The Hottest New Trucks for 2017--Coming to the New York Auto Show

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The 2017 New York Auto Show's Hottest Trucks

© Mashable/Christina Ascani

For the truck junkie, Christmas comes after New Year’s Day. Low gas prices and the hottest sales figures in the industry mean a year stuffed with new models and concepts. Strong light truck sales are bolstering the bottom line of manufacturers as more traditional options like sedans see less interest. With the Wall Street Journal reporting annual sedan sales down an average of 2 percent from 2015’s dismal midsize, small and luxury car purchases, automakers are turning to light trucks to feed our hunger for utility and flexibility. It’s early in the new year and already announcements from the cavernous halls of the Detroit Auto Show’s Cobo Center have been matched by launches at the Chicago Auto Show. News leaking from the quiet, secluded lanes outside corporate testing facilities and hints dropped in private slideshows point to our daydream trucks coming true soon, and light-truck concepts are more about what’s about to manufactured rather than what dreams could happen. 2016 is a big year for trucks. Here’s the hottest that have been officially introduced so far, and are coming to the 2016 New York Auto Show:

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The 2017 Honda Ridgeline

More conventional looks, but still an oddball at heart: the 2017 Honda Ridgeline. © Honda Media

Honda’s reborn pickup truck, unveiled at this year’s Detroit Auto Show, promises a heavier dose of the company’s standout formula of easy-going versatility…wrapped in a more conservative-looking package. For Honda, the most important decision in making the Ridgeline a kinder, friendlier pickup is sticking with the controversial decision of building their brawniest on a unibody platform. Almost every pickup on the market today is built on a body-on-frame platform, resulting in higher towing and payload capability and more robust 4-wheel drive systems. Honda’s unibody choice means a more comparatively nimble and smooth driving experience, sharing much more mechanicals with a crossover SUV than mid-sized competitors competitors like the Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado. The new Ridgeline’s capabilities are in line with the utility of its predecessor, serving up a 5,000lb. towing capacity and a payload capacity that’s promised to be around 1,500lbs. The previous Ridgeline became a tougher proposition for many as its engine choice stayed the same while others became more efficient. Thankfully, the new pickup is powered by an updated 3.5-liter V6 that delivers 280 hp and 262 lb.-ft. of torque in Honda’s Pilot. Combined with a six-speed automatic transmission (versus the predecessor’s 5-speed), the new Ridgeline should squeeze out more power for less fuel than the original and is in line with what its competitors are selling. Building on the unique convenience features of its original, the new Ridgeline adds the claim of the only four-foot-wide flat space bed in the segment, a 400-watt built-in audio system that’s built into the bed and a slew of modern driver aids like lane keeping assist and collision mitigation braking.  Locking in-bed storage and a two-way opening tailgate stay on the roster of features from the first-generation pickup. The pickup, available with front-wheel drive and an all-wheel drive system, surfaces in dealerships this spring as a 2017 model. A competitor from Hyundai may not be far behind.

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The 2017 Ford F-150 SuperCrew Raptor

For 2017, Ford's Raptor adds a SuperCrew model. © Ford Media

Last seen in 2014, the SuperCrew variant of Ford’s F-150 Raptor serves up the off-road giggles of rock crawling and sand running for 5 passengers. Details aren’t finalized yet, but the 2017 model should see a serious performance boost in at least 450hp and 450 lb.-ft. of torque, up from the previous model’s 411hp and 434 lb.-ft. of torque. Under the hood, the new steed will be powered by Ford’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine. Sweetening the deal is the addition of a new 10-speed automatic transmission, developed in partnership with General Motors. The 2017 SuperCrew Raptor will be the first Ford vehicle to showcase the new transmission, and also features a platform that’s 6 inches wider than the standard F-150 for greater off-road stability. Adding a touch of the Tremor’s philosophy, the new Raptor has also dropped 500 pounds to make the additional power more effective. Ford anticipates getting the new SuperCrew Raptor onto showroom floors by the coming fall.

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The 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

The Missing Taco! Toyota adds the Tacoma TRD Pro to the lineup by fall 2016. © Toyota Media

Last year was huge for Toyota, but off-road enthusiasts couldn’t help but feel like the stand was now one Taco short of perfection. Order up! Freshly served up at this year’s Chicago Auto Show is the 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro. For those who are unfamiliar with the Tacoma lineup, the TRD Pro surpasses its TRD-trim siblings (Sport, Off-Road and Limited) to sit with at the apex of rough-road refinement.

Refinement was a serious mantra in the Tacoma’s makeover, bringing touches like high-strength steel throughout the new truck’s frame, a re-tuned suspension and light-but-strong ultra-high strength steel stamped into its body. The interior was re-shaped with a dashboard designed for a more driver-focused experience, along with a bevy of new tech features ranging from a blind spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert system to a Qi wireless charging system for cellphones.

Nobody buys a Tacoma TRD Pro for cushy seats and a fancy touchscreen entertainment system, however. Toyota’s tough midsize returns with its trademark suspension touches including 2.5-inch shocks with internal bypass by FOX, a leaf spring rear suspension that’s tuned for off-road performance and specially tuned front springs that lift the truck by an inch for extra ground clearance.

Turning the tires is Toyota’s 4WDemand part-time 4WD system that features an electronically-controlled transfer case, locking rear differential and Automatic Limited-Slip Differential. With managing the engine’s power between all 4 wheels covered by the above systems, Toyota adds unique controls to the automatic and manual versions of the truck to minimize wheel slip at any of its 4 Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain Kevlar-reinforced tires.

Automatic TRD Pro models receive Toyota’s Multi-terrain Select system. Introduced at last year’s Tacoma revamp, the system adjusts the pickup’s throttle and traction controls according to what terrain the driver has selected. The excellent Crawl Control system also returns to automatic models, acting like a cruise control system to maintain one of five low-speed settings when the driver wants to focus only on steering. The now-familiar face of Hill Start Assist Control is available to prevent the vehicle from rolling backward on a hill when the driver moves their foot to the gas pedal from the brake.

Manual versions of the Tacoma TRD Pro come with Active Traction Control, an advancement that builds on the evolution of the humble ABS system. Active Traction Control keeps things grippy by using the pickup’s 4-channel ABS system to control power delivery to the pickup’s front and rear wheels.

Speaking of power delivery, the new Tacoma TRD Pro is driven by a 3.5-liter Atkinson cycle V6…the first application of the fuel-efficient cycle in a midsize truck. Is this a big deal? Yes. Why aren’t these engines used everywhere? Check this out. We’ll update this post with power specifications for the tough Taco’s new powerplant as soon as data is available.

Of course, sitting at the top of the Tacoma family means you have to look the part. The TRD Pro comes outfitted with the usual functional rugged enhancements on the outside and special trappings in the cabin. Those earlier-mentioned 16-inch Goodyear Wranger All Terrain tires come mounted on special TRD black alloy wheels. An aluminum front skid pate is a given, along with LED fog lights made by Rigid. Black bezels frame the headlights and tailights, and the rear tailgate and front doors are treated to unique badging. Inside, the badging continues on the headrests of special black leather-trimmed seats, floor mats and the shift knob.

Adding to the premium nature of the TRD Pro are a slew of standard tech goodies ranging from rear parking assist to a 4.2-inch color touchscreen that features and integrated inclinometer and tilt gauge (so you can be reminded of just how hairy a situation you got yourself into).

The toughest Tacoma should have its debut on showroom floors this coming fall.