Pickups really are the new muscle cars
By Mark Atkinson for MSN Autos
For a country that professes love to compact, smaller-than-usual vehicles, Canadians sure do love their pickup trucks. Ford, General Motors and Ram dominate the top-10 overall sales chart in Canada year after year, and when a new model comes out, it's always the subject of much scrutiny.
Now, the idea of pickups basically replacing the old body-on-frame cars that dominated the market for decades isn't new. In fact, it's been at least a decade in the making. The comparisons are pretty clear: rumbly V8 engines, not especially keen to turn corners, happy to make long-distance cruises with relative ease. They really are modern-day muscle cars.
Before you tear me limb from limb, here's how it finally clicked in my head. Pickups have never really been my thing. I appreciate them for what they can do, and there are a few - the current Baja-ready Ford Raptor and the bewinged Dodge Ram SRT-10 with its donated Viper V10 from a decade ago - that hold some kind of lizard-brain appeal.
But this week during AJAC's Test Fest, I had the chance to test the pickup category, which had the all-new examples from Chevrolet, GMC and Ram. All three had big, powerful, V8s - 5.3-litres for the Sierra, 5.7 HEMI in the Ram and 6.2-litres in the Chev - with anywhere from 355 to 420 horsepower. And even though they all weighed in at around two-and-a-half tonnes, none felt like they were flat-footed and would surprise 'real' performance cars in the stop-light drags.
And before you mention that the Camaro, Challenger and Mustang are the muscle cars, that's not the case. They're pony cars. All three have promised to get smaller and lighter with the new generations coming within the next few years, befitting that status. Muscle cars were the full-size coupes and sedans. So the analogy fits.
Agree? Disagree? Lets hash it out in the comments.