Auto blogFri, 20 Sep 2013 14:15:00 EST
Yellow truck enthusiasts, take note - Ram is considering production for its Rumble Bee Concept, a very, very extroverted pickup that debuted at the 2013 Woodward Dream Cruise. Drawing inspiration from the last Ram Rumble Bee, which in turn borrowed heavily from the Dodge Super Bee muscle cars of the 1960s, the Rumble Bee sports a few things that set it apart from the standard 1500 lineup.
The most obvious change is its retina-scorching, matte yellow paint. Teamed up with a two-inch suspension drop and monster 24-inch black wheels wrapped in low-profile tires, the Rumble Bee cuts an imposing figure. Matching that aggressive exterior is a 5.7-liter Hemi V8, complete with 395 horsepower and an exhaust system that can go from raucous and muscle-car-like to the full-on NASCAR at the push of a button.
According to Edmunds, after a positive reception at the Dream Cruise, the Auburn Hills automaker is now presenting the truck to dealers in a bid to gauge interest. "We try to listen to the dealers. They know their marketplace," Ram's Dave Sowers tells Edmunds, adding that Ram could produce the new truck.
Forget Corvette versus Viper. When it comes to important head-to-head comparisons, fullsize trucks are where domestic automakers really care. And until the redesigned Ford F-150 makes its debut, the Chevrolet Silverado is going to have plenty to brag about thanks to a new Consumer Reports shootout against the Ram 1500.
It was a tight race among these V8-powered titans, but the all-new 2014 Silverado (and its GMC Sierra twin) barely edged out Ram's updated pickup with a score of 81 points - enough to make it the institute's top-rated fullsize truck on the market. Its narrow victory over the Ram, which finished just three points back, was due to its superior fuel economy, better towing and payload capacity and conveniences like a lower step-in height, easy-to-use tailgate and rear bumper steps that make loading and unloading less of a chore.
Importantly, CR notes that buyers with less heavy-duty truck needs might actually prefer the Ram over the Chevrolet, since its high points include a smoother ride thanks to its coil spring rear suspension, dominant infotainment system with Uconnect, and a big thumbs up for the available Hemi engine and eight-speed automatic transmission.
Ram has used Cummins engines in its heavy duty trucks since 1989, and it is the only pickup truck brand to use products from the Indiana-based engine maker. With the announcement that the next Nissan Titan will also use a Cummins powerplant, and a Nissan spokesman having already said "We will definitely leverage the Cummins brand name," a piece in Automotive News wonders whether the deal will affect the way Ram markets its tie-up with Cummins.
The question really is, how intense is this competition? While it is the first time that trucks from two different brands have used Cummins engines, they'll be two different engines in two different kinds of trucks; Nissan is going to put a 5.0-liter turbodiesel in a non-heavy-duty Titan, Ram only uses its 6.7-liter, inline six-cylinder turbodiesel in heavy-duty offerings. The diesel that Ram will offer in its light-duty, half-ton 1500 is a 3.0-liter V6 EcoDiesel with 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque - compared to about 300 hp and 550 lb-ft expected from the Titan's Cummins - and its marketing so far has focused on the fuel economy gains.
If Nissan was going to prove its commitment to the segment, it had to do something compelling. If we're talking about sales competition between Ram and Nissan, Ram has sold 201,633 trucks as of July this year, up 24.2 percent, 31,314 of those sales coming last month; Nissan has sold 10,020 Titans through the end of July, down 21.1 percent, and just 1,168 in July itself. Nissan's new truck boss - who hopped there from Ram - said that buyers have asked for a powerful turbodiesel in something other than a heavy duty pickup, and from what we've read on various comment boards, the pickup truck crowd is excited about Nissan's move.
Ten years ago, when the Ram truck still wore a Dodge badge, a special yellow-and-black model called the Rumble Bee launched, paying homage to the Super Bee muscle car of the 1960s. Now, we have the Charger Super Bee, wearing the same buzzworthy paint job. But for the 2013 Woodward Dream Cruise, Ram has created a modern version of that Rumble Bee pickup based on the current 2013 Ram 1500, though unlike the last go-around, this one is purely a concept. For now, anyway.
This concept truck uses the 1500's lightest configuration - a single cab, two-wheel-drive model. From there, it has been painted in Drone Yellow with a matte finish, and a Mopar ground effects kit gives the truck a more aggressive stance on the road. The large, 22-inch wheels certainly help that, as well, painted in black to match the other dark accents found around the pickup's body.
Inside, to no one's surprise, the black and yellow theme carries on, with leather upholstery and sport mesh seats. That Rumble Bee logo adorns the chairs and floor mats, but the coolest (or weirdest) touch is the actual amber-encased bee found within the rotary shift knob. Seriously.
The 2013 Woodward Dream Cruise is taking place this weekend, and will see the arrival of over 1.5 million people and around 40,000 vehicles of seemingly every make in history. It's also a huge event for the manufacturers that call Detroit home, with Chevrolet setting up shop in Birmingham, Ford and its Mustang Alley locating itself in Ferndale and Chrysler hunkering down at 13 Mile in Royal Oak.
Ram will take advantage of the captive audience (if you think we're joking with the use of the term "captive," you've never tried to get off of Woodward during The Cruise) to show a new concept truck. And, judging from these teasers, it's going to be.. the Rumble Bee. In the past, Ram offered a Rumble Bee edition Ram 1500 that was mainly a styling treatment, but they were kinda cool trucks for those that wanted a muscle car but needed the room and utility of a big vehicle.
Details on the new Rumble Bee are scarce, but judging by the images seen here, it will sport bright yellow paint and a pair of large, black, five-spoke wheels wrapped in low-profile tires. The hood sports a set of hoodscoops for a bit more aggression, while the interior gets a reinterpreted dial shifter for the eight-speed automatic. We also see what may be a button to let a bit more rumble emanate from what we'd assume is a large Hemi engine underhood. Take a look at the gallery below to see both teaser images, and check back here for more as soon as we get it.
The streets will be crowded next weekend along Woodward Avenue in Royal Oak, Michigan for the 19th Annual Woodward Dream Cruise. As part of the run-up to the festivities, Chrysler has announced that all of its brands - Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram, Fiat, SRT and Mopar - will bring along their latest vehicles. Also included will be a collection of classic American cars and various activities for attendees at the official Chrysler location on the corner of Woodward and 13 Mile Road.
Special to this year, Ram brand director Bob Hegbloom and head of design John Dehner will unveil a Ram concept truck on Saturday. Chrysler will also bring Ryan Friedlinghaus of West Coast Customs fame along to show off a few custom Chrysler-made vehicles of his own. Fans of the brand on Facebook will get the chance to virtually customize a vehicle from the automaker's portfolio, with the winner getting their dream car built for them by Chrysler. Pretty cool stuff, no?
As in past years, Ford and General Motors will have an official presence at the event as well, and you can expect to see plenty of cars of all makes and models from all parts of the globe. The madness starts this Friday, August 16, from 4:30 PM to 10 PM, with the main event taking place on Saturday, from 9 AM to 9 PM. For more details on the show, including events and their times, check out the press release below.
Enough Is Enough. Finally.
Not long ago, the efforts of an automaker to put a six-cylinder engine into a pickup truck went something like this: take the basic bread-and-butter V8, lop two cylinders off one end of the block and call it a day. The resulting engines were generally pretty rough around the edges, and while they were able to churn out reasonable amounts of torque, they generally weren't good at anything else. Instead of being smooth running, they shook and shimmied; in place of a quiet highway jaunt, they operated well outside their low-rpm comfort zones and sent a corresponding racket throughout the cabin. And, instead of returning significantly superior fuel economy over their V8 counterparts, they guzzled gas and spat noxious vapors out their tailpipes.
In other words, the only reason to choose the base V6 engine over an optional V8 was to save money on the initial purchase, and that usually meant you'd be driving home in a stripped-out machine and would be lucky to have power windows, cruise control and air conditioning.
We've already had a chance to drive the 2014 Ram 3500 HD, but the big news for the 2014 Ram Heavy Duty lineup might be centered around the three-quarter-ton 2500 model. Chrysler has released a new video highlighting the new features of the 2014 Ram 2500 HD, including its new optional engine and new rear suspension components.
The video starts by showing off the Ram's new 410-horsepower 6.4-liter Hemi V8 and then gives us an up-close look at the coil spring, multi-link rear suspension - one of the truck's most important upgrades aimed at delivering a smooth ride. In addition to this coil suspension, the Ram 2500 HD will also be available with a rear air suspension system, which Chrysler says will optimize the truck's hauling abilities with better load leveling and trailer towing.
Scroll down for the walkaround video of the 2500 HD from Chrysler as well as the original press release breaking down all of the truck's new-for-2014 features.
Chrysler has some good news and some bad news. First, profits were up 16 percent over the second quarter of 2012, bringing the Auburn Hills, Michigan-based manufacturer $507 million on the back of strong demand for trucks and SUVs (a recurring theme this quarter, particularly in the US). Q2 revenue was up as well, from $16.8 billion in 2012 to $18 billion in 2013. The bad news is that the Pentastar's overall earnings forecast for net income in 2013 has been trimmed from $2.2 billion to between $1.7 and $2.2 billion, according to Automotive News.
In addition to the adjusted net income forecast, Chrysler tweaked its operating profit from $3.8 billion to between $3.3 and $3.8 billion. This has gone largely unexplained by Chrysler, perhaps hoping the news of a three-percent increase in its transaction prices for Q2 will allow it to sweep this adjustment under the rug.
The star of the show for Chrysler has been its US sales, which saw a 10-percent jump, both bettering the industry average of eight percent and improving over the same stretch of 2012. As with the increase in transaction prices, Chrysler has the new Ram pickup and Jeep Grand Cherokee to thank. Perhaps most worrying from this report, though, is that every brand in the automaker's stable saw an increase in sales... except for the Chrysler brand itself.
The current-generation Ram 1500 is entering its fifth year on the market, but Ram's half-ton truck is not showing its age whatsoever. While we continue to wait for the fuel economy figures for the all-new EcoDiesel V6, Ram has released towing figures for trucks equipped with this new engine, as well as models fitted with the upgraded gasoline-powered V6.
The EcoDiesel - a $2,850 option - will help the Ram compete with V8-powered trucks with its max towing capacity of 9,200 pounds, which is just 50 pounds shy of the 2013 Ram 1500 with the 5.7-liter V8. The true benefit here is that the diesel should return impressive fuel economy in the process, and even though official estimates have yet to be released, Chrysler has promised that it will achieve more than 25 miles per gallon on the highway.
But even with the Pentastar 3.6-liter V6, upgrades to the eight-speed automatic transmission have resulted in an increase in towing capacity, now up to 7,450 pounds. This number is expected to be best in class for base-engine trucks.