Edmonton Motorshow: New trucks abound for truck country

More than just about any other province, Alberta is truck country.

Take a look around when you’re stopped at a traffic light. You’ll likely see several pickups, including at least one heavy-duty model.

While Albertans have a large appetite for half-ton pickups, they also buy more than 40 per cent of the heavy-duty pickups sold in Canada, a number that far exceeds the percentage of the country’s population that lives here.

The large number of trucks in Alberta shows up in a variety of different ways such as the travel trailer salesperson who noted that having an appropriate tow vehicle is almost never a concern for customers since they already have one. In many provinces, the decision to buy a recreational vehicle would be accompanied by the decision to purchase a truck or SUV to pull it.

Not surprisingly, truck manufacturers make sure they bring their latest and best vehicles to the Edmonton Motorshow and this year is no exception. The three domestic automakers will all have new models on display.

Chrysler is bringing the 2014 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel, the first half-ton with diesel power, while Ford counters with several versions of the 2015 F-150 and General Motors unveils its new heavy-duty pickup.

In 2013, Chrysler posted an impressive sales performance in Alberta.

“The consumer appeal for our segment-leading Ram truck lineup was a major factor, as was the introduction of the all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee in late 2013, which helped us achieve the No. 1 retail sales leader position in the province,” said Bob Devlin, head of Chrysler Canada’s western business centre.

The 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel features a 3.0 litre turbocharged dual overhead camshaft 24-valve V6 mated to an eight-speed Torqueflite automatic transmission. This engine offers 420 lb.-ft. of torque, a towing capability of up to 9,200 lbs., best in class fuel economy of 7.1 litres per 100 kilometres and the durability expected from diesels.

The Ram 1500, a recent back-to-back winner of Motor Trend truck of the year, saw its 2013 retail sales increase by 3,847 units over 2012 results, to earn the title of “fastest growing truck brand in Alberta.”

The switch to aluminum for the F-150 body will play a key role in weight reduction in the new truck. The truck will be as much as 318 kilograms lighter to provide a boost in fuel economy.

Fuel-saving will also get a boost from technology that turns off the engine when the truck is stopped, for example, at a traffic light. LEDs will be used in the headlights, taillights, cargo box and side mirrors.

Alan Mulally, Ford’s chief executive, is familiar with aluminum from his years in the aircraft industry where use of the material is common.

Among the new features on the F-150 is a 360-degree camera to help drivers park and drive on narrow trails and roads and a remote tailgate that can be raised and lowered with a key fob.

The F-series has been the best-selling truck for 42 years in Canada and 32 years in the United States.

The Chevrolet Silverado 2500 debuts with new styling, although the chassis is largely unchanged from a 2011 redesign. The truck has a new cab and interior as well as a host of other improvements.

There’s lots of choice available to buyers since the truck is available with regular, extended or crew cab, two or four-wheel drive and 6.5 or eight-foot box.

Power comes from either a 6.0 litre Vortec gas engine or a 6.6-litre Duramax diesel.

The Nissan exhibit will include the Titan and Frontier pickups, while Toyota will display the Tundra and the X-Runner version of the Tacoma.

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