To nobody's surprise, the pickup pecking order for March 2013 remains largely unchanged, at least for the top three spots. As usual, the Ford F-Series takes first by a comfortable margin, with the Silverado taking second, and Ram taking third. But there is potential for an upset. Ram pickup sales were up a robust 25 percent year over year, and less than 6000 units separates the Ram from the Silverado. Although the brand-new 2014 Silverado is just a few months away, which could give Chevy a second wind, Ram has a few tricks up its sleeve itself, including the introduction of a turbodiesel option in the Ram 1500, a half-ton class-exclusive, later in the year.
Further down the list, the Tacoma took the fourth-place spot from the GMC Sierra by 1384 units, and Nissan, although not blockbusters in overall sales volume, had solid gains for both the Frontier and Titan. The remaining Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon models still languishing on dealer lots are slowly being sold off, getting ever closer to absolute zero, as preparations are being made for the launch of the all-new 2014 Colorado and Canyon later this year.
1. Ford F-Series - 67,513, Up 16.3 Percent
It's good to be king, and the reign of the F-Series is in no immediate jeopardy, with a more than 27,000 unit lead over the Silverado. Even with the introduction of an all-new Silverado
later in 2013, Ford is in no immediate danger of being overthrown. The gap may narrow, but with its own all-new 2015 F-150 not far off itself, Ford is dedicated to maintaining its leadership in the truck segment.
2. Chevrolet Silverado - 39,561, Up 8.4 Percent
The Silverado showed a respectable gain of 8.4 percent for the month, a number that's sure to increase with the introduction of the all-new 2014 model later this year. Ford is now selling more V-6 F-150s than those with V-8 engines, but the bread-and-butter mill for the Silverado and Sierra looks like it's going to remain the 5.3-liter V-8, especially with the significant improvements to power and economy for the 2014 model.
3. Ram 1500/2500/3500 - 33,831, Up 25 Percent
Truck buyers seem to be responding favorably to the extensive upgrades made to the 2013 Ram, and March was another blockbuster month for Chrysler's truck brand. Momentum will continue for Ram with the introduction of the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6
from the Jeep Grand Cherokee, which will be going into the Ram 1500 later this year. We're a big fan of the engine in the Jeep application, and think it will be a worthwhile addition to the Ram's engine portfolio with a compelling combination of fuel economy and torque.
4. Toyota Tacoma - 15,201, Up 21.2 Percent
Although not direct showroom competitors, the Tacoma and the GMC Sierra have been battling it out for fourth place over the last several months, and this month, the Tacoma came out on top. Toyota's legendary reputation for reliability, as well as the Tacoma's just-right size have made it popular among many truck buyers.
5. GMC Sierra - 13,817, Down 0.2 Percent
The Sierra showed a slight decline for March, down a smidge at 0.2 percent. Like the Silverado, the Sierra will be all-new in a few months, which is sure to pique buyer interest and increase sales totals. Some have criticized the Silverado and Sierra redesigns as being too conservative, and looking too much like their predecessors, but the basic pickup formula of a cab and a cargo box remains constant, so if the current design is generally well-received, why mess with success?
6. Toyota Tundra - 9270, Up 7.9 Percent
Toyota's full-size offering had a respectable gain for March, but is still well short of the Detroit three in overall sales. The coming 2014 redesign was less extensive than many expected, with carry-over drivetrains. The Tundra certainly doesn't lack for power with its available 381-hp iForce 5.7-liter V-8, but is starting to badly lag the full-size class leaders for fuel economy. The Tundra retains a strong following with Toyota loyalists, but is starting to be overshadowed by more efficient rivals.
7. Nissan Frontier - 6818, Up 12.0 Percent
The Frontier, one of our staff favorites, received some trim updates for 2013, offering such niceties as integrated navigation for the first time. Although undeniably fun to drive, the practicality equation of the Frontier is becoming tougher with ever-more-efficient full-size models on the market. For those that don't have the need or the space for a full-size, the Frontier offers a lively alternative to the segment-leading Tacoma.
8. Nissan Titan - 2084, Up 20.4 Percent
The Titan's in no position to overcome the domestic full-size offerings, and sells considerably fewer units than even its Japanese-branded counterpart, but Nissan is sticking it out with the Titan, promising an all-new model that will have many more available cab, bed, and powertrain configurations, an ongoing criticism of the current model, which is offered with just a single powertrain. But with a monthly sales total roughly equal to how many F-Series Ford sells in one day, Nissan has a lot of ground to make up in volume.
9. Honda Ridgeline - 1712, Up 40.9 Percent
Honda's original midsize truck alternative has never been a chart-busting hit, but Honda remains committed to the Ridgeline seven years into its product cycle. The 2013 model has added a number of new features, including a standard rearview camera. Whether the Ridgeline will live to get a full second-generation redesign remains to be seen, but Honda's unique unibody trucklet is admired by many others in the industry as being a harbinger of the future of the midsize truck.
10. Chevrolet Colorado - 560, Down 84.7 Percent
The new 2014 Chevrolet Colorado can't get to dealers fast enough. With a monthly total of well fewer than one truck sold per month per dealer, the all-new model should turn around the Colorado's fortunes significantly, although it may be quite a while until it's a serious sales threat to the Toyota Tacoma. We're keeping our fingers crossed for a turbodiesel option, possibly the 2.8-liter Duramax I-4 offered in global markets which produces a robust 347 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is reportedly going to be one of the big selling points for both the Colorado and Canyon, so there's a good possibility the diesel four-pot could show up on the options sheet.
11. GMC Canyon - 154, Down 83.6 Percent
The Colorado's ostensible "professional grade" twin, the Canyon's sales total is about one-quarter yet that of its slow-selling sibling. GMC is reportedly repositioning the next-generation Canyon as having a more commercial and business orientation
, but the two trucks are expected to remain nearly identical mechanically.