2018 Watch List: Coming Right Up…

2018 Watch List: Coming Right Up…

2018 PreviewStory by Stefanie Galeano-Zalutko, photos courtesy of the manufacturers 

The automaker and aftermarket industries do the dance from time to time—alright, often. It’s the age-old sibling battle of, “Anything you do, I can do better.” The truth is, their cooperative advancements ensure the kind of momentum that is not only contagious, but also keeps all parties honest—a Yin and Yang effect, if you will. It’s a delicate balance, as the collective victories and setbacks of one inspires the next level of innovation for the other, and so the wheel of creativity continues to spin.

Newly-introduced or enhanced vehicle platforms are no exception, and they fuel the aftermarket like lighter fluid over hot coals. That said, everyone is patiently awaiting 2018 model year releases. Many are promising, though consumers should expect some to make a bigger splash than others. Can anything truly compete with the sheer dominance of the F-150, Sierra, Silverado, and Ram in the Great White North?

We had an opportunity to sit down with a few big wigs across the aftermarket to gauge their excitement about the upcoming year. Their insight was telling, to say the least. The North American market is getting back to work,” said Charly Henley of BAK Industries. “People are going places, spending money, growing their businesses, and taking vacations. All great reasons to buy a new truck and equip the rig to do its job properly.” Here’s what they had to say about the heavy hitters and unassuming prospects.


Meet the Starting Lineup

2018 Ford F-150: Ah, the crown jewel of Canada’s working-class rigs. The aftermarket is eyeing up the new OE grille, headlight, and taillight design. And fear not, we consumers will gorge ourselves on a gourmet spread of side steps, running boards, truck bed protection, and cargo management from Westin, LUND, Extang, and DECKED. A highly-anticipated addition for this model year? A diesel option debut that will have a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6. That’s sure to wet the whistle of every MBRP, aFe POWER, and BD Diesel fan.

But it’s not all work and no play. For the team at Air Design, the F-150 is a stout platform with fine lines, ideal for premium truck styling. “The market-dominating F-150 pickup complemented with Air Design´s new Ground Effects Kit or a redesigned Off-Road Body Kit will generate exceptional excitement, and it’ll give us a great opportunity to showcase our complete line of speciality accessories for truck personalization,” said Miguel Avalos, President of Air Design.

2018 Preview2018 GMC Sierra: The lightweight-champion Sierra still sports a V6, but now it comes standard with a rearview camera and voice-activated infotainment system to give owners a taste of the finer things in life and, it goes without saying, improved safety. Aftermarket brands like Pendaform, Weather Guard, and BEDSLIDE help this truck serve double duty as a work horse and playmate.

2018 Chevrolet Silverado: Not much has changed for Chevy’s staple model except for the addition of safety features like advanced tire pressure monitoring. That’s alright by us when the same old V6 durability is worthy of Bob Seger’s classic “Like a Rock” reference. And while on the topic of like a rock, heavy-duty front-end protection with a Fab Fours bumper or Go Industries grille guard shields the hefty investment from damage.

2018 Ram: A reputable contender in a competitive Canadian truck market, the 2018 Ram is the “enforcer” of all trucks. We’d still bet our paycheques that when there’s a tough job to do, this three-lettered badge is up for the task. The 2018 model is expected to have minor cosmetic changes, like moving away from the crosshair grille and adjusting its bed dimensions. We’re splitting hairs here, but those tweaks are worth noting because sometimes less is more. “The Ram applications are some of the fastest moving SKU’s for us, and really the rest of the aftermarket, in Canada. A new model will be sure to drive business,” said Andy Nephew, National Sales Manager at Retrax.

2018 Toyota Tundra: Slow and steady wins the race, right? Ford, GM, and Ram emblems traditionally steamroll the competition in the full-size truck market. But Toyota’s been poised in its approach, building a loyal Tundra following throughout the years. The 4.6-litre V8 comes standard and “with its available deck rail system, easy lower and lift tailgate, and available 10,200-lb. towing capacity, Tundra is built for the work site and the weekend,” said the automaker.

As for the Truck Hero family of brands, they’re eager to outfit every new truck coming off the lot. “Truck Hero will be producing products to fit the new 2018 F150, Silverado, Sierra, and Tundra.  As these 2018 trucks are hitting the dealership lots in August, Truck Hero truck bed covers and accessories will be made available in the fall,” continued Henley.

2018 Nissan Titan: Another underdog. Despite the Titan being named Truck of the Year during 2017, the half-ton sales don’t measure up against the dominance of the Big Three. Perhaps alterations to the “King Cab” will have sceptics singing a new tune? The Titan is a rock-solid ride with a fair price tag—it’s worth the test drive.

2018 Preview2018 Honda Ridgeline: The Honda Ridgeline has quietly forged a place for itself within the mid-size truck market. Its car-like manners, spacious five seats, in-bed trunk, and overall smart design has converted Canadian consumers into true believers, and we expect unit sales to continue upward. An intelligent AWD feature, respectable 5,000 lb. towing capability, and good fuel economy secure its spot on this 2018 watch list.

2018 Dodge Durango SRT: Soccer moms beware, the aftermarket is hot and bothered by more than just pickups and Daisy Dukes. The SUV/CUV scene is sizzling across North America, and it’s is positioned to heat up even more. But one in particular stands out among the rest with its equally loved and feared SRT badge.

“The new 2018 Dodge Durango SRT is going to be a fun, spacious SUV with a lot of power, and it’ll be owned by customers who want the sound to match. Magnaflow provides unique options like top quality stainless-steel materials, black coated finishes, wide-open designed mufflers, and a lifetime warranty that will put you at ease,” said Kathryn Reinhardt, Marketing Manager at Magnaflow.


Products to Match

The global market is aggressively geared toward ease of access and use, cost effectiveness, and environmental consciousness. And that’s a true statement from ride-sharing services like Uber to electric car developments and autonomous technology. Yet, the oversized, highly-powered, and often times less economical pickup is still a favourite among North American consumers because truck owners are quite literally changing the game, and that requires an aftermarket as dynamic as the game itself.

“Here at Undercover, we are always excited when new trucks or 4x4s hit the market. New vehicle applications are critical to the success of the aftermarket industry, as they set the stage for us to push forward with innovative new products each year,” said Michael McLaughlin, National Sales Manager at Undercover. Case in point, the company’s all-new Ridgelander—an exceptionally versatile truck bed cover that caters to every lifestyle. Likewise, we suspect WARN will continue to produce the most time-honoured recovery items on the market, and names like N-FAB, FX Products, Dee Zee, DECKED, and Air Design will lead the way in both function and fashion.

Automakers delivered—now sit back and watch the aftermarket conjure magic.

Categories: Features, Trucks Plus