Luxury Towing - Final Gear
The Latest Generation of Trucks
It wasn’t too long ago that pickup trucks were simply tools used for work. They were loud, rough, and generally unsophisticated. Trucks hauled loads and towed trailers. They sat dirty, dented, and rusted. Plain and simple, if you were driving a truck, you were doing some sort of work with it. And that was perfectly fine.
Then, a funny thing happened. Manufacturers began loading trucks with luxuries that were normally found only in sedans, like air conditioning, carpet, and power windows. And once this happened, pickups remained in this space for several decades—straddling the fence between work and play. Once again, all was right with the world.
Now we’re starting to see another shift. Sure, you can still order stripped-down base models (order forms still list options for vinyl seats and floors, crank windows, manual door locks, and steel wheels), but good luck finding one on a dealer’s lot. Pickups are headed in the direction of full luxury, and you’re more likely to see rows upon rows of leather-clad premium rigs.
Wander through a Ram lot and you’ll see a slew of Laramie, Laramie Longhorn, and Laramie Limited trimmed trucks. Ford offers the King Ranch and Platinum models, Chevy has the High Country, and GMC offers the Denali.
I recently had the chance to hitch a trailer to and go for a drive in a ’15 GMC 2500HD Denali, and it turned out to be quite the pleasurable experience. For this latest update to the HD lineup, GM spent a lot of time focusing on the user experience. The trucks are quieter than they have ever been, both inside the cabin and out. Road and engine noise is significantly reduced, and the Denali trim package provides a level of interior quality that at one time could only be had in Cadillac’s Escalade.
Engine and transmission performance are outstanding despite receiving no major upgrades for several years. GM has also added loads of new technology. Exhaust braking is improved, grade braking has been added (and works wonderfully), and the upscale trucks now have forward collision warning and lane departure warning, which works by vibrating the driver seat when it detects the vehicle is wandering. This is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. To really experience the depth of features and creature comforts, you need to spend a few days in one.
GM certainly is not dabbling alone in this luxury truck market (as I mentioned earlier). I’ve also had the chance to slide behind the wheel of a ’14 Ram 2500 Longhorn for a bit of trailer hauling. Ram has the unique distinction of being the first pickup brand to make the Ward’s 10 Best list for interiors, and the reason why is clear the moment you sit inside one.
In my opinion, the current Ram interior is the best in the heavy-duty segment (in the upper-level trims, anyway). Having a comfortable cabin makes the chore of towing seem like nothing at all. I’ve noticed that I stay alert longer and feel less fatigued after long road trips when I’m taking them in one of these new luxury trucks.
For this truck lover, seeing the market segment trend toward the higher end is exciting. Pickups are competing with luxury SUVs for market share and winning over customers who would have never previously considered owning a truck. And with a premium product comes higher profit margins for the manufacturers as well.
How is this good for us, you ask? The healthier the truck manufacturers are financially, the more capable they are to produce better products (it’s hard to innovate without having the capital to back it). While the trucks end up costing more money, they offer us more features, luxuries, and capabilities—which I believe is a good thing.
I know there are people on both sides of the fence. A strong contingent just wants their old trucks back. There’s nothing wrong with that. As I write this, I have three trucks in the driveway that all have crank windows. So, you can see which side I personally fall on.