canyon are nice little trucks. They feel tiny if you move into one straight out of a Silverado or Suburban, but would more than fulfill the pickup needs of many consumers.”

It’s been interesting to watch the differing strategies of the different truck makers. General Motors is going with the “three-truck strategy,” by making it so customers have trucks of three different sizes available from each brand. Who doesn’t enjoy choice?

I do wonder if there’s enough market available for selling these smaller trucks. This Wall Street Journal article pointed out the midsize pickups accounted for only 1.7 percent of all U.S. auto sales last year.

USA Today points out that this new truck’s electronic package includes a Teen Driver mode that lets parents set speed limits and gives a “report card” of broken laws and misbehavior.

Copyright Ford Motor Co.

The 13th-generation Ford F-150

As everyone is reporting, this truck made big news with its weight savings brought about through the use of aluminum in the body panels instead of rolled steel.

The rumor mill on this issue has been running for months, with countless stories quoting anonymous sources leaking bits and pieces about the new body material.

Most recently, Automotive News published this piece pointing out that the US Postal Service’s delivery vehicles have had aluminum bodies since 1987, and have been working out pretty well (Don’t miss the clever GIF video) Also, just before the reveal, MotorTrend magazine had a little fun by claiming to have an image of the new truck before anyone else:

When the reveal came, Automotive blog Jalopnik said the new truck looked good when photos were released, and said it’s even better in person. They also had a little laugh pointing out the lower melting point of aluminum compared to steel in a less-than-serious fashion:

“See, steel has a melting temperature between 2600°F and 2800°F, while aluminum melts at a much cooler 1220°F. Many types of lava flows can reach temperatures of over 1750°F, no problem for steel, while causing aluminum frames to turn into glimmering custard.”

MotorTrend says SuperCrew F-150s will have the most weight savings, at about 700 pounds each, because they had the most steel to replace. Regular cab pickups will shed 500 pounds or so. went all-out with stories about each part of the new F-150 filling up its news section. Powertrains, Bed Tech and Trim Packages, Oh My! Autoblog’s Truck section had this piece, and included Ford’s video on the new truck:

The New York Times took the Q&A format for reporting on the new truck, but also included this close look into all the work and research and science that went into using aluminum for the body as well as the new 2.7L EcoBoost V6:

“Ford is using 5000- and 6000-series sheet — the numbers indicate the particular alloys — supplied by Alcoa and Novelis. These alloys are popular with automakers because they are easy to form, rugged and, in the case of 6000, provide the smooth ‘class A’ surfaces required for visible panels like fenders.”

Automotive News shared a nice bit of detail about that new smaller EcoBoost engine, which uses special materials and designs that are beyond my ability to explain, so I’ll just quote the story:

“The two-piece block has compact graphite iron on the upper section, while the lower half is made from die-cast aluminum.

“‘We used iron only where we need the strength, which is in the main bulkhead,’ said Bob Fascetti Ford’s vice president of powertrain engineering. ‘This whole thing, including the [bearing] caps are cast together,’ he said.”

All this tech sounds fancy, but it makes a difference. Jalopnik is pointing out that this new F-150 can actually do more for the environment than the Toyota Prius.

Anything I missed?

If you know of any good stories on these new trucks that should be added to this digest, email me at with a link and a description.


Ford did a sneaky little thing to show how tough this new truck is. It took a 2015 truck, stamped a 2014 body for it out of aluminum, then ran it in the BAJA 1000 race:

Fuel economy: What pickup makers once ignored is now a top issue for their customers

When I was a kid, $1.30 a gallon for gas was considered expensive.

Oh, how times have changed, and boy, they sure changed us.

I grew up working at my dad’s full-service gas station. I stocked pop when I was six, pumped gas when I was 8, changed tires when I was 12 and changed oil starting at 14.

For those early years, gas seemed to bounce around the buck-a-gallon mark, hitting about $1.20 or so in the winter and dropping to the mid-to-high .90s in summertime. Those were good times, and no one ever worried about fuel economy all that much. They drove giant pickups and massive sedans up to the pump, told me to “Fill ‘er up,” and then paid their bills.

Customers with a tighter budget would hand me a $5 bill and get just that much gas — and then they could actually get somewhere and make it back with that much fuel.

I have a clear memory of one summer day the history teacher at the middle school came by for gas and pointed at our sign, which said 87-octane unleaded gas was for sale at 88.9 cents per gallon.

“See that, Logan?” he said. “Mark my words. You will never see gas that cheap ever again.”

He was right.

A few years later, I bought my first car right before I turned 14 (you read that right) and, not-so-lucky for me, gas prices started going up right about that time. I remember paying $1.80 a gallon that summer to fill my tank and feeling like I was getting robbed.

Each year after that, gas prices got even higher. My dad had to get a new gas-price sign because the old one didn’t even have a “2” for the dollar amount. We had to be careful to run the gas pumps at their slowest setting because running them at full tilt would push the mechanical computers inside to spin so fast we were scared the gears would break.

Fourteen years later, I’m paying $3.60 a gallon at the pump and grateful I’m not paying $4 or more. What I’d give to see a pump charging $1.80 a gallon.

But the rise in gas prices has led to a sea change in automotive design. I never saw pickups advertise their fuel economy figures when I was a kid, but today you’ll see every automaker touting their improved fuel economy numbers with their trucks. You’re also seeing a lot of R&D going into better diesel engines, hybrid powerplants and alternative fuels.

Just look at what each truckmaker says: Ram claims “Best in class 25 HWY MPG.” Ford is proud of its 3.5L V6 EcoBoost with dual turbochargers. Chevrolet/GMC pickups have the EcoTec3 V8. Nissan and Toyota, it seems, haven’t caught on.

2014 GMC Sierra with ACCESS® Lorado® Roll-Up Cover

It’s easy to be wowed by each bump in mileage for tiny little cars, but pay close attention to the improvements coming in new pickup models. The gains made in those numbers will really save a remarkable amount of fuel.

Imagine two vehicles that have to make a 1,000-mile trip: a coupe that gets 35 mpg, and a pickup that gets 18 mpg. If you boost the coupe’s fuel economy to 37 mpg, it’ll save 1.5 gallons. But if you boost that pickup to 20 mpg, it’ll save 5.5 gallons of gas for that trip.

Now add up those kinds of numbers and consider the number of miles those vehicles will travel in their lifetimes.

There are some cool ideas coming out of our automakers, and with demand for fuel efficiency likely to keep growing, I expect they’ll keep improving.

My first truck was a gas hog – it got maybe 14 miles per gallon on a perfect day but was more like 8 mpg in winter. The one fuel-economy fix that did work with that truck was when I left it parked and ran my errands by bicycle. I’d tell you the mpg I got then, but I’d have to divide by zero.

My second truck does a much better job. It’s 12 years newer than my first pickup, has a bigger engine displacement and weighs about 2,000 pounds more. But it gets much better mileage. I get about 14.5 mpg on average, and in perfect weather, I’ve broken 20 mpg.

This happens because my current truck has a decade more of research and development in it compared to my first one. It’s got a newer design and variable cam timing.

It also came with a tonneau cover — something my first truck lacked.

A 1997 study by a pair of students at Western New England College found that adding a tonneau to a pickup cut its coefficient of drag by close to 12 percent. A 2007 SEMA study also found that tonneau covers make pickups more efficient.

To get an idea of how much a tonneau cover can save you on fuel, check out this calculator. According to this calculator, my cover is saving me more than $200 in gas each year.

I was curious about whether the tonneau made such a difference, so I removed it and drove around without it for a few weeks earlier this year, and the decision cost me. My fuel economy dropped nearly a whole 1 mpg. I was glad to get a tonneau back on that truck right away.

Have you tried a tonneau cover and noticed a change in fuel economy? Let us know in the comments.