In April of this year, combined sales for the three best-selling vehicles in the country—all full-size pickups—exceeded 160,000 units. Only three brands in the entire industry had more sales for the month, and among those trailing the top three trucks were big names like Honda, Nissan, Jeep and Hyundai. That, obviously, is the kind of customer demand that gets the automakers’ attention. It also explains why the major truck brands in the United States are trying so hard to get shoppers’ attention, which includes launching a steady stream of special-edition models with exclusive style and function packages.
These trucks appeal to customers interested in standing out from the crowd, which is particularly important in the full-size pickup segment. There, just three truck lines, the Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado and Ram 1500, represent 83.6 percent of all sales.
With the F-Series garnering the lion’s share of that, it’s the Silverado and Ram that hope to cut into the Blue Oval’s lead with some of the segment’s newest special edition pickups.
Chevrolet Silverado High Desert: Heating up the Avalanche 2.0
The original Chevrolet Avalanche helped kick-start customer interest in crew-cab pickups back in 2001, and its innovative “midgate” located behind the back seats made it easy for owners to fold down the truck’s rear row and extend bed capacity. Now, although that handy resource has yet to return to the lineup, Chevy’s latest special-edition Silverado does have a classic style cue that Avalanche lovers will surely remember: “buttress-style” rear pillars holding up the truck’s sport bar.
Holding up the truck itself are two new wheel designs. Customers adding the High Desert package to the Silverado LT trim ride on 20-inch wheels, with the up-level grades offering available 22-inch wheels with all-terrain tires.
This is more than a mere appearance package, too. For one thing, the Silverado High Desert introduces a new in-bed cargo-management system for Chevy’s full-size truck. The setup fits right over the Silverado’s standard cargo box and features lockable, weatherproof storage bins, along with a matching three-piece hard tonneau cover and a raisable cargo divider to create separate storage compartments. Also, to complement that enhanced functionality, the Silverado High Desert truck serves up Chevy benefits like a rear bumper with built-in access steps and a damped tailgate with remote lock/unlock capability for even more convenience.
Damping of a different kind also distinguishes this new Silverado, since it’s the first in the family to supply a Magnetic Ride Control suspension. Originally engineered for high-performance General Motors products from Cadillac, the suspension tech relies on shock absorbers that are filled with a fluid containing tiny iron particles. The system can analyze road conditions as fast as every five milliseconds, and then use a magnetic field to nearly instantaneously adjust damping rates for an incredible ride and handling.
The High Desert package will be available for the Chevy Silverado beginning this fall, at a price that has yet to be determined.
Other Silverado Special Editions to Consider
Chevrolet is making a concerted effort to expand its roster of special-edition pickups for 2016 and offers two “Rally” stripe-and-wheel packages, two blackout-style special editions, a premium-oriented Custom Sport setup specifically for heavy-duty Silverados and a Special Ops pickup that includes a Chevy donation to the Trident House Charities Program of the Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Florida. (Note: Donations kick in after 100 units are sold and are capped at 2,000 units.)
But perhaps the most interesting one is the Silverado that Chevy developed with its partners at Realtree, a top provider of camouflage for hunters. The Silverado Realtree edition delivers outdoors-type upgrades such as Rancho shocks and off-road assist steps, yet the highlights, as you might guess, are the camo graphics that are displayed both inside and out. The truly interesting thing? There’s a direct, camo-wearing competitor for the truck at the Ram brand, as covered at the end of this article.
Ram Stinger Yellow 1500 Sport: Buy One, Bee Happy
As folks may remember, the Ram truck brand actually has its roots in the Dodge division, which it was part of right up until 2010. And Dodge has a long history of bringing back classic colors from its muscle-car heyday and using them on vehicles such as the Challenger, Charger and what used to be the Dodge Ram pickup. It’s a strategy that clearly carries over to the current Ram lineup as well, thanks to trucks including the 2016 Ram Stinger Yellow 1500 Sport.
The truck revives an eye-popping yellow that’s inspired by a Dodge muscle car of the late 1960s, the Super Bee, while also providing a pointed reminder of the original’s name. This isn’t the first time a Ram pickup has worn this kind of appearance scheme. A limited number of Dodge Ram Rumble Bees garnered plenty of buzz in 2004 and 2005 by combining a Hemi V8 and an appropriately bold yellow and black exterior.
In fact, that Rumble Bee proved so successful that Dodge is following the same approach with the 2016 Stinger Yellow 1500 Sport. Only 2,250 will be produced, all wearing a Stinger Yellow exterior finish that’s set off by a “Sport” hood with dual functional air vents and a thick, split black stripe. A standard Hemi V8 engine is beneath that hood, where it sits ready to deliver 395 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque through an also standard eight-speed automatic transmission.
The cabin of the truck turns things around with a primarily black environment with yellow accents. However, “Light Black” chrome trim, body-color accent stitching and a premium leather seat design – boasting the Ram logo on the headrests – also contribute to the cockpit’s sophisticated look.
The 2016 Ram Stinger Yellow 1500 Sport is only offered as a crew cab, and launches this month with an MSRP of $43,135.
Other Ram 1500 Special Editions to Consider
As is the case with the Chevrolet Silverado, the Ram 1500 is available in a wide range of special editions, including three further Sport models that leverage historic exterior colors from Dodge’s past: Ignition Orange, TorRed red and Ceramic Blue. The Ram also matches its Chevy rival with a blacked-out edition, and by furnishing special-edition packages for HD pickups.
Finally, for its entry in the camouflage-pickup niche, Ram teams with Mossy Oak for graphics for its Outdoorsman model, adding to hunter-friendly features such as a lockable RamBox cargo-management system that’s built into the bed walls of the pickup.