Detroit - You might feel like quite a big deal cruising around in your Ranger plastered with ‘Raptor’ accessories, but somewhere in a faraway land with a geographically illiterate overlord, your pride and joy would actually be classified as a ‘compact’ pick-up.
Indeed, the Ranger was reintroduced to that market at this week’s Detroit Auto Show, after a long absence and in response to a newfound interest in the one-tonne market, sparked by the Isuzu-based Chevrolet Colorado. But the real action is in the so-called ‘full-sized’ pick-up segment and 2018’s Detroit show saw some renewed rivalry for Ford’s top-selling F-150.
South Africa doesn’t get any full-sized bakkies for a variety of reasons, but chiefly because there is not perceived to be sufficient demand, in countries that drive on the left, to actually justify right-hand-drive production and all the associated investments and engineering rigmaroles.
This means that for South African bakkie fans the American pick-ups will, for the foreseeable future, remain something of a forbidden fruit.
So here’s what you’re missing out on:
Chevrolet is hoping to finally topple the F-150 with this completely redesigned Silverado.
Beneath its comparatively radical new skin is an all-new and significantly lighter structure and chassis - here Chevrolet managed to shave off 200kg through a clever mix of materials rather than going big on aluminium like Ford’s F-150.
But you’ll still find a lusty V8 beating beneath the bonnets of most models, in the form of new 5.3-litre and 6.2-litre V8 petrol engines, now featuring cylinder deactivation, and there’s also an all-new 3-litre six-cylinder turbodiesel on offer. That and the 6.2 V8 are paired with a 10-speed automatic gearbox.
The Chev has some new gadgets that you wouldn’t normally expect to find on a bakkie (nor likely want for that matter), such as a remote control tailgate and head-up display.
Previously sold under the Dodge nameplate, Ram has evolved into a standalone brand and an all-new version of its 1500 full-sized pick-up reared its head at Detroit to provoke a nasty brawl with Chevrolet and Ford.
Like the new Silverado, the Ram 1500 had shed some pounds (102kg to be exact) without climbing on the aluminium bandwagon and largely through the use of advanced high-strength steels.
It also sticks to the no-replacement-for-displacement philosophy by offering a traditional 5.7-litre Hemi V8 (along with a tamer Pentastar V6), but Ram has enhanced economy through the use of 48-volt mild hybrid systems.
Inside there’s a 30.4cm touchscreen system with dual-screen functionality and 4G WiFi, while buyers can splash out with a 900-watt Harman Kardon premium sound system with 19 speakers, as well as adaptive cruise control with stop and go for city traffic.
Ford F-150 3-litre turbodiesel
Ford’s aluminium-bodied F-150 is slap-bang in the middle of its model cycle, but Ford has injected some new life into the USA’s top selling vehicle with the addition of a new diesel engine.
As you may know, Americans aren’t really into diesel, but this new derivative aims to fight that status quo.
The 3-litre Power Stroke V6 produces 186kW and 597Nm - making it something we’d certainly love to see in local Rangers, but even in the larger F-150 it should provide a decent blend of load-lugging torque and economy - with Ford claiming a best-in-class towing capacity of 5170kg.
The new diesel is one of six engines available in the F-150 range, with the top guns being a 280kW/637Nm 3.5 V6 turbopetrol (in the real Raptor) and a 295kW/542Nm 5-litre normally aspirated V8.