Analysis

Plan on these changes to trucks from Ford, GM, and others in the second half of 2020

Ford is just one of the automakers trying to suss out how to adapt to the sudden changes to the usual automaker calendar when it comes to production and debut dates.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The year 2020 is turning out to be one for the history books. Even though we're only part of the way through March, a global pandemic is shutting down automotive production and halting economic growth. Plans to launch new automobiles have been shifted and schedules changed. But we're still expecting a big year in pickup trucks, with some pretty amazing stuff in the pipeline.

Assuming production reaches some kind of normalcy by the summer, and strong incentives to get people to buy, here's what you can expect from all the truck automakers this year.

2020 Ford Ranger The Ford Bronco will be built alongside the Ford Ranger in Michigan, eventually.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford

Starting with the largest truck manufacturer in the country, Ford has several trucks in the pipeline. The body-on-frame Ford Bronco was supposed to be revealed at the New York International Auto Show, but that show has been cancelled and an alternative reveal date hasn't been set. The Jeep Wrangler competitor has a removable roof, serious off-road components, and a design reminiscent of the iconic first-generation.

Ford has re-tooled its Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan for the Ford Ranger and Bronco and word on the street is that it's ready to go.

There's also a Ford Bronco Sport that is on its way. It too was supposed to show this spring and is slated to be built at the same plant as the 2020 Ford Escape in Louisville, Kentucky.

The 2021 Ford F-150 will also debut this year and should be a complete redesign since the last mid-cycle update was in 2018. Spy shots show a new infotainment screen and instrument cluster. Don't expect dramatic changes in appearance, but expect new powertrains including a hybrid version and a full-on battery electric F-150. At this time, we'd expect to see this truck at the North American International Auto Show in June, or around that time, assuming things start to return to normal.

2022 GMC Hummer EV The 2022 GMC Hummer EV is slated to be revealed in May, but those plans may change.Photo courtesy of GMC

There is also a chance to see Ford's upcoming sub-Ranger pickup. This unibody truck will be smaller than the Ranger, likely be front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive, and provide buyers an alternative to a small SUV if they really need the cargo bed. Other than some spy shots and speculation, much isn't known about the truck. If we see it this year, expect it to be towards the end of the year.

General Motors

General Motors recently updated all of their pickup trucks, including mild refreshes of both the Colorado and Canyon, so don't expect a lot happening there. Except, of course, for the revived Hummer pickup truck with a GMC badge. The fully-electric truck will debut this spring – slated for May 20th, but who knows at this point – and should do a zero-to-sixty run in about three seconds.

FCA

Ram Trucks also recently updated their entire lineup, so don't expect anything major from them for the rest of the year. But that doesn't mean that they won't roll out special editions and trims, like the Laramie Southwest version, to help drive sales.

We aren't expecting big things to happen with Jeep's pickup truck this year, since last year was the official launch of the Gladiator. A Mojave edition is hitting dealerships now, and new special editions are always in the works for the Jeep brand.

We do expect, likely this year, for Jeep to drove the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel engine into the Gladiator like they just did for the Wrangler. With that available engine, the Gladiator should return a respectable fuel economy number.

The new engine won't change the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the truck, meaning that the maximum towing Gladiator might still remain the gas engine.

Jeep Gladiator Mojave The debut of the Jeep Gladiator in December means that it's already headed to dealership lots.Photo courtesy of Jeep

Nissan

Nissan just finished launching their updated Titan and Titan XD trucks and is preparing to show us a significantly updated 2021 Frontier later this year. The new truck will be powered by a 3.8-liter V-6 and a 9-speed automatic transmission. Interestingly, that engine and transmission is in the non-updated 2020 Nissan Frontier.

Toyota

Over at Toyota, we should be due for an updated and refreshed Tundra pickup. While it has received small model year changes, there hasn't been an updated engine or transmission in quite some time. Toyota has said that by 2025 every vehicle in their lineup will have some sort of electrification as an option, so an updated truck with a hybrid powertrain has to be coming. Will it be this year? Depends on how far they are along with engineering that setup.

In the meantime, the Tundra, 4Runner, and Tacoma Trail, which debuted at the Chicago Auto Show in February, are the closest thing to "new "in the Toyota trucks lineup.

2020 Toyota Trail The Toyota Trail badged trucks are the newest addition to the Toyota lineup.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

Hyundai

In any other year, talking about a pickup truck from Hyundai seems like crazy talk, but 2020 is different. We're expecting the production-version of the Santa Cruz concept to appear. Hyundai has confirmed that this truck (they're calling it a utility vehicle) will be built at their HMMA facility in Alabama.

We expect the truck to have a lifestyle focus appealing to people who like to get out and do things, like surf or ski or camp, and not focus on towing or payload numbers. Hyundai is aware that they can't beat the Big 3 at the truck game, but the Santa Cruz isn't designed to take sales from them.

Except it to have Hyundai's latest safety technology and phone-as-a-key technology. The real question is; will it have Smaht Pahk?

2020 Honda Ridgeline The Honda Ridgeline has gotten some new components for 2020 but it's not quite a refresh.Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

Honda

The often overlooked Ridgeline has gotten an equipment and features upgrade for the 2020 model year including a new nine-speed automatic transmission and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It has been on sale since December. We're coming up on the timeframe for a mid-cycle fascia upgrade for the model but don't expect to see it until later this year, if that happens in 2020.

The beginning of the year looked bright for the car industry for another year, but the spread of the novel coronavirus is wreaking havoc on automotive production and automaker plans for new models. That really is the great unknown now with when we will see a new truck from a manufacturer.

Trucks like the F-150 and the Hummer are likely too far along to postpone. The Bronco is basically ready to go. Everything else could potentially be pushed back. It just depends on how serious this downturn is, how freely people can access money to buy, and whether the consumer confidence is there to buy.

We will see.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Jeep is extending its customer care program for the 2021 model year.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

This model year, Jeep celebrates 80 years in the business. The brand was born in 1941 and to celebrate to anniversary, the company is expanding its Jeep Wave Customer Care program adding value to each model purchase. The additional level of service only applies to 2021 model year vehicles.

"After nearly 80 years, the Jeep brand remains true to the original SUV by continuing to deliver legendary 4x4 capability that has enabled countless adventures and open-air freedom," said Jim Morrison, Head of Jeep Brand – FCA North America. "As we celebrate our 80th anniversary, we're pleased to provide our customers with 80th Anniversary models that offer a unique appearance, great value and loads of safety and technology features.

2020 Grand Wagoneer Concept - Details The new Jeep Grand Wagoneer Concept showcased the future of the brand, in the shape of a luxury-level three-row SUV. Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

"As a tribute to our unique, enthusiastic and growing customer base, we are expanding our Jeep Wave customer care program across the entire Jeep vehicle lineup," Morrison added. "We are pleased to reward our loyal customers with Jeep Wave premium service that offers peace of mind and no-charge maintenance for three years."

The program now includes three years of maintenance at Jeep dealerships, including oil changes and tire rotations, 24/7 support via phone or online chat, trip interruption and first-day rental coverage, and VIP access to select Jeep events.

The 2021 Jeep lineup includes the Renegade, Compass, Cherokee, Wrangler, and Grand Cherokee SUVs as well as the Gladiator truck. The company recently unveiled the Grand Wagoneer concept, a luxe take on a future luxury-level three-row SUV that will compete directly with the Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Yukon, and Cadillac Escalade.

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The 2020 Ram 1500 Built to Serve model features aeronautical accents and pays tribute to the Air Force.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

The third installment of the 2020 Ram 1500 Built to Serve models will go into production next month at the company's Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Michigan. Each of the Built to Serve variants of the truck pays tribute to a brach of the U.S. armed forces.

Ram's newest edition is crafted with an aeronautical theme in honor of the U.S. Air Force. It is available with either an Anvil or Billet Silver exterior color and with a black interior with Light Diesel Gray accent stitching.

2020 Ram 1500 Built to Serve: Air Force

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Ram continues to honor all of those who serve or have served in the United States armed forces with distinction through our latest 'Built to Serve' offering," said Mike Koval Jr., Head of Ram Brand, FCA – North America. "The 'Built to Serve' adage is something Ram truck owners, whether civilian or military, are very familiar with as it's something we strive to build into every truck and van we produce."

The Ram Built to Serve Edition trucks are built on the Ram 1500 Big Horn trim level.

Each model features a U.S. flag and Bulit to Serve decal on each of the rear quarter panels, 20-inch aluminum wheels with unique Technical Gray finish, body-colored wheel flares, all-black grille and surround, black bumpers, black-bezel premium lighting, black badges, black wheel-to-wheel side steps, and dual four-inch black exhaust tips.

There are Built to Serve Velcro panels on each front seat and on the rear shoulder panel where owners can apply their own patches to personalize their truck. Front seat-back panels are covered with PALS/MOLLE webbing that can be used to attach additional equipment or pouches.

Each model also comes loaded with Ram's 4x4 Off-Road Group content, including:

  • All-terrain tires
  • Electronic-locking rear axle
  • Hill-descent control
  • Front suspension skid plate
  • Steering gear skid plate
  • Fuel tank skid plate
  • Transfer case skid plate
  • Tow hooks
  • Heavy-duty off-road-calibrated front and rear shock absorbers

By appealing to past and present military members with the marketing of this truck, Ram is tapping into a significant population. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs calculates that approximately seven percent of the U.S. population is an active or reserve member, or veteran of the armed services.

Ram is selling the special edition as a $2,795 option.

The trucks wlll be available at dealerships in the fourth quarter of 2020.

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