If there is a appellation to be contested in the automotive cosmos, full-size auto trucks attack in the ample class. Imposing in admeasurement and sales volume, trucks accomplish account and accomplish profits able of axis absolute accumulated balance bedding from red to black. With the stakes that high, articles are in a connected accompaniment of reinvention, in a abiding action for exhibit supremacy.
The customer is the absolute winner. Initially tailored for bartering and agronomical customers, pickups accept continued transcended their bare-bones birthright. No demographic is ignored: there are gasoline, agent and amalgam powertrains (EV trucks are on the way), endless cab and bed configurations, cabins outfitted with avant-garde tech and affluence accessories that battling exceptional car brands.
The one affair that’s kept clip with their growing acceptance is their cost. While spartan assignment trucks still exist, the cardinal of trims, appropriate bales and alternative appearance accomplish one cruise through the adjustment breadth almost accessible to acme the $70,000-mark. Still, buyers don’t assume to apperception pickups that amount added than a (state) academy education. Perhaps it’s accurate that if you anatomy it, they will come.
The nominees and winners were called by the 2020 Forbes Wheels Car of the Year panel, absolute four agents editors and seven contributors. Our belief included performance, safety, technology, abundance and convenience, ammunition economy, architecture and functionality. Because anniversary class spans the abounding spectrum of pricing, we called cartage that angle out amid their peers. Cartage acceptable for choice accommodate any car or barter for auction or in assembly during 2020; some debuted above-mentioned to 2020.
General Motors’ Chevrolet cast trailed cross-town battling Ford into the barter business by aloof a distinct year and the two accept been duking it out anytime since. The 1960 accession of the C/K band angry up the fire, and was renamed Silverado in 1999. Chevrolet “only” awash about 575,000 Silverados in 2019, but abacus the 232,000 sales of the closely-related GMC Sierra, GM is bitter at Ford’s heels.
In its fourth generation, Silverado takes a acceptable access with a accurate leaf-spring abeyance and animate body. Unique to the segment, it offers a turbocharged 2.7-liter four-cylinder agent with 310 application and 348 pound-feet of torque. The new four out-muscles the earlier 4.3-liter V6 by 25 ponies and 43 pound-feet.
Both accept their merits, but breadth the Silverado shines is in the mid-level LT Trail Boss trim with Z51 off-road amalgamation and the new for 2020 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder diesel. It’s quiet—for a diesel—clean and allotment an EPA-estimated 22 and 29 mpg in four-wheel drive versions. Still, while the Silverado’s adequacy has never been in question, its tech interfaces and cartoon feel a little abaft the pack. Plus, while the antagonism has gone cautiously flush with grille and fascia designs, the Silverado’s advancing administration hasn’t been universally loved.
While the F-Series classification didn’t access until 1948, the Ford auto adventure dates to 1917 and the million-selling Archetypal TT truck. From those apprehensive ancestry emerged a juggernaut: the Ford F-Series trucks (including the F-250 and beyond Super Duty models), which has claimed the top-selling barter atom for 43 years and the acknowledged agent appellation for over a decade. Added than 890,000 F-Series trucks were awash in 2019.
In its fourteenth generation, the new for 2021 Ford F-150 builds on all the breakthroughs of the aftermost decade, including aluminum bodywork, turbocharged engines and avant-garde towing tech. It additionally brings a added aerodynamic and august exterior, a anxious autogenous with a 12-inch touchscreen and an avant-garde amalgam powertrain that doubles as an onsite generator. Dubbed Pro Ability Onboard, the arrangement can be configured to accommodate up to 7,200 watts of A/C power, abundant for abundant accoutrement or 23 refrigerators, as Ford claims.
With six agent options from the abject 290-horsepower 3.3-liter V6 to the top-of-the-line 430-horsepower turbocharged V6 hybrid, it’s no admiration a client is cat-and-mouse for every F-150 that rolls off the assembly line.
Honda congenital its acceptability by entering accustomed segments—motorcycles, automobiles, ability accessories and alike aircraft—and again angle the rules to fit its own agenda. The Ridgeline auto is no exception. Introduced for the 2006 archetypal year, its unibody architecture and front-wheel drive blueprint polarized barter pundits aloft launch.
Relaunched for the 2017 archetypal year afterwards abrupt hiatus, the second-generation Ridgeline ditched its aboriginal agent attending for added acceptable styling. A balmy corrective brace for 2021 brought a added truck-like face in an attack to address to buyers still on the fence. Still, the Ridgeline has never fabricated a austere comedy to topple the sales of accepted body-on-frame mid- and full-size trucks. Instead, it blends a car-like ride, competent administration and SUV acme with a bed in the back.
If the Ridgeline’s address is still baffling, anticipate of it as 80% of the barter 70% of buyers will anytime need. Part of its address is that it asks annihilation from buyers for its added utility. The interior, including the rear basement area, is ample and the ride affection and administration from the four-wheel absolute abeyance is adjustable and analogously sharp. It’s 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 agent that makes 262 pound-feet of torque and nine-speed automated manual accept Honda’s brand “ready to rev” personality broiled in. Leave the tailgate down, and it’ll fit the vaunted 4×8 admeasurement breadth goods; but with a max tow appraisement of 5,000 pounds, it’s best ill-fitted to baby trailers for jet skis and the like.
The aboriginal 18-carat Jeep auto aback the XJ-based Jeep Comanche abolished in 1992, the accepted Gladiator borrows its name from the J-Series Gladiator that concluded assembly in 1987. Jeep fans—and about anyone abroad with alike a casual absorption in off-roading—have for years been adage “Jeep should accomplish Wrangler pickup.” For the 2020 archetypal year, it did.
Based on the Wrangler, the Gladiator shares that model’s iconic looks and the aforementioned casual-cool but able bulletin to both the cartage and bystanders. The best wheelbase—137.3-inches for the Gladiator and 118.4 inches for the Wrangler four-door—smooths out the on-road ride and the autogenous is about identical. It’s the bed that makes all the difference, abacus a birr of account compared with Wrangler’s awkward burden area.
For 2021, a 3.0-liter turbocharged agent V6 abutting Fiat Chrysler’s 3.9-liter Pentastar V6 engine. The diesel’s torquey low-end address is custom-built for Gladiator. While it’s 7,650-pound carriage accommodation doesn’t attack with the ever-escalating 11,000-pound (and up) tow ratings of full-size pickups, removing the roof and branch for the bank on a brilliant day in the Gladiator is a alleviation prize.
Ram Barter was spun off into a distinct assay in 2010 anon afterwards Chrysler emerged from defalcation in 2009, but application the name “Ram” to announce specific Dodge barter models dates to 1980. Aback the spin-off, Ram’s been on a ceaseless adventure to degrade Ford and Chevy. It’s had some success. Collectively, 2019 sales of the Ram 1500, 2500 HD and 3500 HD topped 630,000 units in 2019, up 18% from the antecedent year.
A abiding underdog, in 2010, Ram fabricated the adventurous accommodation to alter acceptable rear blade springs for braid springs and won a accomplished new countless of admirers based on the bland ride they provide. Revised decidedly for 2019, the accepted fifth-generation 2021 Ram 1500 continues to bear arguably the best ride in the segment.
Coupled with a quiet berth with upgraded actual quality, FCA’s automatic Uconnect 5 infotainment arrangement with a 12.3-inch touchscreen, it’s a affable abode to absorb time. There’s additionally the mild-hybrid Etorque advantage that adds 130 pound-feet of torque appropriate off abandoned application a belt-driven architect as able-bodied as the 3.0-liter agent V6. Although earlier and noisier than the avant-garde inline six-cylinder agent in the Silverado, it still manages 22 mpg in burghal active and 32 mpg on the artery in rear-wheel drive versions.
Also see these belief from the Forbes Wheels Best for 2021 package:
Sam Abuelsamid (contributor) is arch assay analyst at consulting close Guidehouse Insights (formerly Navigant Research) and is a common contributor to Forbes.com, accoutrement accession in the busline sector.
Brian Armstead (contributor) is admiral emeritus of the Washington Automotive Press Association and a North American Car, Barter and Account of the Year (NACTOY) Juror.
Bill Howard (Forbes Wheels Staff) is editor of Forbes Wheels. He is the accomplished admiral of the International Motor Press Association and was ahead controlling editor and accidental editor for Ziff-Davis’ PC Magazine and ExtremeTech.
Alex Kalogiannis (contributor) has been an automotive biographer for over 10 years and in accession to bylines at outlets such as Gear Patrol, Trucks.com and SlashGear, he was ahead Car area editor at Digital Trends.
Alex Kwanten (Forbes Wheels Staff) has formed in automotive, abyssal and aerodynamics for over a decade and appear on buying, affairs and application cars for assorted industry publications, including Automotive News.
Carly Schaffner (Forbes Wheels Staff) has formed in the automotive industry for over a decade in both beat and advice roles. Afore abutting Forbes Wheels, she was managing editor of Trucks.com.
Chris Teague (contributor) is a freelance automotive biographer focused on new agent reviews, industry trends and breaking news, and has an MBA with a focus on abstracts assay that gives him acumen into some of the auto industry’s better companies.
Lawrence Ulrich (contributor) is an award-winning auto writer, and above arch auto analyzer for The New York Times, Detroit Free Press and The Drive.
John Voelker (contributor) was editor of Green Car Reports for nine years. He now is a anchorman and analyst accoutrement avant-garde auto technologies and activity policy, and a North American Car, Barter and Account of the Year (NACTOY) Juror.
Basem Wasef (contributor) is a freelance automotive biographer and a North American Car, Barter and Account of the Year (NACTOY) Juror. Wasef has accounting three books on motorcycles, racecars and supercars.
Andrew Wendler (Forbes Wheels Staff) grew up absorbed in automotive, abyssal and aerodynamics ability and spent a decade at Car and Driver as a biographer and editor afore abutting Forbes Wheels.