2015 Detroit Auto Show: Wrapup

Ram Rebel Lead II

Media days for the 2015 North American International Auto Show are over; it opens to the public Saturday at the Cobo Center in Detroit. Here are the highlights from our wanderings:


2016 Toyota Tacoma

IMG_0748 copy II

In the rush and madness of the typical auto show press conferences and stage tear downs, we didn't quite get as much time with the new 2016 Toyota Tacoma as we would have liked. There are some interesting choices under the skin, and we're guessing more news will be coming about a TRD Pro version. Check out our video here.


2015 Ram 1500 Rebel

RM015_039FN Rebel II

The new Ram 1500 Rebel is a clever and good-looking way to give Ram buyers one more choice. This is definitely not a Raptor fighter, but it will be one of the more aggressive off-road packages offered in any half-ton, and it has the tallest ride height (meaning the most aggressive look) of any pickup in the segment. We're guessing we'll be seeing more of Ram's new face and tail styling. Check out our video here.


2017 Ford Raptor

 Raptor Intro II

Certainly one of the brightest stars of the show, the Ford Raptor no longer wears the SVT label because all in-house Ford performance engineering will be done by the new global brand, Ford Performance. This SuperCab short-bed Raptor gets a unique frame, an exclusive high-performance EcoBoost, a new 10-speed transmission and heavier-duty Fox racing shocks. Check out our video here.


Ram EcoDiesel

IMG_0776 EcoDiesel II

Ram made a big deal about its special Ram 1500 HFE package, which now offers an EPA-rated highway mileage of 29 mpg. This, like the 28 mpg rating before it, will be not just class leading — it's better than any other pickup sold in the U.S. Ram got the extra 1 mpg by tightening up the front aero, using higher-rolling resistance tires and a specially designed crowned tonneau cover.


College for Creative Studies

IMG_0686 Ridgeline II

It's always fun to see what Detroit's College for Creative Studies displays at the auto show. In its two displays — one in the Cobo Center entrance and a larger one on the lower level, CCS student works left us optimistic about what our pickups and commercial vehicles will look like in the future. This school project from Darby Barber is impressive. 


2016 Nissan Titan

IMG_0787 Titan II

The all-new 2016 Titan is one of the most significant vehicles at the show, both physically and psychologically. Jumping into the deep end with much enthusiasm, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn sends a huge message, and frankly, a challenge not everyone thought they could accept. Only time will tell if the two-frame strategy (one with and one without the Cummins diesel engine) will pay dividends in the long run. Check out our video here.


Cars.com's Best Pickup Truck of 2015

Colorado track II

We spent a lot of time debating (arguing might be a more appropriate term) with our colleagues at sister site Cars.com exactly how significant and/or risky our six nominees were both to their segment and the auto industry at large. Strong points were made for the top two pickups: the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and the 2015 Ford F-150. We spent many hours behind the wheel of just about every version each offers; in the end the scales tipped to the Chevrolet Colorado. For more truck photos from the 2015 NAIAS in Detroit, go to our Facebook page

Cars.com photos by Evan Sears and Mark Williams





That new truck excitement is gone from me, my head is spinning from all the new models and changes, can't keep up.
Too confusing, too much !
Even when I can well afford a new truck not buying one just to impress YOU!
You are not worth it!

I'm guessing the Ram diesel comes with low rolling resistance tires. It's a bigger difference than people think, trade offs though performance wise.

There is a trade off for trim level and cab size too. You have to get one an extended cab only and only a Tradesman or Express 4x2. See Ram believes in lightweighting too but you have to give up cab size and trim level to get the extra mpg.

Ford is taking care of business by offering a gas engine with much broader appeal and much lower buy in price and more trim levels and cab sizes. It's not that diesel isn't important, it's just that getting the gas lineup right is a much higher priority.

Can you provide a link showing he 2015 F-150 is lower in price and offering "better" engines.

I do think the Pentastar, both of GM's V6's are very good engine choices as well.

And don't give out the EPA fuel figures to justify you comment. As real life driving will show the EcoBoosts will use more fuel than the non-turbo V6s, not even considering the diesel from FCA.

Ram even offers a diesel and soon GM will. Ford has the best lineup of turbo engines offered in pickups. I'll agree to that, but who else has turbo V6 gas engines. The V6 Ram diesel will give up to 29mpg on the highway.

The Titan might look okay in real life.

The perspective of the yellow Titan picture isn't as bad as the others.

I'd bet Nissan will do something about the front end.

There is a saying I like very much, it sort of goes;

"one for all and all for one".

There is a saying I really like.

It's similar to this;

"one for all and all for one".

Ignoring all the flaming, Jason, I have to argue that Ford has failed; the Aluminum F-150 did not achieve its goals as far a fuel mileage is concerned. This isn't to say the Ford isn't a good truck, but rather that the mere losing of a few hundred pounds and modifying the aero was not enough--the thing is simply too physically large to offer decent economy with a 165c.i.d. engine even when it's turbocharged. And the only way it would work would be to disable or back down the boost so much that you wouldn't realize the supposedly-great horsepower it offers.

The thing is, pickup trucks used to get by just fine with 100-200 horses under the hood. An inline six with 100 or so horses used to be plenty of power to carry things around (and likely was a lot easier on the horses it towed). Now it seems nobody can get by without massive Clydesdales under the hood trying to work beside quarterhorses and what you're getting is just thirsty. Real world driving with the Aluminum F-150 can't even achieve 20mpg with a light load on that 2.7L EcoBoost--and that's supposed to be their best fuel mileage model.

Size does make a difference. Were that same engine/tranny combo in a much smaller truck--I'm talking old Ranger size, not "Global Ranger" size--Ford could probably realize a full 30mpg out of a truck as well as seeing a huge boost in overall sales without even competing with the full-sized segment. Why? Because the Coefficient of drag is multiplied by the frontal area of a vehicle and a ¾-sized pickup would automatically experience less drag. And by being ¾-sized, it would also loose almost another 800-1,000 pounds from its full-sized brother, meaning less inertia to overcome and again realizing more fuel economy. Science understands this--it seems pickup truck owners don't.


Confused by your rambling comment.

Are you suggesting that truck buyers only car about size or FE? Step back from your own prejudices and see the big picture--a truck has to be versatile or it just becomes a specialty vehicle (Power Wagon, Raptor, Ram HFE).

Truck buyers, apart from Jay Leno, need a vehicle that does it all reasonably well, at a reasonable cost, and is durable enough to outlive the 72 mos. of payments.

2 cents.

It was definitely a cool show.

Obviously the Titan unveil was the single biggest truck deal by any manufacturer. I would very much like to see Nissan be a player in this market.

The Taco (entrenched king of the pretender trucks) is now prepared to hold the vast majority of the silly ever shrinking "mid sized" market against the new CC twins from GM (even if they are still "better" than the Taco it wont matter the Frontier has been better than the Taco for years now).

The Fiat Rebel is a cool appearance package. A paper Raptor (Fiat 1500 with Raptor skin but standard guts) if you will but it could sell the same way stick on accessories and big spoilers sell. Cheap gingerbread for those with shallow pockets that are all about looks and want to stand out from the regular Fiat crowd. Hopefully its more than just something Fiat threw together to have something at the show because I think it would sell.

All hail Ford obviously the King of this years show. While the Titan unveil was probably the biggest deal in the truck world Ford dominated the rest of the show in every other way. The new Raptor is still the king of half ton seriously real high performance rich mans toy truck cool category. Throw on top of that the new GT, the Mustang Shelby 35R, and the ST offerings and its was very much a Ford show this year. The Acura NSX being the only notable distraction in the car section.

The 90s were almost 2 decades ago.

Its so simple.

Truck too small to do any real work + too big to offer any real advantage in price economy or MPG = Small Market of people with money to burn that don't understand value.

The "midsized" truck offers NO real advantages over a modern half ton with standard power.

Its that simple.

And no diesels/duallys and 3/4 plus tons cost considerably more than a light duty full size half ton and should only be purchased when worked almost continuously.

I see things for what they are if you don't have enough work for a full size light duty half ton buying a midsized is very bit as stupid as buying a buying a diesel dually that will never tow. But a lot of people do have money to burn although the economic down turn proved the country doesn't need silly mid sized trucks at all but does need full size half tons and at times larger.

Iv owned, bought, sold, driven, used them all of many makes and models through the years. Iv learned the value of money, and efficiency and the absence or over abundance of capablility beyond need is the very definition of waste and waste is stupid. In situations where efficiency is important the midsized truck is a bad joke and the reason the field fell from dozens of options to 2.

A small "truck" that actually offered REAL advantages (think 20% min) in size, price, and MPG (even at the expense of payload/towing) would make sense. But people tend to not like them as they tend to be strange (Subaru Baja).

Its like the people whining about car engines going into the GM CC twins and new Taco. Economically it makes PERFECT sense since they aren't real trucks anyway and their efficiency is rotten compared to what you get from full size trucks.

"Are you suggesting that truck buyers only car about size or FE?"

No, Jim, I'm not. I'm suggesting that there aren't more truck buyers because what they want simply isn't available. I could easily see the pickup truck dominating American roads if the OEMs could get it out of their heads that one size fits all. The pickup is very popular, yes, but the single most popular vehicle is the Toyota Camry and the most popular vehicle type--even over pickup trucks in general--is the SUV/CUV group. If a smaller, less-capable truck hit the market to directly compete with the SUV/CUV, pickup trucks would take over the overall vehicle market here. My ramble, as you put it, explains this.

@Clint: It's obvious that you have something against Fiat in general and RAM in particular, but I'm having trouble understanding what. The RAM Rebel is as unlikely to be a Raptor-fighter as the Power Wagon or anything by GM but to be completely honest, the Raptor is still a highly-specialized truck that doesn't even offer the payload capability of a truck ⅓rd its price. The Raptor is a toy truck through and through while the RAM at least offers some real functionality. And yes, I'm aware the RAM probably has a lower payload capacity than equivalently-priced Fords and GMs.

That said, your general antipathy against Fiat in general is puzzling. Maybe it's simply because you're unaware of the capabilities of Fiat's platforms. Today's Fiat is not yesterday's Fiat. That 40-year-old reputation needs to die, because today's models simply don't live down to it.

"The pickup is very popular, yes, but the single most popular vehicle is the Toyota Camry "

@RoadWhale™ - the Camry falls short of the F-150, let alone the total F-Series line in sales.

F-Series for 2014: 753,851
Camry for 2014: 428,606

Ford does not separate F-150 sales by exact number but they acknowledge it's 2/3 of all F-Series, which would be approximately 500,000 units.

@Roadwhale, Ram is property of Fiat since the US Government managed/tax payer funded socialist takeover by Fiat. Currently the Fiat 1500 is a excellent full size truck and the Ecodiesel a sales success (too soon to know about durability) when it makes sense to buy one (the same for the Cummins in the Fiat 3/4 ton plus trucks).

I acknowledged that the Rebel was not a Raptor fighter and neither is the Power Wagon. You must confess that the Rebel is a styling rip off of the Raptor but like I say there probably is a market for that as I do describe the Raptor as a rich persons toy. The Raptor is an exercise in awesomeness and coolness in the truck world. The fact that it pays for it is amazing and makes it even more awesome. Its not meant to make a lot or barely any sense and that's what these shows are mostly about is displaying a company's awesomeness and between the Raptor, the GT, and Shelby GT350 its was Ford's show this year.

Fiat is a car company that accepted ownership of a bankrupt car company funded by that bankrupt car company's fed government. Fiats current 500 offering and its deivities place very poorly in all tests and consumer reports surveys for reliability and performance. Its rebadged models score better but again are far too new to have real reliability but based upon Fiat and Chryslers small car past optimism should be very guarded regarding the 200 and the Dart. The truck line got the funding it need from the take over and has been well managed but then again the trucks were Chryslers problem... nor were they GMs problem. The problem is these companies don't build GREAT small cars and it will take a decade of success to prove otherwise as there are 3 decades of failure to point to. Small cars meet your CAFE. Small cars get you initial customers. Small cars get you poor customers. Small cars get you middle class customers. Small cars get you uperwardly mobile customers. Small cars sell when gas is cheap, Small cars sell when gas is expensive. Small cars sell when the economy is up. Small cars sell when the economy is down. Small cars ALLOW a company to build trucks and SUVs that have profit margin. Chrysler, GM, Fiats small cars have ALWAYS been junk. Ford's have often been junk. Just as Honda and Toyota's have always been very good. Its a long term game and strategy. Also think about it if Mercedes Benz couldn't make Chrysler work who the hell can?

All I would have liked is something Frontier-sized, with a manual, 4x4, and mid 20's fuel economy. That's all.

Bob, something like that would require a $3K+ diesel option and while it would last forever you might need a shave before it hit 0 to 60. Go south of the border or to Asia/Europe and you will see them EVERYWHERE because on the small roads they make sense and being faster than other trucks is not a concern.

Clint, To start off with I much prefer half tons over midsized trucks, but this is more want than need which is what most people don't admit even to themselves, i'm not disagreeing with the fact mid sized trucks don't make a lot of financial sense over half tons (a king ranch doesn't make a lot of financial sense either but that's another story) but to call them pretend truck is almost laughable. The reason I choose 90's trucks is because you still see a lot of 90's truck on the road today earning a living for there owners, not so much 80's and very rarely 70's so obviously that capability level is suffice for a lot of folks so that's not pretend, and then you go on to say they offer no real advantage over half tons, well what about off roading ? a midsized truck will get you further up a goat truck than a half ton ever will. To close my argument and this makes me laugh, what you described you "need" your super duty could be filled by a global ranger (not available I know) but never the less it is a "pretend truck" that could easily tow 5000lb and carry 1 ton, hell go to the Holden Australia website and look at their Colorado, it can tow 3.5 tonnes (7716lb) and haul 1300kg which would be according to you excess in towing! And I don't know about the age and shape of your family but you can fit 4 average male in a global ranger in reasonable comfort for all but the longest of trips. So I fail to see your argument for "they are pretend trucks" when some would serve your purposes very well, so the only argument you have is, they don't save you "enough" money.

@jimmy and Roadwhale,
Hmmm.......'one for all and all for one.'

Back to your comment in which I support.

I do think FCA has turned Ram around. Ram has made the largest changes to their pickups of late.

People will state the aluminium F-150 is the "duck's gut" in pickups, but this has yet to be conclusive.

The Colorado seems to be the shinning star of the pickup world at the moment. Even the diesel Ram has had many good accolades.

I even think this next Titan will be fantastic with the V8 Cummins diesel. It will take sales away from all the Big 2 and FCA lighter HDs that are used mainly as SUVs to tow heavy loads and to look good in.

Back to the Colorado; I do think it is going to be a larger success than many of the full size fraternity on this site will ever realise. They have yet to be exposed to a midsize that can be as or even more refined as a vehicle than a full size.

We are looking at some exciting times in the pickup market in that the competition in both the full size half tons and midsize have heated up and overall the trucks are better. Ram has shown that it is a real contender and Fiat has proven many of us doubters wrong who have and have brought Chrysler back from near extinction. GM, despite numerous safety issues and recalls have brought out some very nice new vehicles like the Impala, Colorado/Canyon, Corvette, Buick Encore, Cruze, Buick Enclave, and a few others. The new F-150 is a good truck but it is too early to tell how successful it will be. The new Titan looks more like the last generation of F-150, but that is not a bad thing and with a Cummins diesel they could increase their sales. Toyota Tacoma is nothing to get overly excited about but it does have a new V-6, new transmissions, the styling is not bad though boring, and it has a reputation for reliability that guarantees it success. The new Frontier and Ridgeline will be the next ones to watch and could generate new interest in the midsize truck market.

Has anyone heard a peep from Nissan about the 2016 Frontier? They seem to have gone into radio silence since teasing the diesel runner concept last year. Given that they announced the 2016 Titan publicly many months in advance, they seem to be taking the opposite approach with the Frontier.

@Roadtrip: I have to acknowledge the overall F-series numbers, but I also believe it gives an unrealistic view of REAL Ford sales. I seem to see a lot more HDs and SDs than I do standard F-150s any more. I also consider such a vague figure as "⅔ of F-series sales" intentionally misleading because it could be higher or lower than that 500k figure and if by chance it's actually below that 428K figure then Ford would lose their "most popular vehicle" status, wouldn't they?

I will admit I understood by other reports that Toyota sold more Camerys than Ford sold F-150s, but as time goes on, vehicle popularity does change. I will note that the falling gas prices this past year have given full sized trucks in general a big boost. I don't expect that to last, however.

@Clint: "Ram is property of Fiat since the US Government managed/tax payer funded socialist takeover by Fiat."

Ah. So it's a political argument and you're blaming the current administration for its fall, notwithstanding the incredible damage Daimler--a German company--did to it. Ah well.

That said, I'm not going to ignore FCA just because Fiat is a part of the group. The Ram is still the best-looking overall brand and they do seem to offer some pretty solid products--albeit they sell more medium-duty trucks than they do light-duty models. But even that seems to be changing as they become more popular across the board (people are voting with their money, not being told what to buy as they would in a Socialist system). I personally own two different now-FCA vehicles and one of them is a victim of Daimler abuse. Interestingly, FCA has gone out of their way to address the problems Daimler caused and I've seen a significant improvement in the reliability of my former Daimler product.

I also own a true Fiat-branded product and honestly I think you would be surprised at its ride and performance. Sure, it's no truck, but it also triples the fuel mileage I got from my old F-150 and will come close to doubling the fuel mileage of even the new F-150. For that matter, at the moment nobody in the US offers the size truck I really want. But at least Fiat makes one and it's readily available in Mexico.

@Jeff S,
As you are aware I've described this change since I first starting commenting on PUTC.

Now the time has arrived. What amazes me is some of the attitudes which verge on brand biases. One person in particular is quite brand biased and yet he proclaimed he wasn't. I just think the brand biased guys can't "see the forest through the trees", so to speak.

There will always be full size pickups in the US, but I do think over the next half decade you'll see a large change in the market makeup from the different manufacturers'. I think you'll see some major brands swap places as the consumer become more conscientious on what the cost of buying one is.

Even as good as the new aluminium F-150 is from a technical perpective it must also woe the consumer.

So far it has to a degree impressed moderately the testers and reviewers. But, it hasn't won out and dazzled the US pickup world. Even as Mark Williams put it (it appears he was apart of choosing the Colorado) the Colorado has proven itself. To the point where it might rewrite pickup philosophy (that's how I interpreted his comment).

As Robert Ryan and myself have been telling you guys over the past several years this is the case. The line between midsize and full size has become blurry, especially in overall performance and refinement.

This is not to say they will "consume" the US pickup market as this is not probable.

With the number of newer and better pickups arriving, and all focused more on the refinement and comfort levels I do think you'll a divergence of working commercial vehicles and the SUV/Car pickups.

This is very evident with the Colorado and the US pickup market, it's a lifestyle vehicle. Most US pickup small and large are mid to high end pickups. This is the segment that the manufacturers' are concentrating, it's making the beans for them.

The "real" commercial vehicles are now tending more towards the Euro style vehicle. The takeup is slow, but it will gradually increase. It will be interesting to see how many cab chassis Transits are bought in lieu of a light HD. From a business stand point why would you invest in a vehicle that will cost a lot more to operate to achieve the same results.

Of the US pickups that has impressed me over the past several years has been the improvement of the Ram in sales.

It shows that the average Joe/Jane looking for a pickup may not necessarily required much of the attributes and capabilities forms the basis of the many non-productive school yard arguments that occur on this site.

They are looking for what you use your pickup for, I use my pickup for and what Roadwhale uses his for. That's a cheap to run daily driver with the flexibility to do a little of everything.

Many pickups have turned from a second car into the family hack. Hence, the car and SUV like approach in design by the manufacturers'.

Many do want a V8 etc. But not is not for it's truck capabilities, its more to do with having a large vehicle perform like a car. And also some compensation for some who are inadequate.

Remember how many real trucks are required to run 0-60s in under 7 seconds? Pickups in general aren't trucks, just a car with a BOF setup.

@Big Al--Agree, most who own trucks own them for lifestyle. Yes I use my truck for hauling things away, Home Depot runs, gardening supply, and a host of other weekend errands. I would define my tasks as lifestyle because I am maintaining my home and not using my truck for a living. Many of those who use their trucks for work have 3/4 and 1 ton diesel powered trucks. My trips are much shorter and a smaller gas powered truck is all I need and want. A market should have different sizes and powered trucks for different customers and uses. I have nothing against full size half ton pickups, I just don't need and want one.

@Big Al - Your 75% figure relating to truck buyers IS the portion of buyers that tend to be clueless about capacity.

Most 1/2 tons are SUV or BOF car replacements BUT due to the fact that they have that cavernous space behind the cab, it lends itself to being overloaded. They do not know that you can only do 1 of 3 things at a time with most crewcab 1/2 ton trucks. That is carry a cab full of passengers, OR carry a load, or max tow.

People can buy what ever the f0rk they want and that is not a concern but when those twits overload their trucks due to ignorance then that IS a concern to me.

We have seen Z-virus and HomiV8 both state they overload their trucks and say it is fine...

I read a cool story about a rich guy who was a hardcore dirt biker. He owned a C130 Hercules or some similar drop ramp cargo plane. He's fly all over the world with his buddies.

Since that guy is a non-commercial pilot it must be okay for him to ignore his ratings?
That is what you appear to be saying in regard to pickups.

Point is - you can't legally exceed your ratings unless you can convince an underpaid civil servant to issue a permit or get an engineer to issue a new capacity rating. I've seen the latter happen with boats.

I have a problem when a group of self proclaimed experts test trucks and ignore the fact that it isn't up to the task.

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