Jimmy Fallon's first weeks as the new host of NBC's "The Tonight Show" has been warmly received. So when Fallon opened his show Wednesday night with a comment about wanting to buy a truck, Detroit's truck marketers fell over themselves like teen-agers hearing Kate Upton wants an invitation to prom.
The first night, Fallon admitted he knew nothing about trucks and wasn't looking for "payola," just that he was thinking of buying a pickup that he could haul his child in. (His appeal for advice to The Roots revealed only a Mini Cooper owner.) That was enough for Detroit to tag Fallon in his medium of choice, Twitter.
Ford struck first, pitching the 2015 F-150 King Ranch, a truck that won't even be built for several months. Chevy also tried its hand:
These softballs looked pretty lame compared to the pitch by Ram, which parked a new Ram 1500 near 30 Rockefeller Center with a personalized invitation for a test drive:
On Thursday's show, Fallon acknowledged the interest, and noted that the Ram was downstairs waiting for a test drive. Instead of going himself, he dispatched Roots MC Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter to drive the Ram instead. Black Thought returned to report the Ram "did everything my Mini Cooper could" and noted it had a Hemi, giving Fallon the inspiration for the hashtag #HemiFallon. Points to Ram so far.
While the marketers plot their next advance, I thought about the question: What kind of pickup would be right for a late-night TV host in Manhattan who knows nothing about pickups?
Ford's correct in that an F-150 King Ranch would be the most popular choice. Essentially a luxury car interior inside a pickup, the King Ranch (starting around $47,000 in short-wheelbase form) has long been the choice of the town and country set. But the new aluminum-body model won't hit the streets until later this year.
A more of-the-moment choice would be the Ram 1500; it rides smoother than the Ford and Chevy alternatives, its Laramie Longhorn edition is almost as opulent (and just as expensive) as the King Ranch, and Ram just began selling the V-6 diesel version, which gets a class-best 29 mpg on the highway, but would make for a more awkward hashtag.
And let's be honest: No Manhattanite who doesn't work with their hands on a daily basis really needs a full-size pickup and the endless driving/parking hassles that would come with it in the city. The new GMC Canyon going into production later this year will offer as much towing and hauling as most city slickers could ever need in a slimmer package. There's no upscale trim line, but c'mon, not every pickup driver needs to be Mr. Fancy Britches.
This question might also get a better answer with a little more imagination. Why buy a truck everyone else can when you can own something far more unique?
If it were my TV show paycheck, I'd consider the AEV Brute Double Cab Filson Edition. That's a four-door Jeep Wrangler converted into a pickup by American Expedition Vehicles, further customized with a 6.4-liter, 425-hp Hemi V-8 and luxury leather-and-twill interior by C.C. Filson Co. of Seattle. It's the right size for the city, there's room for the family, and the $130,000 price tag means you won't see another in the neighbor's parking spot.
Of course, non-truck fans may not see the point in any of this conspicuous consumption; where's the fuel-efficient hybrid pickup option? Sadly, there really isn't one —outside of the Indiana man who, for a small fee, can breed a Prius with the rear end of a totaled Subaru Baja to create the "Pruck." It gets 40 miles per gallon (or up to 100 mpg in plug-in hybrid form) and can handle a typical Home Depot run — although the jokes might be more than even Jimmy Fallon could take.
- Jimmy Fallon