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North American International Auto Show—Detroit Hauling the Goods in 2016

By David Hakim

’17 Ford F-150 Raptor SuperCrew
’17 Honda Ridgeline
’16 Toyota Tundra
Nissan Warrior Concept
American Expedition Vehicles Jeep JK “Brute”
The LT1 6.2L V8 powers the ’16 Chevrolet Camaro SS.
Lexus LC 500

While the 2015 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit was more about modern and efficient musclecars, such as the Dodge HEMI Hellcat Challenger and Charger, Ford Shelby GT350 and GT Supercar, and Cadillac CTS-V, this year’s show had many companies focusing on their line of pickups that come in many shapes and sizes. With gas prices decreasing by the week, light-truck market sales have overtaken car sales. This is evident as a recent article in Automotive News indicated 60% of new vehicles purchased are now categorized as light trucks.

Smart automakers will take heed and adjust product plans and plant capacity to meet consumer demands for light trucks, and savvy aftermarket manufacturers of accessories and performance parts for this vehicle category should also take notice.

So, here’s some new sheetmetal we saw at NAIAS, and perhaps, something you’ll want to get on your radar for developing new products.


The new F-150 Raptor SuperCrew was unveiled, and according to Ford, “It is the smartest, most-capable F-150 Raptor with the DNA of a Baja race truck.” No argument from us, as its purpose-built engine, chassis and suspension is designed to travel fast over challenging desert landscapes. The F-150 Raptor SuperCrew has four fullsize doors providing rear passengers more legroom, comfort and more space to stow gear. The SuperCrew has a 145-in. wheelbase, 12 in. longer than the standard Raptor SuperCab 133-in. wheelbase. Powering the Raptor is the second-generation high-output 3.5L EcoBoost engine.


Honda debuted its restyled ’17 Ridgeline midsize truck while keeping some of the innovations from its original model. Its new toned-down sheetmetal is intended to make it look like a truck, but give it more appeal. It’s still a FWD-based platform, but according to Honda, the Ridgeline’s towing and payload numbers will be competitive with other trucks in the same segment. Power is supplied by a 3.5L, direct-injected i-VTEC V-6 engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Honda claims best-in-class acceleration performance and segment-leading EPA fuel-economy ratings. The Ridgeline will also be available for the first time in both front-wheel and all-wheel-drive configurations. All-wheel-drive models will utilize Honda's i-VTM4 torque vectoring AWD technology. The ’17 Ridgeline will be featured at an upcoming SEMA Garage Measuring Session. Stay tuned to SEMA eNews for more information.


Between Toyota’s two-truck nameplates, Tacoma and Tundra, the latter seems to resonate more with off-road enthusiasts, or at least owners who want their truck to look like a Baja Prerunner. Toyota’s gearhead department, TRD, has a stout product portfolio to satisfy virtually all consumer tastes, from a boulevard cruiser to extreme off-roading. The Tundra TRD Pro has black-bezel headlights, an oversize “TOYOTA” grille, black badging and a unique TRD Pro bed stamp. The 18-in. black-alloy TRD wheels with 32-in. Michelin LTX AT2 tires are intended to enhance off-roading cred.

Not So Distant Future


The Nissan Titan Warrior might be labeled a “concept,” but it doesn’t take Nostradamus to figure out that we’ll see these styling cues and products on future Nissan pickups. Based on the diesel Titan XD, Nissan engineers increased the ride height 3 in. and added 37-in.-tall all-terrain tires on 18x9.5-in. aluminum wheels. The Titan Warrior Concept is also 6 in. wider to handle increased suspension travel. On the exterior, designers added “modern armor” that included a machine-like, sharper-edge appearance. Exterior features include muscular, carbon-fiber fenders, functional hood vents, carbon-fiber cabin and tailgate spoilers, a large front skidplate and custom LED lights. Under the hood is the 5.0L, 390-hp Cummins Turbo Diesel V8 connected to the standard heavy-duty 6-speed Aisin automatic transmission.


According to Mike Manley, head of Jeep brand and Ram brand, FCA – Global, a Jeep Wrangler pickup truck is a go. Manley indicated Jeep would offer a pickup version of the upcoming Wrangler. While he couldn't offer up any more juicy tidbits, the Jeep Wrangler pickup will go into production around 2020 after the next-generation Wrangler launch in 2018. You might remember getting a glimpse of Mopar’s aftermarket JK8 “Independence” conversion kit back in 2011. It was well received among the diehard Jeep community but the high cost and complexity of converting standard Jeep Wranglers by end users never caught on. American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) does complete turnkey Wrangler conversions complete with lift kits and a 6.4L HEMI under the hood. Known as the “Brute,” these highly capable custom Jeeps can tackle Moab or Rodeo Drive, but they’re not for everybody. However, if one day an affordable Jeep Wrangler pickup comes off the assembly line in Toledo, FCA could have a winner, and so will the aftermarket.

American Muscle Still Rules

The show may have been pickup “heavy,” but the ’16 Camaro stood proudly and showed off its Motor Trend Car of the Year award in the Chevrolet display. With the SS model borrowing the LT1 6.2L V8 from the Stingray’s den, the ’16 Camaro is quicker and more nimble than ever. It has won accolades among the motoring press and enthusiasts alike. With crates of performance parts ready to bolt up to this iconic musclecar, the horsepower numbers can be endless. Things to consider within the LT1—direct injection and VVT are your friends. Embrace the new technology when developing hot-rod parts for the engine. Remember, it might look similar to last year’s model, but the ’16 Camaro has new sheetmetal, interior and a chassis underneath.

Lexus LC 500 Luxury Coupe Receives 2016 EyesOn Design Awards

Four years after winning the EyesOn Design best concept car award for the Lexus LF-LC 2+2 Hybrid Sport Coupe, Lexus has received high accolades for the production car—the all-new LC 500 luxury coupe. The Lexus LC 500 was named 2016 EyesOn Design Award for Design Excellence – Production Car and EyesOn Design Award for Design Excellence – Interior Design at NAIAS. The NAIAS 2016 EyesOn Design Awards honor the best production and concept vehicles making their worldwide auto show debut at NAIAS. The awards are selected by active and retired design heads of automotive manufacturers and transportation design chairs from top art schools. The LC 500 was designed by Lexus Design in Toyota City, Japan. Lexus designers were challenged to work closely with engineers to take the LF-LC show car and make it a reality. They were seeking new ways to redefine the Lexus style with dynamic design and advanced technology, yet remain within reach for luxury buyers.