Another Woodward Dream Cruise has come and gone and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles loaned me a bright-red, two-seater of Italian descent from its fleet to drive. Sadly my ride was not a fancy new Ferrari 488, but rather a Ram ProMaster 3500 which is derived from the European-market Fiat Ducato. While I certainly want to try out the Ferrari some day, for anyone that has ever spent a blistering hot summer afternoon in the eight-mile long traffic jam that is the Dream Cruise, the Ferrari would have been completely out its element anyway. On the other hand, the ProMaster can really haul, making it ideally suited to moving my daughter’s belongings to her new Midtown Detroit apartment.
Even in our increasingly globalized automotive landscape, one segment has remained most uniquely American – the full-size pickup truck. For decades, the big pickup remained hidebound, devoid of technical or design innovation. In the absence of notable competition, Ford’s F-series led the way in sales, followed by GM with Dodge in a far distant third. But then 20 years ago, tired of being the third-wheel to its cross-town rivals, Chrysler under the leadership of one Bob Lutz, decided to shake things up and the truck market has never been the same. Trucks like the 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn EcoDiesel are a prime example of the goodness that can come from real competitive pressure.