Texans love trucks. The Lone Star State is not only the top pickup market in the U.S. but, excluding the country as a whole, the largest in the world. Hence, the annual Texas State Fair is a time for every truck maker in America to show up with a fleet of bigger-than-ever trucks that flaunt array of shiny bright colors, get perched at dizzying heights and angles high above the show’s enormous Truck Zone, and come in a number of special editions with monikers like Laramie, Longhorn, and Lone Star—all themed and logoed in a manner that reflects Texas pride.
For GM and Ram, the event provided the ideal arena to showcase new heavy-duty and light-truck models. The unlikely duo, who both claimed that their trucks are the longest lasting, corralled a cadre of writers for two days for an experience that included short stints of driving, trailer towing, and boot planting on sawdust and dirt for their unveilings. GM and Ram’s press conferences, as well as news from Ford, Nissan, Toyota, and Honda, were punctuated with bragging rights pertaining to horsepower, torque, tow ratings, truck longevity, and new customer programs.
The State Fair also made a Texas-sized opportunity for Chevy to set a Guinness World Record, pulling the largest-ever flag behind a 2017 Silverado HD powered by The General’s all-new Duramax diesel. The American flag measured 40 by 80 feet—a footprint larger than most houses. Floating aloft on rigging behind the updated Silverado HD, Old Glory lapped the Texas Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval four times without touching the ground, as did a similar-sized Texas flag also pulled by the Silverado.
While the exterior and interior of the 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 and 3500 largely remain the same, GM has boosted the horsepower of the 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel V-8 by 19 percent to a best-in-class 445, elevated torque by 12 percent to 910 lb-ft, and improved emissions by 35 percent. The L5P Duramax is comprised of 90 percent new parts and gets a stronger cylinder block and rotating assembly, a new camshaft profile, improved cylinder heads, and a variable-vane turbocharger system. Outside, the Duramax trucks sport new hood scoops as a part of GM’s patent-pending cold-air intake system. The revision has been shown to bring improvements that include faster acceleration, better performance when towing up grades, and stronger passing and merging performance. The updated heavy duty can scoot from 0 to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds—0.3 second quicker than the previous generation model.
GM claims that 89 percent of all HD customers purchase trucks rated at less than 25,000 pounds of towing capacity. Of note, the new electronically controlled, variable-vane turbocharger not only produces more power but allows for lower exhaust emissions, there are improvements to exhaust braking, greater diesel noise reduction at idle and under power, and new first-in-class ceramic glow plugs give a faster cold start and are service free for the life of the vehicle.
Ram brought out the Ford Raptor-fighting Ram Rebel TRX Concept, which will push out 575 hp, leaving Ford’s 450 horses in the dust. It is powered by a version of FCA’s Hellcat supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Built on the Ram 1500 platform with a body that is 6 inches wider, penned with Power Wagon and Rebel design cues, and fitted with Texas-sized fender wells, the high-powered 4WD truck will fly faster than 100 mph. The Rebel TRX is also equipped with a revised Performance Control system, which has Normal, Wet/Snow, Off-Road, and Baja modes.
Engineers further beefed up the Rebel with 37 x 13.5-inch tires, suspension upgrades that include new springs and internal bypass shocks at each corner that provide up to 13 inches of suspension travel, and potent stopping power coming from six-piston calipers with 15-inch discs at the front and 14-inch discs at the back. The interior gets leather, suede, and carbon-fiber trim and materials, nylon door-pull handles, and six-point harnesses front and rear. Other off-road goodies include a locking rear differential, heavy-duty tow hooks front and rear, and an integrated jack in the rear bed between two spare tires.
Ram also showed off the new 2017 Ram 1500 Lone Star Silver Edition, sporting a new grille with chrome surround and chrome Wave Mesh inserts, new bright belt moldings, chrome exterior side-view mirrors, chrome wheel-to-wheel side steps, polished 20-inch wheels, and front tow hooks. Inside are sporty cloth and vinyl high-back bucket seats in Canyon Brown/Light Frost Beige or Black/Diesel Gray. The special edition is available on Ram 1500 4×2 and 4×4 Crew Cab in short and long box-length configurations, with a choice of the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6, 5.7-liter HEMI V-8, or 3.0-liter EcoDiesel powertrains. It comes with the new Ram Care service program. On sale late fall, pricing is $900 with a suggested MSRP of $38,995, plus $1,320 destination.
Also revealed: a new luxury grille for Ram’s southwestern-themed 2017 Laramie Longhorn and updated looks and features for 2017 Limited and Longhorn models. The 1500, 2500 and 3500 Limiteds can be ordered with black “RAM” tailgate letters, with Brilliant Black or Granite Crystal Metallic paint ($195). Ram 1500, 2500, and 3500 Longhorns get new bright-chrome grille with “RAM” lettering and chrome belt moldings. Ram 1500 Longhorn models also add standard Keyless Go, SmartBeam headlights, and rain-sensing wipers.
For 2017, Ram 2500 and 3500 Heavy Duty Laramie, Longhorn and Limited trims get the 6.4-liter HEMI V-8 standard. Ram Heavy Duty Longhorns and Limiteds come with standard Bilstein monotube shocks on 4×4 models, for improved ride. All Ram 2500 models available with an a new 4×4 Off-road package that bundles trail components, including Bilsteins, hill-descent control, limited-slip differential, all-terrain tires, tow hooks, transfer case skid plate, fender flares, and a new “4×4 Off-road” graphic.
Based on Ram’s Sport trim, Ram’s Night package ($395) adds blacked-out features–black 20-inch aluminum wheels, grille and badging, and key Sport appearance cues—body-colored front fascia, rear bumper, power-folding mirrors, and door handles. Also onboard are black-bezel projector headlamps with LED marker lights and tail lamps to match forward lighting. Inside are standard high-back heated cloth bucket seats with 10-way power adjustment, power-adjustable pedals, Uconnect 8.4 touchscreen system, and a premium instrument cluster with 7-inch driver information display. The Night package is available on Regular Cab, Quad Cab, and Crew Cab 1500 Sport models, in both two- and four-wheel drive, long and short bed lengths and with a choice of 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 or 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engines; it’s priced at $395, with a starting MSRP of $36,795, and $1,320 destination.