It’s only fitting that Canada’s favourite family shuttle was the official conveyance in our capital city for our 150th confederation celebrations.
Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s ultra-popular Dodge Grand Caravan, dearly departing Chrysler Town & Country, and advanced new Chrysler Pacifica minivans combine for unsurpassed annual seven- to eight-passenger vehicle sales, having found almost twice as many Canadian buyers as all other minivans combined in calendar year 2016. In fact, if commercial vehicle sales were taken out of the overall equation, FCA’s minivans would have accounted for more business than almost any other vehicle line in Canada last year.
Canada’s most popular Ford F-150 and runner-up Honda Civic might have been appropriate official Canada Day 2017 vehicles for our July 1st weekend celebrations too, but for the purpose of conveying visitors around Ottawa, the fleet of 26 seven-seat Velvet Red Pearl-painted and “Canada 150” maple leaf decaled Chrysler Pacificas were much more useful.
It didn’t hurt matters that these vans were produced in FCA’s Windsor Assembly Plant in Windsor, Ontario; the result of 6,000 hourly workers on three full shifts.
The Windsor facility builds both the conventionally powered Pacifica as well as the Pacifica Hybrid, the former featuring the brand’s class-exclusive second-row “Stow ‘n Go” seating that fold completely into the floor when more cargo space is required, while the latter includes a plug-in hybrid electric powertrain capable of 53 kilometres of pure EV range, up to 911 kilometres of total range, and a five-cycle Transport Canada claimed fuel economy rating of 2.6 Le/100km in the city.
During the Canada Day weekend, Ottawa hosted a three-day festival in three venues including Parliament Hill, the Canadian Museum of History, and Major’s Hill Park.
“I can’t think of a more fitting vehicle than the Windsor, Ontario-built Chrysler Pacifica as the official vehicle of Canada Day 2017,” commented Bill Levasseur, VP, Sales and Marketing, FCA Canada. “Our Chrysler and Dodge minivans have been an integral part of millions of Canadian families’ lives over the years and we are honoured to have Chrysler Pacifica showcased in celebration of our nation’s milestone 150th birthday.”
Along with the fleet of vans shuttling event-goers from attraction to attraction, those in attendance were able to view 30-second video spots as part of the Major’s Hill event, plus FCA branding broadcasted on big screen displays at other event locations.
North America loves its F-series trucks. In 2016 Ford sold 820,799 F-series pickups in the United States. Canada sold nearly 150,000. Ford likes to boast that it’s been Canada’s best selling vehicle…
North America loves its F-series trucks. In 2016 Ford sold 820,799 F-series pickups in the United States. Canada sold nearly 150,000. Ford likes to boast that it’s been Canada’s best selling vehicle for 51 years and it’s easy to understand why. The closest competitor to the F-series line was the Ram Pickup having sold 89,048 last year, followed by the GMC Sierra with 51,091 and then the Chevrolet Silverado at 44,932.
So what makes the Ford so appealing to the Canadian consumer? Pickups are a different breed today than they were in decades past. Trucks were used for heavy lifting and towing and usually thought of as a tradesman’s tool. However, many have developed luxurious traits that are normally only seen in luxury sedans and SUVs.
The interior of our test model is spacious with tasteful aluminum accents and comfortable bucket seats that are covered in leather. The dash is well thought out and very easy to become accustomed to. There is plenty of room in the back row, which can easily seat three adults side-by-side.
This model also has the Lariat Chrome appearance options package ($1,000), which includes a chrome three-bar style grille with chrome surround, chrome mesh inserts, two chrome front tow hooks, chrome skull caps on the exterior mirrors, chrome door handles with body-colour bezels, chrome angular running boards, and of course a single-tip chrome exhaust.
The aesthetics aren’t the only discernable factor about this new model. Our F-150 Lariat 4×4 SuperCrew is also well equipped, this truck featuring a $2,300 equipment package that includes blind spot information, rear cross-traffic alert, trailer tow monitoring, SYNC connect (for your smartphone), Sirius XM satellite radio, 10-speaker audio, voice-activated navigation and LED puddle lamps.
It’s easy to get caught up marveling at all the technology and dazzling chrome accents, however the truck’s unseen components make it truly outstanding. The F-150 Lariat comes with a choice of three engines. First, the 2.7-litre V6 EcoBoost comes standard and develops 325 horsepower and 375 lb-ft of torque while only consuming 12.2 L/100km city, 9.3 highway and 10.9 combined.
The second available engine is the $900 optional 5.0-litre V8 with twin independent variable cam timing. It’s fast thanks to 385 horsepower at 5,750 rpm and 387 lb-ft of torque at 3,850 rpm. This means it will reach 100 km/h in 6.3 seconds from standstill. The 5.0 is surprisingly fuel-efficient for a V8, but nowhere near the EcoBoost engine. At 16.0 L/100km city, 11.8 highway and 14.1 combined the V8 has comparable fuel economy to the other trucks in its class, including the GMC Sierra SLE 5.3-litre V8 that has a 15.9 L/100km city, 11.1 highway and 13.8 combined rating, and the Ram pickup with the Hemi V8, although not the Ram’s similarly potent EcoDiesel.
The third available engine is the $1,650 3.5-litre V6 EcoBoost developing 365 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 420 lb-ft of torque at 2,500 rpm. The fastest of the three, it will reach 100km/h in 5.8 seconds. At 15.6 L/100km city, 13.2 highway and 14.5 combined, this engine is the thirstiest as well, but offers a lot of pulling power. Also, when compared to competitors’ top engine choices it’s a fuel economy leader, partially due to an all-new 10-speed automatic transmission with auto start/stop.
Unfortunately, the 2.7-litre V6 EcoBoost and the 5.0-litre V8 are not yet available with the new 10-speed automatic, and come with a proven six-speed automatic transmission instead.
Depending on the engine, drivetrain, and body style, each F-150 model differs in maximum towing capability and maximum payload capacity. The smallest base 2.7-litre V6 EcoBoost has a maximum towing capability of 3,855 kg (8,500 lbs) and a maximum payload capacity of 1,002 kg (2,210 lbs) when mated up to the Regular Cab body style and 4×2 drivetrain, whereas the largest 5.0-litre TI-VCT V8 with the Regular Cab 4×2 has a max tow rating of 4,989 kg (11,000 lbs) and a max payload capacity of 1,483 kg (3,270 lbs). Finally, the 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 with the Regular Cab and a 4×2 drivetrain has a max towing capability of 5,533 kg (12,200 lbs) and a max payload capacity of 1,470 kg (3,240 lbs).
The F-150’s ability to provide strong performance despite its sizeable proportions isn’t just about engine performance, but more importantly can be attributed to a completely new light truck philosophy at Ford. As part of the 2015 F-150 redesign it switched from utilizing steel for its body and bed to a combination of “military-grade” aluminum and high-strength steel.
In the upcoming review we’ll give you a taste of what it’s like to sit behind the wheel along with a detailed description of the infotainment system that truly impressed us.
Stay tuned for a full review…
Stories about unprecedented pickup truck sales growth aren’t fully founded in reality, as shown by 2016 Canadian sales stats. Only Ford’s F-150 saw a big improvement last year, with 145,409 units…
Stories about unprecedented pickup truck sales growth aren’t fully founded in reality, as shown by 2016 Canadian sales stats. Only Ford’s F-150 saw a big improvement last year, with 145,409 units out the door compared to just 118,837 in calendar year 2015, but it suffered from production issues that year. Toyota’s Tundra grew its numbers too, from 10,829 deliveries in 2015 to 11,364 in 2016, but compared to the blue oval, Toyota is clearly in the minor leagues when it comes to full-size pickups.
Last year’s losers include the Ram pickup that had its best year ever with 91,195 units in 2015 but fell to 89,666 sales in 2016 (nevertheless that’s its second-best-ever tally), whereas GMC Sierra deliveries dipped from 53,727 units in 2015 to 51,091 last year, Chevy’s Silverado sales dropped from 46,407 in 2015 to 44,932 in 2016, and believe it or not Nissan’s new Titan, which had 3,226 buyers in 2015 found only 2,715 last year, despite an entirely new model.
This dramatic downward drop wasn’t necessarily due to any reduction in interest, but more so a changeover to the new model (which required phasing out the old one) and the lack of a gasoline-powered version (only the new heavy-half “Extra Duty” Cummins diesel was available for 2016).
Incidentally, the full-size pickup truck sales scenario played out similarly in the U.S. last year, with all models south of the 49th moving up and down the sales chart just like here in Canada, except for the Ram pickup and Titan that gained in numbers and the Tundra that lost out.
The Titan’s lack of gasoline power has been remedied for model year 2017, and the first four months of the New Year has improved for Japan’s alternative full-size truck brand here in Canada with 1,566 deliveries so far. If extrapolated throughout the year this number would grow to almost 4,700, resulting in the Titan’s best year ever (it’s previous high was 3,499 units in 2012), but we’d better not count these chickens before they’re hatched, as we know how that can turn out in the auto industry.
Still, there are a lot of reasons to be bullish about the new 2017 Titan, especially in standard trim. Those who like the look of the rugged new Titan XD will be happy Nissan kept its façade mostly unchanged with the standard truck, including its bold three-part rectangular grille, massive headlamp clusters, muscularly flared fenders, sporty side engine vents, and acres of chrome (depending on trim).
Actually, the $57,600 Crew Cab PRO-4X in our garage is the sportiest Titan variant, meaning much of its chrome has been swapped out for body-colour, matte black and satin aluminum, resulting in a look that’s much more sophisticated and (to these eyes) much more appealing. Along with the subdued glitter it gets a fabulous looking set of 18-inch machine-finished alloys with black painted pockets and (partial) spokes, these wrapped in 275/65 Toyo Open Country winters on my tester (although the standard 275/70 all-terrains would no doubt prove more capable off the beaten path).
Adding to the PRO-4X model’s trail trekking prowess are Bilstein off-road shocks, an electronic locking rear differential, hill descent control, transfer case and lower radiator skid plates, etcetera, while the interior gets metallic-tone interior accents, carpeted floor mats with PRO-4X logos, front bucket seats with special PRO-4X embroidery and a centre console in place of the standard bench, plus more.
The standard Titan loses no size to the XD, with both near identical in length, width and height, depending on trim. The Regular Cab body style gets an eight-foot bed, whereas Crew Cab models utilize a five-and-a-half-foot bed. Nissan promises an extended cab model at a later date, but for now only the two cab and bed configurations are available.
I won’t go into detail about our tester’s cabin other than to say the $6,400 Luxury package makes for an impressive off-roader thanks to leather upholstery with white contrast stitching, front seat ventilation, a heatable steering wheel, heatable rear seats, a 360-degree Around View monitor, and remote start.
Our Crew Cab tester was outfitted with Nissan’s Utili-track Channel System with four load-securing tie-down cleats, standard with the PRO-4X, while integrated in-bed lockable boxes are also available. Even more important (depending on your height) is a new retractable Rear Bumper Step Assist system that aids access to the bed for only $399 (although standard with the PRO-4X), while available $1,029 step rails or $1,159 running boards would’ve been helpful too.
Standard PRO-4X exterior features not already mentioned include auto on/off headlights with signature LEDs, “Follow Me Home” functionality and integrated LED DRLs, plus fog lamps, LED under-rail bed and tailgate area lighting, heatable power-adjustable manually-extendable tow mirrors with integrated turn signals and puddle lights, rain-sensing wipers, front and rear parking sensors, blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a power-sliding rear window with a defroster, a factory-applied spray-on bedliner, a 110-volt power outlet in the bed, an electronic locking tailgate, rear utility bed steps, a Class IV tow hitch receiver with a four-pin/seven-pin wiring harness, trailer brake controller and trailer light check, and more.
Proximity keyless entry with pushbutton ignition gets you inside, where you’ll be met by everything already noted as well as a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, NissanConnect infotainment with a 7.0-inch touchscreen featuring a rearview camera, navigation, mobile apps, voice recognition, SiriusXM Traffic and Siri Eyes Free, Rockford Fosgate audio with 12 speakers and a sub, a centre console-mounted household-style 110-volt AC outlet, an eight-way powered driver’s seat with powered lumbar, heatable front seats, a lockable rear-seat cargo organizer, and much more.
The lighter weight regular Titan is an able ranch hand yet not quite the beast of burden of the XD, its maximum payload just 730 kilos (1,610 lbs) compared to the XD’s best 907-kilogram (2,000-lb) rating, and its top tow rating is 4,259 kg (9,390 lbs) instead of 5,443 kg (12,000 lbs). This comes down to a lighter duty chassis with unique spring rates, hubs, brakes, and more.
The only engine on offer in the regular Titan is Nissan’s Endurance 5.6-litre V8 capable of a generous 390 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque, which adds up to 73 more horsepower and 16 lb-ft of extra torque over the outgoing V8. This new engine is also found in Nissan’s 2017 Armada SUV (and its Infiniti QX80 counterpart), while all variations on the theme are partnered to the same seven-speed automatic transmission.
For comparison purposes, the Endurance 5.6-litre V8 matches up well against the Ram 1500’s 5.7-litre Hemi V8 and Toyota’s 5.7-litre Tundra V8, while it’s stronger than Ford’s 5.0-litre V8 and GM’s 5.3-litre V8.
Four-wheel drive is standard on all but the base Titan Regular Cab S model, which incidentally starts at just $35,498. That price will likely go down when a V6 model is introduced, but so far we only have a promise from Nissan, with no release date.
As for fuel economy, the Titan Crew Cab achieves a claimed 15.2 L/100km in the city and 11.1 on the highway, whereas my PRO-4X tester is less frugal at the pump with a rating of 16.0 L/100km city and 12.0 highway.
I’ll include much more info as well as my driving impressions in an upcoming road test review, so stay tuned for more…