Dodge Ram: and AutoPacific Announce the Most Significant Trucks of the Decade

0 and AutoPacific have taken a look at all the new trucks sold in the past 10 years and made their picks for the most significant trucks of the decade. The trucks that made the list introduced cutting edge technologies and pushed the segment into new territory.
“Despite the economic challenges of the past two years, it’s hard not to look back at the last ten years without calling it the decade of the pickup truck,” said editor Mike Levine. “Sales of full-size pickups hit 2.56 million units in 2004 and Ford’s F-Series trucks remain the nation’s best-selling vehicles, 33 years in a row.”
Though there are many trucks that had a significant impact in the last decade, it’s clear that the 2009 Ford F-150 earned the title of “Most Significant”.
“On balance, we thought the 2009 Ford F-150 was the most significant pickup of the last decade,” said Jim Hossack, vice president of consulting for AutoPacific. “It sells in high volume, owners like it and its body, chassis and powertrain are all first rate. Features abound, and there are more models, series and options than can be counted. It’s a good looking truck and suitable for the widest possible range of tasks and uses.”
After the jump are those trucks deemed most significant, in no particular order.

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2009 Dodge Ram Wins AutoPacific's Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Large Pickup


2009_Dodge_Ram_1500_front.jpgThe Dodge Ram is all-new for 2009, and Dodge is setting a new and higher standard for the full-size pickup segment with this generation Ram. It offers class-leading strength in many important areas, and dramatic styling and a new coil-spring rear suspension contribute to the class win. Attributes where the new Ram is the class leader include:
• Exterior and interior appearance, and image
• Dynamic characteristics, specifically including ride, handling and braking
• Overall quality, and warranty
• Safety features, and a feeling of safety when driving
• And, perhaps most important of all, value for the money

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Nissan Chrysler Cycle Plan Conjecture


First Shoe to Drop – Titan Becomes a Dodge Ram Derivative
Nissan and Chrysler appear to be getting closer and closer to merging major parts of their product lineups. Earlier this year Nissan announced that the Nissan Titan full-size pickup presently produced on Nissan’s own platform at Nissan’s 300,000 unit capacity plant in Canton, Mississippi would become a reskinned Dodge Ram built at Saltillo, Mexico early in the next decade. In the meantime, Chrysler has idled Saltillo in the face of dwindling Ram sales and the introduction of the all new 2009 Ram pickup. This practically guarantees that Chrysler’s half ton truck platform will continue to get volume “efficiencies” from two plants.
In the first round of the relationship Chrysler also agreed to rebadge the Nissan Versa small car to provide a much needed entry below the Dodge Caliber/Jeep Patriot/Jeep Compass.
Conjecture for Nissan’s Canton, Mississippi Plant – Loses Titan/Quest/QX56 – Adds?
As Titan moves out of Canton so does the Quest minivan and the Infiniti QX56 luxury SUV. Nissan earlier announced the Quest production was moving to Japan and out of Canton and that QX56 becomes a derivative of the next generation Nissan Patrol made in Japan. That leaves Canton with a line of production for the Altima mid-size car and the Armada full-size SUV.

Nissan Altima 08 F34 VehicleVoice.jpg

Altima Provides Base for Next Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger
Nissan and Chrysler are teaming up on mid-size cars with Chrysler to replace their Sebring and Avanger mid-size sedans with derivatives of the Altima. Altima is an outstanding product and the Sebring/Avenger have proven to be duds. This way Nissan can pump up sedan volume at Canton (they also make Altima at their huge Smyrna, Tennessee plant). And probably somewhere in the fine print Chrysler closes their Sterling Heights (Michigan) plant making Avenger/Sebring. If this happens Chrysler closes a UAW plant in the North moving production to a non-unionized plant in the South. There certainly will be screaming if this happens.
Chrysler Sebring SV VehicleVoice.jpg

Dodge Avenger 08 SV VehicleVoice.jpg

Nissan hasn’t said anything about Armada, but it could provide the basis for Chrysler’s next generation of Aspen/Durango bringing needed volume to Canton’s truck line and allowing Chrysler to close another assembly plant in Delaware. Alternatively, Nissan’s Pathfinder Mid-Size SUV assembled at Smyrna could provide the basis for the Next Durango and Aspen and might be better for the times. In this scenario Chrysler closes a second UAW plant in the North. More screaming.

LCV is Untapped Potential

Nissan is filling Canton body-on-frame truck capacity with their upcoming LCV – light commercial vehicle. The way we understand it is that the LCV program will lead with a van in several different configurations and then will add a pickup version in heavy duty form. So, the Nissan Titan based on the Dodge Ram provides the light duty pickup and the LCV derivative gives Nissan three-quarter and one tons. Not mentioned, but could be on the table would be Chrysler getting access to Nissan’s LCVs to eliminate the Dodge Sprinter that comes from Daimler.
What About the Minivan?
Nissan has previously said they would source the next Quest from Japan, but they have consistently lost the minivan battle trying to go it on their own (or at one time with Ford’s Mercury brand). It would not be unrealistic to think Nissan could strike a deal with Chrysler to get a version of Chrysler’s minivan much like Volkswagen has with their Routan.

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Chrysler and Nissan: Sharing Can be Fun


Chrysler LLC has not been shy about going after a partner. Chrysler needs access to the expertise in small cars that they don’t have, as well as to benefit from the kinds of economies of scale necessary to make any sort of profit on vehicles expected to sell at the bottom end of the scale. After signing with Chinese maker Chery for help in the international arena, announcements have come on new relationships with Nissan. The OEM agreements with Nissan announced this week are examples of two companies finding a win-win relationship.


Nissan and Chrysler Serve as OEM Supplier and Client
Often deals like this are announced with one partner clearly benefiting more than the other, no matter how many times the phrase “win-win” is used during the presentation. But in this case, the relationship will benefit both partners. Each company is contributing in areas where they have expertise and market success, areas where solo development costs are prohibitive. Each company is also using production capacity that might otherwise be difficult to fill.

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2007 Toyota Tundra – The Breakthrough Expected?


Arguably the biggest news at the Chicago Auto Show was the first glimpse of the all new 2007 Toyota Tundra pickup. Well, maybe it was not arguably, but absolutely the biggest news. Can Toyota be stopped? Will the Tundra gut the family jewels of the Big Three chipping away at the last remaining profitable units in the Silverado, Ram and F-Series lineups? Is the Tundra a breakthrough in full size pickup design? Has Toyota finally fielded a fully competitive pickup? Lots of questions were answered at Chicago and many remain to be answered. VehicleVoice correspondents and AutoPacific analysts were on hand to see the reveal of the Tundra first hand.

Toyota Motor Sales, USA President Jim Press Pitching the New Tundra
Clearly the new Tundra is a substantially stronger competitor than the present Tundra. It is larger and will have a 5.7L V8 available as its top powertrain. With a larger displacement than the Nissan Titan, it is expected the Tundra V8 will get about 325HP although power numbers were not provided. The Tundra 4×4 shown on the stand can tow 10,000 pounds which should be class-leading among half-ton pickups. But many people were expecting the new Tundra to be a breakthrough product. They were expecting a new benchmark for full size pickups. They were expecting Tundra to be 105% of a typical half ton pickup.
What they got was maybe 101% or 102%. Nice truck. But not as muy macho as the FT-X Concept Truck of 2004.

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Ward's Announces 10 Best Engines for 2006


Ward’s AutoWorld announced the results of their latest 10 Best Engines awards. The venerable Nissan VQ soldiers on (Infiniti 3.5L V6), but VehicleVoice ( staff note some interesting results.
Does An Engine Have to Be High Performance to be Best?
Note the “Hemi”, “turbocharged”, “supercharged” nomenclature. Wow, most of these are high performance engines beyond what a typical buyer will find in their cars. Probably the most mainstream engine of the bunch is the 4.6L V8 in the Mustang GT.
How about the 4-cylinder engine in certain price classes? How about the best V6 between 225HP and 275HP?

Here is the Ward’s Release

The editors of Ward’s AutoWorld magazine have chosen the 10 Best Engines for 2006, the 12th year of the award.
The engines and tested vehicles are:
* DaimlerChrysler AG: 5.7L Hemi Magnum OHV V-8 (Charger R/T)
* Audi AG: 2L FSI turbocharged DOHC I-4 (Audi A3)
* Audi AG: 4.2L DOHC V-8 (Audi S4)
* BMW AG: 3L DOHC I-6 (330i)
* Ford Motor Co.: 4.6L SOHC V-8 (Mustang GT)
* General Motors Corp.: 2L supercharged DOHC I-4 (Chevrolet Cobalt SS)
* General Motors Corp.: 2.8L turbocharged DOHC V-6 (Saab 9-3 Aero)
* Mazda Motor Corp.: 2.3L DISI turbocharged DOHC I-4 (Mazdaspeed 6)
* Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.: 3.5L DOHC V-6 (Infiniti G35 6MT)
* Toyota Motor Corp.: 3.5L DOHC V-6 (Lexus IS 350)

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