Auto show pickups: Raptor roars, Ridgeline is back

DetroitNews

Detroit is Big Three truck territory, but 2016 is a quiet year for new rollouts from the home team save the fearsome F-150 Raptor. It’s an opportunity for foreign makers to show their wares and find a niche in a market that sells more than a million units a year. While the big Ford still leads with 600,000-plus in sales, the hottest trucks are on the mid-size lot where the Chevy Colorado, GMC Canyon and Toyota Tacoma have new offerings flying off the shelves. With customers looking for trucks smaller than their houses, Honda has also resurrected its Ridgeline, and Nissan and Ford are expected with new entries soon.

Ford F-150 Raptor Super Crew

What it is: Fords’ rad off-roader gets a makeover. Wider, faster, meaner, the Raptor sheds 500 pounds due to the F-150 line’s conversion to aluminum skin. Under the big truck’s swollen hood lurks a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 that blows away the current 6.2-liter V8's 411 horsepower

Payne’s take: Dude, are you ready to ruuuuuumble? The Raptor is a different pickup animal with a heavily reworked chassis and suspension that make this monster Baja worthy. The Terrain Management system will offer settings for Normal, Street, Snow and Ice, Mud and Sand, Baja, Rock and Climb-the-Face-of-Mount-Rushmore (kidding about the last one).

Honda Ridgeline

Honda Ridgeline

What it is: The Ridgeline is back after a sabbatical for an Extreme Makeover. The timing of its return couldn’t be better as the mid-size pickup segment is exploding with buyers who want something smaller than F-150 aircraft carriers. Built on the same platform as Honda’s popular Pilot crossover, the Ridgeline sports the only unibody chassis in its segment — compared to the traditional body-on-rail truck platform. That design allows for best-in-class interior room.

Payne’s take: Honda has ditched its odd, flying-buttress pickup sides that turned off pickup buyers. But in retaining its car-like chassis, innovative “trunk under the bed” and two-way opening rear gate, the wee Japanese pickup still promises something different. With a smooth ride and an attractive face, this pickup should pick up plenty of Honda fans looking for a CR-V mulch-carrier.