Ford will bring back the Ranger, Jeep plans a pickup truck and upstart Honda won the biggest truck award of the year with its Ridgeline.
Trucks were top of mind at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week as automakers announced plans to keep tried and true products such as Ford’s F-150 current or capture sales in the fast-growing midsize pickup segment.
Here are the top light truck headlines from the 2017 Detroit auto show.
Ford Revives the Ranger
Ford Motor Co. announced it will bring back its Ranger midsize pickup to its lineup in 2019. That will bring added interest to an already fiercely competitive trucks segment that includes perennially top-selling Toyota Tacoma and a recent entrant, Chevrolet’s brisk-selling Colorado.
Ford dropped out of the smaller truck market in the U.S. five years ago, but will return because it has seen how popular easier-to-handle-and-park pickups have become.
Midsize trucks were on fire last year, with sales growing 25.5 percent compared with the prior year to nearly 450,000 vehicles.
Ford said the pickup will serve both commuters and off-road explorers. Analysts agree it’s about time Ford leans into the profitable segment and believe the new entrant will be very successful.
“Ford needed the Ranger to take advantage of the buzz of the gaining midsize pickup market,” Stephanie Brinley, an analyst with IHS Markit, told Trucks.com.
The automaker also unveiled a restyled 2018 F-150 full-size truck that will go on sale later this year. The pickup has new available features, including a standard 10-speed transmission, a segment-first available adaptive cruise control and a first-time diesel engine option.
Ford said it will also bring back another famous nameplate, the Bronco sport-utility vehicle. But it won’t reach the market until 2020.
A Pickup Truck for Jeep
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced that its Jeep brand also is jumping into the midsize pickup market with an all-new truck that will match its already off-road centric lineup.
FCA provided almost no production details, but it did say the south plant of its Toledo Assembly Complex in Ohio will take on the all-new Jeep pickup truck, part of a $1 billion investment to build these “vehicles at the heart of the SUV and truck market.”
The company also plans to revive its Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, which will be built at the Warren Truck Assembly Plant in Michigan. Combined the additions will create 2,000 new jobs.
FCA also said it will grow its manufacturing footprint by taking next-generation Ram 1500 production to its Sterling Heights Assembly Plant near Detroit. This move will add 700 new jobs to the factory when production starts in January 2018.
Honda Ridgeline Scores North American Truck of the Year Award
Honda Motor Co. recently launched the second-generation of its Ridgeline midsize truck and it has won wide praise from the nation’s auto critics. Many of those same auto writers handed the Ridgeline their North American Truck of the Year award, which is awarded annually at the auto show.
The win was a rare interdiction of the Big Three automakers, which typically pass the truck award among themselves. Ford’s SuperDuty was on the shortlist in this year’s contest.
Honda plans an expansion of the Ridgeline lineup. It said a hybrid version of the truck is under development.