In the September 2011 issue of Four Wheeler magazine, editor Douglas McColloch wonders about the fate of his magazine’s 2012 Pickup Truck of the Year. The bottom line is, there might not be any eligible competitors for his magazine to test. How could such a situation arise? Blame the “carpocalypse” of 2008 that delayed truck development programs, changing consumer tastes or the magazine’s rigid set of criteria for what constitutes a new pickup truck.
To qualify for Four Wheeler‘s test, a vehicle must be all-new or have “substantial mechanical revisions” and possess a two-speed transfer case with a dedicated low-range gear. While those standards have worked for years, Four Wheeler is considering changing with the times. A vehicle like the Honda Ridgeline does not qualify under the current rules, but if all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicles were allowed then a whole new range of vehicles could become eligible.
Pickups will always need to be tough, but the traditional parameters will begin to bend as fuel economy standards tighten. Ford’s turbocharged V6 is snapping up sales in its stalwart F-150 pickup. The next Ram Dakota is strongly rumored to become a “lifestyle truck” that will compete with the Ridgeline. Next generation pickups will use more high-strength steel, aluminum and magnesium for body panels and frames and lighter weight insulation in an effort to shave hundreds of pounds from current designs. It is not such a stretch to imagine that “substantial mechanical revisions” will also be made to the powertrains of these vehicles that could forever alter the traditional definition of a pickup.
Four Wheeler is still debating its choices: Canceling the 2012 award, testing a subset of all 2012 vehicles such as all half-ton pickups, or modifying its criteria to allow more vehicles. The magazine is reaching out to its readers help it decide, you can reach them via this contact form.