Auto’s Favorite Five Vehicles and Trucks of 2015

2015 is shaping up to be a record year for car sales in the United States, and with the bumper crop of great vehicles out there, its easy to see why. But some will always be better than others, and out of the 150 or so cars I drove this year, here are my Favorite Five.

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Chevy and GMC announce new hybrid pickups for 2016

General Motors is electrifying its pickups.

A limited number of Chevrolet Silverados and GMC Sierras fitted with a mild hybrid system will be offered in California in 2016, with their production and availability to be adjusted in 2017 to meet demand.

The announcement was a surprise, and puts GM ahead of Ford and Ram, which both plan to introduce hybrid pickups within a few years.

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Top five classic muscle pickups

  • ( FCA)

  • ( GM)

  • ( GM)

  • ( Ford)

  • ( FCA)

Did you know that Ram( formerly Dodge trucks) sells a rear-drive, standard-cab, short-bed R/ T model with a 395 -horsepower Hemi? Its fast: Vehicle and Driver got 0-60 in 5.4 seconds and the one-quarter mile in 14.1 sec. at 99 mph. The vented hood and roaring exhaust complete the muscle theme.

Maybe more astonishing is that Car and Driver achieved similar performance from a bigger GMC Denali Crew Cab 4×4 with a 420 -horse 6.2 -liter V-8. The fact is, todays workaday V-8 pickups are as quick or quicker than many classic muscle automobiles. And so, the buzz that once surrounded muscle trucks only doesn’t resonate as it has in decades past.

Still, here are five that lit the fire.

1978-79 Dodge Lil Red Express

The Mopar musclecar was dead by the late 1970 s, but Dodge answered peoples need for speed and loudness in a unique style: The utterly ridiculous, yet undeniably wonderful, Lil Red Express truck. Based on the companys shortest and lightest stepside pickup, the Lil Red Express looked like a hillbilly hotrod with its bright red paint, functional dual chrome exhaust stacks, chrome wheels and wood bed-side trim.

A high-performance 360 -ci 4-barrel small block V-8 made a decent 225 net horsepower, and the automatic transmission sent the torque back to a 3.55 -geared Sure Grip axle. Early publication reports with sub-1 5 second quarter-mile hours came from a prototype truck; the production version operated the quarter in 15.7 seconds at 88 mph according to Hot Rod magazine. That was quick enough to out-drag a Camaro Z2 8, and it was downright phenomenal for a two-ton brick.

Dodge sold 2,000 of the $7,000 hotrod trucks. The 1979 Lil Red Express get catalytic converters, rectangular headlights and other changes but sold another 5,118.

The Lil Red Express was actually Dodges second muscle pickup. The brand offered a High Performance Package for the 1964 and 1965 D100 pickup, which included a 365 -horsepwer( gross) 426 -ci wedge V-8. It was rare then, but a few still exist.

Following the Lil Red Expresss formula established a dozen years prior, Chevy built the 454 SS on the standard-cab, short-bed pickup. Under the hood was the good old Chevy big block, a 454 -ci V-8 inducing 230 net horsepower. The suspension was also tweaked for better handling. Quarter-mile times were in the high-1 5s.

Chevy sold virtually 14,000 the first year, when the sole colouring selection was black with a red interior. Performance improved with 25 added ponies, a 4-speed automatic and 4.10 axle ratio the second year, but sales fell off a cliff. The 454 SS was gone after 1993. A Silverado SS introduced 10 year later was much quicker, yet more civilized with all-wheel drive and luxury features.

1991 GMC Syclone

GMC, which for the longest day marketed barely altered clones of Chevy trucks, unleashed about the craziest muscle vehicle ever in 1991: Syclone. Constructed on the compact Sonoma pickup, it packed a turbocharged 4.3 -liter Vortec V-6, basically a Chevy 350 small block V-8 minus two cylinders, teamed to full-time all-wheel drive.

Output was an impressive 280 horsepower and 350 lb.-ft. of torque, which attained the Syclone more powerful than the standard Corvette. But speed was just one of its calling card. The little monster could spring from 0-60 in just over five seconds and crush the quarter-mile in 14 seconds. At the time, that was serious performance auto territory. With AWD and a lowered suspension, the freakish Syclone could hug the curves, too.

GMC constructed fewer than 3,000 Syclones before moving on its successor, the Typhoon SUV.

1993-1995 Ford SVT Lightning

Just when Chevy killed its 454 SS, Ford entered the muscle truck game with the first Special Vehicle Team( SVT) Lightning. The formula was familiar: standard cab short bed pickup with a hot V-8, tweaked suspension and special trim. In this case, the engine was an SVT version of the venerable 351 Windsor , now known as the 5.8 -liter. Horsepower was 240, and a 15.8 -second quarter-mile timeslip was about the same as the defunct Chevys. But it took Ford four years to sell about 11,500 Lightnings.

The name returned on a 1999 model in the F-1 50 s tenth-generation aero body. Under the bulbous hood was a 360 -horsepower, 440 -lb.-ft. supercharged 5.4 -liter Triton V8( later, 380 hp and 450 lb. ft .). The new Lightning was actually quicker than the Mustang Cobra. Ford moved about 28,000 over six years.

2004-2006 Dodge Ram SRT-10

Dodge went nuclear in 2004, falling the Viper V-1 0 into its lightest full-size pickup.( The regular truck V-1 0 was a far milder cast iron engine .) Here we had a 500 -horsepower pickup, merely because Dodge could build one. It even had a 6-speed stick shift, but the SRT-1 0 Quad Cab introduced afterwards used an automatic. Dodge offered that version, Car and Driver reported, because Viper proprietors wanted a Viper-powered pickup to tow their Vipers. That constructs sense. Dodge constructed simply under 10,000 of these monsters.

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