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2016 Tacoma at Detroit Auto Show

2015 Detroit Auto Show Truck Trends

The 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit could go down as one of the most important shows for trucks in recent memory. With everyone unveiling a new truck or special edition except for General Motors, the show had lots to offer and was a showcase of the latest truck developments and design trends. If you are in the market for a used truck, listen up. These trends will soon dominate the used car lots. Here is where we are heading.

Additional Transmission Speeds

For the past few years, the trend toward six-speed automatic transmissions has impacted nearly every truck maker. At this year’s show, the redesigned Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Titan debuted, which both offer new six-speed automatic transmissions and improved fuel economy. Ford took it a step further by announcing a new 10-speed transmission for the new 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor.

Why all the extra gears? Truck buyers may remember old pickups having “four-on-the-floor” or “three-on-the-tree.” These sayings referenced the number of gears the manual transmission had, and whether the shifter was located on the steering column or the floor. These days, manufactures have been working hard to improve fuel economy to meet tighter Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requirements. An easy way for them to do this is to offer vehicles with more gears. This allows the trucks to cruise at lower RPMs, which often results in better fuel economy.

For used truck buyers this increase in fuel economy will trickle down in the next several years.

New Engine Varieties

For years, automakers built giant V8 engines for their trucks, making them capable of pulling unheard of amounts of weight. While these engines are still around for used truck buyers, the market is changing quickly. These days, you can buy a truck with a turbocharged V6 or a diesel engine.

What is killing the V8? Don’t you still need a powerful motor to drive a large truck? First, the same fuel economy requirements above are forcing truck makers to look at a variety of different ways to hit these targets. Like multi-speed transmissions, engines are a key component to better fuel economy.

Second, while trucks still need a powerful motor, there are actually many ways to get power it besides a large V8. For example, Ford’s line of EcoBoost engines are smaller, and they use turbochargers to produce a similar amount of power. In fact, the 2015 Ford F-150 is available with one of the smallest engines you’ll find in a full-size truck: a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6. When combined with weight savings through Ford’s use of aluminum, this smaller engine is strong enough to power the F-150.

Diesel engines are also making a comeback. At the Detroit Show, Ram unveiled a new HFE edition of their 1500 EcoDiesel pickup, which is rated at 29 mpg on the highway. Considering some pickups get 17 MPG highway currently, this is a monumental jump in fuel economy.

Patient and savvy used truck buyers should keep a sharp eye on dealer lots in the next 3-5 years as these trucks come off leases or get traded in. Going from your old pickup to one of these new models will definitely result in fewer stops at the gas station.

New Special Editions

Special edition trucks like the Ford F-150 Raptor and the Ram 2500 Power Wagon have been around for many years. Yet with the growth of the truck market in the past year or two, the number of special editions trucks is one the rise.

While at the Detroit Auto Show, Ford unveiled a new F-150 Raptor, Ram unveiled a Rebel trim, Nissan unveiled the new Titan XD and Toyota is now offering two different Tacoma TRD models. Leading up to the show, GM announced special editions of trucks like the 2015 GMC Sierra Elevation, the 2015 GMC Canyon Nightfall and the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado Custom Sport, which each offer a unique look when compared with their respective base models.

Many of these special editions include color schemes and equipment upgrades aimed at attracting a specific customer. These editions can be great for automakers since they are often filled with optional equipment. Plus, they create more unique offerings for truck makers that want to differentiate themselves from the competition.

In the end, the volume of new trucks being built today is reaching pre-recession levels. This will create a glut of used trucks on the market in the coming years, as well as a large variety of trim levels and special editions. They will also provide better fuel economy, thanks to the advancements that automakers showcased at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.

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