The movement that’s bringing ever-greener vehicles to our highways is in hyperdrive today, with enormous focus, funding, engineering, and production devoted toward decarbonizing transportation at all levels. In today’s pickup field, this increasingly means the addition of batteries and electric motors to the powertrain in hybrid or full electric configurations.
Other approaches to increasing efficiencies and reducing carbon emissions are also being taken through more traditional methods, like improving combustion engines and transmissions, lightweighting a pickup’s body and frame, and improving aerodynamics and rolling resistance. Pickups employing these diverse strategies are all considered in the Green Truck of the Year™ program since there is no single pathway to greater environmental performance.
The pickup truck is a unique proposition in the ‘green’ car field. While its uses are pretty expansive – from highly functional personal use vehicles to high horsepower, ‘stump pulling’ workhorses – there are some givens when we talk pickups. We know this well because of the many years Green Car Journal writers and editors have spent working at pickup and off-road magazines in the past. Trucks must serve their core missions, seamlessly. Their job is to work hard, play hard, tow dependably, and haul what’s needed. They can serve as family vehicles these days with ease, so car-like comfort, connectivity, and style are paramount…even as they deliver the high functionality and improved environmental performance buyers demand.
Through the Green Truck of the Year™ program presented at the San Antonio Auto & Truck Show in Texas, it’s Green Car Journal’s mission to identify the pickup that best represents environmental performance while balancing the core needs of pickup buyers. Among the cornerstones of Green Truck of the Year™ analysis is weighing the merits of pickups integrating the latest efficiency technologies, balanced with cost, value, functionality, performance, and other factors. Also considered is a model’s availability to consumers, since the ability to actually buy and drive more environmentally positive models on our highways is as important as the ‘green’ technologies and capabilities they champion.
These are more complex issues today. We’ve seen order banks for some new or popular pickups like the Ford F-150 Lightning and Ford Maverick unexpectedly close for the model year, which means consumers are no longer able to buy one. Price is also an important consideration. While annual price increases for new models are a tradition in the automotive market, sudden and significant price spikes are not. Today’s reality is that materials costs and supply are wild cards in the auto industry, with silicon chips and especially materials for electric vehicle batteries major issues. How an auto manufacturer chooses to deal with this, such as Ford’s $12,000 increase in the entry level cost of its F-150 Lightning, has a direct impact on a vehicle’s affordability and availability to buyers. All this is taken into consideration in determining the Green Truck of the Year™.
Pickups that made the cut as finalists this year included the Ford F-150 Lightning, Ford Maverick, Hyundai Santa Cruz, RAM 1500, and Toyota Tundra. Each, in its own way, offers features and powertrains allowing pickup enthusiasts the opportunity to drive with greater efficiency and lower carbon emissions. Because of their commendable environmental achievements, these five finalists are recognized with Green Car Journal's 2023 Green Car Product of Excellence™ distinction.
The Ford F-150 Lightning is a champion of electrification. Powered exclusively by lithium-ion batteries and electric motors, this finalist features zero-emission travel of 240 to 320 miles before requiring a charge, depending on battery pack. F-150 Lightning does this while carrying on the Ford F-150’s reputation for dependability, durability, and performance. In fact, the F-150 Lightning’s acceleration and performance is stellar. It can haul up to 2235 pounds and tow up to 10,000 pounds, though towing or hauling heavy loads can significantly decrease the driving range of this all-electric pickup. The Lightning starts at about $52,000, though Ford’s order bank for this model is now closed.
Ford’s Maverick also brings efficiencies and carbon reduction to the pickup market, but in a different way. Starting at just over $22,000, this more compact pickup offers a standard 2.5-liter hybrid powerplant that nets up to 42 miles per gallon in the city, or a more powerful 2-liter EcoBoost engine. Maverick speaks to those who want a pickup with a smaller physical footprint that still fulfills a pickup’s expected mission, which it does handily. Clever engineering means the Maverick’s four-and-a-half foot bed can still carry a 4 by 8 foot sheet of plywood, with its multi-position tailgate at its halfway position and the plywood resting on top of the pickup bed’s wheel wells. Like the F-150, the order bank for the Ford Maverick has closed.
The Hyundai Santa Cruz is another example of a downsized pickup with high efficiency. Described by its maker as a Sport Adventure Vehicle, the Santa Cruz features a functional pickup bed that’s just over 4 feet in length, with the bed offering hidden bed storage and a lockable tonneau cover. It’s powered by a 2.5 liter four-cylinder achieving up to 26 highway miles per gallon, or a more powerful turbocharged 2.5-liter four, and comes in front- or all-wheel-drive. It can tow up to 3500 pounds and has a payload rating of 1500 to 1750 pounds. Santa Cruz offers a starting price of $25,500.
With an entry point of just over $37,000, the RAM 1500 is a stylish and highly functional pickup that fits a variety of needs, whether at the worksite or the campsite, trailer in tow. It’s offered in Quad Cab and Crew Cab choices, with two- and four-wheel drive, two pickup box lengths, and eight trim levels. Gas and hybrid power options offer 305 to 702 horsepower and include a 3.6-liter eTorque V-6, 5.7-liter eTorque HEMI V-8, and 6.2-liter supercharged V-8. This pickup’s efficient 3.0-liter EcoDiesel is a fuel economy champ at 33 highway mpg. RAM 1500 offers a dedicated work ethic with the ability to tow up to 12,750 pounds and carry payloads up to 2300 pounds.
Introduced in its third generation last year, the Toyota Tundra offers rugged styling and a broad range of capabilities. It’s available with two efficient twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter engines, the 389 horsepower i-FORCE V-6 or a 437 horsepower i-FORCE MAX V-6 parallel hybrid. It can tow up to 12,000 pounds and carry payloads up to 1920 pounds, with a driving range that can reach 700 miles. Tundra offers a wide range of features, amenities, and advanced driver assist systems and is available in Double Cab or CrewMax choices with two- and four-wheel drive,
Green Car Journal’s 2023 Green Truck of the Year™ is the RAM 1500. This pickup presents an excellent choice for buyers seeking a stylish and hard-working truck that offers efficient hybrid engine choices, plus the ability to tow and haul loads within its substantial ratings, with no limitations.
RAM 1500 features handsome styling, loads of connectivity and driver assist features, and the kind of comfort and functionality appreciated by everyday drivers and those who use their hard-working pickups on the job. Performance is a given. The 3.6-liter eTorque-powered RAM 1500 delivers up to 26 highway mpg with a driving range approaching 600 miles, while the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel nets 33 highway mpg and a driving range of 1,000 miles. Highway driving is a joy and off-roading an adventure if you’re so inclined. Importantly, this pickup’s capabilities dependably meet all the needs of personal, work, and recreational use, confidently delivering the substantial hauling and worry-free towing capability so many truck buyers expect and demand.
A coming electric Chevy pickup is no surprise given the intense competition in the pickup field and what’s at stake in this highly profitable market segment. Given that Rivian already has electric pickups on the highway, Ford has over 200,000 preorders for its coming electric F-150 Lightning, and other electric pickup competitors are on the horizon like the Ram 1500 EV and Tesla Cybertruck, an electric Chevy pickup was just a given. And now that it’s officially coming, GM’s bowtie brand is snaring that over 110,000 customers have already submitted preorders for its battery powered pickup.
While it’s true that GM already has its GMC Hummer EV pickup, it’s also true that this is a high-end product that’s not in the thick of the electric pickup battles. As a popular mainstream pickup, the Silverado is well-positioned to capture significant market share amid its electrified rivals.
Unlike the Ford F-150 Lightning, the 2024 Silverado EV is a ‘clean slate,’ all-new design with each component engineered to suit the electric pickup mission. As such, the engineering and design teams were able to include some very unique features well-suited to the electric pickup truck market. Even though the Silverado EV is a sizeable crew cab or two-row cab configuration, four wheel steering allows an impressive maneuverability and tight turning radius.
The pickup box is only 5.5 feet, but a pass-through in the rear cab wall called a Multi-Flex Midgate allows the back wall of the cab to fold down, allowing the pickup to haul cargo and gear up to 10 feet long. Chevy’s Multi-Flex Tailgate, already available on standard Silverado models, also adds work and cargo-carrying flexibility. Added storage can be found up front since there is no engine under the hood like on most trucks. This space on the Silverado EV features a lockable ‘frunck’ that can handle gear up to the size of a large hard-side suitcase.
The power output from the Silverado EV’s two electric motors is impressive. At the push of a button you enter Watts mode that provides an all-in effort of 664 horsepower and 780 lb-ft torque. The result is very un-pickup-like 0-60 mph acceleration in under 4 1/2 seconds.
Silverado EV offers standard automatic adaptive air suspension to even out heavy loads and improve overall ride quality. It can raise or lower the vehicle two inches. Ride quality is also enhanced thanks to a fully independent suspension front and rear. Tow rating on the Silverado EV is 8,000 pounds and it can carry 1200 pounds of cargo. Chevrolet will offer a fleet model with a 20,000 towing capacity after initial launch.
Inside, Silverado EV is designed to be comfortable and tech-savvy. The dash features a 17-unch diagonal LCD infotainment screen. Front and center for the driver is an 11-inch diagonal reconfigurable display along with a heads-up display. If you haven’t been in a pickup truck lately, they are light years away from pickup trucks of old with all the creature comforts you might desire.
Silverado EV utilizes GM’s Ultium Platform that’s the foundation for all GM EVs in the future. In the Silverado EV, Ultium uses a 24 module Ultium battery pack. The result is a very impressive driving range that GM estimates will deliver 400 miles between charges. Handily, the Silverado EV also offers DC public fast charging capability of up to 350W, allowing 100 miles of additional range to be added in just 10 minutes. Like its Ford Lightning competitor, the Silverado offers the ability to power a worksite, recreational campsite, or even a home during power outages with its available PowerBase charging system. It’s also capable of charging another EV using an available accessory charge cord.
Toyota’s full-size pickup truck has received a complete makeover for the 2022 model year, featuring a bold broad-shouldered look with LED lighting all around. Its nose features an oversized grill opening for optimum cooling when hauling or towing heavy loads. In a market segment that consistently delivers large sales numbers, competing with U.S. domestic entries from Ford, GM, and RAM requires manufacturers to make continual progress and innovate to excel in the pickup market, and design is no small consideration. Overall, Tundra is a worthy successor to the immensely popular model that came before it.
The backbone of the new Tundra starts with a high-strength, fully boxed ladder-style steel frame. Tundra’s bed is now an aluminum-reinforced composite design, a nod to lightweighting and increasing fuel efficiency. With the new frame and high-strength materials throughout, Toyota was able to upgrade the rear suspension to a multilink design for improved ride and handling qualities. Up front is a new double wishbone suspension that can be upgraded to a formidable TRD (Toyota Racing Development) design with mono-tube Bilstein performance shocks for serious off-roading.
A significantly improved interior accompanies Tundra’s redesign. Advanced technology and convenience features include large LCD touch-screen displays. Center stage, buyers can even option a massive 14-inch touch screen. Heated and cooled seats, an available panoramic roof, and contemporary styling includes numerous car-like touches. Importantly, Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.5 active safety suite comes standard on all grades of Tundra.
The previous model’s thirsty 5.7 liter V-8 powerplant has been replaced by new and more fuel efficient engine options. Tundra comes standard with a i-FORCE twin-turbo 3.5 liter V-6 with 389 horsepower and 479 lb-ft torque. The i-FORCE Max option is a mild-hybrid version that increases power output to 437 horsepower and 583 lb-ft torque. Integrating an electric motor within the bell housing between the engine and 10-speed transmission, this hybrid design not only increases power and efficiency, but also enables limited all-electric driving at low speeds. The motor is powered by a nickel-metal-hydride battery located beneath the rear seats.
Transferring power to the road is a new ten-speed automatic transmission that promises plenty of gearing for any towing, hauling, or everyday cruising mission. Properly equipped, a 2022 Tundra is rated to tow up to 12,000 pounds. It is available with 5.5-, 6.5-, and 8.1-foot beds and capable of carrying up to 1940 pounds, an 11 percent improvement over the previous model.
There are two four-door cab options, Trim levels include the base SR, SR5, Limited, Platinum, and new top of the line 1794 model. The 2022 Toyota Tundra was designed, and engineered in the U.S., and is assembled in San Antonio, Texas. Pricing info and EPA fuel economy ratings will be revealed closer to Tundra’s on sale date later this year.
The 2022 Ford Maverick’s standard powertrain is an efficient gas-electric hybrid system that pairs a 2.5-liter, 162hp Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder gas engine with a 94kW permanent magnet electric motor, delivering a combined output of 191 hp and 155 lb-ft torque. A CVT drives the front wheels, with response controlled by several selectable drive modes including normal, eco, sport, slippery and tow/haul. Ford estimates the hybrid Maverick will return 40 city mpg and have a range of 500 miles. It also has a 2,000-pound towing capacity and can carry up to 1,500 pounds of payload in its 4.5-foot bed. All this goodness comes at a very affordable $20,000 base price.
An optional 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder gas engine is rated at 250 hp and 277 lb-ft. torque. It’s backed by a conventional 8-speed automatic transmission driving the front wheels, or all four with an optional AWD system. A 4K Tow Package available with the EcoBoost engine increases tow capacity to 4,000 pounds. Maverick is available in XL, XLT and Lariat trim levels
The Maverick’s cabin features bucket seats in front and a rear bench seat that flips up for storage bin access. Even in base XL trim, Maverick has a 4.2-inch productivity screen in the instrument cluster and an 8-inch center touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. The standard FordPass Connect system includes an embedded modem and can act as a wireless hotpot, while also enabling the owner to lock and unlock doors, check fuel level, and start the truck from a smartphone.
Ford Co-Pilot360 technology available for the Maverick has several safety features. Pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking is standard, while adaptive cruise control, blind-spot information, cross-traffic alert, lane centering, and evasive steering assist round out the package as optional features.
An abbreviated 4.5-foot bed can carry the requisite 4x8-foot plywood sheets, provided the multi-position tailgate is opened to its half-way position so the plywood can rest on top of the wheel wells. Ford has designed several organization and storage features into the Maverick’s FlexBed, from tie-downs and D-rings to slots in the bed walls to hold 2x4s or 2x6s so owners can create their own storage areas. A scannable QR code in the bed links to other cargo carrying ideas. Removable covers in the back of the bed allow access to 12-volt power sources. Owners can also opt to have 110-volt, 400-watt outlets in the bed and the cab.
Maverick will be available in a First Edition option package that adds unique graphics, wheels, and tires to the Lariat trim level. An FX4 package available for AWD models includes all-season tires, suspension tuning, tow hooks, skid plates, upgraded cooling system components, hill-descent control, and the addition of mud/ruts and sand to the selectable drive modes.
Featuring an overall length of 195.7 inches, the four-door, five-passenger Santa Cruz is more than a foot shorter than the Honda Ridgeline and 4 inches shorter than Ford’s new Maverick, a size that works in its favor in crowded city environments. Hyundai also emphasizes driving dynamics in the engineering of the Santa Cruz, with its size, short wheelbase, and wide track contributing to a nimble, maneuverable nature (as does an optional all-wheel-drive system).
At its longest point along the floor the model’s sheet-molded composite bed measures just shy of 4.5 feet, with 42.7 inches between the wheel wells. Payload capacity maxes out at 1,753 pounds. The bed can be secured with a lockable tonneau cover and for versatility there are storage compartments in the bed walls and floor.
Two gasoline engines are offered for the Santa Cruz, delivering up to 27 highway mpg. Standard is a 2.5-liter, direct-injected four-cylinder producing 191 hp and 181 lb-ft torque. It’s backed by an 8-speed automatic. The optional direct-injected, 2.5-liter four-cylinder turbo is rated at 281 hp and 311 lb-ft torque, and connects to an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
In standard trim the Santa Cruz is front-wheel drive, but both engines can be paired with Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel-drive system. Its electronic, variable-torque-split clutch with active torque control varies power delivery to the front and rear axles depending on road and driving conditions. The selectable Sport mode sends more power to the rear wheels for a sporty, dynamic experience. Ordering a Santa Cruz with the turbocharged engine and AWD raises towing capacity to 5,000 pounds, compared to its standard 3,500-pound rating.
Amenities in the Santa Cruz interior include a standard 8-inch touchscreen (10.25 inches in the Limited trim) with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. A 4.2-inch multi-information display in front of the driver also increases to 10.25 inches in SEL Premium and Limited models. For charging personal devices, standard dual front-seat USB outlets can be augmented by an optional wireless charging system. Hyundai’s Digital Key app enables Android smart-phone control of several vehicle systems including door locks, engine start, and panic alert. Hyundai also offers a subscription-based Blue Link connected car app with features that include remote door lock/unlock, remote start with climate control, and stolen vehicle recovery.
The Santa Cruz is equipped with Hyundai’s SmartSense package of driver aids and safety features. Forward collision avoidance assist, lane keeping assist, and driver attention warning are standard. Blind spot collision avoidance, rear traffic safety alert, and a surround-view monitor are among the model’s options.
With the debut of a new high-efficiency Tradesman HFE EcoDiesel, the 2021 RAM 1500 full-size pickup can now be ordered in 11 different models and five engine options, two bed lengths, two cab configurations, and two- and four-wheel-drive powertrains. Whew! The five engines span a wide range of output and efficiency metrics, from the 6.2-liter, 702-horsepower supercharged Hemi V-8 in the newly introduced ‘Apex Predator’ TRX model to V-6 and V-8 mild-hybrid gas engines and a 3.0-liter turbodiesel.
The Italian-made EcoDiesel V-6, now in its third generation, features aluminum cylinder heads and dual overhead camshafts with four valves per cylinder. Induction is via high-pressure, direct-injection nozzles, while a water-cooled, variable-geometry turbine provides boost. The engine is rated at 260 horsepower and 480 lb-ft torque, has earned 22 city/32 highway mpg, and has a towing capacity of up to 12,560 pounds. The new Tradesman HFE EcoDiesel variant ups the ante to an unsurpassed 33 highway mpg, in a model that starts at $42,240
The mild-hybrid eTorque versions of the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 and 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 replace the standard engine alternator with a belt-driven motor-generator. Working with a 48-volt, 430 kWh lithium-ion nickel-manganese-cobalt battery pack, the motor-generator enables the engines’ stop/start function and brake-energy regeneration, and it provides short bursts of torque under certain driving conditions. The air-cooled battery pack is mounted to the back wall of the RAM's cab.
The eTorque Pentastar V-6 produces 305 horsepower and 269 lb-ft torque and is EPA rated at 20 city/25 highway mpg. The eTorque Hemi V-8 puts out 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft torque and has earned 17 city/23 highway mpg ratings. By comparison, the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 without eTorque assist has the same output ratings but lower fuel economy: 15 city/22 highway mpg. All these engines route their power through eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmissions.
New and improved driver aids available on the 2021 RAM 1500 include a full-color head-up display that can show up to five content areas at once; a digital rearview mirror that displays real-time video from a rear-facing camera (but can revert back to a traditional reflective mirror); and trailer-reverse steering control, which allows the driver to turn a dashboard-mounted dial in the intended direction of the trailer (handing the actual steering control to the system). Adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, blind-spot monitoring and pedestrian detection are also among the safety and security features available for the RAM.
The RAM 1500 remains the only light-duty full-size pickup in the segment with a coil-spring rear suspension system, which the maker says improves ride and handling while not compromising towing or hauling capacity. Buyers will find entry-level RAM 1500s starting at $32,595 and rising upward, with the high-performance TRX topping out the lineup at $70,095.
Following the recent addition of a fuel efficient V-6 diesel option, Ford’s perennial top-selling F-150 will also now be available with a powerful and efficient hybrid powertrain for 2021 model. The hybrid delivers performance from an all-new 3.5 liter V-6 PowerBoost engine that Ford claims makes it the most powerful in the full-size, half-ton pickup class. The gas-electric combination transfers power through a ten-speed Select-Shift automatic transmission. Hybrid power makes great sense in a pickup model where the instantaneous torque from an electric motor can be put to good use.
The hybrid F-150 stores electricity in a 1.5 kilowatt lithium-ion battery that powers a 47 hp electric motor, with the battery packaged under the truck between the F-150’s fully boxed frame rails. An optional Pro Power Onboard output system allows the hybrid F-150 to function as a mobile generator at worksites or campsites, with the generator cranking out enough juice to power the equivalent of 28 average household refrigerators. Plug-in connections include in-cabin outlets, four cargo bed-mounted 120 volt/20-amp outlets, and a 240 volt/30-amp outlet.
EPA fuel economy estimates for the hybrid variant are yet to be released, though we do know the PowerBoost hybrid F-150 is expected to travel over 700 miles on a single tank of gas. Fortunately, the hybrid model won’t compromise any of the F-150’s best-in-class hauling or towing capabilities. Tow rating should exceed 12,000 pounds. An array of other engine options are offered in the F-150 line including a 3.3-liter V-6 FFV, 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6, 5.0-liter V-8, 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, and 3.0-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel V-6. EPA estimated mpg ratings for the 2021 F-150 have yet to be released.
Across the model lineup, there are 11 new grille options. The F-150 is available in Regular Cab, SuperCab, SuperCrew configurations with 5.5, 6.5, and 8.0 foot cargo beds. The 2021 model continues to offer excellent towing and cargo-carrying capabilities, though 2021 model specs have yet to be released.
This is one new pickup that doesn’t skimp on technology. The F-150 offer’s Co-Pilot360 2.0 drive assist and collision avoidance tech, plus Ford’s SYNC4 with over-the-air updates of road and traffic conditions in your path. A new 12-inch center display is standard on XLT models and above.
Ford took vehicle lightweighting to a new extreme a number of years ago when it shed the F-150’s stamped steel body in favor of an all-aluminum alloy skin. Full-size pickups in general and the F150 in particular are true bread-and-butter products for Ford.
The innovative PowerBoost hybrid model should keep the F-150 top-of-mind for many amid the field’s pack of half-ton, full-size pickup contenders.
The immensely popular pickup field is being electrified. Coming electric pickups from legacy automakers like Ford and GM are hugely important since pickups are among their most profitable models. And Tesla? Well, in its typical disruptive fashion, Tesla is introducing a wildly different take on pickups with the company’s signature performance and range characteristics built in. Even luxury electric vehicle maker Karma plans to join the party with an extended range electric pickup.
Names like Atlis, Bollinger, Lordstown, Nicola, and Rivian are new to the scene. These startups are in varying stages of development, some with a solid foundation of billions in investment, manufacturing facilities, and actual product in the works, and others a bit more aspirational. Will they succeed? Time will tell. Plus, we’ll have to see how some wishful launch schedules align with reality.
ATLIS MOTOR VEHICLES plans to offer its heavy-duty electric XT as a regular bed pickup, plus in flat-bed, service body, and dually configurations. Atlis says the truck will carry a 1,000 to 5,000 pound payload, tow 6,000 to 17,000 pounds with a conventional hitch, or 20,000 to 35,000 pounds with a fifth wheel or gooseneck hitch. The company claims a driving range of 300 to 500 miles. These capabilities depend on the battery capacity selected, which starts at 125 kWh. Rather than the lithium-ion batteries powering most EVs today, Atlis is using nickel-manganese-cobalt batteries. It says these batteries are fast-charge capable and can be charged in as little as 15 minutes.
ANALYSIS: The performance claimed by Atlis is quite ambitious, especially since it’s using a less mature battery chemistry and plans to offer a pickup starting at $45,000. This start-up has a concept model developed and is actively seeking investment.
BOLLINGER is looking at a late 2020 launch for its B2 electric pickup and B1 electric SUV. The B2 pickup will have a GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) over 10,000 pounds, making it a Class 3 truck with a 5,000 pound payload capacity. It’s expected to offer a 7,500 tow capability and drive an estimated 200 miles with power from a 120 kWh battery pack. Portal axles mean excellent ground clearance for off-road duty. The Bollinger B2’s Class 3 rating and stark styling – flat glass, external door hinges, and aluminum body panels devoid of compound curves that can be formed by simple equipment – makes it clear the company is not aiming at buyers who want to make a fashion statement. Plus, prototypes shown to date have an austere interior without an infotainment system, surprising for a vehicle projected to have a $125,000 price tag. The cargo area’s unique pass-through into the cab makes the truck capable of handling a telephone pole.
ANALYSIS: With its substantial price, rudimentary styling, and austere interior, Bollinger’s B2 pickup appears aimed at commercial applications rather than mainstream pickup buyers. It looks like Bollinger recognizes this niche market role since the company is planning to make only 1500 vehicles in its first year.
FORD plans to offer as many as 16 pure electric vehicles by 2022 including an electric Ford F-Series pickup, which could appear later in 2021. Ford hasn’t released much information about the electric F-150, but it is expected that range, payload, and towing capability will be competitive with other electric pickups, and perhaps a bit better. That means a range of 250 to over 400 miles, at least a ton of payload, and the ability to tow 7,500 to 14,000 pounds. These numbers are based on battery kWh capacity and selected motors. Like options for conventional F-150s these will be items to be checked off by buyers.
ANALYSIS: Pickup buyers are a very loyal bunch, and if the electric F-150 doesn’t stray too far from the best-selling F-150 it should readily succeed with Ford pickup fans who want to go ‘green.’
GM will naturally have an electric pickup if its traditional competitor Ford has one, and in all likelihood, it will offer several. GMC will get a version that will be marketed as a Hummer, and a Chevrolet Silverado variant will surely emerge since this brand has such a huge pickup following. Both would be built on a similar platform with capabilities comparable to that of Tesla, Rivian, and Ford electric pickups. Again, buyers will be able to select battery/motor options. GM expects a 2021 launch for its electric GMC Hummer pickup. Rumor has it that a Chevrolet Silverado variant will be a more traditional pickup built on a smaller version of the platform, with the GMC Hummer pickup aimed at the off-road, adventure vehicle buyer.
ANALYSIS: Chevrolet and GMC, like Ford, have the advantage of decades of owner loyalty. An electric Chevy Silverado pickup will certainly find a strong following, while the Hummer will likely be a niche vehicle.
KARMA AUTOMOTIVE says it is developing an electric pickup that extends its battery range with electricity from an internal combustion engine-generator, similar to its existing electrified products. The electric pickup will be based on a newly developed all-wheel drive platform and cost less than the company’s $135,000 Revero GT, an extended range electric luxury sedan. A concept pickup is promised later in 2020. The new electric pickup will be built at the company’s existing manufacturing facility in Southern California.
ANALYSIS: A start-up that launched in 2015, Karma has shown it is committed to the electric vehicle market with several high-end models under its belt and others in the works. It has worked with Italy’s renowned car design and coachbuilder Pininfarina on a concept electric grand touring car with production potential, so we have yet to see if its coming electric pickup will be an entirely in-house project or involve others.
LORDSTOWN MOTORS says it plans a 2021 introduction for its Endurance electric pickup with a four-wheel-drive hub motor system. Limited information is available except that it will climb a 30 percent grade fully loaded, carry a 2200 pound payload, and tow 6000 pounds. Range is estimated at a minimum 250 miles. The company is now taking deposits for its 2021 Endurance pickup at a base price of $52,500. Its primary emphasis is on fleets, though private parties can also make a reservation.
ANALYSIS: Lordstown Motors has received a $40 million loan from General Motors and took over GM’s huge Lordstown Assembly Plant. GM is building a large battery factory nearby in partnership with LG Chem. Part of this effort might include taking up an option to lease space in the Lordstown Assembly Plant. In addition to its own manufacturing, Lordstown Motors hopes to provide overflow manufacturing capacity for Workhorse Group’s last-mile electric delivery vans.
NIKOLA MOTOR COMPANY has shown its Nikola Badger pickup that would presumably come in two models, one battery-electric and the other running on a combination of battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell power. Battery electric propulsion is said to feature a 160 kWh battery and a 300 mile range. Adding fuel cell power to the battery electric powertrain would incorporate a 120 kW fuel cell and a total 600 mile range, when hydrogen is available. The Badger is engineered to deliver 906 peak and 455 continuous horsepower, with a massive 980 lb-ft torque. An 8,000 pound tow capability is claimed. In addition, the pickup will feature a 15 kW power outlet for tools, lights, and compressors. Nikola says it will partner with an established OEM to build the Badger and initially announced a late 2020 launch plan, while identifying a $60,000 to $90,000 price range.
ANALYSIS: Nikola is leveraging the technology and expertise developed for its Nikola One and Nikola Two electric and fuel cell semi tractor-trailer trucks. Given the capabilities of the Badger pickup and the likely high price tag of a combined battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell powertrain, we would expect its target market to be primarily commercial operations. Nikola plans to build hydrogen filling stations along well-traveled truck routes to facilitate fuel cell use, a move that further underscores a focus on the commercial market.
RIVIAN plans to launch its R1T pickup in 2021. It will be available with 105, 135, and 180 kWh battery packs and corresponding ranges estimated at 230, 300, and 400 miles, starting at an estimated price of $69,000. All versions will have an 11,000 pound tow rating. The pickup features a ‘gear tunnel’ stowage space behind the rear seats and the ability to make a 360-degree turn in its own length, like a tank. In addition to the truck, Rivian will offer an R1S SUV using the same skateboard platform as the R1T truck.
ANALYSIS: While Rivian is a startup, it has billions in backing from the likes of Ford, Amazon, and T. Rowe Price. Amazon has placed an order with Rivian for 100,000 electric delivery vans, which will be built at Rivian’s manufacturing facility in Normal, Illinois, a former Mitsubishi assembly plant acquired by Rivian in 2017.
TESLA’S Cybertruck is by far the most high-profile pickup introduction and the one most talked about today. Coming from the well-established electric car leader, the Cybertruck is a combination of edgy and disruptive styling one might expect on the set of a dystopic sci-fi thriller infused with some pretty impressive innovations. Among these are a motorized metal tonneau cover that completely retracts below the truck’s rear window and a built-in ramp for loading gear and recreational toys. Tesla claims its stainless steel Cybertruck will deliver a range of 250 to 500 miles, offer a 3500 pound payload, and will be capable of towing between 7500 to 14,000 pounds. The range of capabilities varies on battery capacity – 75 to 200 kWh – and motor configurations, including Tri Motor AWD, Dual Motor AWD, or Single Motor RWD. Prices are said to range from $39,990 to $69,900, though Tesla’s track record of rolling out high-spec editions first means the lower-end model won’t be seeing daylight any time soon.
ANALYSIS: Tesla, which arguably can be credited with making electric vehicles a serious option to combustion engine models, could be the first startup to achieve long term success. The company sold 367,500 cars in 2019 and has four current models in its stable with plans for more, which means it has transcended the traditional definition of a niche automaker. Like previous Tesla products, expect the Cybertruck to exhibit many changes before deliveries presumably start in late 2021.
A shift to electric pickups is tantalizing to many, but it’s no easy thing. It’s true that electric pickups require less maintenance than their gasoline or diesel counterparts. Still, there are times when EV-specific service will be required beyond the usual tire, brake, and fluid maintenance that can be performed by mainstream service providers. Electric pickup manufacturers must provide for this service. That’s not a significant issue for legacy automakers like Ford and GM that have a widespread dealer sales and service network, even in sparsely populated states. Service personnel at dealerships can be trained in EV-specific work. Fledgling and start-up electric pickup companies will certainly be at a disadvantage here.
Are there other electric pickups in the works beyond the brands mentioned here? That’s certainly likely considering the interest already developing and the intensively competitive nature of the auto industry, though details on additional players are unknown. With the advent of electric pickups on the near horizon, that may change sooner than you would expect.
There are challenges ahead even as electric pickups are poised to enter a potentially enthusiastic market. Those challenges could mean a more gradual market trajectory than that of electric sedans and SUVs, which have already taken quite some time to gather momentum. For example, cars and SUVs used for commuting or running errands are typically driven less than 40 miles daily, with occasional trips of several hundred miles with passengers. That’s a reasonable and flexible duty cycle for electric passenger vehicles. It’s different for trucks.
With the exception of work trucks in urban areas, pickups in many rural areas travel hundreds of miles every day without refueling. That’s not an issue for conventionally powered pickups with their considerable driving range. It could be for coming electric pickups since their battery range is about half that of most full-size gas pickups. When conventional pickups do need to refuel, it takes but a few minutes to fill up with gasoline compared with the hours required for electrics. Realistically, it's difficult to see electric pickups meeting the duty cycles of work trucks like these until fast charging becomes widespread, especially in rural areas.
Towing presents additional food for thought. It’s well-known that fuel economy, and thus range, is reduced when conventional vehicles tow trailers, boats, or any load. Range is impacted more dramatically in electric vehicles, a fact that could make electric pickups less desirable for towing a boat or heavy load any significant distance since charging would likely be required every couple hundred miles. Illustrating the challenge is that towing a 5000 pound trailer with a Tesla Model X or Audi e-tron has been shown to result in a range reduction of up to 40 percent. Increasing range by adding batteries in an electric pickup may bring longer range, but it also means reducing payload and towing capacity pound for pound.
Looking at the demographics of pickup owners and comparing this with available charging stations presents a stark reality. The 13 states where pickups represent 25 percent or more of new vehicle sales have about 2600 public charging stations, less than 10 percent of all public charging stations in the country. That’s quite a disconnect. These are typically large states where long distance travel is the rule. This underscores the importance of charging opportunities and the formidable challenges electric pickups may face in areas where charging infrastructure is behind the curve.
Another challenge is maintenance. Even though electric pickups require significantly less maintenance than their gasoline or diesel counterparts, there are times when EV-specific service will be required. While the usual tire, brake, and fluid maintenance can be performed by mainstream service providers, electric pickup manufacturers must provide for other potential servicing involving an electric drivetrain, on-board electronics, and the many other controls and systems unique to an electric vehicle. That’s not a significant issue for legacy automakers like Ford and GM that have a widespread dealer sales and service network, even in sparsely populated states. Service personnel at dealerships can be trained in EV-specific work. Fledgling and start-up electric pickup companies will certainly be at a disadvantage here.
Will electric pickups succeed? Time will tell. Plus, we’ll have to see how some wishful launch schedules align with reality since COVID-19 has caused auto manufacturing delays and shutdowns. Plus, with today’s extraordinarily low gas prices, the value equation for electrics of any kind is skewed, at least for the present time. That doesn’t mean there won’t be demand for electric pickups…just that expectations for timing and market penetration should be tempered.
Based on the Jeep Wrangler, Jeep's long-awaited Gladiator is a five-passenger, four-door crew cab Jeep with a five-foot long pickup box. This required the wheelbase to be extended 19.4 inches to 137.3 inches and the overall length by 31 inches to 218 inches. Not only does this provide more rear legroom, but also improves ride quality. The Gladiator is available in four trim levels – Sport, Sport S, Overland, and Rubicon. A soft top is standard with a three-piece hardtop optional. Body and roof panels can be easily removed, but these have to be stowed before you leave home.
The Gladiator is powered by a 3.6-liter V-6 that makes 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard with an eight-speed automatic optional. An engine stop/start system helps save fuel. EPA estimates fuel economy at 16 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway for the manual transmission and 17 city/22 highway mpg for the automatic. With the Max Towing package, the Gladiator can tow up to 7650 pounds and carry a 1600 pounds payload. A 3.0-liter V-6 turbodiesel producing 260 horsepower and a mighty 442 lb-ft torque is another option for those seeking even higher fuel efficiency and greater power.
The Gladiator’s Rubicon variant comes with 4:1 Rock-Trac heavy-duty 4WD, while other trims feature Command-Trac 4WD. An anti-spin rear differential, skid plates, rock-crawling axle ratios, and all-terrain tires are available for serious off-roading. The Gladiator can ford up to 30 inches of water.
Available driver assist features include adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, advanced brake assist, cross-path detection, rear park assist, and blind-spot monitor. The Rubicon model has a front-facing camera that’s great while blazing trails or crawling over rocks. A rear back-up camera is standard on all trims.
Every Gladiator has a standard touchscreen. A 5-inch display is standard on the Sport and Sport S while the Overland and Rubicon get a standard 7-inch display. An 8.4-inch display is optional on the Rubicon. The larger touchscreen comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Front-seat passengers get two USB ports, a USB-C port, and a 115-volt AC outlet.
The base Jeep Gladiator Sport offers a $33,545 price of entry. The Sports S is priced at $36,745, the Overland $40,395, and the top-of-the-line Rubicon $43,545.
Growing significantly from its original compact form, Ford’s 2019 Ranger pickup is nearly the same size as a mid-1990s F-150. That means it’s a direct competitor to popular mid-size pickups like the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Toyota Tacoma, and Nissan Frontier. It does well in the efficiency department with EPA ratings of 21 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.
Ranger is available as a SuperCab or SuperCrew built on a common 126.8-inch wheelbase. The SuperCab comes with a 6-foot bed while the SuperCrew gets a 5-foot bed. Unlike the aluminum-bodied F-150, the Ranger is steel with steel bumpers mounted directly to the frame for durability and crashworthiness.
2019 Ford RangerPower is delivered by a 2.3-liter, turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder coupled to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Rear- and part-time four-wheel-drive are available. Electronic “Shift-on-the-Fly” 4WD allows a driver to switch from 2WD to 4WD HIGH at speeds up to 55 mph, and to 4WD LOW at lower speeds.
Electronic-Shift-on-the-Fly comes with a two-speed transfer case, Dana electronic locking rear differential, and Ford’s Terrain Management System. The latter provides a choice between Normal, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, and Sand modes. A new low-speed Trail Control off-road cruise control standard on 4WD models can be selected to take over the throttle and brakes, letting a driver steer through rugged terrain.
Power goes through Dana Trac-Lok differentials on both two- and four-wheel drive models. An electronic locking rear differential is optional. A new fully boxed frame is unique to North American Rangers. The Ranger is equipped with electronic power-assisted steering. It has an independent dual A-arm with coil spring front suspension and a solid Dana rear axle with two-stage leaf springs in back.
The Ranger comes in XL, XLT and Lariat trim levels. An FX-4 Off-Road Package available on all of these adds a front steel skid plate, other steel underbody skid plates, off-road shocks and tires, and Magnetic Grey trim accents.
Electronic features include FordPass Connect Wi-Fi with 4G LTE connectivity for up to 10 devices, a Sync 3 infotainment system, LCD gauge cluster screens, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, optional navigation, and USB outlets. The Ranger offers nearly as many driver assists as the rest of the Ford lineup, including standard forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking. A blind spot warning system is available that includes trailer coverage.
Ranger is available at a base MSRP of $24,300 for the SuperCab and $26,520 for the SuperCrew variants, with four-wheel drive an additional $4,160.
Green Car Journal’s 2019 Green Truck of the Year™, the new RAM 1500, is lighter, more efficient, and higher tech than ever. Of special interest is that the RAM integrates electrification for increased efficiency by offering two mild hybrid powertrains, exclusive to the segment. It features more hauling and towing capacity than the generation before it, with the ability to tow up to 12,750 pounds and carry a payload of up to 2,320 pounds. RAM 1500 rides on a wheelbase about four inches longer with a larger cab. Efficiency has been enhanced by shedding up to 225 pounds through the use of high-strength steel, aluminum, and composites.
RAM 1500 is offered in four-door quad cab and crew-cab body styles, with 67.4- and 76.3-inch beds, and in seven trim levels. Three headlamp variations are available including Halogen, full LED, and an all-new full LED adaptive front-lighting system. A robust 4x4 off-road package is available. The pickup’s most notable exterior feature is its new grille, which replaces the RAM’s iconic grille that’s been used since the Dodge days.
Contributing to the RAM 1500’s aerodynamic efficiency are grille shutters that help smooth airflow and a front air dam that automatically lowers by 2.5 inches at speeds above 35 mph. A new venturi roof design directs air back to the rear spoiler. Bed rails raised by 1.5 inches and a new spoiler on the aluminum tailgate reduce drag. A lockable tri-fold tonneau cover improves fuel economy while adding security and weather protection. The RAM’s optional air suspension system lowers the truck 0.6 inches at speed to further improve aerodynamics.
Power is delivered by a 305 hp 3.6-liter V-6 or 395 hp 5.7-liter HEMI V-8, each mated to a new TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission. A new-for-2019 eTorque mild hybrid system replaces the RAM 1500’s alternator with a motor/generator that uses regenerative braking to charge a lithium-ion battery pack Standard on V-6 and optional on V-8 engines, eTorque provides stop-start operation and a brief torque boost of 90 lb-ft in V-6 RAMs and 130 lb-ft in V-8 models. An interactive deceleration fuel shut off system also saves fuel.
Among the RAM 1500’s advanced technologies is a fourth-generation Uconnect system and 12-inch, fully reconfigurable touchscreen display. SiriusXM Guardian Connected Services delivers advanced in-vehicle connected services including a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard.
An available 360-degree surround view camera system provides a birds-eye view via four cameras positioned around the vehicle. Uconnect 4 with an 8.4-inch display and Uconnect 3 with 5-inch display are also offered. Driver assist systems include forward collision warning, advance brake assist, blind-spot monitoring and lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control with stop, go, and hold. SiriusXM Traffic/Travel Link is available.
The all-new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 pickup is lighter, more tech-laden, and a bit more aggressively styled but doesn’t look radically different than the previous versions. There are four new grille designs depending on the model. It comes in eight trim levels that include the high value Work Truck, Custom, and Custom Trailboss; the high-volume LT, RST, and LT Trailboss; and high feature LTZ and High Country. There are Regular, Double, and Crew Cabs; short and long beds, and rear-, four- and all-wheel drive models, depending on trim levels. Interesting aerodynamic touches are included like air curtains that improve efficiency.
Silverado offers plenty of powertrain choices. There’s an all-new 2.7-liter, four-cylinder turbo that features cylinder deactivation and stop/start for efficiency, plus a twin-scroll turbocharger for improved low-end response. It connects to an eight-speed automatic transmission and delivers an estimated 20 city/23 highway mpg. Rated at 310 horsepower and 348 lb-ft torque, this engine brings the Silverado a 2,280-pound payload rating and maximum tow rating of 7,200 pounds. A new 2.7-liter turbo engine replaces the naturally aspirated 4.3-liter V-6 in the Silverado LT and RST sport-truck. The 4.3-liter V-6 connected to a six-speed automatic transmission remains the base engine in other trim levels. A new 3.0-liter Duramax diesel paired with a 10-speed automatic and a stop-start system is coming in early 2019.
Furthering efficiency by an estimated 5 percent is the Silverado’s dynamic fuel management (DFM) technology that enables only those cylinders needed to deliver required power to come into play. DFM features 17 cylinder patterns that constantly determine how many cylinders are used to meet the torque demanded, making this determination 80 times per second to optimize efficiency and power delivery at all speeds. DFM is available on the optional 355-horsepower, 5.3-liter V-8 with an eight-speed automatic and 420-horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8 teamed with a 10-speed automatic. These V-8 engines also feature stop/start.
The Silverado's weight has been reduced by as much as 450 pounds, depending on the model, through the use of varying thicknesses of high-strength steel throughout and aluminum on some body panels. The Silverado offers the all-new Durabed cargo box that’s seven inches wider with greater volume for more hauling capacity. The crew cab’s wheelbase is four inches longer, overall length has increased by about 1.6 inches, and the truck is 1.2 inches wider. There’s also 2.5 inches greater rear-seat legroom. A two-inch suspension lift is a factory option. Pickups are often used for towing and Chevy makes this easier with the Silverado’s Advanced Trailering Package and Trailering Camera Package. A trailering app with theft alert and more is included.
Introduced as an all-new generation pickup last year, Ford’s F-250 Super Duty achieves important weight savings of 350 pounds with its military-grade aluminum cab and pickup box. Less weight contributes to greater fuel efficiency and also adds to payload capacity, important to everyone but especially to those with heavy-duty hauling or towing needs, or commercial fleet operators where this truck often finds use.
Also important to tradesmen and fleets is an ability to haul and tow heavy loads. The F-250 Super Duty offers 6.75- or 8.0-foot pickup beds and can handle payloads up to 4,200 pounds. The model is rated to tow up to 18,500 pounds when properly equipped. Regular, SuperCab, and Crew Cab versions are available to meet diverse needs.
The F-250’s standard powertrain is a 6.2-liter SOHC V-8 engine that’s E85-capable, making the F-250 a flexible fuel vehicle capable of running on gasoline or E85 ethanol from the same fuel tank. This 385-horsepower engine connects to a TorqShift-G six-speed automatic transmission. The ‘G’ version of Ford’s TorqShift transmission has a higher first-gear ratio to enable better launches and improved acceleration from rolling stops. The TorqShift-G’s downshifts are faster than those in the regular TorqShift and are engine speed-matched. The quality of upshifts has also been improved.
A 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel V-8 with a TorqShift six-speed automatic transmission is optionally available. This powerful diesel engine delivers substantial hauling and towing power with 440 horsepower and a stump-pulling 925 lb-ft torque that comes on strong at a low 1,800 rpm. No fuel economy figures are provided by Ford for either engine since vehicles over 8,500-pound GVWR are not rated by EPA. The minimum GVWR rating for the F-250 Super Duty is 9,900 pounds.
Standard equipment includes trailer sway control, AdvanceTrac with roll stability control, SOS post-crash alert, and a tire pressure monitoring system. Several option packages are available. Basic power necessities such as power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, and other niceties are bundled in the F-250’s Power Equipment group. Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system with navigation and an 8.0-inch touchscreen are included in other option packages.
Safety options include a rearview camera and blind-spot warning system. An Ultimate Trailer Tow package includes a 360-degree camera system with trailer reverse guidance, a rearview camera, and a rear camera in the center high-mounted stop light to provide a clear view of the bed. An STX appearance package is optional. Depending on configuration, the F-250 Super Duty is priced from $33,150 to $36,745.
Like its full-size light-duty competitors, the 2017 Ram 1500 pickup offers lots of choices including Regular, extended Quad Cab, and Crew Cab variants with V-6 and V-8 gasoline engines and a high-efficiency turbodiesel V-6, available with rear- or four-wheel drive. Plus, depending on cab choice there are different pickup bed lengths. Nearly a dozen trim packages are available with varying levels of comfort or utility. From an efficiency standpoint, the fuel conserving HFE model features aerodynamically designed side steps, grille shutters that close when the engine doesn't need cooling air, and a rear lip on the tail gate, all to reduce wind resistance. At highway speeds, the HFE suspension goes into its lowest setting to further improve aerodynamics.
The Ram 1500's 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 HFE is the line’s efficiency champ, featuring 240 horsepower and 420-lb-ft torque while delivering 21 city and 29 highway mpg, better than any full-size pickup. This engine is B20 biodiesel capable. The base engine is a 3.6-liter V-6 rated at 305 horsepower and 269 lb-ft torque that’s mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. This combination earns an EPA rating of 17 city and 25 highway mpg and is E-85 ethanol capable. Ram 1500’s 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, rated at 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft torque, is standard on the Sport, Limited, Laramie, and Laramie Longhorn Limited versions and optional on other models. This engine is rated at 15 city and 22 highway mpg and connects to a 6- or 8-speed automatic. A part-time four-wheel-drive system is standard but an all-wheel-drive on-demand system is available with the V-8.
Three cab configurations are available with three bed sizes. Regular cab trucks can be fitted with long (8 foot) or short (6.3 foot) boxes. Crew Cabs can be fitted with short or even shorter 5.6 foot boxes, while Quad Cabs come only with a short box. A standard bench seat can accommodate three adults while front bucket seats with a center console are optional. RamBox integrated storage compartments are available on the two shortest beds.
An optional air suspension provides five ride heights to allow high ground clearance for driving off road, along with generous departure and break-over angles. It also enables a lower step-in height. The air suspension smooths rough terrain and levels the truck when hauling or towing.
All Ram 1500 models come with airbags, anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control, hill-start assist, and trailer-sway control. Front and rear parking assist is available but no blind-spot monitors are offered. There is a cargo camera and in-cab Wi-Fi hotspot. Mobile apps let drivers remotely lock or unlock their pickup or even remotely start it via their phone. Top-of-the-line Laramie Longhorn Limited trucks feature an 8.4-inch touchscreen, leather upholstery, chrome accents, power adjustable heated seats, 20-inch wheels, 7.0-inch configurable gauge display, rearview camera, Bluetooth, and navigation as standard equipment.
The Ram 1500 is an extremely popular and versatile truck that delivers workhorse capabilities and civilized passenger-car features, making it a long-time favorite among full-size pickup buyers. Its price of entry is a nominal $26,295, but that can climb quickly depending on trim level, cab/bed configurations, and powertrain.
Honda’s Ridgeline has presented a departure from conventional pickups since its introduction just over a decade ago. Now, after a hiatus of several years, Honda has brought an all-new Ridgeline back into its lineup with features that make the model better than ever.
Available as a four-door crew cab with seating for five, the second generation Ridgeline delivers fresh new styling with a more traditional pickup appearance and loads of on-board tech. It shares its platform with the Honda Pilot SUV and thus continues to march to its own drummer by featuring unibody construction, rather than the body-on-frame underpinnings typical of pickups.
Why the departure from conventional pickup construction? Honda's aim is to provide all the functionality expected of a modern pickup with a very high-profile differentiator: a much more comfortable and car-like ride for the short and long haul.
Several innovations from the earlier Ridgeline are retained including a dual-action tailgate that folds down or swings open, conveniently meeting diverse loading needs. Tailgaters will appreciate the Ridgeline’s in-bed audio system that positions speakers behind bed liner sides, effectively making the bed liner a giant speaker baffle. A lockable trunk in the pickup bed floor can hold more gear securely or serve as a cooler for tailgating since it’s equipped with a bottom drain plug.
Ridgeline is powered by a direct-injected 3.5 liter i-VTEC V-6 with variable cylinder management. It makes 280 horsepower, 30 more than its predecessor. This offers both desired power and an EPA estimated 26 highway mpg. A six-speed automatic replaces the previous-generation’s 5-speed automatic. Buyers have a choice of front- or all-wheel-drive.
We’ve now put several thousand miles on the odometer of our long-term Honda Ridgeline Black Edition, already heading out on a few road trips and putting its user-friendly truck bed to work. With this pickup now in the long-term garage, it promises to be a good year indeed.
The GMC Canyon mid-size pickup is a close cousin to the Chevrolet Colorado, built on the same platform and sharing much in the way of mechanicals while remaining distinctive inside and out. Distinguished as the only premium pickup in the mid-size segment, the brand’s DNA is clearly evident with the Canyon appearing a smaller version of the GMC Sierra truck. Work-oriented base, SL, SLE, and SLT trim levels are available. Additional model choices offered this year include a new top-of-line Canyon Denali and availability of an All Terrain X package on the Canyon SLE.
Canyon Denali features a Denali-signature chrome grille, 20-inch ultra-bright machined aluminum wheels with painted accents, tubular chrome assist steps, and spray-on bed liner. Inside, an exclusive Jet Black interior features leather-appointments, heated and ventilated front seats, unique instrument panel and console trim, heated steering wheel, and Denali-logo sill plates and floor mats. Additional standard features include GMC IntelliLink with Navigation, an 8-inch color touchscreen, full-color driver information center, 4G Wi-Fi hotspot, automatic climate control, Bose premium seven-speaker audio system, and remote start. Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning are also part of the package. The Canyon Denali is available only as a crew cab in 2WD and 4WD.
The All Terrain package offered on the SLE is the most off-road-capable of Canyon choices. The ‘X’ adds Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac P255/65R17 all-terrain tires on unique aluminum wheels and all-weather floor liners to the already-available All Terrain package. There is also a body-color grille surround and matching rear step bumper, Hill Descent Control, and an off-road suspension.
Canyon benefits from a new 3.6-liter V-6 engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. This new engine, which is shared among other GM models including Cadillac crossovers and the Chevrolet Camaro, replaces the previous-generation 3.6-liter LFX V-6. The new V-6 is rated at 308 horsepower with 275 lb-ft torque, improving these specs by just a slight margin over the earlier engine. The new powerplant is more efficient, though, due to the use of GM’s Active Fuel Management cylinder deactivation and refinements to the direct injection system.
Two additional powertrain choices are carried over from the previous model year. These include a fuel-efficient 2.5-liter gasoline inline-four and the notable 2.8-liter Duramax turbodiesel four-cylinder that was introduced last year. The four-cylinder engine is the only version available with a manual gearbox, and only on the SL model with rear-wheel drive. Canyon nets a welcome 25 to 30 highway mpg depending on engine choice, with the Duramax diesel the most efficient.
Extended Cab long-box Canyons start at $21,880 with two-wheel drive. Base cost moves upward for four-wheel drive, Crew Cab models, and optional equipment. The Canyon Denali is $39,995 to $43,760 depending on box length and two- or four-wheel drive choices.