Hot new pickups coming this fall

By Jim Gorzelany
CTW Features

 Truck sales are surging, with automakers preparing new pickups in the compact, full-size and sport-truck segments to reach dealerships later this year Truck sales are surging, with automakers preparing new pickups in the compact, full-size and sport-truck segments to reach dealerships later this year Truck sales are booming, with automakers delivering 21.9 percent more pickups to customers in January than they did during the same month in 2013, with full-size models continuing to comprise the three top selling vehicles of any kind in the U.S.

The segment will get even more competitive for the 2016 model year with an infusion of redesigned pickups and expanded model variations designed to appeal to hard-core haulers and novices alike. Here’s a quick look at three new models coming to dealers’ showrooms in the coming months:

 Toyota Tacoma. General Motors shook up the dozy small pickup truck market for 2015 with its new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon models, and it’s up to Toyota to keep up the momentum with the long-awaited redesign of its compact Tacoma. Featuring more muscular exterior styling, a “handlebar” themed instrument panel inside is said to offer a more driver-focused experience.

The updated Tacoma will pack a choice of either a 2.7- liter four-cylinder engine or an all-new 3.5-liter direct fuelinjected V6. Both will come mated to a new six-speed automatic transmission, with the V6 also available with a six-speed manual gearbox. Four-wheel-drive will again be optional, with TRD Sport and TRD Off-Road versions remaining in the lineup for sport-truck enthusiasts.

Available amenities will include push button entry/start, leather seats and a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert.

 Nissan Titan. Brand loyalties run deep in the full-size pickup truck market, and Nissan is redoubling its efforts to make a dent in the Big Three domestic automakers’ dominance with a redesigned version of its full-size Titan. It fea- tures a more-imposing exterior treatment and will be offered in standard, extended King Cab and four-door Crew Cab body styles, with long- and short cargo beds.

Available engines include new V6 and V8 powerplants (details weren’t available as of this writing), but the big news in this regard is that the Titan will be the only standard-duty full-size pickup in the U.S. to offer a turbodiesel V8 engine. This new Cummins 5.0-liter turbodiesel is rated at an estimated 310 horsepower with a stump-pulling 555 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission will come standard across the line with four-wheel-drive optional. Nissan claims the new Titan will tow a maximum 12,000 pounds of boat or trailer when properly equipped.

Inside, front occupants will be treated to Nissan’s comfy “zero gravity” seats designed in conjunction with NASA, and a large center console that’s designed to double as a mobile workstation. Borrowing a page from the Ram 1500, the new Titan will offer dual in-bed storage compartments that are lockable, drainable and removable, and can be used for either tool storage or as rolling beverage coolers.

 Ram 1500 Rebel. For its part, Fiat/Chrysler’s Ram brand will be taking on the off-road-ready Ford F-150 Raptor with a new sport truck of its own, the Rebel. It features beefier exterior styling, with a blacked-out billet grille that boldly sports the brand’s nameplate. Available only as a crew cab with a five-foot, seven-inch bed, its front seats will come embossed with the truck’s tire tread footprint, with an allblack instrument panel and trim.

As with the rest of the Ram line, buyers will be able to choose a Rebel with either a 3.6-liter 305-horsepower V6 engine or a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 with 395 horses and a burly 410 pound/feet of torque, with an eight-speed automatic transmission included either way.

The standard air suspension system gets an additional inch of factory ride height for better trail-blazing road clearance; it can also lower the truck automatically at highway speeds for better aerodynamics and fuel economy and on demand to afford easier entry while parked. Other performanceminded enhancements will include revised steering and suspension systems and specific 33-inch Toyo Open Country all-terrain tires.

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