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Pickup Truck Buyer's Guide

By on November 6, 2014 1:20 PM
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It's Another Big Year for Trucks

The past couple model years have been big ones for pickup trucks. The Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra were completely redesigned for 2014, the Toyota Tundra was significantly updated and the Ram 1500 became the only light-duty full-size truck to offer diesel power. And Ford has really shaken things up for 2015, with an all-new, aluminum-intensive F-150. Also this year, Chevy and GMC have jumped back into the midsize truck segment for 2015 with an all-new Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon.

And at the Detroit Auto Show in January, Nissan introduced an all-new Titan full-size truck, while Toyota unveiled the next-gen Tacoma midsize and Ford showed its next-gen Raptor.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Here are the six light-duty full-size trucks you can buy today:

  • Chevrolet Silverado
    2015 Chevrolet Silverado
  • Ford F-150
    2015 Ford F-150
  • GMC Sierra
    2015 GMC Sierra
  • Nissan Titan
    2015 Nissan Titan
  • Ram 1500
    2015 Ram 1500
  • Toyota Tundra
    2015 Toyota Tundra

Resale Champ

The Toyota Tundra is our most recent Kelley Blue Book Best Resale Value Award winner in the full-size truck segment, followed by the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra.

Engine Evolution

The V8 is still king when it comes to full-size pickups, but Ford has had tremendous success with its turbocharged V6 and now Ram offers a diesel in its light-duty truck.

From Half-ton to 3500

The Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado 1500, GMC Sierra 1500 and Ram 1500 are often called half-ton or light-duty pickup trucks, and represent the bulk of pickup truck sales. Each of these truck makers also offers three-quarter-ton and one-ton trucks, denoted by 2500 and 3500 (or 250 and 350) monikers. (The actual numbers and "ton" references have little connection to the trucks' specs or capabilities today.)

The 2500 and 3500 trucks are also referred to as heavy-duty or HD trucks, and offer greater towing and hauling limits. Historically only heavy-duty trucks have offered diesel engines, although that changed this year with the debut of the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel.

The Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan are only offered in light-duty/half-ton versions.

Heavy-duty Thunder

If you need to tow more than 10,000 pounds, you might want or need to step up to a heavy-duty truck, offering maximum towing capacities beyond 20,000 pounds.  Be aware that the powertrain and suspension differences that increase the trucks' capabilities also force compromises in ride comfort and fuel economy. If that's what you need, here are some shortcuts:

Ford F-250/F-350
Chevy Silverado 2500/3500
GMC Sierra 2500/3500
Ram 2500/3500

Midsize Market

If you don't need all the available power or all the room of a full-size truck, you have two new options in the midsize truck segment: Joining the Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier and the distinctive, unibody Honda Ridgeline for 2015 are the all-new Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon. And as mentioned above, the next-generation 2016 Toyota Tacoma, which was revealed at the Detroit Auto Show in January, will go on sale later in 2015.

How Much?

Full-size truck sticker prices start in the neighborhood of $25,000, but the average price paid has risen to right around $40,000. Still, it's possible to get an attractively equipped full-size truck in the lower $30,000 range.

Full-Size Truck Photo Gallery

Ford F-1502014 Chevrolet Silverado2014 GMC Sierra2014 Ram 15002014 Toyota Tundra2014 Nissan Titan


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