Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com
Ram revealed a new 60-40 swing away split tailgate this week. Ram wasted no time in throwing out a zinger to the GMC folks, saying, "Unlike other multi-element tailgates, the Ram multifunction tailgate is trailer-friendly and does not require that the trailer and hitch be removed before opening." What Ram is apparently referring to is possible interference with the new GMC six-position MultiPro tailgate. Some owners have reported that the GMC tailgate can strike the trailer ball or the top of the trailer when it is dropped to its lowest position.
“The Ram multifunction tailgate is intuitive to operate and owners will find it immediately useful,” said Reid Bigland, Head of Ram Brand – FCA. “Combined with Ram’s class-exclusive RamBox feature and new tailgate step, we’re taking Ram’s cargo management and storage to the next level.”
Ram's new multifunction tailgate has four different configurations including:
Open left door only
Open right door only
Open both doors.
Each door swings open 88 degrees and access can be further enhanced via a retractable center-mounted step option.
February 5th, 2019
2019 - Last North American International Auto Show - as we've known it.
Filled with sprawling displays of gleaming sheet metal and enough spotlights to illuminate the International Space Station, this was the final chilly, Detroit Auto Show in January. 2019 lacked the European media-hustle excitement, which left extra space for other exhibitors.
Next year the Grand Experiment begins, moving show dates to June and using the Cobo Center rooftop and multiple venues spread throughout downtown Detroit to showcase the best in cars, trucks, crossovers, SUVs, SAVs, mobility pods and platforms. 2020 will be interesting, to say the least.
We've done the General Motors story, this is the rest of the best.
Ford kicked off the show, bringing their all-new 2020 Explorer to an early debut at Ford Field. Hmm, plenty of space under the dome! At Cobo Center, there were the new Explorer, new Mustang GT500, infused with a supercharged V-8 making over 700 horsepower with a 0-60 time a tick over three seconds, and the latest Ford F-150 Raptor, all brightly colored for maximum exposure. Interestingly, even on limited-attendance media days the Ford layout felt cramped.
The 2020 Explorer will use EcoBoost turbo power, either a 2.3L base engine or more powerful 3.0L depending on your needs and your credit union's scorecard. It's a rear-wheel drive platform, with AWD available. To me there's not a substantial change anywhere except the front-end, which is more like Fusion or Focus, which is not a bad thing.
FCA's RAM division challenged its cross-town rivals with an all-new RAM Heavy Duty 2500 and RAM Heavy Duty 3500 which the brand says, "Out-powers, out-tows and out-hauls every other pickup available." Why? It's thanks to an update Cummins 6.7-liter high output turbo-diesel that breaks the 1,000 lb.-ft. torque barrier for standard pickups. If you want all of those torques, you'll have to order a two-wheel drive model equipped with proper equipment. Then your Ram will be rated to tow 35,100 pounds and deliver a 7,680-pound payload. Ram's media briefing was all about axles, transfer cases, suspension, brakes and transmissions, AKA gear-head heaven and real news.
GAC, will likely the first Chinese automaker to deliver cars to the USA, and have multiple dealerships (we discount supercars and tiny e-cars.) They brought a non-concept concept called ENTRANZE. It seats 3+2+2 in a pod-like configuration. Of course the vehicle is electric, and a version of this shape/size/configuration will be released by GAC later in 2019 for the Chinese market. GAC will soon open a North American headquarters in California. They also displayed a full lineup of sedans and small-and-larger crossovers; these guys are for real, even if we don’t find most of their current lineup visually appealing.
Ford and VW held a teleconference announcing a partnership to collaborate on a products and technologies. Likely, VW wants to take advantage of Ford's truck expertise while Ford could rapidly benefit from Volkswagen's advanced electric platforms and autonomous vehicle research. How this shakes out is yet unknown and details are conspicuously-but not unexpectedly-absent.
The handsome Lincoln Continental 80th Anniversary Coach Door Edition, designed to remind us of Lincoln's heritage with center-opening doors and a luxury interior featuring Alcantara, was one of the best-looking vehicles on the floor. And the Continental delivers more than a sophisticated exterior, as under the hood you can option a hybrid version of the twin-turbo EcoBoost 3.0-liter V-6. By combining the EcoBoost with hybrid technology, it produces a respectable 450 horsepower and 600 lb.-ft. of torque. Get into line with a bank draft, only 80 will be produced.
Arguably the most-anticipated introduction was Toyota's new Supra. The 2020 GR Supra is the first global model developed by Toyota GAZOO Racing, the international umbrella for Toyota's global motorsport program. Built on a chassis shared with BMW's Z4, Supra comes in two models, Base and Premium, with a third Launch Edition based on the Premium limited to 1,500 cars. Those get signatures from Akio Toyoda on carbon fiber for display in your office. However, the base model looks like the better bet. It has the same 300-hp. engine, grippy Alcantara seats (versus leather) and a low-low entry price of $50,920. Car-loving journalists agreed, it has better looks and more impact than Margot Robbie or Gal Gadot.
Lexus brought it's RC F Track Edition, which has been upgraded and with a refreshed body. Meant for performance enthusiasts, add a set of tires and extra brake pads and you, too, Can't Drive 55, or have a good weekend of racing. Also, the company displayed a "concept" LC Convertible, a very sexy and meant-for-sunshine-weekend-weather touring. It awaits a decision on soft top or folding hardtop; well, that's what we think.
For family buyers, Volkswagen introduced a new Passat, which could look a bit more like the Arteon concept, in our opinion. However, Passats are meant for driving, not display, so look for aggressive pricing and "German Engineering" adverts to follow. Also look for significantly upgraded features added to the brands already-good ride and handling. As their Atlas CUV has great lane keeping and VW's excellent telematics system, we expect Passat to be well received by couples and families.
Nothing says Auto Show like CONCEPT CARS. Real concepts, even if they somewhat foreshadow the styling of future product. No production-intent cut lines, no perfect rubber gaskets with part numbers. Real. For several years Nissan and Infiniti have provided winners, 2019 was no exception.
The Infiniti QX Inspiration is, of course an electrified vehicle that hints at Infiniti's upcoming EV architecture. There is, according to the company, intent to build, though likely with conventional doors to meet safety regulations. Like other EVs, there's a "skateboard" modular base with e-motors on each axle, which generates all-wheel drive. The QX Inspiration took three of EyesOn Design's awards— Best Concept Vehicle, Best Designed Interior and Best Use of Color, Graphics or Materials
Nissan brought the IM purely electric sedan with its odd 2+1+2 seating arrangement. Nissan says IM stands for "Intelligent Mobility". With power estimated at 483 horsepower and 590 lb.-ft. of torque, the battery pack extends range to 380 miles, eliminating any range anxiety. It’s low, has a fantastic paint job, and a video-only instrument/infotainment panel sweeping across the dashboard.
Subaru, home of family cars and the wonderful Subaru WRX and WRX STI boy-racers, brought to the USA, for the first time, the STI S209, a full-on racecar wrapped into an STI body. Subaru Technica International is Subaru's race shop and skunk works. Everything is hand-built or hand-assembled, including the 200 S209's that will be sent to the USA. While 341 horsepower from the boxer engine might sound small, competitors around the world have been looking at the taillights in multiple racing venues.
Kia brought its new Telluride three-row crossover to Detroit, putting it on display and on an interior hill-climb track, the first at NAIAS. Appearance is sportier than the soon-to-come Hyundai Palisade, and Kia's theme echoed that with an active lifestyle display complete with ski racks and kayaks.
Hyundai showed an enhancement to their N Line of performance vehicles. Available to you and me Really Soon, the Elantra GT N Line combines sportier trim elements with refinements to the chassis and powertrain. Think "BMW M that I can afford." Their first N Line racecar, the Veloster N TCR, will compete in IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race, beginning with the 2019 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.
Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com
This one hurts, but we saw it coming a mile away. In a year that GM has introduced a great new generation of trucks, Ram seems to be taking home the lion's share of awards. The latest is Motor Trend's Truck of the Year Award. Before you assume Motor Trend is biased toward one brand or another, let us tell you we looked back and GM trucks have won the TOTY award in 2016, 2015, 2011, 2008, 2002, 2001, 1999, 1996, 1995 and 1979. The long list and varied winners indicted to us that what Motor Trend primarily looks for is a change agent type of vehicle. Something that stands out from the norm, not necessarily just the best overall brand of trucks.
MT says about this year's award, "Our 2019 Truck of the Year should give pause to prospective Blue Oval loyalists (or buyers of any truck, for that matter) because there isn't a truck out there that so precisely hits the diverse needs of the segment better than the 2019 Ram 1500." This particular introduction to the award hit home for the GM-Trucks.com staff. Last week, we attended an event set up by Ram for the New England Auto Press Association. Ram's outstanding support team brought out the new 2019 Ram Limited and also a North Edition (a Big Horn Trim). Ram did this so that they could show us the North Edition, which was developed after Ram specifically listened to the needs of truck testers who live in the snow belt. Folts like Zane and Josh at GM-Trucks.com who live in the white stuff and own truck and know trucks.
Contrast this with GM skipping the Texas Truck Rodeo this year. How could they skip the biggest truck testing event in North America in a year they launch an all-new truck? You have to play in order to win, as they say. GM's support for the media and testers seems to have diminished in the recent few years to the point where members looking for trucks to test are pretty much on their own and need to rent or test drive vehicles at dealerships. Meanwhile, Ford has provided NEMPA with two Raptors in the past six months.
Enough inside baseball. Ram is deserving of praise for many reasons. One is its air suspension ride. Simply put, it is the most comfortable truck ride we have ever experienced. Next up, novel engine options that add both torque and fuel economy. Finally, the ginormous infotainment screen available in the Ram. In a class of vehicles where everything from the HVAC knobs to the tires are big for the sake of being big, Ram seems to get that bigger is better. And the Ram is a looker too. "Best-in-class: sophisticated without going over the top," editor-in-chief of MT Ed Loh says. "I love the styling," road test editor Chris Walton said, eyeing the Ram 1500 Rebel. "It's like the Viper of Rams." MT's Features Editor, Scott Evans, said. "This is a luxury interior. Look at this wood! This leather! The metal, stitching, design, attention to detail! The leather on the grab handles! Cadillac could learn a thing or two by spending an afternoon in this cabin."
We are GM fans here, and we are not saying we agree with MT's pick, but the reasons that other brands are taking home so many trophies are apparent to us from both a product and also a support perspective. Ram deserves congratulations for hitting both sides of the coin.
You can check out the full Motor Trend story on the Ram 1500 Truck of the Year win at this link.
Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com
A new story by Left Lane News titled, "FCA Confirms New Midsize Ram Pickup" seems to have facts to support its claim. The publication says that " A presentation slide from FCA's Capital Markets Day shows the new model on the roadmap for 2022, slotting below the Ram 1500." A new Ram Dakota is long overdue. The name sounds weird to our ears. "Dodge Dakota" has a nice ring. Both Dodge and Ford have missed out on hundreds of thousands of truck sales by missing the market's resurgence. Toyota is selling over 20K Tacomas per month now and GM could be as well if it had the capacity. Left Lane News says the new Ram Dakota would be built alongside the new Jeep pickup.
GM-Trucks.com reached out to our FCA contact to ask if the news can be confirmed. The answer was "NOT CONFIRMED." Hmm. Check back in a week or so and we will see how this develops.
Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com
Chevrolet revealed its 2019 mid-sized Blazer crossover/SUV last night. The new five-passenger vehicle will be bigger than an Equinox, but smaller than a Traverse. What may be the Blazer’s most defining element is its looks. “The Blazer has attitude,” said John Cafaro, executive director, Global Chevrolet Design. “It looks commanding on the road, while fulfilling the promise of versatility at the heart of every Chevy crossover and SUV.”
The new Blazer will launch with two drivetrains Colorado fans will recognize. GM’s 2.5L I-4 will be the standard engine and the 3.6L V-6 engine will be optional, each mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. There was no mention by Chevy of the new four-cylinder gasoline turbo or any diesel options. “The Chevrolet Blazer is more than just good looks,” said Waqar Hashim, Blazer chief engineer. “Both the Ecotec® 2.5L four-cylinder engine and 3.6L V-6 engine are paired to Chevrolet’s nine-speed automatic transmission, providing drivers a great balance between performance and efficiency.”
GM says that the new Blazer will tow up to 4,500 pounds. Cargo area, with the rear seats folded, will be 64.2 cubic feet. By comparison, a Honda CR-V has 76 cubic feet and a Mazda CX-5 60 cubic feet. GM didn’t offer any interior passenger volume numbers, but we question if the Blazer is really “mid-sized.” GM appears to be targeting the segment in which the Murano and Ford Edge reside with this new crossover. The Blazer is a unibody design and shares its platform with the GMC Acadia.
GM plans to give the various trims distinct personalities. GM says there will be “additional bright chrome on the Premier trim and a more sinister-looking, blacked-out appearance for the Blazer RS.”
GM listed the following technology highlights for the new Blazer:
-Hitch Guidance — Available on models with the 3.6L engine, it aids in aligning the Blazer’s hitch to a trailer by showing the center line on the rear-vision camera.
-Hitch View — This available feature complements Hitch Guidance by showing a top-down view, making it easier to hitch a trailer without a second person to assist.
-Electronic-locking glove box — A Chevy first, it offers added storage security, and is roomy enough to fit a small handbag. The glove box is locked with the vehicle’s Valet Mode, which is accessible through the Settings menu.
-Automatic heated steering wheel and automatic heated/ventilated front seats — These available features work with Remote Start and/or automatic climate control to automatically adjust temperature to help maintain comfort.
-Comfort-open windows — Activated by the key fob, this feature allows all windows to roll down to help heat escape before occupants enter the vehicle.
-Heated outboard rear seats are available on RS and standard on Premier.
-Adaptive Cruise Control and Rear Camera Mirror are available on RS and Premier2.
-Hands-free power liftgate with Bowtie logo projection is standard on RS and Premier.
-Wireless charging and six USB ports are available.
The 2019 Chevrolet Blazer will be built in Mexico. Terry Dittes, UAW vice president and director to the UAW-GM department issued a press statement as the Chevrolet Blazer launch concluded, saying “This news that the iconic Blazer nameplate will be built in Mexico is disappointing to UAW families and communities across this country," Dittes said. "GM employs over 15,000 production workers in Mexico, pays the workers less than $3 per hour and exports over 80 percent of the vehicles to the U.S. to sell here.”
The new Blazer will go on sale in early 2019. Pricing has not been announced.
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