2012 NAIAS: Coverage Closeout

13 NAIAS lede
The Detroit auto show this year was noticeably more upbeat than in years past, but the biggest disappointment by far was not seeing either of the new GM pickup trucks — the upcoming full-size half-tons or the smaller Chevrolet Colorado platform. Many expected timing to be just right for some kind of concept-looking debut. But we got nothing.   

With year-end sales pointing to better times ahead of us, most of the manufacturers showed off their newest fuel-efficient technologies and small-car prowess. This seemed a little odd because the small-car segment saw only small gains in 2011 and is not a huge chunk of the total market. On the other hand, light trucks — which include vans, crossovers, SUVs and pickups — made up about 57 percent of the market this past year, with pickups making the biggest “comeback” in sales.

Interestingly, you wouldn’t know any of that on the show floor, with sedans, small-car hybrids and electric vehicles making the most noise during the media preview. Still, there were a few sports cars, a minivan, a few interesting concepts and a microcar masquerading as a pickup.


1 Tractor
The Craftsman CTX 9500
became the first tractor ever to be shown at the auto show in Detroit.  The CTX goes on sale in February and is called a tractor (instead of a lawnmower) because the blade attachment can be removed and replaced with other equipment. The PTO-type gear can be setup to help spread rock salt, help provide hydraulic power, or run a blade off the front. It even has cup holders. The largest engine is a 30-horsepower Briggs & Stratton, and the vehicle offers traction control and a rear locking differential. Would be nice to see Craftsman back at the show next year with a small pickup model. 


2 Tundra
This specialty-project Toyota Tundra
debuted at the 2011 SEMA show, and we shot a video of the truck because the custom-built bed had two hinged outer panels that revealed tons of shelved storage area in the bed wall. The entire skin was sprayed with Rhino Lining to give it a tough, roughened outer texture. Big wheels and tires, as well as a mild lift, give the DC Shoes Tundra the perfect stance to be a solid support vehicle for any enduro or motocross race.


3 ZF 8-spd
Powertrain and technology innovator ZF
displayed their new eight-speed hybrid transmission, with a great cutaway available for internal viewing. This transmission is currently in the Audi Q5 hybrid that the German automaker showed in its booth. This front-wheel-drive-biased unit offers a rear driveshaft that engages when front slip is detected. Also, the front driveshaft is internally mounted to protect the inner and outer shafts. The unit is reported to be able to support almost 600 Nm (about 442 pounds-feet) of torque. When asked if there was any reason this transmission couldn’t go into a RWD pickup truck or be mated behind a V-8, they told us this was the transmission slated for the new Nissan Titan until the project (which was to share the current Ram platform) was killed. Some have speculated it could make it into the new GM and Ford half-tons as well. 


4 Slideout door
In the basement of Cobo Center,
we saw this. The company name is GoShichi, and it gives automotive mobility to people who use wheelchairs. This is not a small modification to a pickup truck, but the solution is pretty cool. Both driver-side crew-cab doors are cut and removed and welded into a single piece, and then a huge extendable arm and lift is installed in the rear seat area. The result will pick up and drop off a full-size wheelchair and occupant and allow the driver to operate a truck with hand controls for throttle and brake. The setup can be personalized to accommodate all sorts of chair variations and handle up to 750 pounds. The unit’s warranty is three years and 36,000 miles.  


5 Ford Booth
Ford’s unveiling of the Fusion took center stage,
so Ford trucks were scarce. (We assume they bring in the Super Dutys for consumer days.) In fact, we found only two pickup trucks in the entire display: one Raptor on lift display and an F-150 with a huge Motor Trend Truck of the Year Award in the bed. Interestingly, the Raptor lift had a kiosk where attendees (journalists and consumers) could cast a vote as to which engine is more appealing in the Raptor: the EcoBoost or V-8. No doubt Ford is collecting data to see if there is a business case for putting the smaller V-6 in the Raptor. We’re guessing Ford will figure out it could sell plenty of Raptors with the twin-turbo V-6. And the fact that Ford is asking the question leads us to believe it has already decided. Anyone recognize the gentleman at the far right?


6 Jeep Pickup

7 Jeep Rear

8 Jeep Wheel
Students at Lawrence Technological University
in Southfield, Mich., had an amazing display of some their creations. This Jeev pickup (short for Jeep-like vehicle) caught our eye because it displays some interesting technology. The Jeev runs on battery power that acts as a platform foundation of the truck. The batteries are powered and charged by a wind and water turbine housed in the bed that sits directly behind the electric-hydraulic motor that powers the wheels. The camper pod over the bed is held in place with rails and acts as a storage trunk. The “Tweels” use aggressive rubber treads, an aluminum center mounting plate and flexible urethane spokes. The wheelbase and overall length of the regular cab Jeev sits right in between the two-door and four-door Wrangler, and the vehicle easily accommodates two adults and some gear. We’re guessing the Jeep guys spent some time huddled around this model.

9 Ram Express  

9 Ram Express Pricing IIThe 2012 Ram Express Quad Cab 4x4 we drove at the show gave us a chance to experience the new 65RFE six-speed transmission. It certainly isn’t perfect, but having access to all six gears via the tap-up/tap-down selector sure feels better. The first gear is still too tall and seems to rob some of the Hemi’s thunder (but it still makes a nice noise). Pricing (View this monroney photo) for our vehicle was right on $30,000, and the truck we drove had several extras, bringing the total to $35,000. The interior stays the same and still has the trailer brake controller in the wrong place, and it retains the odd Dodge name at the top of the center stack and Ram near the bottom. We’ll assume some of the more obvious issues to be addressed in the next refresh, which we believe will happen in 2014 or sooner. We clocked more than 100 miles on our visit to Detroit and averaged 16.8 mpg, doing most of our driving on city streets, and two long jaunts to and from the airport.


10 Maserati Kubang
Fiat, the parent owner of Jeep and Maserati,
finally gave the Italian supercar maker its own SUV in the form of the Kubang. The new Maserati is all Jeep Grand Cherokee underneath except for the engine — expect a 500-hp Ferrari 4.0-liter V-8 under the hood. Some have speculated the starting price will never get below $120,000. Oddly, Maserati had two stunningly tall supermodels draped in revealing gowns that were clearly meant to distract the predominantly male audience from looking too closely at the vehicle. We thought it funny a vehicle this expensive couldn’t have its own nameplate set straight.


11 VIA Plug ins
Via Motors garnered quite a bit of attention
as it showed its new powertrain option for new full-size SUVs, work vans and pickup trucks. Via’s booth had a Chevrolet Suburban 2500 on display; however, we were told the pickup truck choice was limited to half-ton vehicles only — a better match for the capabilities of the powertrain, Via told us. The eREV system has an eight-year warranty and will be most attractive to municipalities and utility companies that will need the portable power availability for both working in remote areas or providing neighborhood support when issues regarding grid usage are at risk.  Still, the price was $80,000. No doubt those costs will come down over time and don't include any state or federal rebates and their is something to the idea that your truck could have enough power to run your neighborhood and charge your neighbors electric car if the power goes out. 


12 Smart For-us
Quite possibly the funniest vehicle at the show,
the Smart For-us mini pickup could only be described as a “pickup” by someone who’s spent too many years in Europe. There’s no question that issues such as “responsible powertrains” and “smaller-footprint engineering” will be key priorities for any future vehicle designs, but we don’t think we’re at this stage yet. This little concept doesn’t just stretch the definition of useful and functional; it mangles it to the point of perversion. If we wanted something small and capable, I think we’d opt for the Craftsman CTX and pull a bed trailer behind us that would have more cargo capacity and volume than For-us. And I'm sure it'd be cheaper, too. Not much here that's likely make it to production but it did give a small-car company a chance to play with the idea of a more versatile cargo deck. 


It seems odd that GM didn't have something there to represent their new trucks. You'd think they would want to gather some feedback now so they could react to customers wants/needs. Afterall they are putting in the lines to build them this year so surely they have some sort of truck ready to show by now.
It's interesting Ford is planning to add the EcoBoot to the Raptor. I didn't think they would, to preserve the true SVT image of the Raptor. But they must really follow the truck forums closely, as that has been a huge request on threads. Maybe it will have an EcoBoost with even more boost than the rest of the F150 line. It's another example of Ford's marketing strategy, with constant updates and teasers alnong with using social media.

Is that Mike Levine?!?!?!?! He had to of slipped you guys some insider info ;)

Also, did you guys vote for the ecoboost?

It was the year of the alternative fuel/hybrid car. Hopefully next year is different.

Hmmmm, simplicity must have bought out craftsman

What a let down of a show. I was hoping to hear some notable truck/van/full size SUV news, especially with reference to GM's GMT900 replacement or Ford's Expedition replacement/refresh. Can we expect more of the same at the Chicago show in a few weeks, or will there actually be something to look forward to?

Pretty much all the forum chatter from people "in the know" pointed to the lack of pickups at this show, so it was no surprise. I know this is PICKUPtrucks.com, but the new Fusion definitely stole the show.
Trucks will come later...

I was kinda wishing GM would talk about their next gen trucks, but im happy they didn't too. It will give Ford and Ram less time to change their next gen to beat GM or match what GM is doing, good but bad lol

"Hmmmm, simplicity must have bought out craftsman"

Maybe not but Briggs is the supplier for this machine and they bought out Simplicity several years ago. I suspect that this new Craftsman has a lot in common with Simplicity. Craftsman has purchased all of their machines for years and just put thin disguises on them to make them look unique. Basing one on the Simplicity would be a huge step up for them in quality.

"It's interesting Ford is planning to add the EcoBoot to the Raptor. I didn't think they would, to preserve the true SVT image of the Raptor. But they must really follow the truck forums closely, as that has been a huge request on threads. Maybe it will have an EcoBoost with even more boost than the rest of the F150 line."

I am in the market for an F150 and would consider the Raptor if they can get the fuel economy up some. Fourteen mpg is just too low for me. As for power, the Ecoboost already has more than the 6.2 below 5,000 RPM which I doubt that I would ever exceed. However, I agree that they could probably do even more with it. I think that 425 ponies would be easy even without adding cubes. I hope to buy something before the end of the year, I am anxious to see what the 2013 models bring.

The Dakota was confirmed to comeback with unibody platform and a diesel, solid chance it will be based off the Cherokee platform. (Cherokee is unibody and is getting a diesel soon)

GM announced that GMC will become a pure luxury truck brand making expensive luxury trucks. New trucks next year.

Ford is accelerating its plans to use a single platform globally. E series will be replaced eventually with T-series, Ranger might be sold in US if the Colorado is successful.

Nissan made an Electric Van concept.

Pretty much sums up the rest of it.

It would be slick if Ford offered the EcoBoost in the Raptor with dual tunes. That way you can have your street manners by weekday and kick in the power and grunt for offroad weekends.

Sad. A lawnmower er tractor got more attention than trucks. Interesting catch in relation to Ford doing a survey for a EB V6 in the Raptor. I bet that it would be tweeked to justify the SVT badge.
I don't think GM will gain any advantage over Ford or Ram by not releasing any information on the next gen trucks. Company's usually start the next model at the same time they release the current one. Some stuff can be tweeked with computers but at this stage of the game, there isn't any real benefit to being top secret. The risk of keeping quiet is that frustrated Chevy guys will stop waiting and jump ship.

Lou, I agree completely. It also makes me wonder if they are working on changes that aren't ready yet. If they are planning on all of 2012 to update factories, they are a year away from early production runs. Unless they do a staggered release and have some factories building 2014's while others are still building 2013's. Time will tell.

"there isn't any real benefit to being top secret."

Really? If you really believe that I feel sorry for you.

The new GM trucks are MORE THAN a year away. GM is not going to tip their hat when the truck is more than a year away! Your post is just small-minded or spiteful towards GM as usual.

GM likely wants to avoid the embarrasment (sp?) of the ZL1 media release. They spent two years running their mouth about what was coming and when they finally had a finished product to display Ford stole the show.

The lack of info means one of two things,
1. It's just another refresh with nothing exciting (not likely)
2. They are about to release something really unexpected and they want to have the maximum impact when they do.

Any word about the Chicago show (since most of the trucks are unveiled here)? Maybe we'll see the diesel Jeeps and info on 2013 Ram's with the pentastar and new trannys.

@toycrusher84 - I see it the same way. It will be yawn or WOW. Problem is, only the hardcore faithful will wait.

I see that they had to post another picture of the Craptor with its frame that is as rigid as a wet dish rag.

I'm hardcore faithful as most you guys know, I can wait. I do agree with what toycrusher84 said why spill the beans, there are things ford and ram will change if they knew what gm was doing. GMC is doing what i said few months ago, keep GMC high class and base Chevy as a true full out work truck, now if they throw the soild front axle under the front of the Chevy like i said and keep GMC IFS, they will have something.


GM will probably unveil something in Chicago. It's after all the biggest auto show in America. They usually have something to show off there. Last year it was that All-Terrain Sierra, wasn't it? Or it was two years ago?

Too early. GM will probably do something at the Texas Auto Show. It makes no sense in debuting a 2014 when the 2013 aren't even out yet and they still have old 2011 and 2012's they want to sell.

"GM's new 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups are slated to hit dealer lots next year. The trucks will offer better fuel economy, the result of improved aerodynamics, an eight-speed automatic transmission, less mass, engine improvements and other changes. A new chassis is expected, and the exterior and interior will be totally changed."

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20120111/BLOG06/120119939#ixzz1jOCq9aXG

I just read on Detroit News that Ford was number 3 in recalls for 2011 behind Honda and Toyota. GM was 7th. Looks like Ford lives up to Fix Or Repair Daily reliability.

Hi Frankie. I see you showed up to start trolling. I thought you would have been here a lot earlier. You are slipping.

I agree with Dave. GM needs worry about selling what they already have not pimp the remodel which is 2 years away and would hurt current product sales.

I'd take that Craftsman lawn tractor over that Raptor truck any day of the week. Bob Vila would be proud.

F-150, the Motor Trend Truck of the Year, was at the show and is not being talked about. Nobody is talking F-150.

Eeryone is talking about the new GM trucks eventhough they weren't at the show. Everyone is talking. Everyone wants to know what's going on. Everyone wants to know what's up.

Ford loses and GM wins, again.

GM wins again? When was the last time? They haven't done anything. Just hype! Atleast in the 1500s.

If ford puts the EB in the raptor for 2013, I might by my next truck a year ahead of schedule.

GMC is going to be a luxury truck? What does that leave for Chevrolet? We all know full well the Chevrolet won't get a SFA or anything work specific. They'll both be on the same darn chassis for the 1500's and HD's alike. So this just tells me the Chevy will suck yet again. First the Lightning and now this. A bad day to read the news I suppose if you're a Chevrolet man. Let me guess, Ford will have an even better Platinum and King Ranch interior packages to choose from next time. This is what sucks about GM. They say you have to get a GMC corporate truck if you want luxury or apparently a Chevrolet if you want work. Why the heck can't I go get a luxurious hard working Chevrolet Silverado if that's what I desire? With a Ford you get a work truck, a luxury truck or both if you want! I am absolutely sick of this 2 truck nonsense. GM just takes the pride and joy out of being a Chevrolet truck man anymore.

@Lou- You're right about jumping ship. As a Chevy guy I've waited around for nothing apparently. I'm to the point I'd rather just support Ford since they listen to their loyal customers. Chevrolet has really let me down here. How hard is it to give the Silverado a luxury trim like the King Ranch? Ford's been doing it since the 1990's. Good grief.

@ Tim, I feel the same. Very let down by GM's decision here. I'm about fed up with them. I held off on buying an F-Series specifically to see if GM was going to get Chevrolet trucks back on top again. It looks like it's a no go my friend..

I was at the show and it was alright. I got to see Mark L. so that was cool. The new Fusion is pretty mind blowing. Not really sure how the new Malibu will compete. (Maybe GM will make you get a 'GMC Car' if you want something equal to the Fusion)..lol. Sorry Chevy guys, couldn't resist! :)

Chevrolet had a couple of cars there but I'm not sure what they were supposed to be. I thought the Craftsman was a nice touch. Really though, I've been to a few of these shows now and I think this was probably the most boring one. I hadn't gone in awhile and was expecting a little more to be honest.

Did someone say the Dakota is coming back? Heck yes! I was hoping it would. Been a Dodge man my whole life and miss my old Dakota. I just thought the last one was ugly so I skipped it and bought a Ram instead but miss my Dakota.

Sorry Chevy guys. The Dodge boys are going to run the show now for second place.. I predict a takeover with so many Chevy guys going to Ford these days. Ford can be #1 for 1500's/HD's, Dodge can be #2 for 1500's/HD's/Small trucks and GM can continue to fall off a sales cliff. Chevrolet looks to be near dead anyhow.

This years show was a dud I thought. You Chevy guys will love this. More redundancy from GM.. GMC was rumored there to have a Canyon coming along with the Colorado. That company never learns. Chevrolet guys are running for the hills. The talk was everywhere at the show and apparently has been alive and well here online. It's almost like GM's trying to dismantle their Chevrolet truck base on purpose or something. You watch, DaveH is right. Dodge and Ford are setting up to be #1 and #2. The Dakota is coming and there's zero doubt in my mind the Ranger will follow suit. GM will continue to be a house divided and as such will simply fall. They've never been able to just let go of GMC and focus on 1 superior Chevrolet truck line unfortunately.

What? They're spending more money for a second small truck too? Why the heck do we need a fricken Canyon? Brother.. What's wrong with those guys. It's like GM has an inferiority complex or something and has to do a whole bunch of crap to try and prove something instead of focusing on 1 thing. I think the taxpayers of this country threw away good money for bad after seeing how they've handled things since the bailout.

@Tony, how do you know this? Why would GM need a second small truck when everyone just did away with 1 small truck. Now GM thinks it needs 2? The Canyon was never a big seller anyway. I call BS.. Even GM isn't that dumb.

@Brad37- Believe it. I heard the same thing. They are indeed that dumb. If there was ever a company that thought it takes 2 guys to screw in a lightbulb it's GM. It was funny to hear their CEO making a big deal about streamlining their engines because he thought there was too many and it cost too much. Yet they still dink around with this GMC stuff. Downright unreal... I've become disgusted with them as of late.

The Canyon? lol... Still out of touch with reality I see. Good ol GM. Why not just make the Colorado one ass kicking machine and be done with it? No focus at all after all they've been through. It goes to show you can't teach an old dog new tricks I suppose. Especially one that suffers from ADD. Those folks at Ren Cen are a riot.

It would be nice to see some GM news but I also understand how much they have riding on the new platform.

I haven't been too happy with GM's current truck although the 2011 HD Duramax for the business has been outstanding and a lot of the issues I have with my 2008's were addressed in this truck.

Having said that, I'm deffinately not a GM guy (or any other nameplate for that matter) and my local GM dealer which was closed is strongly rumoured to be turning in to a Dodge franchise. They've been getting by as a high quality used lot (mostly 2011 models on the lot right now) and existing service shop. This dealer was successful but small (relative to other dealers in the area) and closing it was a strategic move. They sold a way out of proportion amount of trucks, had a large fleet business and were financially sound.

I bought my GM trucks there because they were an excellent dealer and not because it was GM. I'd deffinately buy a Ram from these guys because they're the same people running the place but not because it's a Ram. If I was buying today it would probably be a Ram anyway.

But, as much as I've been saying f**k GM I'd at least like to see what the new truck has to offer. The current truck doesn't do much for me but I'm not in the market today so I can wait. I'd like to make sure I'm weighing my options against the newest product on the market. If GM does hit a home run (to my liking) I'll consider it as a purchase.

Even though I've been thoroughly let down by GM lately I think it's smart to wait and see what they have in the works before I write them off.

For once, I actually agree with one of the Bob's. They do have a alot riding on this truck and I can understand them not showing their cards a year ahead of time. Of course I'd like to see more details but it's GM's to win or lose on their own.

In reference to the Jeep Jeev design study:

"We’re guessing the Jeep guys spent some time huddled around this model."

Meanwhile, the Dodge guys were planning some way to kill this proposal as well.

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