There used to be a time when the majority of pickup buyers were more concerned with payload and towing ability than touchscreens and leather seating. But times change and these days there are a lot more trucks parked in suburban driveways than bouncing down country laneways.
For proof of this just look at the figures. Every year the number of sales for pickup trucks grows. With that in mind, we asked our expert panel to rank the top full-size pickups that offer the best blend of tough-hauling, rugged road brawn and tech-savvy beauty—not to mention cost.
5th place: Nissan Titan
If Toyota is a bit player then the Titan is still standing on the sidelines with less than 1% of the large pickup market in Canada. Our critics universally panned the outgoing 2015 model and so far only a super-luxurious crew cab version of the 2016 model has been unveiled. The new Titan is big enough to earn its name and a new Cummins turbodiesel engine has piqued interest. Still, buyers will just have to wait and see how the truck does when the new diesel and conventionally-powered Titans finally hit the showrooms.
4th place: Dodge Ram 1500
Tough enough to have its TV spots voiced by actor Sam Elliott, this truck is also our beauty pageant winner. Jil McIntosh calls it “the best-looking of the bunch, inside and out.” Under the hood, the Ram 1500 boasts the legendary 5.7-litre Hemi engine (or opt for the only diesel powerplant offered in this group). The diesel upgrade is a bit pricey but it’s fuel-efficient and smooth. The Ram is also a capable hauler but buyers not used to piloting a bigger truck may not like the heavy feel of the steering.
3rd place: GMC SIERRA/Chevrolet Silverado
These twins from GM are great for buyers who want a comfortable truck loaded with technology. “The ride feels like you’re sitting on your living room couch,” says Petrina Gentile. “It’s comfy and plush on long drives, plus it has good hauling and towing capability, too.” It also offers a built-in 4G LTE wireless hot spot, along with a customizable HD touchscreen and a collision avoidance system that sends warning vibrations through the driver’s seat.
2nd place: Ford F-150
Ford is radically changing its bestselling truck by introducing an all-aluminum body. Our reviewers say the radical, lightweight design does give the F-150 an advantage over competitors. “Ford maintains its market dominance by never resting on its laurels,” says Howard J. Elmer. The good news is the F-150 is offered in a wide variety of styles and powertrains, including a gutsy turbo-boosted 2.7-litre V6. Other features include a 360-degree camera and a built-in rear stepladder.
Best deal: Toyota Tundra
Despite getting top marks from most auto reviewers, Japanese automakers have never been able to make serious inroads into the North American truck market. It’s not that the Toyota Tundra is a bad truck, it’s just that North American brands offer better lease buybacks or come equipped with better standard options. It also doesn’t help that the Tundra is the thirstiest truck on our list with only two engine choices, neither of which offer much in fuel-saving technology. A new engine is rumoured for next year, which may help the Tundra’s gas-guzzling reputation. Still, the Tundra offers a well-priced truck that has a stylish exterior and Toyota’s world-class reliability. Perhaps this will prompt buyers to wake up and see the value in these Japanese-made pickup trucks.