By David Hakim
North American International Auto Show
Hauling the Goods in 2016
While the 2015 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit was more about modern and efficient musclecars such as the Dodge Hemi Hellcat Challenger and Charger, Ford Shelby GT350 and GT Supercar and Cadillac CTS-V, this year’s show had many companies focusing on their lines of pickups that come in many shapes and sizes. With gas prices going lower by the week, light-truck market sales have overtaken sales of cars. A recent article in Automotive News indicated that 60% of new vehicles purchased are now categorized as light trucks.
Smart automakers will take heed and adjust product plans and plant capacity to meet consumer demand for light trucks, and savvy aftermarket manufacturers of accessories and performance parts for this vehicle category should also take note.
So here’s some of the new sheetmetal we saw at NAIAS and, perhaps, something you’ll want to get on your radar for developing new products.
The new F-150 Raptor SuperCrew was unveiled at NAIAS.
The new F-150 Raptor SuperCrew was unveiled at NAIAS. According to Ford, “It is the smartest, most capable F-150 Raptor with the DNA of a Baja race truck.” No argument from us, as its purpose-built engine, chassis and suspension are designed to travel fast over challenging desert landscapes. The F-150 Raptor SuperCrew has four fullsize doors, providing rear passengers with more legroom, comfort and space to stow gear. The SuperCrew has a 145-in. wheelbase, 12 in. longer than the standard Raptor SuperCab’s 133 in. Powering the Raptor is the second-generation, high-output, 3.5L EcoBoost engine.
Honda debuted its restyled ’17 Ridgeline midsize truck while keeping some of the innovations from its original model.
Honda debuted its restyled ’17 Ridgeline midsize truck while keeping some of the innovations from its original model. Its new, toned-down sheetmetal is intended to make it look more like a truck but give it more appeal. It’s still based on a front-wheel-drive platform but, according to Honda, the Ridgeline’s towing and payload numbers will be competitive with other trucks in the same segment.
Power is supplied by a 3.5L, direct-injected, i-VTEC V6 engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Honda claims best-in-class acceleration performance and segment-leading EPA fuel-economy ratings. The Ridgeline will also be available for the first time in both front-wheel- and all-wheel-drive configurations. All-wheel-drive models will utilize Honda’s i-VTM4 torque-vectoring AWD technology.
The Tundra TRD Pro has black-bezel headlights, an oversize “Toyota” grille, black badging and a unique TRD Pro bed stamp.
Between Toyota’s two truck nameplates, Tacoma and Tundra, the latter seems to resonate more with off-road enthusiasts—or at least owners who want their trucks to look like Baja Prerunners. Toyota’s gearhead department, TRD, has a stout product portfolio to satisfy virtually all consumer tastes, from a boulevard cruiser to extreme off-roading. The Tundra TRD Pro has black-bezel headlights, an oversize “Toyota” grille, black badging and a unique TRD Pro bed stamp. The 18-in. black alloy TRD wheels with 32-in. Michelin LTX AT2 tires are intended to enhance off-roading credibility.
Not So Distant Future
The Nissan Titan Warrior is based on the diesel Titan XD, but Nissan engineers increased the ride height 3 in. and added 37-in.-tall all-terrain tires on 18x9.5-in. aluminum wheels.
The Nissan Titan Warrior might be labeled a “concept,” but it doesn’t take Nostradamus to figure out that we’ll see its styling cues and products on future Nissan pickups. It is based on the diesel Titan XD, but Nissan engineers increased the ride height 3 in. and added 37-in.-tall all-terrain tires on 18x9.5-in. aluminum wheels. The Titan Warrior Concept is also 6 in. wider to handle increased suspension travel.
On the exterior, designers added “modern armor” that included a machine-like, sharper-edge appearance. Exterior features include muscular carbon-fiber fenders, functional hood vents, carbon-fiber cabin and tailgate spoilers, a large front skidplate and custom LED lights. Under the hood is the 5.0L, 390hp Cummins Turbo Diesel V8, connected to the standard heavy-duty six-speed Aisin automatic transmission.
According to Mike Manley, head of the Jeep and Ram brands for FCA-Global, a Jeep Wrangler pickup is a go. Manley indicated that Jeep would offer a pickup-truck version of the upcoming Wrangler. While he couldn’t offer any more juicy tidbits, the Jeep Wrangler pickup will go into production around 2020, after the next-generation Wrangler launch in 2018.
You might remember getting a glimpse of MOPAR’s aftermarket JK8 “Independence” conversion kit back in 2011. It was well received among the diehard Jeep community, but the high cost and complexity of converting standard Jeep Wranglers by end users never caught on.
American Expedition Vehicles does turnkey Wrangler conversions, complete with lift kits and a 6.4L Hemi under the hood. Known as the “Brute,” these highly capable custom Jeeps can tackle Moab or Rodeo Drive, but they’re not for everybody. However, if an affordable Jeep Wrangler pickup comes off the assembly line in Toledo one day, FCA could have a winner—and so will the aftermarket.
Lexus LC 500 Luxury Coupe Receives Design Award
At NAIAS, the Lexus LC 500 was given the 2016 EyesOn Design award for Design Excellence—Production Car, as well as the EyesOn Design award for Design Excellence—Interior Design.
Four years after winning the EyesOn Design best concept-car award for the Lexus LF-LC 2+2 Hybrid Sport Coupe, Lexus has received high accolades for the production car—the all-new LC 500 luxury coupe. At NAIAS, the Lexus LC 500 was given the 2016 EyesOn Design award for Design Excellence—Production Car, as well as the EyesOn Design award for Design Excellence—Interior Design.
The NAIAS 2016 EyesOn Design awards honor the best production and concept vehicles making their worldwide auto-show debuts at NAIAS. Active and retired design heads of automotive manufacturers and transportation design chairs from top art schools select the award recipients.
Lexus Design in Toyota City, Japan, designed the LC 500. Lexus designers were challenged to work closely with engineers to make the LF-LC show car a reality. They were seeking new ways to redefine the Lexus style with dynamic design and advanced technology yet remain within reach for luxury buyers.