Rumors are spreading fast and furiously as thousands of auto writers from around the world pour into Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport for press days at the 2014 North American International Auto Show, Jan. 13-14 (public days are Jan. 18-25).
We've already seen several 2015 model pickup trucks before the show begins (first the 2015 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra Heavy Duty at the State Fair of Texas, then the 2015 Chevy Colorado at the Los Angeles Auto Show), and heard from both Honda and Nissan about some big changes coming to their existing platforms. Here's what we hope to see at this year's Detroit show based on what we've heard about the pickup truck landscape from those much closer to the action:
- Speculation is quite high that the timing is exactly right for Ford to show the 13th-generation of the F-Series pickup. Last year Ford created quite a stir when it showed its futuristic Ford Atlas concept, so it would make sense if Ford did something a little more realistic this time around. We'll have to wait and see. Some Ford insiders were not too happy about how the recent all-new Mustang reveal played out, with some media outlets breaking embargoes and ruining Ford's information control, so that could explain why the company has been so tight-lipped. Even our spy photographers are surprised about how little they've seen.
- With the 2015 Chevy Colorado making its dramatic appearance in Los Angeles, that leaves a big intro at the Detroit or Chicago auto shows (or possibly New York) for the 2015 GMC Canyon, the newest arrival to the growing midsize pickup truck segment. We don't expect much difference between the Colorado and Canyon platforms, but if the full-size twins are any indication, there will be some significant differences between the two midsize trucks in design and trim packages. The GMC version could also sport some extra technology.
- Nissan has been coy about when and where we'll get a first look at its new truck. The big news this year was the announcement of Nissan's new partnership with Cummins through which a new ISV5.0 V-configured turbo-diesel engine will offered in a new Nissan Titan when it eventually makes it to market. Some have speculated it won't be until sometime in 2015 as a 2016 model, but we're beginning to hear that timeframe is being accelerated, with changes to the existing Frontier not much further behind.
- Honda recently announced that it's finishing the existing Ridgeline production run by the middle of this year, giving the engineering, design and manufacturing teams a chance to catch their breath before they create a new and improved next-gen 2016 Honda Ridgeline. Rather than try to make running changes to the plant and production line, Honda is doing it the old-fashioned way and shutting it all down, presumably because it has some big changes in store. The preview sketch Honda released has us believing it's entering the midsize market with something more conventional and rugged. We might not see anything about this truck for a while, but pieces of technology from other platforms could give us some clues.
- Ever since the "memorandum of cooperation" was dissolved between Ford and Toyota regarding the development of a full-size hybrid pickup truck, speculation that both would come to market soon with their own hybrid systems has been strong and loud among the green crowd. Unfortunately, we don't have any information to support that, but it does seem odd that all that work didn't yield any results — unless they both found out that it might be difficult for lithium-Ion batteries to meet the duty requirements of a work truck. That's possible; but it seems more likely that Toyota decided to be pragmatic about its research funds and concentrate on a better, smarter next-generation Tacoma, which is due out in the near future. Pushed by GM, the dominating choice in the segment is long overdue for a chassis and powertrain upgrade, and we'd suggest a few interior and bed-tech innovations as well. The Chicago Auto Show seems to be Toyota's venue of choice for reveals, but we've heard nothing to date.