2018 Detroit - Chevrolet and Ram gun for Ford's full-size pick-up truck supremacy

With the curtains down on the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, we should ideally be looking forward to other things automotive. But, our thoughts still hover in and around the Cobo Hall - where the show was held - in the beautiful state of Michigan. We’re probably not alone here. Top honchos at Ford Motor Company might share the same feeling as two stand-out debuts at this year’s show are aimed straight at their best-selling profit-maker. Notwithstanding its four-decade-old stint at the top of the sales charts, Ford’s F150 now has to cautiously look over its shoulders as arch-rivals Chevrolet and Ram have turned on the heat with their all-new full-size trucks. 

Chevrolet’s all-new Silverado is the perfect ‘centenary’ present

Just a month in, 2018 is already turning out to be a landmark year for Chevrolet. Having rolled out their first pick-up in 1918, Chevy is celebrating a century of making and selling trucks this year. In what could be termed a perfect centenary gift, the all-new Silverado 1500 made its debut at the show. Combining Chevy's extensive experience of building over 85 million pick-ups and feedback from over 7,000 customers, the all-new Silverado is GM’s latest shot at full-size truck supremacy. 

In line with what you would come to expect from a generation change, the new Silverado marks a departure from the boxy styling of its predecessors. With aggressive styling accompanied by sharp and edgy detailing all around, the new Silverado looks mean and macho. All-new LED headlights and taillights replace the erstwhile halogen units and feature a matching pinched design. Compared to its predecessor, the new Silverado has a longer wheelbase, a wider and taller steel bed and a powered tailgate, taking the practicality quotient several notches higher. All the exterior swing panels (door, hood and tailgate) are made of aluminium while the fixed panels (fenders, roof and bed) use high-strength steel. Thanks to this mix, the new Silverado is significantly lighter than the model it replaces which will translate into better fuel-efficiency as well. 

Under the hood, the two V8 mills continue, albeit with slight revisions and tech add-ons. Both the 5.3-liter and the 6.2-liter engines get a new Dynamic Fuel Management System that allows deactivation of one or more cylinders depending on the usage. A significant addition to the powertrain lineup would be the new 3.0-liter Duramax inline-six diesel, aimed straight at the new-for-2018 Ford F150 Powerstroke diesel. 

Interiors have not seen the kind of changes seen outside but gets a much-needed fillip with GM’s slick new infotainment system that brings along best-in-class connectivity options including 4G LTE Wi-Fi, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay amongst others. The cab has been stretched resulting in an increase in passenger space. 

When it goes on sale later this year, eight distinct trim levels - including the flagship 'High Country' and off-road-friendly 'LT Trailboss' - would be available with a host of exterior and interior changes to suit different tastes and applications.

FCA goes for the kill with the striking new Ram 1500

With the Ranger and the new Silverado slated for debut, Ford and GM would have thought they have the 2018 Detroit Auto Show covered. Boy, were they wrong! FCA had other plans and stole the limelight from its arch-rivals with the unveiling of the striking new Ram 1500. The critics and the show-goers were floored and, at the end of it, the new Ram truck was amongst the most popular launches at the show. 

Remarkably, Ram's new full-size truck has turned a leaf on the signature Ram looks we are used to. The crosshair grille, a signature design element since the early nineties, is gone, replaced by a single-piece hexagonal unit that sort of spreads itself to encompass sleeker LED headlights. Lower variants get bigger halogen units. Move over to the sides and the drop fenders, another staple Ram design cue, have been done away with. The result is a truck that not just looks swell but also contemporary. The profile and the rear are an evolution of the existing Ram 1500 with the taillight clusters getting LED elements in the high-end variants. The new Ram is longer, wider, more spacious and has a higher capacity loading bay than the outgoing model despite being over 200 pounds lighter. 

What's more, there are multiple models and trim levels offering dramatic differentiation to give each of them distinct looks and identity. The Rebel variant seen here is one of those and looks hot wearing that bright red paint job. 

One look at the new truck's interiors and its clear Ram has taken the game forward. Be it the first-in-segment 12-inch reconfigurable touchscreen in the center console, the much-touted UConnect system, the best-in-class 19-speaker 'Harmon Kardon' audio system, the classy layout or the abundance of storage spots inside, the new Ram has the competition licked.

The biggest surprise, though, lurks under the hood. All variants of the new Ram 1500 series get an 'eTorque' 48-volt mild-hybrid system as standard. Engine options include a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 and the legendary 5.7-liter HEMI V8. Thanks to the mild hybird system, Ram claims significant gains in fuel efficiency and torque gains of upto 122 Nm in the V6 and 176 Nm in the V8.

The new Ram 1500 goes on sale later this year aiming to leapfrog its rivals from Chevrolet and Ford. That's a tall order, no doubt, but this truck looks promising.

Whichever way it goes, this three-way fight for glory is one to watch out for!

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