Auto blogWed, 06 Nov 2013 19:58:00 EST
There are no shortage of pickup trucks at this year's SEMA Show. The popular platform has been ripe for customization for years, so it should come as no shock that Ford, General Motors and Ram are all showing a fair few trucks in Las Vegas. From the Ram camp, we have two offerings - the Ram Sun Chaser and the Ram Dually Case Work Truck.
The Sun Chaser opts for a beach theme, similar to the Fiat 500 Thalassa. Based on the Ram 1500, the Sun Chaser wears Vibrance Orange Blast and Brilliant Black paint, and sports a Mopar roof rack, while the Ram Box system features a water tank and a shower head allowing beach-goers to rinse off before getting back in the truck. A flip-up, seat-back tailgate makes sitting on the back of the truck a bit more comfortable, and it's the kind of cool feature we can see becoming an optional item in the future.
The Sun Chaser mods are rounded out by 17-inch deadlocked wheels, a two-inch lift kit and a Mopar exhaust for the 5.7-liter Hemi V8. The cabin, meanwhile, sports Katzkin leather seats and even more Vibrance Orange Paint.
SEMA is all about aftermarket parts, and in Auburn Hills that all comes down to one name: Mopar. After having previewed its lineup for this year's Vegas tuner expo earlier this month, Chrysler has now revealed what may not quite be its full dossier of modified show cars, but a good portion of them.
All told Mopar is preparing 20 vehicles for display at SEMA this year. Among them you'll find the Ram Sun Chaser, a 1500 Quad Cab show truck kitted out in two-tone orange and black paint, a roof rack for surfboards, onboard shower and convertible tailgate. The white Fiat 500L is called the Adventurer and is modified for a more rugged look that could hint at the upcoming crossover version. The Jeep Cherokee Trail Carver upgrades on the Trailhawk package with everything from roof basket to rock rails. To counterbalance the off-roaders, there's also a modified Chrysler 300S with a deep black paint job, special grille, Varvatos-edition wheels and more.
All four concepts details so far have Katzkin interiors as well, and there's also an unspecified Dodge Durango with a storm-trooper look in the gallery above. But for more details on what Mopar has installed on the Ram, 500L, Cherokee and 300, you'll want to delve into the press release below.
General Motors must be pretty pleased with sales of its two newest pickups, the GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado, as it's announced price hikes for both models, as part of a planned price tweak.
Prices will be bumped by as much as $1,500, although weirdly, they'll be offset by as much as $1,500 in cash-back offers through the end of October. Fox Business reports that GM spokesman Jim Cain said of the price hike, "With the sell down of the '13 models nearly complete, this price adjustment was planned and is a normal part of business."
The move, as Fox is quick to point out, is an interesting one, as sales of the twin pickups struggled last month relative to the Ford F-Series, while both of GM's crosstown competitors have been aggressively undercutting Silverado and Sierra prices. The F-150 starts at $24,070 and the Ram 1500 comes in at $23,600, not counting any cash on the hood. A base Silverado, meanwhile, retails at $25,575.
Trucks are king in Texas, so the annual Truck of Texas awarded by the Texas Auto Writers Association gives automakers big bragging rights. This year's Texas Truck Rodeo featured 63 trucks, crossover and SUVs, and the 2014 Ram 1500 took home the prestigious Truck of Texas, giving the pickup back-to-back wins for this award. The good news didn't stop there for Chrysler Group, as Ram, Dodge and Jeep dominated most other categories, accounting for 14 of the possible 24 awards.
Ram also was named the Truck Line of Texas winning seven individual awards - including Best Powertrain with its 3.0-liter EcoDiesel, Best Technology with the new Heavy Duty rear coil suspension and Best Commercial Vehicle with the 2014 Ram Promaster. The Jeep Grand Cherokee won two individual awards to be named the SUV of Texas, while the Hyundai Santa Fe was named the Crossover of Texas, and Nissan picked up three awards, too. Scroll down for the full list of categories and winners.
The Las Vegas Convention Center has plenty of space for aftermarket companies and automakers to show off their wares, and it looks like Chrysler is taking advantage of the spacious floor plan. At next month's SEMA Show, Chrysler will have a full 20 cars from its six brands decked out with Mopar gear.
As a hint of what is to come, Chrysler released a handful of teaser sketches showing glimpses of modified Jeep Cherokee, Ram 1500, Fiat 500L and Chrysler 300 concept vehicles. The automaker will also use the venue to show off a new line of Jeep Performance Parts offered by the all-new Mopar Off-Road Division. In addition to the images, Chrysler also issued a brief press release - posted below - breaking down some of the "industry-first features" that Mopar has offered in recent years.
While Ford has been the dominant supplier of chassis, engines and platforms for the recreational vehicle industry in modern times, its market share has been eroded by the increased availability of new commercial vehicles on the market. In the days of Daimler-Chrysler, the Sprinter was Chrysler's alternative to the Ford E-Series as a basis for Class B and C motor homes. But then Daimler split and the Sprinter went back to being a Mercedes product in the US, though it still continued currying favor in the RV world by offering diesel power with a smaller footprint. With the marriage of Chrysler and Fiat, though, the Pentastar brand once again has a foreign-sourced commercial van alternative - the Ram ProMaster - and Winnebago is the first RV manufacture to make it into a motor home.
Actually, Winnebago has unveiled a pair of ProMaster-based RVs: the Trend and Travato. The Trend is a Class C motor home, which generally means it's based on the chassis cab version of a van and features a bed over the cab and larger body for living space behind the B-pillars. Available in a tidy 24-foot length, the Trend can be had with two floor plans, both of which include large sleeping areas, a bathroom, kitchen and a dinette. The Trend also has some unique touches, including seats in the cab that swivel around to face the rear and three-point seat belts for the dinette.
The second ProMaster-based Winnie is the Travato, a Class B motor home, which is basically the full van model with as many amenities for living crammed into its quarters as will fit. The Travato measures in at just under 21 feet in length, but packs the full RV experience into the ProMaster's tall body, including a double bed, full bath, kitchen and dinette. The rear bed can even flip up and out of the way, allowing stowage of larger things likes bikes through the van's rear double doors.
Software glitches that randomly illuminate warning lights and cause instrument cluster blackouts are forcing Chrysler to recall 140,800 vehicles, The Detroit News reports. The automaker is recalling 132,000 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokees, 91,559 of which are in the US. In addition to the Jeep recalls, Chrysler is adding 10,800 2014 Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 trucks to the list for similar problems.
Chrysler reportedly says, "Both events occurred infrequently and appeared to resolve themselves by tuning the vehicle's ignition off and then on."
Engineers discovered a problem with the anti-lock-braking system software that causes the instrument cluster display of the Grand Cherokee to illuminate warning lights and black out - even its ABS and electronic stability control systems are affected. To fix the Jeeps, Chrysler will update the vehicle's software.
Front-wheel drive is what sets the all-new Ram ProMaster full-size commercial van apart from its competition. In a segment still choked with thirsty, rear-wheel-drive, ladder frame, pickup truck-based cargo vans, the American automaker is introducing something entirely new - well, new to our domestic market, as Europeans will recognize Ram's fresh entrant as a made-for-USA Fiat Ducato.
While the big ProMaster doesn't have a traditional body-on-frame chassis, it isn't a pure unibody either. Consider it a hybrid of both, with a unibody cab up front and a reinforced high-strength steel subframe in the rear. The platform employs double A-arms and MacPherson struts on the front axle, while the rear uses a simple tubular beam axle. Tires are 225/75R16 at all four corners. The steering is hydraulic rack-and-pinion (allowing an impressive 36-foot turning radius) and there are disc brakes with two-piston calipers all around. It is a solid, if unsophisticated, setup.
This game-changing van, which has already arrived in showrooms with a starting price of $28,630, is propelled by either a gasoline-powered 3.6-liter Pentastar six-cylinder (280 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque) or a new turbocharged 3.0-liter four-cylinder diesel (174 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque). Ram will offer a traditional six-speed automatic or a new six-speed automated single-clutch manual transmission that drops the hydraulic linkage to improve fuel economy - details are still emerging on this unique gearbox.
Remember when Mahindra & Mahindra was close to offering a compact diesel pickup here? A million voices from the truck-and-bed-loving tribes of the Internet cried out at once in anticipation, only to be silenced in disappointment when it didn't happen. And this was for a jitney with a bed that didn't exactly look robust in its press photos. The message these fans had was clear: light-duty truck + a diesel engine = a prayer answered for a significant contingent of truck buyers.
Ram tells us a fullsize diesel half-ton has been the number-one demand from customers, and it will be the first manufacturer to grand the wish when the 2014 Ram 1500 goes on sale early next year - "late availability" in Q1 of 2014 is the official word - with a 3.0-liter, six-cylinder turbodiesel provided by VM Motori. If you're wondering about the engine source, VM Motori has been a Chrysler supplier since 1992. DaimlerChrysler bought VM Motori in 2000, and after a few ownership-stake changes since then, it is presently a 50-50 joint venture between General Motors and Fiat. That will change shortly, however, with Fiat recently announcing it will buy GM's share and take full control of the company.
Even as fuel prices creep back up, trucks are still a hot item among new-vehicle shoppers. To see how popular pickup trucks still are, you don't have to look any further than how much effort automakers put into the continual one-upmanship of their trucks. Backing this fact up, USA Today is reporting that the segment could top two million sales this year - a total not matched since 2007, though still far from the pre-recession, three-million-unit levels.
Through August, the Ford F-Series continues to be the segment leader with almost 500,000 units sold, but the Chevy Silverado (328,269), Ram 1500 (234,642), GMC Sierra (122,232) and Toyota Tacoma (110,293) are all seeing at least 20-percent sales increases, helping to account for around 1.44 million truck sales so far this year - not including possible outliers like the Suzuki Equator and Chevy Avalanche.
This year alone, General Motors has completely redesigned its fullsize trucks, Ram and Toyota have significantly updated their offerings, the next-gen Ford F-150 will be out next year and Nissan is promising an all-new Titan around the same time with an eventual Cummins diesel under the hood. It would seem, then, that truck sales are poised to continue their upward trend.