As I sit here and write this edition, the Truckin' staff and myself have just returned from the annual trek to Vegas called SEMA.I will discuss my own personal trials and tribulations next month, but know for the most part, the Truckin' staff was once again well ahead of the curve from the rest of the competition. Again, next month's issue will highlight all of our exploits. Until then, know that we saw, we conquered, kicked butt, and took names and numbers from all those wanting to be in the "World's Leading Truck Publication."
Also, you will find in this issue our annual ode to the OEM community, namely through our extensive Truck and SUV of the Year testing. While the Truck of the Year results may not surprise many of you, the SUV may be quite different than what you'd expect. Trust us. When we tallied the numbers, no one was more surprised than myself. Anyway, I will not give away the results. You will have to simply search within these pages to determine exactly who did win the ever-prestigious 2007 Truck and SUV of the Year awards. This year provided new challenges for Road Test Editor Mark Halvorsen. When he mapped out the travel route, idea, and schedule for all the people who would actually attend and help in the driving chores, the route included a mixture of on- and off-road driving challenges. It was the off-road that proved slightly more perilous than you might think. You see, while we often feature lifted 4WD trucks, rarely do we ever actually get to use these trucks for their intended purposes. Oh, the stories to tell when a couple of the trucks got stuck in the dirt up to the axles. Just take a look at the photos, and be sure to check out the Truckin' website for an extended look at our photo outtakes, the stuff that didn't make the magazine but made us laugh when we put them up on the site.
Finally, my once-a-year rant is drawing to a close. That is, fuel prices. I get a ton of e-mail every year from service station owners telling me what an idiot I am. I get gas company marketing representatives calling me, offering to set the record straight and how very wrong I am when I write that we as Americans are being ripped off daily at the gas pumps. So, let the letters and phone calls begin. Last summer when fuel prices approached nearly $4 a gallon, people complained quite vocally, to the point where many people sold their supposed gas-thirsty trucks and SUVs and bought smaller more fuel-efficient vehicles. Greenpeacer's rejoice. So, what happened in late-September and early October of 2006? Yes, fourth quarter earnings from all the major oil companies were announced, and lo and behold, almost all of them announced record earnings upward of $10 billion for a quarter-yes, you read that right.
So, when enough people complained and the government looked into collusion and price-fixing, they found none. Gas prices began to decline on the basis of supply and demand. We approached winter with less demand for fuel, and prices began their drop to what they are today. In many parts of the country, that means less than $2. The pessimist in me thinks oil companies simply ran the prices up, so we as Americans would get accustomed to paying $3 a gallon in the summer months and then think we were getting a great deal when gas prices dropped to their current levels, all the while we are still overpaying by nearly 60 cents per gallon as to what they should be. Also, take a look at the pumps and check out the stickers to see just how much per gallon you are actually paying in taxes. It may surprise you. While the Federal government and the respective states have their hands out collecting hard-earned dollars, it still doesn't explain the record earnings posted by the oil companies. Hmm, I wonder how much of that profit is getting reinvested back into the product? Makes you wonder.