With advances in safety, performance, and computer assistance, the 2010s will likely be remembered for their great leap forward in automotive technology. But they might also be remembered as the era where the gap closed between trucks and cars. Don’t get us wrong. There are still a lot of differences between the two — usually about ¾ ton of hauling. But there used to be a big divide between cars and trucks when it came to economy and comfort. That gulf doesn’t really exist anymore.
Instead, we have a crop of some of the most advanced, powerful, and capable trucks ever made. And in the next few years they’re only going to get better. Some companies, such as Ford, are already talking about plans for next decade (hint: a hybrid F-150). But for the sake of keeping things simple, we’re focusing on all the changes projected to happen before 2020. Lucky for us, there’s a lot going on. Here are 10 up-and-coming truck models that will make the marketplace even more exciting in the next couple of years.
1. Hyundai Santa Cruz
In its 50 years in the auto business, Hyundai has never offered a pickup truck. But that’s going to change very soon. In recent years, the brand has seen success with its SUV lineup. And in 2015, its Santa Cruz pickup concept was one of the stars of the Detroit Auto Show. In 2018, the Santa Cruz will become a reality, arriving as a 2019 model. Diving into the increasingly competitive midsize pickup segment, only time will tell whether the Korean automaker can hold its own.
Next: This workhorse is returning to the midsize pickup segment.
2. Ford Ranger
The compact, no-frills Ranger left the U.S. market after a 28-year run in 2011. Although that truck has a cult following today, the next-generation Ranger will likely be a different beast. Based on the T5 Ranger sold worldwide, we’ll be getting the same redesigned truck the rest of the world does. Expect it to hit dealerships in 2019 as a 2020 model.
Next: We’d love to get this luxury truck stateside.
3. Mercedes X-Class
Mercedes has sold quite a few go-anywhere trucks over its illustrious history. But unfortunately it has never really sold a dedicated pickup. That’s changed for 2018, but sadly the X-Class pickup won’t be sold in America. It’s a shame. We think with its available gas and diesel engines, and the choice of an automatic or six-speed manual transmission, Mercedes would have no trouble selling its new truck stateside.
Next: The future is already here for America’s best-selling vehicle.
4. Ford F-150
The Ford F-150 has gotten a thorough refresh for 2018, and it’s already arriving at dealerships. On top of revised sheet metal from the doors forward, the base engine is now a 290-horsepower, 3.3-liter V6. The 2.7-liter V6, 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, and 5-liter V8 also gain more horsepower. But the real news here is the new 10-speed automatic transmission geared for towing and fuel economy.
Next: This is could be a make-or-break model for Ford.
5. Ford Bronco
Based on the upcoming Ranger, the Bronco makes a return to one of Ford’s most beloved nameplates. Although we don’t know much about the Bronco yet, we know it will be closely related to the Ranger mechanically and will compete with the four-door Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Whether it has any of the mojo of the classic models is anyone’s guess.
Next: The oldest full-size pickup on the market gets some big changes.
6. Ram 1500
The current Ram pickups haven’t been significantly updated since 2009, and that’s an eternity in the modern car market. For 2019, the popular trucks will be new, with greater use of lightweight aluminum and a more aerodynamic design. Expect Ram to unveil the new trucks in early 2018.
Next: Big changes are coming at Chevy.
7. Chevrolet Silverado
Like Ram, Chevy’s Silverado has been around for some time now. But for 2019, the strong-selling pickup will be new from the ground up. Not much is known about these new full-size trucks yet, but expect the use of a lot of aluminum to keep weight down. For fuel efficiency, expect the introduction of GM’s 10-speed automatic transmission. Ironically, it will be largely identical to the unit found in the rival F-150. GM and Ford developed the transmission in a joint partnership.
Next: A British icon makes a return.
8. Land Rover Defender
Closely based on the original Land Rover of 1948, the Defender made headlines when production ended in 2016. But for 2019, the iconic nameplate is coming back with a ground-up redesign. With new safety amenities and modern powertrains, there’s a good chance this one will come to the U.S. (The Defender was last sold here in 1997.) But with its rumored unibody construction and use of the Range Rover platform, it looks like this new model is trading the classic model’s timelessness for contemporary amenities.
Next: This popular truck gets its first major updates in nearly 40 years.
9. Mercedes G-Wagen
Like the Defender, Mercedes’ G-Wagen is a 4×4 icon, now in its 37th consecutive year in production. But for 2019, that military-based workhorse is out to pasture for a next-generation G-Class. Wider and more refined, the new model will be faster, more comfortable, and designed for on-road luxury. Fortunately, spy shots seem to indicate it won’t look much different from the iconic current model.
Next: This pickup is one of the most anticipated models of the decade.
10. Jeep Scrambler
After being without trucks since 1992, Jeep returns to the fray with the long-awaited Wrangler pickup. Likely called the Scrambler (after the cult favorite 1981 to 1986 pickup), the pickup will have four doors, a removable roof, and a number of engines available, including a diesel engine. Unfortunately, production delays have pushed the truck back to 2019, so we’ll still have to wait a while for this long-anticipated truck.