Winch to Hitch: Where’s the Beef?

January 2018 Column, Feature Trevor Mason

I don’t know what it is, but I can’t seem to stop thinking about the mid-size truck market. Ever since we ran our story last year comparing the newest entries to the market—the RAM EcoDiesel and the TITAN XD—I’ve been almost obsessed with them. But not in the “hook it my veins” kind of way. It’s more like, “Why on earth would anybody buy one of these trucks?” 

As we walked around the show floor at SEMA this year, there were certainly a couple of examples of the XD to be found, but not many. As I have mentioned previously in this column, while you can get a fair amount of aftermarket parts for it, there still is a distinct lack of power upgrades on the market for the Nissan-Cummins partnership. At the time, I speculated that it was simply because the platform was still new and therefore companies hadn’t yet had the time to properly develop anything. But since then, I’ve not heard much about anything coming down the pipe. There was a little scuttlebutt during the UCC, but nothing seems to have come of it. I wonder now if it’s simply not worth people’s time. And don’t even get me started on the EcoDiesel. One lonely little specimen was to be found at SEMA (at least not that I was aware of). Ask anybody and they’ll probably scoff, or laugh, or both. 

I can remember two specific conversations I had with guys during the show. Both of them essentially boiled down to the same point: why buy a truck that is physically the same size as a Power Stroke, Duramax, or RAM, but can’t touch it in the power department? Especially when that “weaker” truck costs about the same amount of money? There simply doesn’t seem to be a use case. I get that people have brand loyalties, or that they don’t care about all that, or they just plain like how the truck looks. But looking at cold hard facts, it’s a hard sell. 

All that said, I need to clarify that I really am only talking about those two specific models. I totally understand why somebody would be interested in GM’s midsize diesel offerings, the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon. Not everybody wants the hassle of housing a full-size truck, even if they still want to approximate the power of one. Better fuel mileage is also a plus. We covered this briefly earlier this year with our own Colorado build. By the same token, people seem to be super excited for the new 2.8L Cummins crate engines. Those were on display at the show and by the time you read this will be out in the wild. There were a couple of awesome examples of smaller trucks or Jeeps that had the crate engine installed, and they seemed pretty legit. A mechanic friend of ours recently ordered two of them, and he had Cummins reach out to ensure that he did, in fact, want two of them. We can’t wait to see what he does with them. 

So what do you think? Am I missing something? Am I just out of touch? If you own an EcoDiesel or TITAN XD, let me know why you got it and why you like it. I’m looking at doing my very first truck build this coming year, and I’m entertaining the notion of doing an XD, if for no other reason than “just cuz.” Am I crazy? Time will tell.

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