Ridgeline, Titan and Raptor Steal the Show in Detroit

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The North American International Auto Show in Detroit can be the perfect venue for automotive media outlets to announce what they think are the best pickups are in the marketplace. We thought three awards made during the 2017 show stood out.

The first was the 2017 North American Truck of the Year (along with the Car and Utility of the Year), awarded by a broad cross-section of automotive journalists in the U.S. and Canada. North American Car & Truck/Utility of the Year awards are special because they are always announced during the first press conference on the first media day and can provide a good or bad day for the nominated automakers. For 2017, NACTOY truck award finalists were the 2017 Honda Ridgeline, the 2017 Ford Super Duty and the new 2017 Nissan Titan half ton. From our perspective, the completely redesigned and impressive Super Duty was the odds-on favorite given that it won the 2016 Truck of Texas from the Texas Auto Writers Association and the Motor Trend 2017 Truck of the Year. But that didn't happen. Instead, the new mid-size Honda Ridgeline, based off the new Honda Pilot SUV platform, won by a landslide. Astute PUTC readers may recall from our 2016 Midsize Pickup Challenge that the Ridgeline came close to defeating the winner, the 2016 GMC Canyon. So we're not surprised the NACTOY panel of jurors — which includes Cars.com Executive Editor Joe Wiesenfelder and Senior Consumer Affairs Editor Kelsey Mays — liked the Ridgeline's carlike ride, handling dynamics and huge amounts of crossover-like interior room. Our hope is that jurors find a way to do a little towing and payload hauling before determining the 2018 North American Truck of the Year.


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Another award that caught our attention was Truck Trend's 2017 Pickup Truck of the Year. Truck Trend chose the newly redesigned and reengineered half-ton Nissan Titan from an impressive crop of 2017 competitors: the Ford F-150 Raptor, Ford F-250 Super Duty, GMC Canyon Denali, Honda Ridgeline, Nissan Titan XD, Ram 2500 Off-Road and Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro. Truck Trend takes each truck on the road to test performance, payload and towing ability, and then lets the judges have their say. In the end, and to the surprise of many, the Nissan Titan outperformed some strong competitors. As we understand it, in the same way a versatile athlete can win a grueling decathlon by doing well in many of categories without winning any contests, this newest entry to the half-ton marketplace came out on top. We'll likely have a chance later this year to compare the new Titan with each of its competitors to see how it stands up in the segment.



The third interesting award announced at the Detroit auto show — and this shouldn't anyone — is our own Cars.com Best Pickup of 2017 winner, the 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor. We had six finalists we determined were significant enough to qualify for the award. We look at which pickups are all new or significantly upgraded, and we make sure all our judges have time to drive eligible competitors to understand their driving characteristics as well as how they fit into their segments. As we winnowed down the contenders for Best Pickup of 2017, two Fords stood out: the 2017 Raptor and the Super Duty. As impressive as the reengineered and redesigned Super Duty lineup is, the Raptor is a stunning example of quality, imagination and astounding all-around capability, the likes of which we have not seen for quite a while. If Ford can replicate the Raptor team's efforts on the car side of its lineup, it could be a huge advantage for the automaker as we move into the next decade. Add to that the impact the Raptor is having on other manufacturers by pushing Toyota to upgrade its TRD Pro lineup, motivating GM to resurrect the Chevrolet ZR2 nameplate and providing Ram with an excuse to likely bring the concept Ram TRX to life, and you can see how Ford has done more than just reset its targets. Ford also is forcing other manufacturers to reset theirs.

Cars.com photos by Angela Conners and Evan Sears



i like it too, but will prolly get the f 150 with diesel.

I like the above-mentioned trucks for various reasons, but there is a silent winner here that won't get the same kudos.

There's no champaign room, no glamorous trophies, not even much bragging.

Only the fact that there'll be countless examples of this machine on construction sites, hauling and towing on the highways and serving in industrial fleets across the country for decades to come.

The 2017 Super Duty.

@Joe Smith, I would not say you are in the minority. The Titan will be truck to watch on the sales and market share reports, compared to the big 3. I really like the Titan, and have looked at one up close. they are nice( i only got to see the cummins version)

There's no champaign room, no glamorous trophies, not even much bragging.


are you kidding???

Don't you ever read the stories on PUTC? They can't stop talking about the F150 and the Super Duty trucks.

papajim -- true, but hey, it makes a good story, heheheh!!

I'm STILL waiting for the XD to be available in King Cab Pro4X,
w/8 foot bed, roof clearance lights and a sun roof....
I live on Long Island and in the 2 years that these trucks
have been on the market, I have not seen 1-not 1 on the
road. It's like Nissan is hiding them from public view.
Their total year to date sales numbers are pathetic for a truck
that has it's potential.
The marketing folks at Nissan are clearly not on the same page
as the rest of the company. I would love to see this vehicle
succeed but it has a boat anchor around it's bumper and thats
a shame...

FCA should copy the Ridgeline and make a Durango or GrandCherokee into a mid-size truck. With quadratrack and air suspension I would buy it.

I think if Nissan wants to get the Titan back in the game, they need to take the Titan Warrior concept to market. As it stands now, the Titan is a bit bland and the options too few. I think the gas version is a better half-ton than the current Tundra but that's an ancient, flimsy gas pig.

The payload rating for the Titan is too small considering it weighs over 7000 pounds.

If the XD were about 4000lbs it would be a more substantial deal.

Judging by the the editor's comments, mid-size trucks need not apply for "Truck of the Year" awards, if payload and towing are the only criteria for judging a truck.

The Ridgeline's payload is right in line with its mid-size truck competition. The reason the Ridgeline won this award is because it showed some very creative thinking in problem-solving and engineering.

Of course a Super Duty will haul and tow more, but it's in a different market segment. Maybe we should compare the new Super Duty to a Class 8 Peterbilt dump truck? Guess who would win if it were based solely on payload and towing?

Joe Smith - - -

All Nissan has to do is offer that Titan with its great 6-speed manual, and (for me) IT'S SOLD! So, you are not alone.


I traded my 2011 f150 for a Ridgeline three months ago. It is the best vehicle I've ever owned. It is very rewarding to buy a vehicle and love it more and more as days go by.

And all three are trucks that are just fine for looking at. The Raptor cost a bunch of money, and most the time is it unnecessary.

The Titan front end is just plain ugly, at least in my opinion, and they can't decide whether to make it a HD truck or a light-duty truck.

The Ridgeline is just an SUV with the roof cut off. It has no bed space.

So I really couldn't care about either one.

FCA should copy the Ridgeline and make a Durango or GrandCherokee into a mid-size truck.


The Durango/Cherokee twins are derived from the ML350 Mercedes. Something tells me it would be very expensive to build pickups on that platform. In my opinion it would represent an unsustainable risk for FCA.

FCA will be a very different company in two years.

@ papajim

"FCA will be a very different company in two years." You are sooo correct. With any luck, in two years FCA will not be around any longer.


I'd like to see the new White House team put together some investors to bring Chrysler/Ram/Jeep back as American brands and operations. The Fiat deal might have worked better if the European economy wasn't such a disaster. But that's history.

Since the dollar is very strong these days, it ought to be rather easy to create a new Chrysler Corp from the ashes. For it to work, CAFE has to be neutered, or eliminated. Chrysler today is a company that makes SUVs and trucks, which they do well enough to compete. CAFE is a deal breaker.

Imagine if Chrysler built a new plant some place like Jacksonville, or in south Texas!

Lower labor costs, no corporate income tax, great weather and business environment. Let them keep their rust-belt plants for some of the specialty manufacturing, but do the assembly in the sunbelt. It's where all the growth is anyway.

I like the Ridgeline. They are selling well in my part of the world. The Titan XD should have been built as a legitimate 3/4 ton. I'm betting it would sell better with a decent payload. The Raptor it cool.

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