By Aaron Bragman
New York City and pickup trucks aren't quite the matched pair that, say, Dallas and pickup trucks or Phoenix and pickup trucks are. During the New York International Auto Show, the major manufacturers tend to focus more on luxury cars or high-mileage city cars, leaving the trucks for events like the Texas State Fair or even the Chicago Auto Show. That doesn't mean there isn't some pickup truck interest here in the Big Apple — OK, actually it does — but there are some things here at the show that we can apply to the truck world.
First and foremost is the appearance of a light-duty diesel engine under the hood of the new 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The 3.0-liter EcoDiesel is a fantastic engine — I drove it in the Grand Cherokee last month and can attest to its smoothness, massive torque and wallet-pleasing fuel efficiency. In a Grand Cherokee, the engine is a high-priced alternative to the Hemi V-8. In a Ram 1500, however, where the engine is next expected to show up, it could be an extraordinary workhorse option for buyers whose primary purpose is towing or hauling. Chrysler has been mum on when exactly we should expect the EcoDiesel in the Ram 1500, but don't be too surprised if it shows up sometime next year. It's going to be a crowd pleaser.
Honda's Ridgeline can be considered a pickup despite being built on the company's minivan platform, but that shared lineage might be good for something new: the HondaVac system. The company just unveiled HondaVac at the New York show. It's a built-in vacuum developed in partnership with ShopVac that's neatly integrated into the rear trim panel of the new 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite minivan. We got to thinking — minivans and vacuums go together pretty well, but why not drop that puppy into the Ridgeline? Pickups venture into rougher and dirtier terrain than minivans, so why not tote along a built-in vacuum cleaner to suck up the dust, mud and dirt that accumulates on the floor mats? Or better yet, up-size the machine to work-site duty standards and have Mopar make it a drop-in accessory for the RamBox.
One new pickup was unveiled at the New York show, but technically it's not from a major manufacturer. Shelby American, the company that brought you the wide-body GT500 Super Snake Mustang and the 1,100-horsepower Shelby 1000 Mustang, is now offering the Shelby Raptor. Arriving with all the subtlety of a roundhouse kick to the face, the Shelby Raptor will have a 575-horsepower supercharged engine option with packages that start at $18,000 above the cost of the new Ford SVT Raptor. Shelby script a foot tall adorns the body-side and rear window just to let everyone know what you've got. Shelbys have never been about anonymity, and the newest one won't be either.