Walking the floor of the 2017 North American International Auto Show, one quickly realizes that more than any other class at the event, pickup trucks have truly entered a hot new era.
Sure, the high-tech Nissan Vmotion 2.0 concept and the hot new Mercedes-AMG GT C Edition 50 have garnered a lot of buzz. Still, it’s hard to dispute the star power of the monstrous pickups on display.
The Honda Ridgeline kicked off the pickup festivities by winning the 2017 NAIAS Truck of the Year award. Overall, the popular sports saying “go big or go home” has been the dominant theme at the Detroit show.
From rugged off roaders like the new 450-horsepower Ford Raptor to custom rigs such as the Carhartt-themed Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD Concept, the revival of one or man’s most revered vehicles is now in full swing.
It’s quite a shift from a decade ago, when full-size trucks were largely taboo unless you absolutely needed them for work purposes or to haul the family boat.
What changed? Chalk it up to lower gas prices and a better economy giving the average car buyers the confidence that they can actually afford to own a cool-looking pickup. And as much as we might all love those racy sports cars and luxury crossovers, nothing boosts the male ego like riding high above everything else on the road in a big ol’ TRUCK.
The revival of the pickup has been gaining momentum for a few years now, but the 2017 NAIAS puts the growing pickup trend front and center.
Take, for example, an interactive Ford Raptor simulator that enables show attendees to experience what it’s like to drive the 450-horsepower beast off road. Ford also used the 2017 Detroit auto show to debut the new Ford F-150 that features a number of premium interior features. For GMC, the show offered a chance to show off a hot black-on-black version of its Sierra pickup. The protective coating company Line X had a custom Toyota Tundra on display, showcasing their latest exterior coating products.
But one of our all-time favorites is the Ram Rebel TRX Concept. First introduced in September at the State Fair of Texas, the eye-popping red pickup is as mean as it looks. Touted by Ram as the ultimate off roader, the half-ton pickup packs 575 horsepower and has a top speed of 100 mph.
Ram is also showcasing a custom 2500 Power Wagon developed in partnership with the carmaker’s Mopar performance division.
Of course, any revival is bound to inspire a few questionable ideas as well. That seems to be the general consensus about the VLF X-Series, essentially a heavily modified Chevy Colorado that’s been made to look like a Hummer H2. We aren’t sure whether the designers actually intended that outcome, but it’s hard to dispute the resemblance between the two vehicles. One of the founders of the newly formed company VLF Automotive was once a top exec at General Motors, so that’s bound to have an influence on some of the carmaker’s designs.
But regardless of what you might think about the X-Series, the mere fact that VLF took a stab at the concept is a sign of how much things have changed from the days when many feared the basic idea of a pickup.
And we can’t help but look forward to even bigger and better pickups down the road.