That Great Recession from 2008-2009 was believed by many to signal the end of the era of powerful, stylish and gas-guzzling pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles in the US. Well, talk about failing to predict the outcome.
Today, the country’s economy is back on track, financial situations are positive across most households and buyers have seen how cheap gasoline is again the norm – so in the past year and a half the preferences have returned to the crop of pickup trucks and SUVs. After the first five months of the year the sales of pickups have grown almost ten percent, says Autodata, while deliveries of crossovers and SUVs have jumped 12.1 percent. “With the national average price of gasoline down nearly a dollar per gallon on average from one year ago, truck and SUV demand remains strong, elevating average transaction prices, especially for domestic automakers,” comments Karl Brauer, an auto analyst. So, the very healthy pickup and crossover SUV segments mean the 2016 model year brings a wide array of choices, which could drive anyone mad trying to figure out who’s who.
Fear not, as we made the choice simpler and we have selected the cream of the crop. Naturally, the order is alphabetical, so as not to bias to any brand or model. First off, the Audi Q7, which comes in a completely new generation, full of improvements, in Audi’s usual “progress through technology” style. The Fiat 500X is infusing some crossover style to the lineup that has grown tremendously from the retro-chic 500 city car. Honda HR-V is Honda’s answer. Also significant for the year is Honda’s Pilot larger crossover SUV that nailed a major redesign and comes with a more dynamic appearance. Mercedes has taken a long time, but it’s now bringing a BMW X6 response, in the form of the GLE Coupe. Mazda is also entering the subcompact crossover segment with the CX-3. Nissan is striking for balance in the pickup segment with the all new Titan, while the Ram brand is going to try and fend off the Ford F-150 Raptor with the new 1500 Rebel. Tesla is also finally bringing the much-anticipated Model X, which could take advantage of the SUV craze in a very green way.