We spent quite a bit of time in Detroit this month, getting into town a few days ahead of the 2018 North American International Auto Show. There was plenty of big news to cover regarding pickup trucks with the debuts of the all-new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and 2019 Ram 1500, and the return to the U.S. of the 2019 Ford Ranger. But those weren't the only interesting things at the auto show, which runs through Sunday at the Cobo Center.
Here are a few hidden treasures we found during our tour.
1. Opposed-Piston Engine
Opposed-piston engines have been around for decades, but now energy company Aramco is making a strong push to get them back into a mainstream vehicle by partnering with Achates Power, manufacturer of that type of engine. Opposed-piston engines use two crankshafts with three cylinders and opposing piston motions that use compression ignition. Theoretically, you could have two tanks, one with gasoline and one with diesel, and run both fuels independently to the same motor. Aramco is showing a light-duty truck sporting this engine in Detroit.
2. 2018 Chevrolet Colorado Redline Edition
We picked up a 2018 Chevrolet Colorado Redline Edition to get us around Detroit. We liked the special edition and the fact that the heater worked quickly because it was frigid in Motor City. The Colorado was powered by the 3.6-liter gas engine and delivered just more than 17 mpg in city driving in four-wheel drive and around 21 mpg during a 185-mile highway trip in two-wheel drive.
3. 2018 NACTOY Winners
The first press conference of the show is always the North American Car and Truck of the Year award announcements. NACTOY now gives out three awards. For 2018, the Honda Accord took the car award, the Volvo XC60 was the utility winner and the Lincoln Navigator took home the truck award. The only pickup truck to make as a finalist in the truck category was the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2.
4. Aftermarket Displays
Gaining traction at auto shows is the proliferation of displays from aftermarket suppliers. We ran across seat supplier Recaro, where we saw some new, lightweight, reinforced adjustable seats that would be perfect for a new or used full-size pickup or SUV. Companies like Recaro seem to be cashing in on the popularity of full-size pickups and the fact that many of the mid-level trims have uncomfortable seats.
5. 2019 Ford Ranger Powertrain Display
The introduction of the all-new 2019 Ford Ranger was met with a great deal of enthusiasm at the auto show, but few people made the walk to the second floor of the Ford booth to get a closer look at the new mid-size 2.3-liter inline-four-cylinder twin-scroll single-turbo engine cutaway and 10-speed transmission.
6. Diesel Engine for Ford F-150
Ford's second-floor display also provided our first glimpse of the baby Power Stroke that can be had in the full-size 2018 Ford F-150. The new single turbo-diesel 3.0-liter V-6 will offer 250 horsepower and 440 pounds-feet of torque, providing a towing capacity of more than 11,000 pounds. We're told there will be no selectable exhaust brake function, but it will have a dedicated diesel exhaust fluid gauge.
7. Classic IH Pickup
Given how much time we were spending in the media room downloading photos and writing stories, it was nice of The Hagerty Group to sprinkle some classic cars around the small hall. This gorgeous 1962 International Travelette crew cab sat in the dining area of the media hall; it had a 5.0-liter V-8, dual bench seats, cost about $2,900 new and weighed about 4,200 pounds.
8. Bed Wars Continue
GM's Chevrolet display included this side-by-side exhibit comparing the results of some punishment testing to a pickup bed made from aluminum (similar to the Ford F-150) and another made from high-strength steel (like in the 2019 Silverado 1500). And running in the lower corner of the display was a series of bed-focused commercials.
Cars.com photos by Mark Williams