How to Traverse a Mud Bog in a 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class

Jessi Combs Shows Us How to Use the Geländewagen’s Lockers and Other Off-Road Tech

You’re rolling along in your all-new Mercedes-Benz SUV, cruising down Rodeo Drive. Suddenly, you make a few wrong turns and find yourself trapped by a deep mud pit in front of you. What’s a luxury SUV owner to do? But wait, this isn’t just any Mercedes-Benz SUV, it’s a 2019 G-Class! Loaded with sophisticated off-road technology and plenty of rugged hardware—low-range transfer case; front, rear, and center locking differentials; and a solid rear axle—you’ll be able to dispatch this mud pit in no time at all.
Jessi Combs will show you how it’s done in a recent video published by Mercedes-Benz, embedded above. The technique is simple: Lock up your differentials, approach the mud hole at a steady pace, gently power through if you start to lose momentum, and try to keep the tires up against the ruts for some side-biting traction. Once you’re through the muck, gently ride the brakes for a moment to sweep them dry.   |   2019 Mercedes Benz G Class Jessi Combs Airborne
The mud-hole tutorial is but one small portion of Combs’ adventure in the 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class. To see more, check out the YouTube video embedded at the bottom of this article. If it inspires you to take one of the world’s most legendary off-road vehicles into the sticks and have some fun, then we wish you the best of luck. (Not that you’ll need it, this thing is capable!) Source: Mercedes-Benz, via YouTube

2020 Land Rover Defender Approved for U.S. Consumption

LR’s Most Rugged Nameplate to Return after 23 Years

As a late holiday gift, Land Rover confirmed what we’ve long suspected today: The next-generation Defender will return to the U.S. and Canada in 2020. The company also confirmed that “all will be revealed” in 2019, and with plenty of images of the Defender in New York City, we presume that’s where the new SUV will be shown off for the first time. The New York International Auto Show is in April, so we’re counting down the months. The Defender has been spotted testing in a variety of conditions, each truck wearing hardly sneaky camouflage touting the SUV as the “Best 4x4xFar.” Land Rover claims the Defender has seen temperatures ranging between –40 degrees to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, climbing to altitudes in excess of 13,000 feet.

  |   2020 Land Rover Defender Off Road Exterior Front Quarter 01

Of course, the new Defender is the latest in a long line of Series Land Rover vehicles, stretching back to the first-ever Land Rover vehicle, the 1948 Series I. The Series I was replaced by the Series II in 1958, which was then superseded by the Series III in 1971. That rugged off-roader gave way to the Land Rover Ninety and One Ten, which were renamed Defender for 1991. The Defender lasted in series production until 2016.
The U.S. only received a few years’ worth of Series Land Rovers, with sales ending here in 1974 before resuming again in 1993. The Defender lasted in North America until 1997, when it was made extinct by federal airbag and side impact protection laws—Land Rover didn’t see fit to update the Defender to 1998 U.S. standards, given the SUV’s niche-level sales.

1968 Chevrolet C20: Cart Tricks

Custom Horse- and Golf Carts Were the Catalysts for Building This Cummins-Powered Coal Cart

Diesel swaps of all sorts are wickedly popular these days. Enthusiasts change powerplants (from gas to diesel, or from one brand of oil-burner to another) for good reason, as diesels are quite powerful when built correctly. With that being said, having diesel power in a classic truck is not that big of a shock. In this instance, however, the vehicle is far from ordinary. The ’68 Chevrolet C20 featured on the following pages is a piece of rolling art that happens to function quite well with a diesel under its hood. At least that’s how its owner, Jeremy Daeseleer, sees it. One thing you are probably asking is how a vehicle like this comes to life. Well, the evolution of Jeremy’s 700hp C20 actually started with a 1hp vehicle. Of course, we’re not talking about a truck; the build began with a jog cart—a two-wheeled, horse-drawn cart. Jeremy and his wife, Amanda, are all about training horses. To display his passion for her and the sport of showing horses, Jeremy restored a vintage Jerald Sulky jog cart. It turned out beautiful, but Amanda’s horse thought it was food and did some damage to it that had her very frustrated. Since they were demotivated at the time, the jog cart was traded for a golf cart that was formerly used at the Stardust Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. That cart was then tricked out with air ride and even had a stake bed. However, tragedy struck again when a large truck ran into it and damaged the cart’s paint. It was traded for this truck, then known as “the Annoying Orange.” The ¾-ton longbed rig was bright orange and had a big-block Chevy gas engine under the hood. At that point, it was just a simple cruiser, but things were to change, as one of Jeremy’s buddies, Randy Johnson, found out a local shop needed a truck to work on for a TV show. Apparently, the shop’s scheduled ’53 Chevy burned in a fire and the crew needed something to work on ASAP.

  |   Creating all the power for this one-of-a-kind truck is this 5.9L Cummins engine that was built by Industrial Injection.

Jeremy volunteered his truck for the build, and this is when its transformation into the Coal Cart (his name, not ours) began. The truck was outfitted with an Industrial Injection–built 5.9L Cummins engine with a 72mm Viper PhatShaft turbocharger and a 47RE four-speed automatic transmission. The body was also stripped to bare metal and the bed was cut down to a short version. The suspension was also dropped a bit, but the truck wasn’t nearly as low as it is now.

Our Five-Day 2017 Silverado Z-71 Build

Week to Wicked: Truckin Takeover

Recently, Truckin invaded the Week 2 Wicked Tech Center to find out just what can be accomplished on a custom truck in a week. For five days, Tech Center Manager Jason Scudellari, along yours truly and a whole host of other key individuals, took a bone-stock ’17 Chevrolet Silverado Z71 and transformed it into a terror on and off the road and made it pretty nice to look at, if we don’t say so ourselves. We started under the hood by adding a Magnuson Supercharger to the already stout 6.2L powerplant. We also installed ceramic-coated smog-legal headers from Gibson Performance as well as a stainless cat-back dual exhaust system. In addition, the Silverado received an 8-inch lift from Superlift Suspension that features a complete King Shock setup, and, once the PFC Brakes were installed, we filled those wheelwells with 20-inch Mamba wheels and 37-inch Hercules tires. We then added Nitro Gears to both climb mountains and fly down the freeway. From there, we upgraded the interior with a full JL Audio sound system, while Covercraft’s Carhartt seat covers were installed to protect the factory leather during off-road excursions. Finally, we added a Roll-N-Lock bedcover and Lund steps, not to mention a few more surprises you’ll see on the final project that really set our Z71 off—so much so that it was chosen as a SEMA vehicle for the MotorTrend booth by the company’s top brass!

  |   Our starting point was a very clean and well-equipped ’17 Chevy Silverado Z71 with a 6.2L engine, leather interior, and Bose sound system.

Building a truck in a week while shooting photography, video, and posting to social media sounds pretty daunting at first, but by having the right team around us, it made the week cruise by with hardly a hiccup. A special thanks goes to Jason and Christian from the Tech Center, Christian Hazel from 4 Wheel & Off Road magazine, the camera crew, and all the manufacturer’s representatives who came out to turn wrenches with us. Check out for all the videos from the week as well as the final show airing on MotorTrend OnDemand.

Getting the Dirt Out; Installing S&B Filters Truck Particle Separator

The S&B Filters Particle Separator for the Ford Super Duty

Driving a truck in harsh, dusty conditions is hard on an engine’s air-filtration system. The fine particles of dust and silt found on backroads, as well as in construction and mining sites, can severely diminish a filter’s ability to flow air. Dirty air can quickly clog a filter’s media, seriously shortening the amount of time it is able to do its job effectively. And, as air restriction increases, power decreases, which is especially true for diesel engines that require large amounts of air. Regularly changing an air filter goes a long way toward keeping performance up. But in the dustiest environments, a regular change could come every other day. That could make for a lot of filter elements to carry with you—especially if you are working in remote areas. Compared to the average truck owner who does not normally expose his or her vehicle to heavy amounts of dust-filled air, it is a tremendous amount of extra maintenance and cost. Keeping the air efficiently flowing into an engine is important, but making sure the air is clean is even more critical. The worst possible scenario for a truck that is driven primarily in environments that have airborne particles is if a filter does not trap the tiny flecks and they somehow get into the intake. Those particles can rapidly and severely damage an engine.

  |   Our test rig, S&B Filters’ ’17 Ford F-550, has the company’s cold-air intake system already installed on its 6.7L Power Stroke engine, which simplifies adding the new Truck Particle Separator. The separator is mounted in the same position, and its electrical wiring basically mirrors that of the cold-air system. (“Easy Airflow,” our report on installing S&B Filters’ cold-air intake system on a ’17 Ford F-250 appears on and in the April 2018 issue of Diesel Power.)

Particulate Matters- Engaugement Party

Particulate Matters

Well, everyone, I want to let you all know that I am now happily engauged. Yes, I know the spelling of engaged is horribly incorrect. But, I think you’ll agree the error is appropriate when I tell you the reason why. You see, I made this commitment—to Banks Power’s new iDash 1.8 digital monitor—about a week after being introduced to the device at a socio-info gathering hosted by Gale Banks himself, during SEMA Week 2018. Our meeting was not exclusive, as me, Tech Editor John Lehenbauer, and other folks who are involved with diesel performance (including several big-name players) were in attendance. But I guess the few moments we had together were enough to assure me that iDash and I would be reunited—and stay joined for a long time. OK, let me bring this into a more realistic focus. First, for anyone who doesn’t understand my satirical tone, let me make it clear that I’m actually happily married, to my wife Crystal, for 20-plus years. At this point, I doubt a gauge—or any other inanimate object or being—will ever break us apart. Sorry, Gale. LOL.

  |   Particulate Matters Engaugement Party

With that being clarified, I have to admit Banks’ iDash 1.8 Super Gauge (there’s a Data Monster version, too) is a very powerful instrument that will quickly captivate most hard-core gearheads and automotive-data geeks like me. Why? Well, the answer is pretty simple. iDash is special because while the unit has the same physical gait of most single-value gauges (round, 2 1/16-inch diameter), it’s capable of monitoring, processing, and recording data, as well as displaying as many as eight user-selected values (for almost every engine parameter in a vehicle’s ECM) at one time.
I know there are other monitors in the space that theoretically “do the same thing.” Don’t get me wrong, they’re tried and true, very proven, and capable of doing many of the same things as the iDash (provide aforementioned ECM data, read diagnostic trouble codes, and so on).
However, the one thing the other instruments lack—and it’s an important quality—is the ability to calculate estimated engine- and vehicle-performance values with regard to ambient and boost air (stuff like ambient diesel horsepower potential per 1,000 cfm, ambient-, manifold-, and boost-air density, and more). If there’s another device out there like this one, with the same $233 to $389 price range (not higher-end standalone ECM and/or data-logger systems), I’m not familiar with it.
I consider this new data system a big deal, because it’s the brainchild of a man (Gale) who has one of the most diabolical minds ever when it comes to exploring new ways to manipulate air for increased horsepower and torque. This makes me really appreciate iDash 1.8 for its usefulness in the ECM-tuning realm. In most instances, dyno, street, and trackside diesel tuning is done through manipulating fueling (pressure) and, more importantly, injection timing. While the practice is standard and effective, it is typically performed without incorporating real-time hard data for air (pressure, density, temperature, altitude, and such).

Detonation: The Wonder of SEMA


I can remember wanting to attend the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas for many years before finally being presented with an opportunity to go. I had heard and read about all the cool new parts and products that debuted and how the amazing cars and trucks built specifically for the show could be seen for the first time. I’m definitely not a SEMA veteran by any means. The few shows I’ve been to since joining the Diesel Power staff still make me more of a rookie, especially compared to people I work alongside who have been attending the event for 20 years or more. Despite my lack of tenure, I can truly say SEMA has not disappointed me as an enthusiast. Each year, I go up to Las Vegas with renewed anticipation for seeing cool new products and vehicles. Seeing “all” the vehicles and products sounds good in theory. But, in reality, doing that is more of a pipe dream due to the massive size of the show. There are so many things happening that a person who likes to take his or her time and check everything out (all of the Las Vegas Convention Center’s halls and lobby areas, along with the award shows, presentations, and outdoor festivities) and spend some time chatting with vendors may be lucky enough to see half of the show during its four-day run. That is, if a person starts when it opens, charges all day, and doesn’t stop until the event shuts down at 5 p.m.

  |   Vehicles like Ed Pettus’ diesel-powered ’32 Willys Stanavo Aircraft Refueling Truck are amazing and easily catch a person’s attention. It wasn’t hard to lose time covering the show, trying to take in all the detail and finish work that went into this rig and many others. The Willys actually made it to the Final Four of the 2018 SEMA Battle of the Builders. Read More

Radical Renderings- Harris Art Co.

Renderings by Kasey Harris, Harris Art Co.

Kasey Harris was a kid who rushed through his math tests in school to draw on the back of them. After winning awards in high school for his art, he landed a scholarship and eventually graduated with a degree in industrial design from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. His focus was on automotive design, and cars became his passion during an internship designing for Ford. He worked various design jobs, including projects for Disney, Universal Studios, Harry Potter, Hard Rock Cafe, Marvel Studios, and more—all while continuing his automotive rendering work on the side. And his rendering work led to him creating art for Ronnie Wetch from C10 Talk and C10 Nation. This relationship began opening up doors that allowed him to focus more on build and conceptual renderings again. Ronnie introduced Kasey to Craig Piggott from River City Rods, which culminated in the work you see here. He says Craig is a guy to keep your eye on, and we can see why with the builds coming out of his Iowa shop. Kasey continues to work on all kinds of projects, from renderings to product art, while feeling blessed, extremely fortunate, and thankful for the design opportunities his clients offer him. If you want to work with Kasey on a project of your own, contact him at:

  |   Each of the last two years, Craig Piggott has debuted custom Chevys with unique body styling at SEMA. The first was a C10 with a utility bed. The next was a C30 Franklin Camper, which was the first project for his newly established shop, River City Rods & Fabrication. Both have now graced the cover of Truckin. After purchasing a ’76 Ford B100 from KC at Gas Monkey Garage, Craig had a new project to work on for the big event. The B100 (which you will have seen by now since it debuted at SEMA and most likely stole the show) is getting a host of major changes, including a Roadster Shop chassis with Wilwood brakes rolling on 20- and 22-inch Billet Specialties Knuckle Wheels and Falken Tires. RideTech provided all the shocks and air management for the build. The Coyote engine and transmission have been pulled from a late-model Mustang. The interior will be reworked by Auto Kraft Upholstery, and it will have custom interior panels with a one-off dash housing Dakota Digital gauges built by the River City crew. To top it all off, Stolls Auto Body and Lucky Matts’ Rod Shop laid down a custom mix of PPG Paint.

SPIED: 2020 Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV

Independent Rear Suspension and Modern Caddy Styling For Company’s Flagship

Every time General Motors redesigns its pickups, you can bet that their body-on-frame SUV variants aren’t too far behind. And given the convoy of camouflaged Cadillac SUVs spotted trundling around recently, we bet we’ll see a fully redesigned Escalade in time for the 2020 model year.

  |   2020 Cadillac Escalade Esv Towing Side Profile

Styling changes to the big, bold SUV will likely be evolutionary. Expect tailfin-homage vertical taillight blades to return when the Escalade is redesigned, though the current Escalade’s knife-edge vertical headlight details might give way to something more akin to the delta-shaped LED units on the compact XT4. The brand is moving away from egg-crate grilles as well, as the Escalades seen testing clearly sport CT6-inspired chrome dimples on their noses. Other obvious changes include new, door-mounted sideview mirrors. These should reduce interior noise and give the SUV a touch of class.

2000 Dodge Ram 2500 – Word of Mouth

Counting on a Diesel Enthusiast’s Expertise to Revitalize a 2000 Dodge Ram

It’s not uncommon for former Diesel Power Challenge entrants to have some amount of notoriety in the enthusiast space—in fact, that fame is one reason many DPC competitors are voted into the contest in the first place. That’s the case with DPC 2017 alumnus Levi Krech, an alternate who was accepted into the Challenge in the eleventh hour and whose ’06 Dodge Ram 2500 achieved impressive results in the dyno, quarter-mile drag race, and eighth-mile trailer-tow segments. Levi’s fame in the industry is driven in part by his diesel shop, Unique Performance LLC. Based in Gillette, Wyoming, Unique Performance became the shop of choice for Jeffrey Benson, who lives across the state border in Hot Springs, South Dakota. Jeffrey had heard of Unique Performance before and liked what the shop was doing with diesel trucks. “It all started when I saw the kind of work Levi does,” Jeffrey says. “I knew that’s who I was going to have work on my truck.” What started as a simple enough tint job on Jeffrey’s ’00 Dodge Ram 2500 turned into a full-blown project, owing to the shop’s excellent work. “Between the customer service at Unique Performance and how professional they are, the truck turned into a complete build,” he says. The end result is a rig that looks even cleaner than its 108,611 miles (and counting) suggest.

  |   If you want a great finished result, start your build with a great base. Case in point: Jeffrey Benson’s low-mileage ’00 Dodge Ram 2500, which was already a solid, well-running, rust-free truck.

  |   2000 Dodge Ram 2500 Word Of Mouth

The truck started out very nice, clean, and equipped with a 5.9L Cummins 24-valve engine and five-speed manual transmission, with plenty of luxury thanks to leather seats and chrome bumpers. But while it was in excellent original condition, Jeffrey wanted his truck to have just a bit more verve, both in styling and performance.
In went a set of compound turbochargers, with a Forced Inductions 80mm turbo feeding an Industrial Injection Phatshaft 62mm snail. An Industrial Injection Hot Rod VP44 injection pump takes fresh diesel from an AirDog II-4G lift pump capable of pushing 165 gph of clean, pure fuel. A Quadzilla Adrenaline programmer is used to load tunes into the ECM.
It might be the strangest New Year’s goal ever, but I think that in order to stay hip, up-to-the-minute, and in-the-know, one must know what’s trending on YouTube. And so there it is. My goal is to be more familiar with that’s trending on the great interwebs, because wasting time getting dumber by watching cat fails is truly a noble cause. Actually, my objective is to seek out videos that may somehow be applicable to the tastes of truck enthusiasts.
In our increasingly connected world staying in contact is crucial. When venturing out into the wild the need for a reliable communication device becomes exponentially greater. Citizen Band, or CB for short, radios have been the gold standard in off-road communication for decades. While these radios are inexpensive they also have severe range limitations. Thankfully the rise of amateur radio use has increased the ability for off-roaders to communicate from just a few yards with CBs to potentially hundreds of miles.
There are still a few drawbacks to amateur radio. The largest disadvantage being the need to carry a special license to operate, or alternately purchase a pre-programed “race radio” from one of the many suppliers. Then there’s the cost of entry, while a CB can be had for a Jefferson, a decent amateur radio will start around $300 and climb from there. Still, when needed those extra miles of range could mean the difference between life and death, so the cost is truly justified.
Picking the right radio and where to mount it is the first half of a two-part equation. The second is where and how to mount the antenna. Amateur radio antennas ideally need to be mounted high and near a large ground plane (like the roof of a truck). Undoubtedly if you’re reading this you too get squeamish at the thought of drilling a large hold in the roof of your expensive pickup. Thankfully the team at BulletProof Diesel and Neil Technologies share the same aversion and developed an elegant solution to this problem.
The medium-duty Chevrolet Silverado 4500HD, 5500HD, and 6500HD will soon hit dealer lots, as the company announced it had started series production of the chassis-cab work trucks. Built through a partnership with Navistar at that company’s Springfield, Ohio, assembly plant, the biggest Silverado will be popular with upfitters because of its clean frame rail design and robust construction, GM says.

GMC Adds New Performance Package For Sierra AT4

The GMC Sierra AT4 already performs well on off-road terrain straight off the dealer lot. GMC has now introduced a special Off-Road Performance Package available for the truck to make it better. The AT4 Off-Road Performance Package comes with a 6.2L V-8 engine mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. This combination delivers up to 435 hp and 469 lb-ft of torque. For those keeping track, that’s an increase of 15 additional horsepower over the standard model. The package also adds a Cat-Back performance exhaust system and performance air intake. The truck is also upgraded with Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires on 18-inch wheels. “The 2019 GMC Sierra AT4 debuted all-new, purposeful technologies for the premium truck segment and the new Off-Road Performance Package takes it a step farther,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president of Global GMC. He continued, “It offers optimized performance, both on- and off-road.” Off-road features already standard on the AT4 include a 2-inch factory-installed suspension lift, four-wheel drive with a two-speed transfer case with locking rear differential, and skidplates. The Sierra AT4 also comes with a traction control system and hill descent control. For a smoother ride, the truck is equipped with off-road–tuned Rancho monotube shock absorbers. The Off-Road Performance Package upgrade is priced at $4,940.

Episode 45 of The Truck Show Podcast: Holiday Fruitcakeisode

Plus 2019 Four Wheeler Pickup Truck of the Year, 2020 Jeep Gladiator, and Upcoming 2020 HDs

  |   Episode 45 Truck Show Podcast 9

  |   Episode 45 Truck Show Podcast 8

  |   Episode 45 Truck Show Podcast 7

The Truck Show Podcast Presented by Nissan in association with DECKED is a fun, irreverent, and edgy look at today’s world of custom and factory trucks, hosted by automotive journalist Sean Holman and veteran Los Angeles radio personality Jay “Lightning” Tilles. Sit back, relax, and enjoy our latest episode.

Afterhours #4: Glitter Bomb Video Brings Levity to Serious Porch Pirate Issue

Revenge on Package Thieves

  |   Stolen Package From Front Door

My husband insisted that I watch a video of some glitter bomb contraption aimed at catching porch pirates in the act while punishing them with a hearty poof of glitter and sweet fart smell aroma. Honestly, I didn’t want to watch it and only obliged to make him quit bringing it up. Also, I figured the whole topic would just fire me up even more about package thieves and elevate my stress level regarding the successful delivery of outstanding Christmas gifts. With Christmas a mere week away, a plethora of my remaining Amazon deliveries are estimated to arrive when I’m not going to be home for the entire day. I don’t know what’s more stressful—hoping none of my Christmas gifts and truck project packages are stolen or finding a place to park at the mall.

1949 Ford With Cummins Power: Smooth Swap

Collector’s Item

There’s no doubt about it, the older diesel pickups get, the closer they come to being recognized as “classics.” For Richard Brown, however, calling a vehicle “vintage” means a lot more than simply acknowledging it is 20 years old. Richard’s first car was a Chevrolet-powered, supercharged ’28 Oldsmobile that was followed by a list of timeless cars that includes ’32 Model A Fords, a ’49 Ford, and a ’55 Chevy. Eventually, Richard decided his classic fleet needed a diesel, and, lucky for him, he happens to own Brown’s Diesel in Riverdale, California. The truck needed to be old enough to satisfy his year requirements, and it had to be a useful shop truck and a good all-around cruiser. When Richard ran across a wrecked ’95 Dodge Ram 2500 with a 5.9L Cummins that was in good shape, he knew the 12-valve powerplant would be perfect for his project. A ’49 Ford F1 was soon purchased with the intent of making Richard’s classic diesel dreams come true. All he needed to do was start wrenching!

  |   Richard Brown found the perfect engine for his diesel swap: a ’95 5.9L Cummins out of a Dodge Ram pickup. The engine is on the mild side but still manages to put out 450 hp—which is plenty for a light truck.

Since Richard has a lot of performance experience, the 12-valve engine didn’t stay stock for long. The entire top end was rebuilt with a fire-ringed gasket, ARP 625 cylinder-head studs, and 60-pound valvesprings from Pacbrake. The injection pump was modified as well, with a 4,000-rpm governor spring kit to increase its rev capacity, full-cut delivery valves, a custom fuel plate, and a modified rack with up to 21 mm of travel. The injection pump is fed by an AirDog 4G lift pump and sends fuel to relatively large 5×0.018-inch injectors.

Your Diesel Questions Asked and Answered

You’ve Got Questions, We’ve Got Answers

7.3L Misfire

QUESTION: I love my ’01 Ford F-350 and have stayed on top of maintaining it since day one, including changing the oil every 3,500 miles. It currently has more than 256,000 miles on the odometer. The engine has a misfire (after it reaches operating temperature) and is hard to restart. I’ve also noticed a loss of power if I try to give more than half-throttle. A local diesel technician I spoke with says such symptoms typically point to a bad “Huey” pump, since I had the injectors replaced around 205,000 miles. Is he correct?
Name withheld
via the Internet

2003 Chevy Silverado- Project Over/Under: Part 7

Suspension Lift and Rebuild With Bulletproof, LMC Truck, and Fox

The day is finally here! After months and months of planning and truck building, we were finally ready to tear into the suspension of our ’03 Silverado. Even though we have rebuilt almost all of the truck in the past several months, we hadn’t taken so much as a wheel off when it came to its underpinnings. But all of that was about to change. We were pretty specific when it came to exactly how we wanted to lift this truck. In keeping with the overland theme, we were seeking more than just drop-down brackets; we actually wanted to increase the travel a bit. But we also intended to keep the stock front-end width and not have to run fiberglass fenders—things that ruled out a full-on long-travel kit. Our options were limited, but we were happy to find exactly what we needed from Bulletproof Suspension. While mostly known for giant lifts on full show trucks, Bulletproof also happens to carry a 7-inch lift kit for the ’99-to-’07 GM ½-ton two-wheel drives. It consists of fabricated spindles, coils, and tubular upper control arms, along with all the necessary hardware. We also wanted to replace every single component we could, ending up with a truly brand-new front end, so we ordered up a whole bunch of parts from LMC Truck. Included were new hubs, steering components, and parts to completely rebuild the stock lower control arms we were reusing. In this installment, we got as far as stripping the truck of factory parts, cleaning up what was left, and bolting up the main components. Next month, we will finish things up, including installing the Atlas rear leaf packs and the 18-inch Fuel wheels and 35-inch General tires.

  |   Over the next couple of installments, Project Over/Under is finally going to look like the KP Concepts rendering.

  |   We figured we’d give you one more reminder of our humble beginnings.

  |   And here’s where we left off last month. We’ve got everything handled except for the altitude.

Ford Courier Spotted Testing

That is not a van you are seeing. Ford Motor Company has cleverly disguised its upcoming Courier model to look like one and fool us. They went as far as making a high-roof body on this model, barn doors at the rear, and a faux sliding door. Our trained eyes confirm this is the car-based pickup truck Ford has been working on for some time.

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We know the model will be based on Ford’s new scalable front-drive platform. It is currently used in the Focus. We suspect two- and four-door options will be available. Under the hood, expect a turbo four-cylinder gasoline engine. While we expect the Courier to be front-wheel drive, an all-wheel drive is possible but unlikely to come to market. We also suspect Ford may be working on a hybrid model.

First Drive – 2019 Ford Ranger

Pretender to the Throne

The last brand-new Ford Ranger was sold in the U.S. was a 2012 model, the last in a line of trucks whose bones dated back nearly 20 years. When it was discontinued, the compact Ranger was thoroughly outclassed by its midsize competitors, some of whom had seen two or three redesigns since the Ranger’s most recent. But its simplicity and long production run ensured the Ranger would retain a robust enthusiast following even after it was cancelled. In the ensuing years, the cheap and cheerful Ranger abdicated the small truck sales crown it had dominated for decades, allowing the Toyota Tacoma to take the throne. Since 2012 the truck market has changed significantly—while fullsize pickups will probably always reign supreme, the success of the new-for-2015 Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon and the evergreen popularity of the Toyota Tacoma seem to have convinced Ford that there’s a market for people who are willing to sacrifice size and outright capability for a cheaper, more maneuverable package. Enter the 2019 Ranger.

  |   006 2019 Ford Ranger First Drive Extra

  |   003 2019 Ford Ranger First Drive Extra

When it was revealed at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, rumors ran wild about the new Ranger: Would it offer one of the F-150’s EcoBoost V-6s or its 3.3L naturally aspirated mill as options? Would a manual transmission be available? How much would it be able to tow? Our imaginations ran wild, let down somewhat when Ford later announced the Ranger would come with one engine and transmission combo: a 2.3L EcoBoost I-4 descended from the base Mustang engine, mated to Ford’s fine 10R80 10-speed automatic gearbox. In a market segment where most retail pickups are sold with six-pot motors, would Ford’s single engine option, a four-cylinder no less, be good enough to run with its competitors?
In one word: Yes.

Brabus 700 4×4 Squared Luxurious Machine

Just when you thought off-roading couldn’t get any more luxurious, Brabus came out with its 700 4×4 Squared G-Wagon. The chassis is based off of an older version of the Mercedes Benz G 63. Brabus then threw some beefy parts at it, making an off-road beast.

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Performance starts with a 5.5L twin-turbo V-8 engine. Brabus added its special performance upgrade, boosting the horsepower and torque. Brabus replaces the production turbos with supercharged ones that feature a larger compressor unit. These produce a higher boost pressure.

Mazda SkyActiv-D; Low Compression Equals Low Emissions

Mazda SkyActiv-D

Any diesel-engine manufacturer that confidently claims it produces an oil-burner with the “world’s lowest compression ratio,” will no doubt draw the immediate attention of inquisitive enthusiasts, asking obvious questions like: “Doesn’t diesel normally need a lot of compression to function properly?” and “What, if any, are the benefits of a diesel with less compression?” Mazda Motor Corporation is the company making the claim, saying it’s done it with the SkyActiv-D engine, an innovative powerplant that efficiently operates on only a 14:1 ratio (diesel manufacturers normally use a 16:1 or higher ratio to facilitate proper burn). This low ratio is a key factor in the engine having 20 percent better fuel efficiency and being able to meet modern emissions standards (Euro Stage 6 and US EPA Tier 2 Bin 5) without the use of expensive NOx aftertreatment, like a selective catalytic reduction system. Using compression ignition to run an engine means everything relies on when and how the fuel ignites, so compression is of utmost importance. Not enough compression usually means misfires, rough idle, and hard starts on a traditional diesel engine. Mazda overcomes these issues with the SkyActiv-D by incorporating many different technologies.

  |   Mazda’s SkyActiv-D is 55 pounds lighter than the engine it replaces, thanks to an aluminum block and cylinder head (with integrated exhaust manifold).

SkyActiv-D uses multi-hole Piezo injectors to provide a wide variety of injection patterns that are adaptable to the engine’s needs. The air and fuel mixture concentration can be controlled to ensure cold-start capability by increasing timing and using a precise injection of fuel. Ceramic glow plugs are used in conjunction to warm the air and provide a good ignition. The high-spec injectors are capable of nine injections per combustion cycle.
A specifically designed egg-shaped combustion chamber on the piston works with the measured amount of fuel the injectors spray to suppress momentum loss and form a vertical vortex that reduces combustion duration and provides cleaner emissions.
If misfires do occur during engine warm-up, the variable-valve lift system on the exhaust valves will (after a single combustion cycle) open the valves slightly during the intake stroke to regurgitate hot exhaust gas back into the cylinder to increase air temperature, which promotes the rises in compression temperature to stabilize ignition.

The Cummins Repower 2.8L Turbo is Right at Home in This 1977 Gremlin

Crate Is Enough

What’s a Gremlin? There are probably more than a few readers out there wondering about this unique ’70s subcompact. American Motors Corporation introduced its low-priced economy car in 1970, at a time when gas prices began to rise and fuel mileage became a priority for car buyers. The smaller AMC was in competition with segment leaders such as Chevrolet (Vega) and Ford (Pinto), but Gremlin was on the fast track, beating the bigger brands to market by more than five months. Its controversial style was a cost-cutting measure that cobbled a shortened AMC Hornet platform and bodywork together with a pronounced, almost vertical “Kammback” tail. Faster than the four-cylinder Chevy and Ford and the anemic 40hp Volkswagen engine, the Gremlin’s 145hp, 232ci I-6 made it the leader of the pack. Over the years, engine size and displacement increased, with a stout 304ci V-8 eventually making its way onto the Gremlin’s option list. The real performance news, however, happened in 1972, when Mike Randall of Randall AMC in Mesa, Arizona, got the OK for a high-performance Gremlin project. Providing “unofficial” approval, AMC shipped 30 of its 401ci V-8s—the biggest and strongest engine in the lineup—and the Randall 401-XR Gremlin was born. Like the high-performance, dealer-modified Yenko Camaros, Randall’s cars were special in every way. He promised his pure stock $2,995 Gremlin could run 13.9-second e.t.’s in the quarter-mile and, with a few of his choice performance options, times could drop to the low 12s. These are respectable times today and (for the money) were amazing back in the early ’70s. AMC sold more than 670,000 Gremlins during its eight-year run, but there are a growing number of collectors who now realize good ones are becoming hard to find.

  |   The ’77 AMC Gremlin belonging to Larry and Christina St. Amand is stock appearing, except for the wider and taller 16-inch wheels. Its unique shape will not be confused with anything else. The ’70s econocar was introduced at the right time and sold more than 670,000 during its eight-year run.

Larry St. Amand, from North Fort Myers, Florida, owns Florida Torque Converter in Cape Coral. He and his wife, Christina, are avid Gremlin enthusiasts, with Chris remembering the ’76 she had in high school. They decided it would be fun to have another, especially one with a unique powerplant under the hood. Since there were only 21 Randall 401-XRs actually built, those were out of the question. Instead, Larry went an entirely different route, deciding to use his mechanical talents to create his own one-of-a-kind Gremlin special.

2020 Jeep Gladiator Configurator Goes Live, No Prices Available

We’ve already learned a lot about the 2020 Jeep Gladiator, including its powertrain specs, towing ratings, and available trim levels. Now, we also are learning the Gladiator’s option walks and available accessories, important information for folks who are getting ready to order their very own Jeep trucks.

  |   2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon Build And Price Exterior Rear Quarter 01

But we’re still waiting on how much it’ll cost us for the privilege of owning Jeep’s first truck in nearly three decades, and unfortunately, the Gladiator’s configurator only shows option availability, not pricing. Still, it’s fun to dream, and dream we shall.
As the configurator betrays, the Gladiator will be available in base Sport, slightly nicer Sport S, luxurious Overland, and rugged Rubicon trims—replace Overland with Sahara and you have the Wrangler SUV’s trim walk, minus the stylish and expensive Moab. The Sport, Sport S, and Overland are mechanically identical, with standard four-wheel drive, a 3.6L V-6 engine, and the choice of a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission. The Rubicon augments that hardware with trim-specific Heavy Duty Dana 44 front and rear axles and a numerically higher low-range transfer case, as well as Tru-Lok front and rear differentials.
Like the Wrangler, the Gladiator will be available in many exuberant colors, including Hydro Blue Pearl-Coat, Firecracker Red Clear-Coat, and Punk’n Metallic Clear-Coat. There’s also a military-inspired Gator Clear-Coat (this editor’s favorite) and a slick Gobi Clear-Coat that looks especially cool on the red-accented Gladiator Rubicon. Both the Overland and the Rubicon get optional leather interior upholstery—we feel like it should be standard on the Overland, at least.
Also available on the Gladiator will be a few different roof options: The standard soft top, a premium Sunrider soft top, and black or body-color Freedom Top three-piece hard top. A spray-in bedliner and rolling tonneau cover are optional.

This 2002 Chevy Silverado was Built for Speed on the Street and Track

Ivan’s Intimidator

Ivan Lopez of Miramar, Florida, is an accomplished diesel technician and the operations manager for his family’s business. His love of diesels began almost by accident back in 2006, when he bought his ’02 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD, which was purchased to be a functioning work truck. The chassis was all original, except for a set of leaf clamps on the rear springs and KYB shocks at all four corners. Like most of us, Ivan’s diesel-performance affinity began modestly, with just a few upgrades for the rig: a DiabloSport programmer, Summit Racing exhaust system, Fabtech Motorsports 6-inch lift, and 35-inch tires. The truck was a hard worker on the job site and fun on the street. One day, however, everything changed.

  |   Diesel Ivan 2002 Chevy Silverado

A street challenge from a Dodge Ram 3500 was accepted, with Ivan knowing the two-wheel-drive Dodge had no chance against his four-wheel-drive Chevy. The outcome was decisive, and from that moment, Ivan’s high-performance obsession began in earnest. By 2007, after adding hotter PPE ECM calibrations, Ivan realized the stock Allison 1000 five-speed automatic transmission wasn’t up to the challenge. Doing his own work, he solved the problem, thanks to information found in an Automatic Transmission Service Group service manual. Once the truck was back on the road, the next serious modifications were a PPE Stage V transmission upgrade kit and an HTT 66mm turbocharger along with a K&N Engineering cold-air intake. The combination was impressive, helping the Silverado turn 8.7-second e.t.’s at Homestead Miami Speedway, a local eighth-mile dragstrip. Life was good in Ivan’s world, but that happiness was short-lived.
Later, when pulling a trailer to the job site, “A connecting rod decided it wanted to see the light and installed a window in the block,” Ivan says. The search began for a new block, rods, and pistons from SoCal Diesel. Once the block was procured, Ivan installed a Maximized Performance Inc. BorgWarner S400/S300-based compound-turbocharger set, dual CP3 injection pumps from ATS Diesel Performance to double the fuel, and injectors punched to 60 percent over.

Unexpected Upgrades: A Couple Tips

MBRP Gets the Hot Air Out!

When we last updated you on Mike Sutton’s ’18 Dodge Ram 3500 Mega Cab, the performance upgrades had begun with a programmer to fine-tune every computer setting possible, a throttle booster to provide a pick-me-up, and an intake to help bring in more air for the diesel beast. It’s no secret that to get the most out of your diesel engine, you need a supply of cool, clean air. You can get fresh air in, but you must also usher the hot air out. The MBRP Inc. Performance Exhaust going on Mike’s truck is specific to this model, but the company carries options for many years, makes, and models. This version, the S6167AL, is a 4-inch filter-back exhaust with dual outlets on a single side with an aluminized finish. Mike chose to use the black T5051 5-inch angled exhaust tips with a rolled end. This setup is capable of dropping exhaust gas temperature by up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and, when it’s combined with the previous products installed, it encourages the 6.7L Cummins to perform well no matter what driving/towing conditions put it to the test. Take a look at our quick install, from bone-stock to where we are today.

  |   Before

  |   After

  |   The MBRP Inc. S6167AL kit consists of an extension pipe, Y-pipe, front tailpipe, rear tailpipe, two exhaust tips, and four 4-inch clamps.

  |   Here’s the stock exhaust from the factory. It’s functional, but not aesthetically pleasing. This kit will be a huge upgrade in function and looks.

Adventure: Exploring The Abandoned Mining Camps of Colorado

Across Colorado, there are reminders of a colorful past when precious metals were scraped, pulled, dug, and washed from the earth, where boomtowns sprung up overnight and just as quickly disappeared. Here, huge fortunes could be instantly made, but for most who came driven by such dreams, the rush to find riches turned out to be just that, a dream.

  |   Exploring The Abandoned Mining Camps Colorado Armada

Many arrived on foot, packing what they needed on their backs. Some came with a mule loaded down with picks, shovels, and canvas shelters tethered to these beasts of burden. On the heels of these miners came those who provided various kinds of support systems (saloons, merchants, women offering companionship for a price, dentists) and a wide assortment of other kinds of riffraff. Some mother lodes played out quickly, while others continue to be mined to this day. Several of these old mining towns have taken on new life and experienced a gold rush or boom of a different kind. Like magnets, they draw tourists from around the globe because of the fun stuff they offer, while others have vanished or been nearly forgotten but where remnants of a rich and colorful past still sit waiting to be discovered.
Poke around the nooks and crannies that are hidden in the Centennial State and you still find evidence of those once heady boom/bust days. And even though these mining towns are located in the heart of the Rockies, some are well off the beaten path.

Traveling The Mississippi Blues Trail In Search of Music, Food, and Pickups

Mud, Sweat, and Tears

It’s agreed among all that from Memphis down to Vicksburg is the cradle of the Delta Blues Music, a genre of American root music that has left an indelible mark on country, jazz, rhythm and blues, and rock ’n’ roll. However, it’s also one that, to this day, maintains its purity and continues to be embraced by music aficionados from around the world. Rising out of the mud, sweat, and tears of those who, 100 years ago, lived at the bottom of the food chain in the Mississippi Delta, this was the genesis of the Delta Blues. Gaining its legs, its unique melodic sounds and syncopations were carried to the urban industrial north, where some 60 years later it would cross the “pond” to influence the music of icons like the Beatles, Stones, Clapton, and a litany of other musicians too numerous to mention.

  |   Mississippis Delta Blues Trail

Along the blue-line roads that lead south from Beal Street out of Memphis are found blues clubs and juke joints where emerging talents continue to showcase the mastery of their wares. This is a landscape dotted with pickup trucks that are almost as old as the Delta Blues itself. But it’s more than just the music that draws curious visitors to the Delta. You’re immersed in provincial fare and the charming culture that’s found only here, where the bucolic beauty of the nooks and crannies tucked into the serpentine folds of the Mississippi River. The Delta Blues Music Trail offers a very genuine and unique slice of America’s experience.
First stop is Tunica, Mississippi, where the Gateway to the Blues Museum waits. This is the perfect place to begin total immersion into the world of the Delta Blues. Here, you’re given a crash course in what to see, do, and expect over the next couple of days as you journey south along the Delta. This is the perfect place to plan your stops. Should you travel the Trail in September, the King Biscuit Blues Festival (just across the Mississippi River in Helena, Arkansas) is a must-stop. If you’re lucky, local blues legend Super Chicken will be performing at the Delta Cultural Center in the Old Historic District.

2003 Dodge Ram 1500- Road to Riches

Started From the Bottom, Now He’s Here

People decide to customize trucks for many reasons. Some use their vehicle as a way to flaunt their finances, others to show off their talents in the shop, and sometimes it’s simply because that’s what they grew up around and it’s all they know. For Abe Silva of Albuquerque, New Mexico, his build was not for any of those reasons. It was much more personal. It’s hard to imagine somebody having a much harder life than the way Abe grew up. Abused by his parents, Abe was on his own, living on the streets at 16 years old. “I had to sneak into my own home so I could steal food,” Abe remembers. “I wouldn’t wish this life on anyone.” After sleeping in parks and even the back seat of cars, Abe knew there had to be something out there for him.

  |   2003 Dodge Ram 1500 Road To Riches Drive

He met his now wife Joy at 18. When she became pregnant, Abe began to strive for better things, because he was no longer living his life just for himself. After being able to get odd jobs, Abe purchased his first vehicle, a Dodge Neon, because it was simply the cheapest new car he could purchase. As a result of being neglected and not standing out throughout his childhood, he decided to customize his Neon so he could be noticed and respected. He used magazines for motivation and articles on builds to design his compact car to show-quality status.

1968 Chevy Tahoe- Ghoesst

Uniquely Named, Exceptionally Built

If GM had built the Tahoe back in 1968, this is what that product would look like after today’s custom enthusiasts got their hands on it. This one-of-a-kind Chevrolet is the product of creativity, imagination, modernization, and a talented skillset. Owner Jason Ellis of Visalia, California, is a longtime friend of builder Brandon Sisco from Barrett Jackson Garage. The pair thought up this project, contemplating what could have been a General Motors concept vehicle that got left in a barn for decades. As a huge fan of the ’90s OBS Tahoe, Jason wanted a two-door version inspired by the ’67-to-’72 body style. Beginning life as a three-door Suburban, this truck been drastically shortened—but don’t call it a Blazer! There is not a removable roof, zero K5 parts were utilized in the build, and the wheelbase is not as short as a Blazer. This SUV has a style all its own, and that was the whole point. The name Ghoesst is a play on its white paint, Tahoe (hence the “hoe”), and the LSA SS powerplant.

  |   1968 Chevrolet Tahoe Concept One Off Ghoesst

Since the focus was on shortening the Suburban, Brandon cut 34 inches out of the body as a first step. If that isn’t nerve-racking enough, more cuts were made, including 2.5 inches chopped from the top and a 2-inch body drop to eventually lay it on the pavement. To give the truck a more flowing, laid-back look, the squared Suburban front doors were replaced with C10 versions. The pillars were custom modified, along with the door frames and wheelbase. With those major structural changes complete, the extensive list of cosmetic body alterations could begin to take shape. The list includes a front roll pan, as well as fender extensions by Bob Grant, shaved front markers, C10 truck taillights, reshaped quarter panels, a custom rear hatch, and a new cowl to rid the unsightly windshield wipers from the front.

Custom Pro Touring 1986 Chevy C10 Silverado

Hip to be Square(body)

A matte-gray expanse of hood blends seamlessly into a broad, open highway in front of the truck. It’s just waiting for a blip of throttle, or maybe even a foot firmly planted until either tires or nerve give out. There’s a 6.2L Chevy crate engine under that prairie-sized hood, and earlier, when we maneuvered the pickup out of the industrial office park where it was hidden, the sound of 640 supercharged horses through Magnaflow mufflers bounced off the concrete walls and rattled the vape juice in the neighboring units. Nobody even noticed, or if they did, they didn’t notice the earthquake was coming from an ’80s-era pickup. With its typical work-truck patina and body lines barely changed since the introduction of the square-body design in 1973, there’s a truck like this in every neighborhood. That truck-next-door appeal is exactly what led Noah Alexander and the crew of Classic Car Studio (CCS) to choose the ’86 Silverado as their shop truck/parts tester, and later to loan it out for test rides, because it’s too good not to share.

  |   Pro Touring 1986 Chevy C10 Silverado Badge

  |   While the engine bay of the C10 had plenty of room for the LT4, it wasn’t a direct bolt in, requiring custom engine and transmission mounts. The guys considered long-tube headers, but decided to stick with exhaust manifolds to avoid interference with the GSI chassis cross brace.

If Alexander’s name or shop sound familiar, it may be because Classic Car Studio and its team of builders are the stars of a car show on MotorTrend (formerly Velocity) called Speed is the New Black. If you’re rolling your eyes and picturing thrown wrenches and screaming fabricators, unroll, because Speed is the New Black is a calm, feel-good show whose only TV tropes might be an excessive use of slo-mo grinding sparks. “We don’t do the drama thing,” Alexander tells us. “We just build cars.” Cars and trucks. A look through the CCS website shows that a good third of the vehicles built there are pickups.
It’s not by accident that CCS builds so many hot rod trucks. Alexander and his right-hand man, CCS General Manager Charles Crews, get so excited about customized haulers that they start talking fast when the topic turns to trucks. They get big, dumb smiles on their faces and interrupt one another, each finishing the other’s thoughts.
“Trucks are almost horrible to being with,” Crews says.
“From a driving standpoint,” clarifies Alexander. “But when you hot rod one, it makes you want to drive it.”

Shop Class: Pickup Truck Crash Safety Devices

Bare Bones Safety

Protecting drivers and passengers during a collision has always been a challenge for automakers, but technology has made significant strides in safety since the early 1950s. But it all begins with the base structure of any vehicle. Common sense tells us the bigger, the better. A 3/4-ton truck meeting head on with a compact car is a no-brainer as to who wins the battle. But the structural design of the body and frame or unibody may give the little guy a fighting chance.

The Zone

In the earliest years of automobile production, the perception was the more rigid the structure, the safer the car. Meaning if you hit a concrete wall and the heavy-gauge steel up front was so strong that the front bumper barely moved, it would prevent occupants from being crushed inside the passenger compartment. Made sense at the time, but it didn’t take into consideration the assault on individuals by kinetic energy. Read More

Is Elon Musk Going to Have a Prototype Tesla Truck Ready for 2019?

Elon Musk tweets again he is dying to make a pickup truck prototype for 2019.

We have heard Elon Musk talk about a prototype Tesla truck for at least five years now. Die-hard Tesla fans have been waiting and hanging on Musk’s every word. He has been quoted on social media saying, “I promise that we will make a pickup truck right after the Model Y. Have had the core design/engineering elements in my mind for almost 5 years. Am dying to build it.”

  |   2

The pressure is now on for Musk and Tesla to deliver. Rivian just stepped up its game with a prototype electric truck and SUV at the Los Angeles Auto Show, and it got a lot of attention. Rivian is ahead of the game with its prototypes already in the public eye. Rivian says it will begin production on the R1T by 2020. The pickup truck market is one of the largest growing segments in North America, and so far it seems an electric truck could be well received, especially from an established company such as Tesla.

Pickup Truck of the Year 2019: The Masterpost #PTOTY19

2019 Ram 1500 Takes Honors, But What Else Did We Learn?

If you’ve been living under a rock or are new to the Truck Trend family, then you might not know we spent the better part of Fall 2018 preparing for, then carrying out, our 2019 Pickup Truck of the Year competition. And when the dust settled and we tallied the points, the all-new 2019 Ram 1500 came out on top, beating its new or significantly updated competition from GMC, Ford, and Chevrolet.

  |   004 2019 Pickup Truck Of The Year Truck Pairs

How did we come to our decisions? That’s easy, and we’ll be more than happy to tell you all about our test, our findings, and our favorite features of each of the trucks. Check out the links below to learn everything about Pickup Truck of the Year 2019, from soup to nuts.
Pickup Truck of the Year Winner: 2019 Ram 1500 #PTOTY19

How to Get Your New Old Bronco

Gateway gets license from Ford to build Broncos.

Ford Motor Company has just given Gateway a license to build old first-generation Broncos. The company has been restoring old Broncos for years. This is the first time Ford Motor Company has granted a company a license to build the iconic Bronco from the ground up. Gateway’s license covers model years 1966-1977 under the NHSTA Low Volume Manufacturers Act of 2015, which allows manufacturers to produce a limited number of vehicles annually within a specific regulatory system. Gateway has three models to choose from. The Broncos will keep the original styling with upgraded modern suspension. A Ford Coyote 5.0L V-8 engine with six-speed automatic transmission will be installed in all three models.

  |   1

“We’re honored to be recognized by Ford Motor Company and consider this license agreement a tremendous privilege,” said Seth Burgett, CEO of Gateway Bronco. “We will work diligently to serve and protect the Ford brand. Our proprietary, exclusive solutions to re-condition and manufacture the first-generation Ford Bronco has led to incredible growth of our company. Deepening our relationship with Ford will help us better serve our customers who want the ultimate classic Ford Bronco with modern performance.”

The Driver’s Seat: Trucks Are Too Expensive

The Driver’s Seat

Allow me to sit on my metaphoric porch and shake my cane at the neighborhood kids, because what I need to say will have me sounding like that crotchety old man everyone knows and loves. Trucks have gotten too damn expensive. There, I said it. As you’ll see later in this issue, we had a $75,000 ½-ton in our Pickup Truck of the Year test. Let that settle in for a minute. Adding insult to injury, the average price across the whole field of eight ½-ton competitors was more than $64,000. I’ll concede that that’s MSRP and nobody pays the sticker price except Hank Hill. But even being incredibly generous, you’ll probably only knock about $4K off, even with the best negotiating skills.

  |   Boy, $36,000 sure went a lot further in 2007 than it does today. Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do now but reminisce on the glory days.

If those prices seem bad, try pricing out a 1-ton. You can easily run an F-350 up to $90,000 by selecting Platinum trim and dual rear wheels. Disgustingly, Ford’s configurator bases the estimated monthly payment on an 84-month term. That’s seven years with a payment over $1,000 a month. Gone are the days of the standard five-year car loan, apparently.
When I was young and dumb, I went out and bought a brand-new truck. It was an ’07 Ford F-150 SuperCrew in FX4 trim with the 5.4L V-8 engine. While not quite top of the line, it was a very well-equipped truck. Sticker price was just a touch over $36K, and I walked out the door paying far less and financed with no interest. Even with inflation, that’s just a shade over $42,000. Now, 12 years later, an equivalent new truck would set you back about $60,000. Sure, a lot has changed in that time, but it’s difficult to fathom a price jump like that.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for free enterprise, companies earning a profit, and letting the market dictate the price. I just can’t help but wonder if another crash is looming, much like it did in 2008 when dealers couldn’t give away the same pickup I’d just bought, even with a $10K discount on the hood. Like I said, grumpy old man shaking his cane.

2019 Pickup Truck of the Year Specifications as Tested #PTOTY19

Specifications as Tested

Vehicle/model Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT Trail Boss Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ Ford F-150 Lariat FX4 Ford F-150 Limited
Base price $48,300 $48,700 $47,205 $70,560
Price as tested $56,790 $58,135 $68,225 $74,940
Type Naturally aspirated, direct-injected gasoline V-8 Naturally aspirated, direct-injected gasoline V-8 Turbocharged, common rail-injected diesel V-6 Twin-turbocharged, direct-injected V-6
Displacement 5.3L 6.2L 3.0L 3.5L
Bore x stroke (in) 3.78×3.62 4.06×3.62 3.31×3.54 3.64×3.41
Compression ratio (:1) 11.0 11.5 16.0 10.0
Mfg.’s power rating @ rpm (hp) 355 @ 5,600 420 @ 5,600 250 @ 3,250 450 @ 5,000
Mfg.’s torque rating @ rpm (lb-ft) 383 @ 4,100 460 @ 4,100 440 @ 1,750 510 @ 3,500
Mfg.’s suggested fuel type Regular unleaded Premium unleaded Ultra-low sulfur diesel Premium unleaded
Transmission 8-speed automatic 10-speed automatic 10-speed automatic 10-speed automatic
Axle ratio (:1) 3.23 3.23 3.55 3.55
Frame/body Steel and aluminum body on ladder frame Steel and aluminum body on ladder frame Aluminum body on ladder frame Aluminum body on ladder frame
Front Independent with coilover monotube shocks Independent with coilover monotube shocks Independent double-wishbone with coilover gas-pressurized shocks Independent double-wishbone with coilover gas-pressurized shocks
Rear Solid-axle leaf springs with monotube shocks Solid-axle leaf springs with monotube shocks Solid-axle leaf springs, gas pressurized shocks Solid-axle leaf springs, gas pressurized shocks
Type Electric power rack and pinion steering Electric power rack and pinion steering Electric power rack and pinion steering Electric power rack and pinion steering
Front 13.5-inch disc 13.5-inch disc 13.8-inch disc 13.8-inch disc
Rear 14.1-inch disc 14.1-inch disc 13.7-inch disc 13.7-inch disc
ABS 4-wheel 4-wheel 4-wheel 4-wheel
Wheels (in) 18×8.5 20×9 20×8.5 22×9
Tires LT275/65R18 P275/60R20 all-terrain P275/55R20 all-terrain P275/45R22
Wheelbase (in) 147.5 147.4 145.0 145.0
Overall length (in) 231.7 231.7 231.9 231.9
Overall width (in) 81.2 81.2 83.5 83.5
Height (in) 78.4 75.5 77.2 77.2
Track f/r (in) 68.7/67.1 68.7/67.1 67.6/67.6 67.6/67.6
Minimum ground clearance (in) 10.7 8.1 9.4 9.4
Turning diameter, curb-to-curb (ft) 49.5 46.3 47.8 47.8
Approach/departure angles (deg) 27.2/25.8 19.0/23.9 25.5/26.0 25.5/26.0
Breakover angle (deg) 20.4 19.4 21.0 21.0
GVWR (lb) 7,000 7,100 7,050 6,750
Payload (lb) 1,812 1,814 1,333 1,039
Maximum towing capacity (lb) 9,635 9,543 10,100 12,700
Seating 5 5 5 5
Fuel capacity (gal) 24.0 24.0 26.0 26.0
Vehicle/model GMC Sierra 1500 AT4 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Ram 1500 Rebel
Base price (incl. destination, configuration, and powertrain options) $53,200 $58,000 $53,695 $44,695
Price as tested $65,475 $67,200 $66,755 $55,805
Type Naturally aspirated, direct-injected gasoline V-8 Naturally aspirated, direct-injected gasoline V-8 Naturally aspirated, port-injected gasoline V-8 with electric assist Naturally aspirated, port-injected gasoline V-8 with electric assist
Displacement 6.2L 6.2L 5.7L 5.7L
Bore x stroke (in) 4.06×3.62 4.06×3.62 3.92×3.58 3.92×3.58
Compression ratio (:1) 11.5 11.5 10.5 10.5
Mfg.’s power rating @ rpm (hp) 420 @ 5,600 420 @ 5,600 395 @ 5,600 395 @ 5,600
Mfg.’s torque rating @ rpm (lb-ft) 460 @ 4,100 460 @ 4,100 410 @ 3,950 410 @ 3,950
Mfg.’s suggested fuel type Premium unleaded Premium unleaded Midgrade unleaded Midgrade unleaded
Transmission 10-speed automatic 10-speed automatic 8-speed automatic 8-speed automatic
Axle ratio (:1) 3.23 3.23 3.21 3.92
Frame/body Steel and aluminum body on ladder frame Steel and aluminum body on ladder frame Steel, aluminum, and composite body on ladder frame Steel, aluminum, and composite body on ladder frame
Front Independent with coilover monotube shocks Independent with coilover monotube shocks Independent double-wishbone with coilover twin-tube shock absorbers Independent double-wishbone with coilover monotube shock absorbers
Rear Solid-axle leaf springs with monotube shocks Solid-axle leaf springs with monotube shocks Five-link solid axle with track bar, coilover twin-tube shock absorbers Five-link solid axle with track bar, coilover monotube shock absorbers with remote reservoir
Type Electric power rack and pinion steering Electric power rack and pinion steering Electric power rack and pinion steering Electric power rack and pinion steering
Front 13.5 13.5 14.9 14.9
Rear 14.1 14.1 14.8 14.8
ABS 4-wheel 4-wheel 4-wheel 4-wheel
Wheels (in) 20×9 22×9 20×9 18×8
Tires P275/60R20 all-terrain P275/50R22 P275/55R20 LT275/70R18 all-terrain
Wheelbase (in) 147.4 147.4 144.6 140.5
Overall length (in) 231.7 231.7 232.9 228.9
Overall width (in) 81.2 81.2 82.1 82.1
Height (in) 78.4 78.4 77.6 77.7
Track f/r (in) 68.7/67.1 68.9/68.3 68.5/68.1 68.5/68.1
Minimum ground clearance (in) 10.88 8.09 8.7 9.1
Turning diameter, curb-to-curb (ft) 46.3 46.3 46.2 46.2
Approach/departure angles (deg) 27.2/25.8 23.5/19.3 19.0/24.9 25.1/22.7
Breakover angle (deg) 20.4 19.3 19.5 20.0
GVWR (lb) 7,000 7,100 7,100 7,100
Payload (lb) 1,635 1,684 1,448 1,566
Maximum towing capacity (lb) 9,427 9,400 8,150 11,330
Seating 5 5 5 5
Fuel capacity (gal) 24.0 24.0 33.0 33.0

2019 Ford Ranger Fuel Economy Revealed – Up to 26 MPG for 4×2

Ranger Numbers Are Tops Among Gas-Powered Pickups

Ford announced the official EPA fuel economy numbers for the 2019 Ranger midsize pickup, and they’re very reasonable indeed. Its most efficient configuration, a 4×2, is capable of 21 city/26 highway/23 combined mpg, numbers that Ford claims are tops among gas-powered midsize trucks. Equipped as a 4×4, the Ranger nets a still-impressive 20 city/24 highway/22 combined mpg in EPA testing.

  |   2019 Ford Ranger In Snow Front Side View

That fuel economy is the result of a standard 2.3L EcoBoost I-4 engine routing its power through a 10-speed automatic, a gearbox that beats out its competitors’ six- and eight-speed transmissions. One caveat: Ford’s EcoBoost engines tend to do better in testing than they do in the real world, so we’ll have to wait and see what kind of fuel economy the Ranger gets in the wild.

2019 Pickup Truck of the Year: Final Scoring & Thank You #PTOTY19

The Final Scorecard

Our Pickup Truck of the Year scoring method uses seven weighted categories as the means to declaring a winner. The rundown is as follows: 15 percent Highway Performance (vehicle handling, ride quality, steering feel, NVH, and so on), 15 percent Towing and Hauling (how the vehicle reacts with a class-specific weighted trailer—7,500 pounds for ½-tons—and maximum payload), 15 percent Off-Road Performance (evaluating each vehicle’s performance and off-road–centric features such as traction aids, tires, and four-wheel-drive system operation in a specific off-highway environment), 10 percent Interior (instrumentation, ingress and egress, seat comfort, storage, appearance, driving position, material choice), 10 percent Exterior (styling, appearance, and features), 15 percent Functionality (passing power, parking prowess, ease of use of technology), and 20 percent Empirical Data (loaded and unloaded acceleration, braking, and quarter-mile; weight, pricing, fuel economy, and so on). These individual categories each contain a series of subsections on which each judge assigns a numerical value to (excluding Empirical). All of the judges’ votes are then tabulated, and total scoring is averaged and normalized.

Special Thanks

Pickup Truck of the Year doesn’t happen in a vacuum, it requires the involvement of dozens of people and agencies spread all across the country, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t at least give them a shout out. First and foremost, we must say thank you to the men and women who make up the marketing and communications teams at each of the OEMs. Without their help and support, this test wouldn’t happen. Special thanks are due to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, for allowing us use of its facility. For our spectacular photo shoot locations, thanks go to the Inland Empire Film Commission, California Film Commission, the U.S. Forest Service Mountain Top Ranger District, and California State Parks Oceano Dunes District. And a good location would be nothing without killer photographers; this year, we had two of the best along for the ride. Thank you both for putting up with us. And, lastly, a big thank you to Nissan, which graciously provided an ’18 Armada for use as a support vehicle during the week. Read More

2019 Pickup Truck of the Year: Final Scoring & Thank You #PTOTY19

The Final Scorecard

Our Pickup Truck of the Year scoring method uses seven weighted categories as the means to declaring a winner. The rundown is as follows: 15 percent Highway Performance (vehicle handling, ride quality, steering feel, NVH, and so on), 15 percent Towing and Hauling (how the vehicle reacts with a class-specific weighted trailer—7,500 pounds for ½-tons—and maximum payload), 15 percent Off-Road Performance (evaluating each vehicle’s performance and off-road–centric features such as traction aids, tires, and four-wheel-drive system operation in a specific off-highway environment), 10 percent Interior (instrumentation, ingress and egress, seat comfort, storage, appearance, driving position, material choice), 10 percent Exterior (styling, appearance, and features), 15 percent Functionality (passing power, parking prowess, ease of use of technology), and 20 percent Empirical Data (loaded and unloaded acceleration, braking, and quarter-mile; weight, pricing, fuel economy, and so on). These individual categories each contain a series of subsections on which each judge assigns a numerical value to (excluding Empirical). All of the judges’ votes are then tabulated, and total scoring is averaged and normalized.

Special Thanks

Pickup Truck of the Year doesn’t happen in a vacuum, it requires the involvement of dozens of people and agencies spread all across the country, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t at least give them a shout out. First and foremost, we must say thank you to the men and women who make up the marketing and communications teams at each of the OEMs. Without their help and support, this test wouldn’t happen. Special thanks are due to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, for allowing us use of its facility. For our spectacular photo shoot locations, thanks go to the Inland Empire Film Commission, California Film Commission, the U.S. Forest Service Mountain Top Ranger District, and California State Parks Oceano Dunes District. And a good location would be nothing without killer photographers; this year, we had two of the best along for the ride. Thank you both for putting up with us. And, lastly, a big thank you to Nissan, which graciously provided an ’18 Armada for use as a support vehicle during the week. Read More

2019 Pickup Truck of the Year: Judges Choice #PTOTY19

Judge’s Choice

Our Individual Choices for #PTOTY19

When we judge Pickup Truck of the Year, we try our best to be impartial and to avoid mob mentality. We evaluate each truck based on its own merits, not our personal penchants and preconceptions, and we feel like we do a decent job of giving each pickup a fair shot. That’s what sets Truck Trend’s award apart from others: we don’t blindly ballot for our favorite, we use numbers and data to decide which is worthy of the title.

Still, in order to allow our individual preferred pickups a chance to shine, we give each judge the opportunity to choose which one he would take home, if money were no object. Without further ado, here are our personal picks and why we would choose them.

2019 Porsche Macan S Gets All-New Engine, More Power, and Updated Styling

Twin-Scroll Single-Turbo V-6 Replaces Twin-Turbo V-6

Porsche is slowly rolling out the refreshed versions of its 2019 Macan small SUV. Starting with the base Macan in October, Porsche gave the world a look at an SUV with bolder and more modern styling than its predecessor, as well as a slightly updated interior. But under the hood, the base 2019 Macan is all but identical to the 2018 version, with only slight alterations that reduced emissions (and power).

  |   2019 Porsche Macan S Exterior Rear Quarter 01

The volume-selling 2019 Macan S will suffer no such downgrades when it arrives at Porsche dealers next summer. Thanks to an all-new turbo V-6 engine, the Macan S produces 348 hp and 354 lb-ft, respective improvements of 8 and 15 over the 2018 Macan S. The outgoing SUV featured a twin-turbocharged V-6, while the new engine’s twin-scroll single turbocharger is nestled in the valley between the two cylinder banks for improved throttle response and power.
Porsche says its slight power increase will make the Macan 0.1 second faster to 60 mph than the vehicle it replaces. The sprint should take 5.1 seconds for the standard Macan S or 4.9 seconds for the launch control–equipped Macan S with Sport Chrono Package. Other performance improvements include front strut forks newly hewn in aluminum, reducing unsprung weight and improving steering response, ride comfort, and handling. The antiroll bars have been retuned for more neutral handling as well.

Episode 44 of The Truck Show Podcast: Finding Ronnie

Plus EV 4x4s Are Here, Mentorship, and a Listener in Studio

  |   Episode 44 Truck Show Podcast

The Truck Show Podcast Presented by Nissan in association with DECKED is a fun, irreverent, and edgy look at today’s world of custom and factory trucks, hosted by automotive journalist Sean Holman and veteran Los Angeles radio personality Jay “Lightning” Tilles. Sit back, relax, and enjoy our latest episode.
Episode 44 is full of goodness, including a conversation with fellow podcaster Ronnie Wetch from C10 Talk, a look at electric trucks with the founder and CEO of electric vehicle startup Bollinger Motors, Robert Bollinger, and a great clip from SEMA’s Brew Talks about mentorship and vocational education. Ben Palmer from American Expedition Vehicles also drops by with pizza, Dr. Pepper, and a little truck insight.

2019 Pickup Truck of the Year: How We Test #PTOTY19

Running the Gauntlet

Looking from the outside in, our annual Pickup Truck of the Year test may appear as if we’re just a bunch of hooligans doing burnouts and donuts in brand-new pickups for a week. The reality is that couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, some adolescent shenanigans take place, usually for the sake of photography, but what isn’t seen are the many hundreds of hours of work that go on behind the scenes. We’ll spare you the details of the thousands of pages of paperwork, hundreds of emails, and many hours on the phone with various state, federal, and private organizations and get right to the nitty gritty.
By now you should have noticed that there’s something different about this year’s test. For the first time, we have invited a pair of trucks from each eligible manufacturer. We requested both a luxury and an off-road trim, since all of the current pickup manufacturers have both in their lineup. Each truck went through the battery of tests prescribed individually, and at the end, the scores received by both the luxury and off-road variant from a particular manufacturer were combined. This provided the ultimate score and the overall winner. Before the pickups hit the highway, they are first logged in, stickered up, photographed, and fully refueled. First thing on day 1, prior to the start of testing, our staff weighs each vehicle with a full tank of fuel and nothing else. We utilize a set of ProForm precision digital vehicle scales from Summit Racing that are capable of accurately weighing pickups in excess of 7,000 pounds. We do this for several reasons, the first being that manufacturer-published curb weights typically don’t account for trim-level variants. For the most accurate testing possible, we calculate available payload based on the published gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and our determined actual curb weight, and check tow ratings against the vehicle’s gross combined weight rating (GCWR). While we’ve found in the past that most of the pickups tested actually have less available payload and towing than published accounting for their particular GVWRs and GCWRs, this is beginning to turn the opposite direction. Still, we check each vehicle anyway.
With the full judging staff assembled for a week of intense testing, the team headed to the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, for a day of instrumented testing. The field of eight was subjected to 0-60 mph and quarter-mile acceleration testing, as well as 60-0 mph braking while unladen. Each truck was then loaded up with its maximum payload and retested from 0-60, for quarter-mile elapsed time and speed, and 60-0 braking. The final instrumented test involved each truck accelerating from 0-60 mph and through a quarter-mile while towing a weighted trailer. Because of last year’s change in how we weight the trailer for tow testing and our field being comprised of all ½-ton pickups, all of the competitors towed the same 7,500-pound load.
For our instrumented testing, we use asphalt pavement that most closely simulates what you would find in the real world, not a competition-prepped dragstrip. Payload is replicated using rubber mats that weigh 100 pounds apiece, loaded and secured in the bed of each pickup. We load the trucks 200 pounds short of our calculated maximum payload to account for the driver’s weight. The trailer is weighted in the same fashion with our rubber ballast mats, set with approximately 10 percent of weight on the tongue. To ensure consistency, a single driver conducted the instrumented testing, while each of the other judges had the opportunity to drive each pickup with its full payload on a closed course. This allowed for testing vehicle handling with maneuvers that would otherwise be dangerous on public roads, such as panic-braking and emergency lane changes. We also took this time to arrange the vehicles in such a way as to demonstrate and test available self-parking and trailer-backing technology, if so equipped. Each judge had the opportunity to sample Ram’s parallel-parking ability, along with Ford’s parallel and perpendicular park assist and Pro Trailer Backup Assist features. Lastly, we tested the vehicles’ low-speed pedestrian detection and automatic braking functions.
Day 2 was spent with trailer in tow. Using the same parameters as the instrumented testing, the trucks were again hitched up to our test trailer and driven on a 12-mile loop up and down the infamous Cajon Pass of Interstate 15 in Southern California. The Cajon Pass features an impressive 6 percent grade, which tested each pickup to the max. Our expert judges spent the day rotating through the driver seat of each of the pickups involved. This allowed our judges to evaluate every vehicle with a loaded trailer driving both up and down the grade. Our chosen grade allowed us to test merging and passing power, vehicle stability, downhill control, and available features such as towing mirrors, integrated trailer brake controllers, and integrated exhaust brakes. Transmission function, both up and down the grade, along with the vehicle’s service brakes and cruise-control systems were also put to the test. Testers also got well acquainted with how easy (or difficult) each truck was to hitch a trailer to and how each truck’s backup camera and sensor systems either helped or hindered the process. New for this year, we also ran each truck up the grade with its maximum payload. While one truck towed up the grade, a second payload-laden pickup followed. This allowed our judges to experience full payload at highway speeds and on a grade, testing handling, stability, acceleration, and braking.
Halfway through tow testing, we experienced a minor setback when a leaf-spring shackle on our test trailer decided to let go. Ever the scrappy bunch, we quickly rented a trailer from the local U-Haul, loaded it back to the test weight, and continued with our program. A mobile repair service had our trailer fixed and good as new in time to return the rental, leaving our test schedule on track. With load and instrumented testing complete, on day 3 the vehicles were pointed north from the Truck Trend world headquarters toward the quiet Central California coastal town of Pismo Beach for a 400-mile highway slog designed to test maximum real-world fuel efficiency. Our convoy drove at the stated speed limit in a lead-follow formation, rotating both drivers and vehicle positions at designated intervals. This method produces the most accurate representation of real-world highway fuel economy possible. While all fuel used during the test is logged to get an overall average, this allows us to see what each vehicle is capable of producing under nearly ideal real-world circumstances.
Finally, the team headed to the mountain town of Big Bear Lake, California, where the field completed extensive off-highway testing over miles of diverse terrain over the course of two days. Through rough, graded roads; rocky climbs; tight trails; and sandy washes, judges were able to evaluate tires, gearing, traction aids, electronic traction controls, ground clearance, suspension tuning, four-wheel-drive systems, thermal management, and overall vehicle dynamics. While it’s true that most truck owners won’t use their pickup as strictly an off-road toy, the fact still remains that most are marketed toward those who lead an active outdoor lifestyle. And while some may not consider themselves off-roaders, they still use their four-wheel-drive pickup to get to their favorite hunting, fishing, camping, biking, surfing, skiing, or boarding spot. And if it’s not for recreation, then it’s used on the farm, in muddy fields, rural construction sites, or mines. While all of the test vehicles were taken off-road, we concentrated the most intense testing on our cadre of four off-road specific models. Our judges thoroughly examined the available skidplates, rocker protection, shock and spring packages, ground clearance, and tires. Because of the popularity of off-road–specific pickup models and the lengths the manufacturers are going to satisfy consumer desire, we felt it was our duty to include them in this year’s competition.
Over the course of the five-day, 1,200-mile test, our experts had ample time with each vehicle to form qualified opinions regarding important factors such as interior ergonomics, seat comfort, technology usability, build quality, and features and benefits of each truck. Each judge then took this knowledge and applied it while blind-ranking each pickup on a sliding scale in each of 60 different criteria in 6 different categories. In the end, there can be only one winner. Continue on to see how the story unfolds.

2019 Pickup Truck of the Year – Introduction #PTOTY19

Patriot Games

It’s finally here—time to crown our 2019 Pickup Truck of the Year. The journey that embarks on the following pages is the culmination of hundreds of hours of hard work that encompasses several months. The days spent testing are long and nights often seem longer. Our crew is forced to work tirelessly in the harshest conditions Mother Nature can dish out, from stifling heat to howling wind and driving rain. Nothing can stop us.
Our judging panel is comprised of some of the most knowledgeable minds in the automotive industry. They come to us with backgrounds in street, off-road, diesel, lifted, lowered, new, and classic trucks. This ensures that our judging staff is just as diverse as the pickups we’re testing. We all eat, sleep, and breathe trucks. At Truck Trend, we pride ourselves on being the definitive authority on all things truck.
For our 2019 Pickup Truck of the Year competition, we invited all models that were either all-new or significantly updated for the ’19 model year and available to us at the time of testing. New for 2019, we also requested each manufacturer send both a luxury and off-road variant of its eligible model line. Four manufacturers accepted the invitation, and each sent a pair of pickups for the test. Each truck would be tested individually, but each brand representative’s scores would be combined to determine the overall winner. Each of these pickups brought with it a unique skill set, and they were all impressive to our staff in one area or another. In the end, however, only one brand could take home the coveted Billet Piston trophy. The winner showed exceptional performance in each of the tested criterion and never left our panel of judges disappointed. Which brand scored the highest? Read on to find out.


2019 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn2019 Ram 1500 Rebel


2019 Ford F-150 Limited2018 Ford F-150 Lariat FX4


2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT Trail Boss


2019 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali2019 GMC Sierra 1500 AT4

SPIED: 2020 GMC Sierra HD in Limited Camo Shows Its Skin

The Boss Shares Styling With Its Little Brother

Chevrolet surprised us all this week when it released the first official photos of the 2020 Silverado HD. The Bow Tie claims that the Silverado HD shares only one piece of sheetmetal with the Silverado 1500—its roof panel.

  |   2020 Gmc Sierra 3500hd Slt Front Quarter 01

After seeing stripped-down spy photos of the likewise–all new 2020 GMC Sierra HD, we don’t think that division will be able to say the same, as the luxury-oriented pickup seems to share much more with the smaller Sierra 1500. However, given the 1/2-ton truck’s handsome lines—and the polarizing-at-best reaction garnered by the Silverado HD—that might be a good thing for GMC.

Chevrolet Reveals Less Controversial 2020 Silverado HD High Country

More Traditional Chevy Cues Make Top-Spec Truck a Looker

Since Chevrolet released the first official photos of the 2020 Silverado HD in LT trim on December 4, the peanut gallery has made its opinion known: The new truck’s styling is controversial. While we at Truck Trend find ourselves split—some love the LT’s aggressive and modern new styling, while some will have to, er, get used to it—our opinions are much more united with regard to the range-topping Silverado HD High Country, which was just shown today with a cohesive and attractive new design.

  |   2020 Chevrolet Silverado 2500hd High Country Front Quarter 01

The High Country receives much more traditional Chevrolet styling cues, including a front grille with a bow tie badge and added chrome accents, replacing the already revealed LT’s flow-through “CHEVROLET” branding and dimpled black plastic grille. The High Country name appears on the bold center grille bar as well, in between the driver-side lighting elements. The Silverado HD’s most luxurious trim level offsets its blingy grille with body-color bumpers, although perhaps predictably, the High Country gets chrome mirror caps and wheels, along with shiny running boards.

SPIED: 2020 Ford Explorer With Minimal Camouflage

Slight Exterior Restyling Hides Revolutionary Changes Under the Skin

The 2020 Ford Explorer was recently spotted in Michigan wearing limited camouflage, giving us a good look at the next generation of the Blue Oval’s popular family SUV. If you have to squint to see the changes, you’re forgiven—surprisingly, the next-generation Explorer looks very much like the utility it replaces. Blacked-out A-, B-, and D-pillars carry over, as does a cantilevered C-pillar in body color. The current Explorer’s Range Rover–aping front end has been jettisoned in favor of a mug with headlamps that integrate into the grille (with obvious Platinum-model details seen here). The front bumper incorporates a lower air intake and air curtains with integrated LED foglamps to direct air cleanly around the side of the body. The new taillights are doppelgangers for the current Explorer.

  |   2020 Ford Explorer Platinum Spied Front End Graphic

Taken in whole, however, there are some differences between old and new. The 2020 Explorer has a more athletic stance, appearing to sit longer and lower than the vehicle it replaces—the latter is probably a visual effect, as we believe it will actually be taller than the outgoing model. Side glass sits nearly flush with the body, giving the new Explorer a sleeker appearance as well, and the head- and taillights integrate more cleanly into the body sides. Squint a bit and you’ll also notice that front overhang is reduced a bit, with a longer dash-to-axle ratio and rear overhang than the current Explorer.

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