The Mighty Pickup is refined

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Country music staple. V-8 power. Huge can-do attitude. Apple pie may be the only slice of Americana the van doesn’t check off. The three most popular vehicles sold in the House of the Brave, historically, have been the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, and Ram 1500, in that order. Need to drag a house off its foundations? Give me that recovery strap and show Blake Shelton.

Over the past 40 years, as this triumvirate solidified its grip on the market, trucks have mushroomed. Today’s mid-size models, like the Colorado, Tacoma, and Ranger, are similar in size to a 1970s F-series. The days of single cabins are largely over, as buyers overwhelmingly have requested double cabins to transport the clan.

But something interesting is happening in a category where brute force is a main selling point. Seeking to increase sales, manufacturers are offering smaller trucks, adding special features and electrifying new models. Your dog may like the result.

Downsizing might be smarter than hiding a truck from a vengeful ex. The latest census shows Americans continue to migrate to cities, where large pickup truck drivers face tough times like dense downtown streets and claustrophobic parking lots (hmmm, did my truck less than 6’7 “? Do I feel lucky?).

The big news in small size is the 2022 Ford Maverick. Built on the same crossover architecture as the Bronco Sport and Escape, the Maverick sits below the Ranger in size. Long before Ford recognized the Maverick’s existence, spy photos made it clear that the company had a new compact truck in development. But the official unveiling dropped jaws like unshifted hatchbacks – base models, starting around $ 21,450 when they arrive this fall, run on a four-cylinder hybrid powertrain. Let’s see how Brad Paisley uses a permanent magnet electric traction motor and lithium-ion battery in his lyrics.

The front-wheel drive Maverick hybrid (all-wheel drive requires an optional 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder powertrain) is expected to deliver 40 miles per gallon in city driving, 33 highway. Perfect for people who buy on functionality, not testosterone. The company already has “100,000 reservations in major coastal cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston and Orlando,” according to Mike Levine, a Ford spokesperson.

Let’s reframe the definition of small though – the Maverick may be Ford’s most compact pickup truck, but at 200 inches long it’s still an inch larger than the three-row Explorer SUV. But at seven inches narrower, parking in the Macy’s garage should be a snap.

When Ford announced it was dropping sedans from its lineup, it was playing on its strengths. “We know trucks,” said Jim Baumbick, Ford vice president for product planning. “We’ve seen consumers trying to hack their sedans to haul bark and building materials and it’s not pretty. Maverick will have commercial appeal, but we have targeted individuals. With a four-and-a-half-foot bed, it easily carries bikes and gear, but has the interior space of a Fusion sedan.

Hyundai’s Santa Cruz 2022 gets a four-foot open bed, but the company’s senior director of product planning, Trevor Lai, insists it doesn’t compete in the pickup segment. “We focused a lot on Santa Cruz and these people came up with the name ‘sport adventure vehicle’. This is for city dwellers who have limited parking options but want to haul large items, bikes, and surfboards. Focus groups aside, people on the streets call it a pickup.

The Santa Cruz is compared to Honda’s Ridgeline monohull and the not-so-bad Subaru Baja small truck. Based on elongated Tucson SUV architecture, the Santa Cruz’s design is swept up and sleek compared to the goofy Baja and traditional Maverick styling. The Hyundai has a trunk in the bed that doubles as a hatchback cooler, much like Ridgeline, but the Santa Cruz is 14 inches shorter (and four inches below the Maverick). With straps and a few six-inch boards, homeowners can carry 4×8 sheets of plywood and drywall. The turbocharged 2.5-liter all-wheel-drive model tows up to 5,000 pounds (all other powertrains stop at 3,500 pounds).

Pro tip: The Santa Cruz is a great utility equipped with a lockable and retractable rigid tonneau cover that is factory installed on all models except the base model. The EPA classifies it as an SUV, but owners with the cover will quickly find that the working dynamics are a lot like a sedan with a trunk lid that unrolls to haul Ikea furniture that doesn’t fit in an Elantra (or SUV). Besides). The sky is the limit here.

Traditional pickup trucks are gaining more and more attention from car manufacturers. Left behind by many manufacturers after the turn of the century, the midsize segment is a whole new rodeo, with Ford and General Motors bringing back models.

Trucks like the Ranger Tremor and Colorado ZR-2, focused on off-road capabilities, appeal to the Jeep Wrangler crowd. Or like-minded buyers might turn to the Jeep Gladiator, the brand’s first pickup since 1986. Nissan finally has a much more refined new Frontier after 16 years of pushing the fossilized version. Honda changed Ridgeline’s design direction from the box-jawed male commuter hauler to shed its reputation as a “soft road” (one it doesn’t quite deserve, by the way).

Even the full-size market is ready for change. Changing the F-150’s steel body panels to aluminum in 2015 seemed like a courageous decision for Ford. Now the country’s most popular vehicle since Dolly Parton starred in “9 to 5” receives a fully electric powertrain. The F-150 Lightning is expected to develop up to 563 horsepower with a range of around 300 miles and a towing capacity of up to 10,000 pounds.

“Electrification is not just about the environment, it can make the truck better, more useful and more convenient,” said Baumbick. In his opinion, instead of the gasoline engine spewing emissions, there is a gaping space larger than some SUV bunkers.

For its part, GMC resuscitates the Hummer in a fully electric version. The pickup, which is slated to ship in late 2021 (if you’ve booked one) should go from rest to 60 mph in three seconds, a very quiet time to ‘hold my beer’. It can also “crab” sideways in difficult parking situations. The Hummer’s architecture will support the all-electric pickup trucks of General Motors sister brands with estimated ranges of 400 miles.

The pick-up obsession in the United States also attracts newcomers.

Rivian, a start-up, intends to begin deliveries of its innovative RT1 pickup this fall. One upscale option is a pull-out camp kitchen, complete with a stove top and custom kitchen set. Can he make apple pie on the stove?

Rivian’s four-engine RT1 will be serious drag racing competition for the Hummer EV and is expected to cover over 300 miles on one charge, 400 with the $ 10,000 Max Pack. Prices start at around $ 67,500. Add five thousand for the cooking tip.

Need something bulletproof? Tesla insists the trapezoidal Cybertruck is coming, but it was pushed back until next year. Bollinger’s rugged B2 with 200 miles of electric range seems like the best project to ever come out of a sheet metal shop. Canoo’s electric vehicle with its sci-fi form factor has an origami bed with sides that fold down to become workbenches and an extendable rear section that holds full loads of drywall.

And country lyricists might rethink the lines on the V-8s, because they’re no longer a safe bet for the future. GM offers a turbocharged 2.7-liter four-cylinder in its Silverado. Ford has pushed hard on turbocharged V6s and, more recently, hybrid powertrains. Electrification can be a huge benefit for homeowners. Ford grabbed the headlines last winter when its Texas dealers loaned F-150 hybrids with PowerBoost generators built into those who had lost power in their homes. The most efficient units can deliver 7.2 kilowatts of juice. Enough to supply a house with the necessary electricity, prevent the woman from leaving, the dog from dying and Carrie Underwood playing on the sound system.


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