As shoppers in the US continue to show a preference for pickup trucks, Honda and Nissan want in on the fun (and profits). Both have introduced new models recently. Both are designed to capture the hearts and wallets of truck crazed consumers. The problem is, Americans show more brand loyalty to their trucks than they do to other vehicles. Trucks from Toyota, Nissan, or Honda have a tough time prying then out of their F-150s, Silverados, and Ram 1500s.
Instead of building a big, tough truck, Honda is banking on a more civilized blend of convenient size and overall comfort blended with moderate carrying capacity and towing capability. The new Ridgeline is a sleeker, better looking version of the unibody construction, front wheel drive model that has been available for last decade. According to CNet, it can carry 1,500 lbs and tow up to 5,000 lbs. Neither will give it bragging rights among the “my truck is tougher than your truck” crowd, but it is a nice combination, for a vehicle that will be used as much for commuting as hauling things.
With no bulky rear axle and differential, the Ridgeline has room for a lockable storage compartment built into the load bed. It even has drain holes in it, so you can toss some ice and a couple of six packs in there for a day of fly fishing at the lake. Honda also offers an optional 400 watt stereo system built in to the walls of the cargo box so you can listen to your favorite tunes while camping out in the great beyond. With its appealing new styling, the Ridgeline is neither too big nor too small. It may be just what many people are looking for — if they can get over the fact it doesn’t say Ford, Chevrolet or Dodge on the tailgate.
Nissan is taking a different approach with its all new Titan XD. This is a truck designed to play with the big boys. At least for now, it is available solely with a Cummins 5.0 liter V-8 turbodiesel, although other engine choices will be available later this year. The XD has a fully boxed frame and beefier chassis components. Its carrying capacity is listed at 2,000 lbs, according to Car and Driver and it can tow up to 12,000 lbs.
It has a full range of trailer towing assists, like integrated trailer-brake controller, a tow/haul mode and downhill-speed control for the transmission, trailer-sway control, a rear view monitor with trailer guides, and integrated trailer light monitoring. There are lockable storage boxes along the sides of the load bed. Unlike similar boxes in the Ram 1500, these can be removed when needed.
Nissan is also contemplating a beefed up version of the Titan XD to compete with the F-150 Raptor, Ram Power Wagon, and Tundra TRD Pro, says Automotive News. Called the Warrior, it boasts a 6″ wider chassis sitting atop a raised suspension and 31″ wheels. “This is more than a design exercise,” said Rich Miller, senior manager of Nissan truck and SUV product planning.
“We’re making a big commitment to the pickup segment with the new Titan, and we’re also looking at where else we might take it now. We’ve never had a truck like this before,” said Miller. “If we were to go ahead with it, we would also have to look at an engine enhancement for it.”
If the market for trucks continues to expand as gar prices plummet, trucks like the Warrior, Raptor and their pumped up cousins may enjoy a resurgence. Environmentalists may be wringing their hands in dismay, but manufacturers are rubbing their hands in glee.
Photo credits: CNet, Car and Driver