DALLAS—It's not the most romantic place for a date, but in a frigid midwinter the Dallas Auto Show, opening Valentine's Day, should warm the hearts of car lovers.
Especially truck lovers, because, hey, this is Texas.
Not a truck person? There will be plenty of car tires to kick. The Ford Mustang Bullitt, Hyundai Veloster, Honda Accord, Lexus LS 500, Porsche Panamera, Rolls-Royce Phantom, play-pretties from Aston Martin, Bentley, Maserati, McClaren and scores of everyday drivers will be on hand.
Texans might take pride looking over a 2017 Ford GT, one of only 89 delivered last year. The vehicle, owned by the family of the late Carrol Shelby, a native of Pittsburg, Texas, sports the VIN 0062 in honor of the year of the first Shelby Cobra.
A collector car area is always good for a few oohs, aahs, and warm reminiscences.
Still, the big star in big D is the pickup. After all, Texas is the biggest truck market on the planet. One in five American pickups is sold in the state, according to Edmunds.com.
In an era when midsize family sedans are better than ever but selling like sandbags in a desert, the Big Three reap the bulk of their profits from pickups and SUV's, so resources are lavished into those vehicles' research and development.
Thus, recent shows in Detroit and Chicago were headlined by all-new trucks and SUV's that will roll into showrooms late this year and early next as 2019 models: The Ram 1500; Ford's re-entry into the midsize market, the Ranger; Chevy's ground-up redesign of the Silverado; and the third-generation Porsche Cayenne.
The Ford F-150 climbed to the top of the pickup hill over the past half-decade with a series of innovations, such as reduced weight via aluminum bodies, improved fuel efficiency with dual-turbo V-6 engines, slicker transmissions and advanced safety technology, such as onboard cameras and trailer back-up assist.
This year, Ram and General Motors aim the to reel in the leader.
The 2019 Ram, for example, is lighter and more aerodynamic, automatically lowering itself at speeds greater than 35 mph.
It's a hybrid, too. The standard V-6 Pentastar engine is paired with a hybrid system called eTorque that replaces the alternator with a motor/generator that feeds a 48-volt lithium-ion battery, also charged by regenerative braking.
The system provides a 90 lb-ft torque boost with the V-6 and 130 with a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8. That means it's faster, uses less fuel, and can haul more.
The new Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra sit on a redesigned frame and use aluminum hoods, doors and tailgates.
The General says they have shed 450 pounds. Wheelbases, which affect both ride comfort and cabin room, are 3.9 inches longer.
Two new engines both come with GM's Dynamic Fuel Management system, which cuts fuel flow to one to seven cylinders, according to conditions.
Let the truck wars begin.
In the early years of this century, manufacturers abandoned midsize pickups a dead market. General Motors disproved that theory with the introduction of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, which cut a big hole in the share held by Toyota's Tacoma and the Dodge Ridgeline.
Ford is jumping back into the market with the Ranger, a new version of the T6 Ranger it has continued to sell around the world. It is expected to be on sale a year from now with a starting price of less than $25,000. An Ecoboost, turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine will be the only engine.
Porsche set the new Cayenne on a modular-longitudinal architecture engineered by Audi, which makes it lighter and handle better. Add three new engines, also developed with Audi, and the preferred sports car of suburbia is the closest thing to a 911 since, well, the 911.
For those who want to take 'er for a spin, more than 75 vehicles from Acura, Chevrolet, FCA (including Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep and RAM), Ford, Honda, Kia, Mazda, Nissan and Toyota will be available for test drives, which are complimentary with admission to the Show.
The show runs Wednesday through Sunday at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. For tickets, check DFWAutoShow.Com.