As we enter 2008, lets take a look back at some of the changes and trends we saw in the world of trucks during the past year, including a few significant redesigns. General Motors gave us brand new versions of its Silverado and Sierra for the 2007 model year. Toyota began selling its first full-size truck, a totally redesigned Tundra. Ford changed the Super Duty. While those trucks were being reworked, other pickups were undergoing updates and refinements. Overall, some of the changes made important differences in the comfort and usability of trucks.
A back-up camera is an excellent addition to your truck, for overall safety and when it's time to hook up a trailer. Most manufacturer camera units are built into the tailgate handle, where they remain inconspicuous. The monitor is usually visible in the rear view mirror, the navigation screen, or on a screen that swings down from the ceiling. You'll find back-up cameras in the current Ford Super Duty, Ford F-150, and Toyota Tundra. Watch for more trucks with this option as we move forward.
If you pull a trailer, you know how irritating it can be to get the tow mirrors adjusted just right, so that you can see what you need to see. And once they're adjusted, getting into a tight spot sometimes requires that you get out of the truck and fold the mirrors in before you make a move. After you clear the objects, you must stop again, get out and pop the mirrors back out. New power mirrors eliminate the hassle, because touching a button lets you telescope them outwards, retract them, or fold them flush against the truck. The power mirrors were one of my favorite features on the new Ford Super Duty.
3. Extra Storage Compartments
Manufacturers are beginning to realize that we use trucks for more than hauling cargo -- they're our primary mode of transportation and we need extra space to stow a variety of objects. Most new trucks are now designed with multiple storage compartments, inside and in the bed. Many offer a lockable area that's large enough to hold a laptop computer and the Honda Ridgeline even has a "trunk" of sorts underneath the bed floor. You'll find extra storage in quite a few new trucks, including the Toyota Tundra, Ford Super Duty, Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, Nissan Titan and Dodge Ram.
Stability control systems have been used on SUVs for awhile now, primarily to help inhibit rollover. Pickup trucks are finally being outfitted with this important feature. One benefit is a reduction of back end sliding, and the truck spinning out on slick roads when there's no load in the bed to help weigh down the back end. Look for vehicle stability control on current Chevrolet Silverado trucks, the GMC Sierra, Toyota Tundra and Dodge Ram 1500.
5. Tailgate Assist
Each automaker has a different approach to tailgate assists, but the end result is a mechanism that helps keep the tailgate from slamming down when you open it and makes it easier to close the tailgate with one hand when you have your hands full. The Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, Nissan Titan and Toyota Tundra all have some form of tailgate assist.
A few big trucks have enough space in the second row to offer reclining rear seats, providing a comfortable ride for passengers, especially on long road trips. The Dodge Ram MegaCab and the Toyota Tundra CrewMax are both available with this feature.
I've listed a few of my favorite new features. Which truck trends do you think are most important? Hop over to the forum to tell us your opinions.