Working in Style

2013-06-19T00:00:00Z Working in StyleBy Jim Gorzelany CTW Features
June 19, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Pickup trucks aren’t just for hauling any more. Today’s top models are posh and plush, for those seeking what’s essentially a luxury vehicle with heavy-duty capabilities.

When most motorists think of a full-size pickup truck, images of a burly and dirty vehicle built with strength and durability as prime concerns usually come to mind. While many are still all that, today’s top-priced models rival many luxury cars with myriad upscale accommodations and opulent interiors.

Most luxury trucks are configured as four-door “crew cab” models, which are essentially full size sport-utility vehicles with a moderately sized pickup bed situated behind the rear seats instead of a closed cargo hold. They’re ideal for active families who need to tote a team’s worth of sports equipment, outdoor gear or horse saddles, but prefer to do so without mucking up the inside of an expensive SUV. They also have the capability to seat five adults in complete comfort with limo-like legroom and enough headroom to accommodate a 10-gallon hat while still being able to tow a large boat or trailer.

Plush pickups start in the $40,000 range and can easily top the $50,000 mark. While they’re clearly not for everyone, big-ticket trucks have become both plentiful and profitable. Ford now offers five upscale versions of its full-size F-150 that, according to Automotive News, account for nearly one-third of its sales. “More and more customers today have high expectations for luxury and convenience, yet their needs call for a truly capable truck,” says Raj Nair, Ford Group Vice President for Product Development.

GMC helped establish the luxury truck segment in 2002 with the Sierra 1500 Denali. While the idea of an upscale pickup may have seemed out of character back then, the Denali proved successful and helped delineate the Sierra from its near twin at Chevrolet, the Silverado.

Among its luxury offerings, Ford’s F-150 Platinum model is packed with comfort and convenience gear. It stands out with a broad satin chrome front grille outside and rich heated/cooled leather seats with accent stitching and embroidered logos inside. Meanwhile the F-150 Harley Davidson version pays homage to the legendary motorcycle maker with snakeskin leather accents and specific styling cues. For 2013, Ford followed up with an even more luxurious F-150 Limited that features a monochromatic exterior theme with 22-inch polished aluminum wheels, and a posh cabin with red and black full-grain leather and aluminum and piano-black finishes.

Meanwhile, Toyota will be adding a new Platinum version of its Tundra pickup later this year. With perforated black leather heated/cooled seats, double-stitched diamond plate leather trim and chrome badging on the seats and console, Toyota officials say the truck will have “an upscale yet urban feel.”

In addition to plush pickups for upscale suburbanites, a growing number of saddle-stitched western-themed luxury models are becoming available for those looking to embrace their inner cowboy. Ford was first out of the gate in 2001 with its rip-roaring F-150 King Ranch version that’s named for one of the world’s largest ranches, situated in South Texas. Coming loaded with amenities, its seats are clad in supple Chaparral leather with the choice of an adobe or all-black interior treatment. Meanwhile, the Ram 1500 recently added a top-of-the-line Laramie Longhorn model that sports western-embroidered premium saddle-leather seats and dashboard trim, with plenty of chrome inside and out.

Toyota, likewise, will be offering a new 1794 edition to its Tundra line for 2014 with saddle brown embossed leather seating and ultra-suede accents; it’s named for the ranch, founded in 1794, on which the truck’s assembly plant is located in San Antonio, Texas. And if that’s not enough horseplay, Chevrolet plans to add a High Country version to its redesigned Silverado line later this year. This version will feature an exclusive saddle brown interior, with heated and cooled perforated leather seats that have High Country logos on the headrests.

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