Pickups Steal the Detroit Auto Show

Cummins-powered Nissan Titan, 29-mpg Ram 1500, new off-road Ram Rebel and completely redesigned Ford Raptor take center stage at International Auto Show

The high-output 3.5-liter EcoBoost is a Raptor exclusive in the F-150 lineup and it will be paired with an all-new 10-speed transmission for improved efficiency.
The high-output 3.5-liter EcoBoost is a Raptor exclusive in the F-150 lineup and it will be paired with an all-new 10-speed transmission for improved efficiency.

The recent North American International Auto Show, held January 12 to 25 at the Cobo Center in Detroit, MI, served as the launching point for several new full-size pickup models. These included the long-awaited Cummins-powered Nissan Titan, a Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE that promises up to 29 mpg, an off-road-oriented Ram 1500 Rebel and a totally new off-road-focused Ford F-150 Raptor.

Nissan Debuts Cummins-Powered Full-Size Titan Pickup

Nissan expects to blur the line between light-duty and heavy-duty pickups with its 2016 Titan XD crew cab by offering it with a Cummins 5.0L V8 turbo diesel rated at 310 hp and 555 ft.-lbs. of torque.

The goal is to combine the capability of a heavy-duty hauler with the driveability and affordability of a light-duty pickup. Nissan states the maximum towing capacity should be more than 12,000 lbs., and maximum payload is expected to be more than 2,000 lbs. A 12,000-lb. tow rating out-distances the only other half-ton truck with a diesel engine — the 2015 Ram 1500 with 3.0L EcoDiesel, which has a tow rating of 9,200 lbs. But the numbers are in line with GM’s Silverado/Sierra 1500s at max tow ratings of 12,000 lbs. and Ford’s 2015 F-150 at 12,200 lbs.

The Cummins diesel — designed specifically for light-duty use — is the heart of the Titan XD. A compacted graphite iron (CGI) engine block, aluminum heads and composite valve covers reduce weight. It’s the first commercial application of Cummins’ new M2 two-stage turbo system. Nissan chose to mate the engine to a heavy-duty six-speed Aisin automatic transmission, and an electronic locking rear differential is available. To take advantage of the XD powertrain, Nissan offers a frame-integrated gooseneck hitch in the bed in addition to the rear tow hitch. The XD’s 151.6-in. wheelbase is about 20 in. longer than non-XD Titans. Radiator cooling capacity has been increased more than 25% compared to the previous Titan model.

Titan gives away nothing to the competition in terms of available towing and driver aid technology. It includes an integrated trailer brake controller, Trailer Sway Control (TSC), tow/haul mode with downhill speed control and a trailer light-check system that allows one-person hookup operation, including checking turn signals, brake lights and running/clearance lights.

The Titan also includes a RearView Monitor with Trailer Guides, while the Around View Monitor (AVM) provides a “bird’s eye” view of the surrounding area from front, rear and side cameras to help with parking and navigating tight spaces. The system also includes Moving Object Detection (MOD), which helps the driver to detect vehicles, shopping carts or other large objects when backing out via an on-screen notification and warning chime. The Titan XD Crew Cab is the first of three cab configurations, two frame sizes, three powertrain offerings and five grade levels to eventually be available in the Titan lineup. The Titan Crew Cab XD has a 151.6-in. wheelbase and 242.9-in. overall length. You have a choice of 17-, 18- or available 20-in. aluminum wheels.

The Titan XD offers a full line of amenities, including a 7.0-in. color touch-screen display, NissanConnect with navigation and mobile apps, remote start with auto temp control, automatic dual zone climate control, supplemental cab heater and heated and cooled front seats. The truck will by assembled in Nissan America’s Vehicle Assembly Plant in Canton, MS.

Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE Reaches 29 mpg

Ram Trucks announced that it will add a new, more fuel-efficient model to its half-ton truck lineup. The 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE will deliver an EPA-certified 29 mpg highway fuel economy rating. City and combined mpgs are 21 and 24, respectively. The HFE features a unique trim package on the popular Ram 1500 Tradesman Quad Cab four-door body, with a 6-ft. 4-in. bed and 20-in. wheels. “The Quad Cab is a widely purchased configuration that delivers the best aero benefit of any half-ton truck,” says Mike Cairns, director – Ram Truck Engineering.

The Ram EcoDiesel is available with a body-colored fascia adopted from the Ram Express model, which gives the EcoDiesel HFE a sporty exterior appearance not offered on other EcoDiesel-powered Ram 1500s. Wheel-to-wheel side steps and a tri-fold tonneau cover offer owners greater functionality and improved aerodynamics contributing to better fuel efficiency. The EcoDiesel HFE will go on sale late first quarter of 2015.

2015 Ram 1500 Rebel Pickup Truck Goes Off Road

Ram Trucks also takes aim at the off-road enthusiast market with the Ram Rebel. Its 1-in. factory lift, 33-in. tires on 17-in. rims, skid plates and tow hooks give this model all-terrain capability.

The Rebel takes advantage of Ram’s air suspension system with a 1.0-in. factory suspension lift, which not only helps to clear the 33-in. tires but also contributes to additional ground clearance for improved off-road approach, departure and breakover angles. A modified alignment of the independent front suspension appropriately adjusts tire angle and aluminum lower A-arms absorb the load. The combination of larger tires and a suspension lift yield ground clearance of 10.3 in., and a new stability program calibration takes Rebel’s modifications into consideration.

Bilstein supplies front and rear shocks with unique tuning, and a new steering calibration is matched to the Rebel’s increased ride height. A softer rear stabilizer bar provides improved dynamics.

The Open Country A/Ts are all-terrain tires designed for all-season handling and a comfortable ride. Their aggressive tread pattern offers good traction in bad conditions, on pavement or off. The factory lift and taller tires yield a 10.3-in ground clearance.

Ram’s Rebel 1500 offers a choice of 3.6L Pentastar V6 or 5.7L HEMI V8 engines. The 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine with variable valve timing (VVT) offers 305 hp, 269 lbs.-ft. of torque and gasoline fuel economy of 25 mpg. The 5.7-liter HEMI V8 with fuel-saving cylinder shut-off and VVT provide 395 hp and 410 lbs.-ft. of torque. HEMI-powered Ram 1500 Rebel trucks are available in 4x2 or 4x4 powertrains with 3.92 or 3.21 gear ratios. When equipped with the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine, the Rebel is available in 4x4 only with a 3.92 gear ratio, allowing the engine to leverage its power and torque.

Both the 3.6-liter V6 and 5.7-liter HEMI V8 engines are available with a rear anti-spin differential, which turns both rear wheels in tandem when increased torque is applied — helpful in off-road driving conditions. The design automatically unlocks the differential for normal on-road driving, allowing the wheels to spin independently for improved driveability. The TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission is standard equipment with the 3.6-liter V6 Pentastar and 5.7-liter HEMI V8 engines, which improves driveability and enhances fuel efficiency.

The Rebel is available exclusively as a crew cab model with a 5-ft. 7-in. bed length. A RamBox is optional. The truck also includes an optional backup camera, providing a better field of vision when maneuvering. The Rebel goes on sale early in the second half of 2015.

Ford Raptor Ups Off-Road Capability

Ford’s F-150 Raptor high-performance off-road pickup has been completely re-engineered. Changes start with a purpose-built frame that is the strongest in the F-150 lineup, featuring more high-strength steel than the outgoing Raptor.

Then we progress to the body. Forged from high-strength, military grade aluminum alloy that helps save more than 500 lbs. of weight, the Raptor’s exterior design is inspired by Ford’s heritage in off-road racing, which includes Best in the Desert, the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series and Baja 1000.

The Raptor is 6 in. wider than the standard F-150 for improved stability off-road. It also boasts its first-ever dual exhaust and new 17-in. wheels with next-generation BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2 tires specifically designed for off-road performance.

The Raptor is powered by Ford’s new, second-generation 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine, producing more power with greater efficiency than the current 6.2-liter V8, which is rated at 411 hp and 434 lbs.-ft. of torque. The high-output 3.5-liter EcoBoost is a Raptor exclusive in the F-150 lineup. It will be paired with an all-new 10-speed transmission for improved efficiency.

Paddle shifters to manually shift the 10-speed transmission and auxiliary switches to control aftermarket equipment such as lights or an air compressor are mounted out of the driver’s way in the roof of the cab.

A new four-wheel-drive, torque-on-demand transfer case with an advanced, easier to use version of off-road mode driver-assist technology further improves the Raptor’s trail performance. The transfer case, which manages power distribution between the front and rear wheels, combines the best attributes of clutch-driven, on-demand all-wheel drive with durable, mechanical-locking four-wheel drive.

“The new transfer case offers better traction for a greater variety of terrain at low and high speeds, both on-road and off-road,” said Jamal Hameedi, chief engineer, Ford Performance.

A new Terrain Management System enables the driver to select modes to optimize driving dynamics to environmental conditions, from snow to mud, sand and more. Calibration changes to the truck’s powertrain, driveline, traction control, ABS and AdvanceTrac stability control allow for optimal performance. There are six preset modes for the truck depending on terrain and driving conditions:

  • Normal mode for everyday driving
  • Street mode for higher-performance, on-road driving
  • Weather mode for rain, snow or ice
  • Mud and sand mode for muddy and sandy trails and terrain
  • Baja mode for high-speed desert running
  • Rock mode for low-speed rock crawling

An available Torsen front differential further increases off-road capability. The system increases grip significantly for the front end of the truck and allows it to pull itself over obstacles and up steep grades, even when traction is split between the front tires.

The F-150 Raptor comes standard with new FOX Racing Shox with custom internal bypass technology that works to damp and stiffen suspension travel over rough terrain to help prevent the truck from bottoming out. Front and rear shock canisters have grown from 2.5 in. to 3 in. in diameter for improved performance. They feature more suspension travel than the current Raptor’s 11.2 in. at the front and 12 in. at the rear.

Advanced LED lighting and camera technology contribute to improved visibility on the trail or street, day and night.

The new Raptor will be built at the Dearborn, MI, Truck Plant, and goes on sale in fall 2016.