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What's Down the Road for Pickup Trucks

Originally published: 06.01.13 by HVACR Business Staff


Fuel-efficiency sparks redesigns as competition heats up for 2014 and beyond


Think ‘pickup truck’ and chances are you’ll conjure up an image of the Ford or Chevy logo, the Dodge Ram’s head or three big, bold letters: GMC. Phrases like “Built Ford Tough,” “Grab Life by the Horns,” and “Chevy Runs Deep” will run through your head. And you may hear Bob Seger belting out “Like a Rock.”

Until recently, the Big Three hadn’t redesigned their pickup truck models in five years or longer. All that changed last fall when Chrysler introduced an all-new 2013 Ram 1500 Tradesman, last redesigned in 2009. GM followed suit with all-new twin GMC Sierras and Chevy Silverados, last redesigned for 2007. Now Ford has taken up the gauntlet.

Calling it “the future version of F-series trucks,” Ford has been showcasing its Atlas Concept pickup at auto shows and public events across the country. It’s uncertain exactly when F-series trucks will be fully transformed, but 2014 models are expected to start incorporating Atlas Concept features when they’re introduced later this year.

A re-designed Toyota Tundra will reach dealers in September 2013 featuring some mild tweaks for the 2014 model year. Tundra was last re-designed for the 2007 model year.

Meanwhile, Nissan’s Titan, the oldest full-sized pickup on the market, hasn’t been significantly updated since it was launched in 2003 and still features a standard V8 engine. An all-new Nissan Titan may arrive in the spring of 2014.

Aside from the everyday competition for commercial truck dollars, the primary impetus for these re-designs is a push for increased fuel economy. Thirsty V8 engines are being relegated to the status of “optional” as automakers promote more fuel-efficient V6 standard engines: all in the name of pushing the gas mileage envelope and achieving the elusive goal of 30 miles per gallon.

By the way, these V6 engines get the job done. Just as their V6 predecessors were, new generation V6s are lighter and more fuel-efficient than their V8 granddads. They’re now getting just as powerful; something most older V6 engines didn’t aspire to. Ram’s 3.6-liter V6 Pentastar pumps out 305 horsepower. Ford’s 3.7-liter V6 offers 302 horsepower, while its 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 kicks out a whopping 365 horsepower. Other carmakers are working on increasing the horsepower of their competing V6s as well.


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