Have You Ever Had One of Those Really Good Weeks?

I don’t need to tell you, some weeks are better than others, but in the short time I’ve been around PickupTrucks.com, this was a good one.

I started the week in Detroit, meeting with each of the big pickup truck makers and reminding them that truck enthusiasts are getting a little tired of the same old thing. And they seemed to get it. We spent some quality time and had a few long lunches with GMC and Chevrolet, stopped by the Dearborn offices at Ford to speak with Ford Truck’s marketing chief and finished the sweep at the Auburn Hills headquarters of Chrysler to speak with the Ram Truck experts.

In every case, from person to person, they wanted — most said they needed — to be involved with PUTC.

We’re sure there’s nothing more they’d like than to convince us that their products are best, but they seemed to know the website and its readers (and probably me) well enough not to try. In truth, it was quite reassuring to hear how passionate the big truck makers are about pickups. Each can be faulted for many things, but truck passion is not one of them. 

But our focus is and will remain about providing them a stage where they can do head-to-head battle — story vs. story, truck vs. truck. That’s clearly what we’ve done best and clearly what the big truck makers want to prove to the PUTC audience. 

Chad Hord Titan
From Detroit we flew to Texas, where Nissan held a truck event near Bandera, on one of the largest ranches we’d ever seen. Let’s just say the 4x4 route we ran took about 25 minutes to navigate and had us guiding Frontiers, Titans and Xterras as well as Armadas up and down dry riverbeds, over rocky hill climbs and through rutted, scrub-lined two-tracks. Certainly nothing horrific, but plenty of challenging terrain to push stock vehicles outside their comfort zones. Nissan even had TORC pro driver Chad Hord there to demonstrate some of his trademark 80-foot jumps with his Titan racetruck. And, no, they didn’t let us get behind the wheel. 

Truck Rodeo
From Nissan’s ranch, we headed to San Antonio to meet up with members of the Texas Auto Writers Association as they conducted the annual Texas Truck Rodeo. If you don’t know, Texas is an important market for pickup and full-size SUV makers, so when local auto scribes want the biggest and best, this is where all the serious manufacturers bring their wares. Just about every pickup for sale in the U.S. was represented, giving auto writers a chance to get behind the wheel on a short-but-challenging 4x4 course, as well as more civilized routes through the local townships. You've probably already seen most of the winners of each category in our recap

In all, in the past week we probably talked about and drove just about every pickup truck there is. In fact, we’re collecting notes and writing stories about some of the highlights. I know, you want them right now, but I promise they’re coming.

Yes, that was a good week. Now on to the next.


I want to be one of the test drivers :)

I wonder what same old stuff everyone else is tired of?
Interior designs more than 3 years old?
What I'm tired of (and I know that it's just me and nobody
else) is people demanding a truck that rides and is as quiet
as a Cadillac, handles like a Ferrari, can tow an 18 wheeler,
get reasonable fuel economy, have push button automated
everything because we're too lazy to shift gears, let alone
get out of the cab and lock in hubs, and then complain about
a $50,000 price tag.
I'd just love to see a balls out work truck where you can mix
and match engines, transmissions, axle ratios with whatever
cab configuration you want. And if you do want something
nice like power windows or a rear camera, be able to
order it ala-carte, not in a high dollar luxery package with
a bunch of gizmos that you don't want.

@Mark Williams, try to cheer up.

Glad you had a great week, sounds like a lot of fun but ya have to remember all them manufactures have lobbiest who are telling you why and how come thiers is best..they get paind lots if money to make things up.
On that note hopefully the "big truck" guys will take a couple of thier engineers and put them on developing a small/mid-size truck and once it is being built do not forget about it like Ford did with the Ranger(not updated since 1992) and the Chevy Colorado with it's hard plastic dash and no storage behind the back seat of a 4 door, let alone the outdate torsion bar suspencion, I would have bought one but with no storage there is no place to store my jumper cables, come-along, 4-way, gloves, tow strap etc...as I have to have full use of the bed also.

Well,if I were a auto journelist..I guess every week would be good ! Pretty easy job for sure ! Not sure how much $ they make.

I would still rather run my own company ,be home every evening,drive my own toys around. When I want new,I test drive the vehicles I think are good and make up my own mind and not let some journelist,blogger tell me what they think is better.Personally I never pay attention to journelists opinions,just want the cold hard facts (specs)and future products,their opinions should be left to themselves.

In conclusion,this site should have detailed pictures and specs easily obtainable,and personal journelists opinions on a opinion page,as I just want cold hard facts.

@David w,

I have often wondered about the feasibility of doing just that. I could see where it would be costly to build a truck precisely to one's wishes, but I would be willing to pay a small premium to have the option of doing so. An "a la carte" premium. I would pay an extra $1000 to be able to choose ANY engine, configuration, etc and hand pick the options I need. For example, an F-250 with eco-boost, or a Lariat, but with vinyl flooring, or an XLT with leather seats. Or start with an XL and add any option you dang well please.

@ Dave -- Good advice. Will always keep in mind.
@ David W. -- There are a lot of "car guys" out there that think the best thing a pickup could ever do is be more like a car; in fact, be more like a sports car. The tricky thing is making sure they only speak to those people that have nothing to do with making pickup trucks. That in itself could be a full-time job.
@ Hamburglar -- I tend to side with you. Not sure there's anything like owning your own company and its never a bad idea to question the value (or possible agenda) of someone else's opinion. With that said, from my experience, I'd say the number of good pickup evaluators is pretty small. Always best to rely on the empirical data and your own butt-dyno.

While ala carte would be nice some of you need a lesson in manufacturing 101. A King Ranch with a vinyl floor would essentially be a custom build. Meaning it would have to be escorted special off the assembly line for just a single buyer. Engine swaps are not as simple as just swapping a 5.0 for an Ecoboost. There are wiring and suspension changes as well. Same goes for the rear view camera. You'd be looking at a totally different dash to mount in an XL that half the gages and lights would be nonfunctional. I do agree some things can be packaged differently or could be easily made dealer installed options though. Such as power tow mirrors, power slide rear windows, perhaps a low end back up camera like what can be bought in stores and other items.

UncleBud, I guess one legit reason they don't is based on
my experience as a maintenance tech at an assembly
plant that made the rear suspension for the Chevy Malibu.
The kind of people they hire do a pretty good job putting
the same part on every unit, but when there is a "choice"
of parts to choose from, be it shock absorbers, stab bars
etc, then life on the assembly line gets very complicated.
Inspections are a nightmare, when possible maintenance
people fabricate things to make it impossible to put the
wrong piece in but still you end up with a rear end with
a disc brake on one side and a drum on the other.
Correcting the mistake is costly but as you said, if your
willing to pay a premium...

@Mark Williams - we are eagerly waiting to hear what you have to report. It also helps explain why some posts that should have been deleted got overlooked. Keep up the good work!

@unclebud - If you use the "build your own truck" feature from Ford the possibilities are quite extensive. You can almost get a king ranch with vinyl floors

@toycrusher84 -- Yep, keeping up with the "energetic" postings can be tricky when traveling. Why don't all commercial airlines offer internet? I do appreciate the help in letting me know when things are going a bit wobbly. As much as I can, I read every posting. Also need to sort out the aliases and multiple names from same email or IP addresses. If some keep going the same direction, not sure I'll have much choice but to restrict their access.

In the good old days you could literally order almost any combination. I am talking the early 70's here and orders were done on paper orders mailed in or sent by telex. The possabilites for error were great and with the slow response time to see what you ordered, it was usually built, just as ordered but with a crazy omission or extra feature.
I don't think the manufacturers even tested each powertrain mix as some were unusable as built.
I ordered a 1978 E150 cargo van to dress up as was cool in those days. 300 cube inline six,(lotsa torque) with a four on the floor manual with overdrive (the first year for OD I think), with a 3:08 rear axle. Woked good till you put it in 4th (OD), it did not have the power to move itslef and lost speed till you shifted back to 3rd. A frien had a F150 with a 302 , 3 sp auto with a 3:7 something axle that ran too high RPM at hwy speeds, we switched axles and were both happy with the results.
This was before dressed up trucks were the rage but when they went to packages type ordering, we lost a bit of the individuality but had better overall speced rigs. The build possabilitys were in the high thousands with all the individual options and as someone mentioned earlier, were a lot of errors both at the dealer order level and the factory build level.
They will NEVER go back to a system of ordering every option seperatly, tooo complex, even with computers.

Glad it's been a good week for you, hopefully this week and the next and next... are also great! Keep the stories and articles coming. Thanks Mark Williams.

great article! Wish i could get to Nissans ranch and give a few of those trucks a shot.

Manufactures r making way too many trim levels. It's pointless. 3 trim level should be plenty. Manufactures only make it hard for themselves n costly. Stop with the region availability, its stupid bcuz I want certain things Texas has that the midwest doesn't. Towing n payload packages should be standard, after all it is a truck.

Besides all the safety features, I just want a tow n payload package, per window/locks/seats/ac/cruise, selectable rear locker.

I can think of another package that is "needed" F350 Lariat Excursion !

Building a truck online you usually pay a premium anyhow. You would only get manufacturer discounts as no dealer is going to negotiate price on a vehicle they don't have to move off their lot.

Nice to hear that the truck companies were not talking down to the media.

I can see where it may be nice to special order anything you want, but I can see how it can add to manufacturing complexity. Fleet operators are probably the only ones that can get away with that one.
I disagree with guys saying there should be less option packages. When I am buying a new truck, I want to get something as close as possible to what I desire/need.
Ford has the right idea with all the trim packages.
Ram has clued in to the benefit of that method of operation.
GMC, Toyota and Nissan need to go down that path.
It may be too complete to special order, so the next best thing is to give me more package choices.

Lou, Nissan actually did package their stuff real well and it was priced well too. At least from 2004-2008. One reason I chose my Titan over the F150 was too many options needed to be bundled. For example: Want heated mirrors? You needed rear defrost. Want a power rear slide window? You need an entire option group. Certain options delete others as well. This confused the salesmen as well. I had at least 2 salesmen for Ford tell me if the truck had a receiver on it, it had the tow package. Not correct. It had A tow package. Not THE tow package that gace you cooling and better gearing. Nissan offered the Big Tow. Included gearing, prewiring, and extending mirrors. All Titans came with tranny coolers regardless of tow or not. Kept it nice and simple.

The major problem is that people have different needs for trucks. Unlike cars which have only a few purposes trucks have a multitute of uses. Some want them for a "cool factor". Which means that what is cool is not always the same. Alot of people need/want them for doing actual work.

I personally want a truck that can tow a 24 Ft enclosed trailer of 7-8000lbs with 1500lbs in bed. 2wd is fine, but extended cab is must and a crew cab desireable. I'd like fuel economy both when empty and towing, but alot depends on if I will daily drive or not.

I have 99 V10 dodge 2500 to tow right now, but the horrible empy gas mileage of 12 mph means I can only afford to use when towing/hauling. Steering is pretty poor and ride comfort is great fully loaded. Not so much when empty. So perfect for limited use as I can deal with poor mileage when I am working the truck.

I would be nice to have enough fuel mileage to daily drive and then the power/payload to tow/haul my gear. The F150 8200 GWR Ecoboost is pretty close, but damn it is expensive.

Thanks for the update. Keep up the good work!

Here's another one: 18+ inch wheels. All the do is add to the cost of the vehicle and make me pay more for tires. Want King Ranch? 18 inch wheels.

I agree with the tire thing. Dont bundle big wheels with option packages. Leave that separate where possible.

Since you did not stop at Toyota's Texas plant when you were in town, shows your biased reporting!


Did you tell Ford to keep the ranger and totally build a new 1 up that is relatively the same size with a diesel and ecoboost option?

@oxi- looks like Marc Williams had a full schedule.
Why get bent out of shape?
Just post a photo album of your tour of the Toyota plant or Jake could do it for you.


No camera's allowed...

I toured North America's largest auto plant years ago, Toyota's Georgetown, KY auto plant...

That's just about 8 million square feet, almost 8,000 employees that produce just about 500,000 vehicles a year and the best selling and most "American" car in the U.S. market, the legendary Camry!

Note when taking the tour, safety glases on and pants even for the tour that went around the plant on a tram system...

I toured a GM plant once, only had to put on the safety glasses around the Cinncinnati Milacron spot welders that shot sparks out at you anyways, not very safe and you could get away with open shoes and shorts...

It was night and day for me!

I can not wait to read all of the upcoming news!

Keep up the good work, Mark W.!

Hey Mark, if you start to limit people by their IP addresses does this mean there will be no more Bob's? LOL

If there is one thing that guys have been begging for and I hope Mark found out some info on is...


Funny how Ford, GM, RAM, Toyota, and Nissan all say they read the truck/auto sites to see what public opinion is on something yet we have been asking for this for a while now with no luck so far.

Ford Races & Shows the F150 Eco Boost Regular Cab Short Bed:

Only they wouldn't sell you one; has to be an 8' bed!

Shove It Clowns!

Make 'em race with an 8 ft bed and see how far they get!

Anyone from Ford read these comments?

Same with Chevy and their 6.2.

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