There's probably no more all-American vehicle than the full-size pickup truck. And pickups are on a roll right now. As the economy recovers, truck buyers have been stepping up for new ones again, and the industry is responding.
"There's money to be made here, and there's loyalty to be taken advantage of. And these are big volume sales vehicles," said Mark Williams, editor, PickupTrucks.com.
Auto sales have been a bright spot in the U.S. economy lately. And truck sales have been a bright spot of the auto industry this year.
Chrysler got things rolling for 2013 with a new version of its Ram truck.
Now it's GM's turn: an all-new Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra are now in showrooms as 2014 models. Like the Ram, there are improvements to the truck everywhere that counts, from capability to available features to gas mileage.
"Fuel-efficiency, from the manufacturers' point of view, is becoming more important because it's becoming more important to customers," said Williams.
A mile or two per gallon here and there actually helps. Especially considering that there are millions of pickup trucks on American roads.
The best-selling truck year after year is Ford's F-series. The company even tried to steal a little bit of GM's thunder earlier this year by rolling out a concept truck called the Atlas. Big -- even over-the-top big -- with ideas for innovations.
Officially, Ford says the Atlas is not the next F-series. But auto companies don't spend big money creating vehicles like this for nothing.
With a new GM truck and a fairly recent Ram truck, the Ford F-series is now the oldest of the three. You can bet that the Atlas is a preview of what's to come from Ford.
Industry watchers say as competitive as the truck market is, Ford has to make its next update a bold one. And this Atlas concept is about as bold as they come.
"Very definitely will give us some hints about what the next, probably 2015, F-150 or Super-Duty is going to look like," said Williams.
And the next Ford will join a very competitive segment. It's actually a good time to be in the market for a truck right now.
"We're going to keep seeing truck wars being at the top of our mind for at least the next couple of years, if not longer," said Wililams.