We've had an abnormally high number of pickup truck first drives recently — the 2009 Ford F-150, the 2008 Toyota Tundra, the 2009 Chevy Silverado and the 2009 Dodge Ram. Why? Because we've been working in conjunction with PickupTrucks.com to bring you a full blown comparison on the 2009 models of every half-ton truck currently for sale in the 'merican market and here it is. It's got all the numbers on towing, handling, braking and acceleration — everything a serious truck buyer could ever need. Frankly, that's the easy part. The subjective determination of which one's the best? That's harder to nail down, but it's what we're here for.
The competitors represent some of the best engineering from the minds of both Detroit and Japan, entrants this year include the 2009 Chevy Silverado 1500, the 2009 Dodge Ram 1500, the 2009 Ford F-150, GMC Sierra 1500, 2009 Nissan Titan, and the 2008 Toyota Tundra. Competition has driven the capabilities of trucks forward in such a way that this modern crop will do more than their forebears could even conceive. However, this relentless march of capability has left us at a point where numbers no longer relate to real world usability and as such the competitors have begun to differentiate. The Ram with its new focus on ride and handling, the Titan is a bit more athletic, the F-150 is the heavy hauler, which leaves the GM twins as the remaining set of do-alls in a crowd of specialists. Crowning A Champion> We're going to come right out and say reviewing trucks is, in a way, a bit silly. Trucks, and specifically the half-ton truck segment, are frequented by some of the most loyal product buyers in the world. Magazines and websites opining passionately on the newest offerings don't really matter for these buyers. Reviews speak primarily in this segment to first-time truck buyers, and these days those are few and far between. But, that being said, we must crown a winner. If we go by the numbers, it's the 2009 Ford F-150 that emerges as the winner when balancing capabilities against performance, finishing at or near the top in every category. But the absolutes of the statistics leaves out the subjective feel of these trucks and ignores that people buy them for different reasons. But, saying the Ford is the best of the bunch is simply unfair. Is it the most well-rounded? Yes. But what about the most fun to drive? Certainly not. Is it the best styled? That's up to you. Does it have the best interior? Nope. So why is it the best? It just does everything well. The F-150 is, for lack of a better term, the working man's truck. The new F-series offers the greatest capabilities and the best long-term value resting on top of a long history of accolades. It really is a great pickup, but that's not to say it's everybody's cup of tea. Then there's the Nissan Titan, which objectively scores in last place among the competition. If we were to build a truck for the person who occasionally needed the capabilities of a truck, wanted something incredibly entertaining on the street, offered reasonable fuel economy and a no-nonsense interior. We'd be hard pressed to build something more fitting than the Titan. Think Nissan Altima in truck form. That's not to say that nobody wants a monstrously big pickup able to out-tow almost everything, rides like an old Cadillac and has an interior you can live with if you don't look too closely at the details. That would be a slot perfect for the Tundra. A truck so good at doing its job you actually overlook it as trying too hard and delivering where it almost doesn't count anymore. And what of the Silverado and GMC Sierra? They run down the same assembly line, but have vastly different characters. The Silverado finishes a close second to the the F-150 by the numbers and, depending on what you're looking for, could be a better truck. The GMC feels better but somehow doesn't reflect so in the scoring. In fact, when pressed to make an overall choice, we'd be in a pickle to choose the Titan or the Sierra, the two "losers" in the field. Goes to show how much personal preference plays into the decision. Anyway, if there's one thing we learned over our two day pickupgasm, it's this — there's a truck out there for everyone who wants one. Unfortunately, there's just not that many people who want them right now.