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Overwhelming Truck Grilles: Function or Fashion?

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On: Tue, Mar 11, 2014 at 7:25AM | By: Elizabeth Puckett

Overwhelming Truck Grilles: Function or Fashion?

A quick look at any new truck will make is obvious that truck grilles are getting bigger and bigger every time manufacturers do a redesign. The same can’t be said about passenger cars, so you might be curious if this is a truck fab or if it actually serves some purpose. The answer can be found when you consider the purpose of a pickup truck.

Grilles for Extreme Use
Unlike passenger cars, a truck will actually use its grilles as a way to get necessary cooling air from the outside to the radiator. A car will usually take the air coming in from the openings located under the bumper—basically, a car’s grille is completely cosmetic, except in special circumstances where an intercooler or something of the sort is needed.

In contrast, trucks are built to haul heavy loads and tow around trailers. When they are used for their intended purpose, the engine runs hotter and it needs an abundance of air running through the radiator and into the intake—the air coming in from under the vehicle via an air dam just won’t cut it.

Therefore, trucks are made for big jobs and big jobs need big grilles.

Past Trucks Worked Without Wide Openings, What Changed?
Trucks have always been made to be used as workhorses, so how do you explain the lack of massive front openings in the past?

Yesterday’s trucks had engine bays that weren’t loaded with hoses, wiring, tubes, fittings, and all kinds of other stuff to meet today’s emissions restrictions, fuel-economy standards, and safety regulations. The air that goes into the engine compartment through a much smaller grille and underside air dam used to be able to move around in the engine bay and reach the air intake before it got heated.

When the Toyota Tundra got its redesign for 2014, it got a very large grille to meet engine bay temperature standards—this caused quite a bit of debate in the truck community about the new appearance. Toyota has their own standards in order to keep their engine bay air cooler than their competitors, so there’s more of a need for great breathing room.

Ford one-up’ed the Tundra by giving it a massive grille and raising it on an aluminum body—as in the F-150 going on sale this fall. This model was unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show with a huge mouth that actually has shutters behind the grille that will close when the truck is cruising without a heavy load—this is to improve the aerodynamics of the truck when extra air isn’t necessary.

Grille shutters like those on the new generation of the F-Series truck are becoming common, and extremely necessary if large grilles are going to allow air to act as a front end parachute.

Ram Set the Tone
The Chrysler Group actually started the trend when it gave the Dodge Ram a look that favored a mini-big-rig tractor trailer truck; that was back in 1994. This model was more about width than depth when it came to appearances.

At the time, the Ram was somewhat radical and was met with its fair share of critics, but that look certainly grew on people and became a hit in no time. It was this look that helped the Ram go from being a “so-so” truck to a major player in the pickup arena.

It took only a mere two decades for other automakers to catch on, but, in their defense, they did introduce it as a functional styling characteristic—or maybe Dodge was just onto something and they didn’t even know it.

Photo Gallery (click a thumbnail to enlarge)



autogrillepros | 6:23AM (Fri, Nov 27, 2015)

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