2018 is the year of the truck at the Detroit Auto Show

The truck segment is seeing huge innovation as sales numbers rise, and we like the results.

Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
Kyle Hyatt
4 min read
Jon Wong/Roadshow

Gas is cheap and people are working, so the Detroit Big Three figure it's time to make hay while the sun shines -- by pouring huge amounts of time and money into pickup truck development. 

The 2018 Detroit Auto Show was evidence of this, as we saw three huge new truck debuts, each more brimming with tech than the last. Let's take a look at the most important truck debuts at this year's North American International Auto Show.

Watch this: All the cool trucks from the Detroit Auto Show

2019 Ford Ranger

The Ranger is back in the US for the first time since 2011, and we think that the kids would refer to that as "lit AF." We'd agree. The 2019 Ford Ranger is looking to kick sand in the Colorado's face with a 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine, possibly the unit from the Mustang if we're lucky, because that would make the Ranger the most powerful model in its segment and open up a ton of hilarious tuning possibilities. A few of the internals have been tweaked for truck duty, but we're optimistic.

The Ranger also benefits from some trickle-down Raptor technology in the form of its Terrain Management System, which will help keep drivers out of trouble once they leave the pavement. Other highlights include frame-mounted steel bumpers, an aluminum hood and tailgate, and standard automatic emergency braking and rearview camera.

We're expecting the Ranger to sell like crazy, and we can't wait to get our hands on one. Ford has remained quiet as to the possibility of getting a Raptor version of the Ranger, as it exists in other markets, but we're crossing all our fingers and toes in hopes that it happens.

2019 Ford Ranger: Ford returns to midsize pickup truck fight

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2019 Chevrolet Silverado

Chevrolet's bread-and-butter pickup gets some pretty serious upgrades for 2019. The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado is based on an entirely new architecture, which means that unlike the old version, you're no longer stuck in a tech time-warp. You now get access to cool stuff like wireless charging and available push-button start, which weren't available in the past, although I'm sure some folks will bemoan the lack of a proper key.

The General tells us that the Silverado will initially get two V8 engine options -- a 5.3-liter and a 6.2-liter, though power and torque figures have yet to be released. We do know that they will come with a hot new fuel management system that will allow the deactivation of between one and seven cylinders for fuel economy. There is a 3.0-liter inline-6 diesel option on the horizon, as well, which gets bolted to a 10-speed automatic transmission.

While the new Silverado's face may be more than a little polarizing, the fact that Chevy managed to save 450 pounds from the truck is impressive. It's done this by selectively replacing steel with aluminum, though the bed floor remains steel, as Chevrolet reps are quick to point out. Still, while dropping the weight of a silverback gorilla doesn't make the Silverado the truck equivalent of a Lotus, that weight savings will pay big dividends in handling and fuel economy.

2019 Chevy Silverado bows at Detroit with newfound muscle

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2019 Ram 1500

The Ram full-size truck lineup has long been the choice of someone looking for a ton of creature comforts combined with the ability to haul a bed full of manure. That hasn't changed. The 2019 Ram 1500's interior now sports a ton of extra room thanks to a wheelbase that's 4 inches longer. The rear seats can now be had with heating and cooling, as well as eight degrees of recline.  

This time out, Ram is cranking the tech dial to 11 with an optional 12-inch, portrait-style touchscreen infotainment system that essentially works like two UConnect systems running at once. All our favorite UConnect features are there, including a configurable hot rail and excellent responsiveness. This design is a total game-changer in a truck, and we hope it causes the competition to raise their game.

Buyers can choose from two powertrain options initially -- a 3.6-liter V6 or the venerable 5.7-liter Hemi V8, both of which feature an optional eTorque mild electric hybrid system that helps boost torque when it's needed. The V6 is rated at 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet, while the Hemi makes 395 hp and 410 pound-feet. A diesel option will be available in 2019, too. For once, it won't be the only oil-burner in the class, now that Chevrolet and Ford plan to offer light-duty diesels in the near future, too.

2019 Ram 1500 bulks up capabilities and efficiency, not weight

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As you can see, trucks don't look to be going back to their spartan, utilitarian roots anytime soon and we're glad. It's also fantastic to see the midsize truck segment heating up with Detroit giving Japan some real competition for the first time in a couple years. 

We can't wait to drive all three of these refreshed testosterone magnets, and we'll be sure to tell you all about them when we do.