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Test Fest: Best New Pickup Truck

Ford F-150 shines, but each of the four trucks are very different from each other, and each serves a specific buyer niche. Choosing the best one will come down to what each driver needs a truck to do.

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It all comes down to what you need it to do

I don’t think I’ve ever had a tougher time choosing a pickup winner at Test Fest.

Each of the four trucks entered is very good, but they’re also very different from each other, and each serves a specific buyer niche.

Even though I’ve put them in my order of preference, choosing the best one will come down to what each driver needs a truck to do.

Ford F-150 ($41,549 base, $54,594 as tested)

Publicity for this all-new F-150 focuses primarily on its all-aluminum body, but there’s far more to it, including a stronger new lightweight steel frame with reinforcement for the trailer hitch, and a new turbocharged 2.7-litre EcoBoost V6, as in the tested truck.

The F-150’s new construction drops the weight by some 315 kilograms, so this smaller engine works well in it, churning out 325 horsepower and 375 lbs.-ft. of torque.

What really impresses is that you can see little improvements throughout where Ford obviously listened to customer complaints and fixed the problem. These include an easier-to-reach trailer wiring plug, and a step that’s now fully integrated into the tailgate, leaving the inner gate flat and making it easier to slide cargo out of the bed.

Chevrolet Colorado ($22,800 base, $28,030 as tested)

GM’s mid-size Canyon and Colorado truck twins have the same names as the compacts the company used to sell, but that’s all they have in common. Today’s full-size pickups have become way too big, and the Colorado is well-proportioned for everyday driving and parking, while still capable of towing up to 3,175 kg (7,000 lbs.).

A four-cylinder is available, but the Colorado and its Canyon mechanical twin tested here carried a smooth 3.6-L V6 that makes 302 horses and 269 lbs.-ft. of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The interior echoes the basic styling of the larger Silverado/Sierra, and the brilliantly simple bumper step for easy bed access is carried over here.

The Colorado was the only entry that wasn’t a 4×4, and was an extended cab in base trim. It had extra options such as keyless entry, cruise control, damped tailgate, aluminum wheels, automatic locking rear differential, and trailer package. I slipped it just ahead of its pricier Canyon twin based on perceived value for the price.

Chevrolet Colorado

GMC Canyon ($36,200 base, $37,265 as tested)

I think the Canyon is better-looking than the Colorado, which is why it pained me to drop it a step below. It was tested as a Crew Cab 4×4 in a higher trim level, which lifted its price considerably over the Canyon. That’s going to be one of GM’s major challenges with this truck: depending on the configuration and trim, the price could overlap the bigger Sierra and Silverado models.

That said, there’s still a market for mid-size, and the Canyon is a better truck than its current Toyota Tacoma or Nissan Frontier competitors.

Dodge Ram EcoDiesel ($53,695 base, $62,935 as tested)

The Ram isn’t new, but its engine is: a 3.0-L V6 diesel that makes 240 horsepower and 420 lbs.-ft. of torque, mated to an eight-speed automatic that you put into gear with a space-saving dial.

It’s currently the only light-duty pickup with a diesel.

I love this quiet, strong, silky-smooth engine, but I had to put the Ford ahead of it for its more nimble handling (the Ram drives very big) and the F-150’s superior towing capacity of 3,810 kg (8,400 lbs.) to the Ram’s 3,474 kg (7,658 lbs.). Capacity ratings include the weight of the truck and trailer, and since the F-150 weighs less, it can haul more.

Dodge Ram EcoDiesel Test Fest

wheels@thestar.ca

  • Test Fest: Best New Pickup Truck
  • Test Fest: Best New Pickup Truck
  • Test Fest: Best New Pickup Truck
  • Test Fest: Best New Pickup Truck
  • Test Fest: Best New Pickup Truck
  • Test Fest: Best New Pickup Truck
  • Test Fest: Best New Pickup Truck
  • Test Fest: Best New Pickup Truck
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