Last year, 16.5 million new cars and light-duty trucks were purchased in America, the world’s second largest auto market, with the figures being the best since 2006. The primary beneficiary – the pickup, SUV and crossover segment.
That’s because the surging economy has led customers rekindle their long, but not lost, paramour – the sport utility segment, with pickup trucks, SUVs and crossovers beating hands down passenger cars each month last year. And during the second half of the year the buyers got even more incentives, with gas prices plummeting to below $2 a gallon this week. While it’s not very long ago when light duty owners weren’t surprised when their real world fuel economy was posting single-digit figures, today automakers don’t count the gas prices on staying too long on that low level – and with approaching CAFÉ regulations calling for fleet-wide economy of 54.5 miles per gallon in 2025, even truck fuel savings are becoming increasingly crucial.
So, without further ado, the automakers are increasingly close to that fabled 30 mpg ceiling. For example, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne has seen “a lot of noise around” the fuel economy in the segment, with the company’s Ram brand boasting a refreshed version of its full-size model, the new 2015 Ram 1500 Express. Mated to the EcoDiesel, it will have an impressive highway rating of 29 mpg, with Ram boss Bob Hegbloom proclaiming it as the “highest fuel economy among all pickups in the industry.”
Ford, in its own turn, decided not to go the diesel way and instead invested heavily into the completely new and aluminum intensive Ford F-150 that has shed as much as 700 pounds and gained a very efficient new 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6. With the all-time best for a gasoline-powered full-sized pickup, the F-150’s mileage rating of 26 mpg on the highway is just one mpg lower than the same rating of the new midsize Chevrolet Colorado model.