Truck Lovin' Americans: Make Way for the 2017s

By Sue Mead, March 5th, 2016

Our nation's ever-increasing wealth of new trucks and sport utility vehicles continues to grow. These segments are the hottest-selling and manufacturers have taken advantage of the growth in these markets to add all-new versions and update their portfolios with refreshed carryover models. Take a look at some of the latest offerings.

-- 2017 Ram Power Wagon

Based on the Ram 2500 Heavy Duty 4x4 Crew Cab, the 2017 Power Wagon pickup truck is powered by a 410-horsepower, 6.4-liter HEMI V-8 and is loaded with off-road-specific enhancements, including a unique suspension with more than 2 inches of lift, locking differentials, and a 12,000-pound winch. Blacked-out styling includes an enlarged grille with a prominent Billet Silver "RAM" letter badge, powder-coated bumpers, and 17-inch forged, multi-surface aluminum wheels wrapped in 33-inch tires featuring exposed lug nuts with a small center cap. The Power Wagon's upgraded interior has unique technical grain seats finished in Diesel Gray and Black with Sedoso fabric inserts embossed with the Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tire tread pattern.

-- Ram Heavy-Duty Off-Road Package

Ram is capitalizing on the 3/4-ton segment with a new Ram 2500 4x4 Off-Road Package that brings heavy-duty stability control upgrades with Bilstein shocks and a limited-slip differential, all-terrain tires, a rugged exterior trim, and transfer case skid plate. Also onboard is standard hill-descent control. The Package is available on Crew Cab and Mega Cab, gas and diesel powertrains, and short- and long-wheelbase models across all Ram trim levels, including Tradesman, SLT, Big Horn/Lone Star, Outdoorsman, Laramie, Laramie Longhorn, and Limited. The Package will be available in the third quarter of 2016.

-- 2017 Chevrolet Trax

Chevrolet has updated its small Trax CUV for 2017 with a friendlier face, a nicer interior, and more technology, including a 7-inch MyLink unit with available Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and 4G LTE support. It retains its 138-horsepower, 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and six-speed automatic gearbox. Side blind zone alert, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision alert, and lane departure warning systems are optional.

-- Chevrolet Special Edition Trucks

Chevy adds special "Midnight" trim on its LT and Z71 Colorado editions, as well as on the Silverado 1500 Z71 and Silverado Heavy Duty Z71 models. The trim brings darkened aesthetics inside and out, black 17-inch alloy wheels, and aggressive Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac(R) tires.

-- Ford Explorer XLT and BraunAbility Wheelchair Accessible Explorer

Ford has two new versions of the Explorer, including an XLT Sport appearance package and the world's first handicapped-accessible MXV SUV. The XLT Sport package combines all the equipment of an XLT but adds 20-inch machined aluminum wheels, and a combination of Magnetic Gray and Black trim and cladding outside with indulgent Dark Earth Gray Miko suede seats and door trim with Umber contrast stitching and special Explorer logo floormats inside.

The Ford BraunAbility MXV package is available on Explorer base, XLT, and Limited models, and features removable driver and front passenger seats, with a patented sliding door and lighted in-floor ramp operated by an integrated key fob. Interior space is maximized to create ample room for wheelchair navigation and comfort, while a sliding shifter and front seat base design allow wheelchair users to drive the vehicle from a wheelchair or ride as a passenger.

-- 2017 Nissan Armada

Nissan is relaunching its full-sized SUV flagship. Redesigned for 2017, the Armada gets bold styling cues that include a more muscular grille and distinctive lighting, a high-quality interior with new technology features, and a comprehensive suite of safety features. The eight-passenger sport utility is powered by a 5.6-liter direct-injection gasoline V-8 that promises 390 horsepower and 401 lb.-ft. of torque, as well as an impressive 8,500-pound towing capacity.

-- 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

Toyota launched a trail-ready, off-road version of its midsize pickup. The 2017 Tacoma TRD Pro will be powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that produces 278 horsepower and 265 lb.-ft. of torque. Boasting 16-inch off-road tires, an aluminum front skid plate, fog lights, and projector headlights, Toyota says the 2017 Tacoma TRD Pro is "aimed squarely at extreme off-road enthusiasts who challenge themselves and their trucks and SUV's in some of the harshest conditions."

-- 2017 Kia Niro

Kia says its all-new 2017 Niro Hybrid CUV is a "no-compromise vehicle" that combines driving enjoyment with eye-catching design, offering functional utility and 25.5 cu.-ft. of cargo space, plus hybrid efficiency. Motivating the five-passenger Niro is a state-of-the-art 103-horsepower, 1.6-liter GDI four-cylinder engine that joins with a 43-hp tractive motor, known as the transmission-mounted electric device (TMED), to produce a total of 146 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque. Mated to a six-speed dual-clutch transmission, the Niro is expected to get a combined fuel efficiency rating of 50 mpg when it goes on sale later this year; a plug-in version will follow soon after.

-- 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport

Hyundai refreshed its Santa Fe lineup for the 2017 bringing an updated exterior design and LED lighting, additional infotainment (including Android Auto and next-gen Hyundai BlueLink), and available safety technologies like automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, and smart cruise control with stop/start function. The smaller Santa Fe Sport is powered by an efficient 185-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder or the more powerful, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 240 horsepower; the three-row Santa Fe gets a 290-hp, 3.3-liter V-6. Both now offer selectable drive modes with Sport, Eco, and Normal settings.

-- 2016 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter "WORKER"

Mercedes-Benz expands its Sprinter portfolio with the new WORKER model that goes on sale this spring with slightly less content and lowered price. It's powered by a 2.1-liter four-cylinder BlueTEC mated to a seven-speed transmission that produces 161 horsepower, 266 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,400 rpm, a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds, and a maximum payload of 3,512 pounds. It boasts more than 319 cu.-ft. of cargo volume providing ample room for racks, bins, shelves, cabinets, and toolboxes. The roof load capacity of 660 lbs. is perfect for ladder racks and roof carriers. Three additional packages allow buyers to further customize the WORKER from the factory.

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