Crew cabs account
for almost 50 percent of the half-ton market, which was why we asked for
trucks with four full-sized doors.
We moved the
driver’s seat all the way back and judged each truck by how much room
was left for the back drivers side passenger’s knees and legs,
seat-bottom angle and back support.
The Toyota Tundra
CrewMax had the most room and best seating position and comfort for its
back passenger. Our thighs were almost level with our knees and lumbar
support was good. There was plenty of legroom.
We liked the Dodge
Ram’s new Crew Cab configuration. It doesn’t disrupt the truck’s
proportions like the old MegaCab configuration did and there’s still
plenty of room, though not as much as in the Tundra.
Silverado and GMC Sierra had identical second rows. They were
comfortable but a little on the small side. Entering the rear seat was
also a bit difficult because the door apertures were on the smaller
The Ford F-150 was
comparable to the Dodge Ram and GM trucks but we didn’t like the low
height and angle of its seat cushion. Our knees were above our hips
because the seat was so low.
The Titan had the
most cramped second row. Our knees touched the back of the drivers seat.
Seat height was a bit below where we wanted it to be and back support
Dodge and Ford are offering trailer-sway control technology for the
In the case of the
2009 Dodge Ram 1500, its stability control system has been enhanced to
counteract unintended trailer motion. It does so by using the truck’s
antilock braking and traction control systems to apply individual wheel
brakes and/or reduce engine power.
The Ford F-150 uses
a more sophisticated trailer-sway control system: By taking advantage of
its integrated trailer-brake controller, the F-150 can apply both its
and a trailer’s brakes to stop sway, making the road safer for other
of the truck’s had ample interior storage but we thought the Dodge Ram
deserved superior recognition for its all-new dry, lockable bedside bins
that go by the name RamBox. The bins make use of empty space above the
rear wheel wheels and along the box sides while still leaving enough
room to fit a 4x8-foot sheet of plywood in the bed. The Ram also had
extra storage bins in the second row load floor.
The Titan also
deserved a small amount of recognition for the exterior lockable cubby
located in the left fender just behind the rear wheel.
we put together the specs for the Shootout, we were very clear we’d be
performing tow tests with the trucks. Only the Nissan Titan showed up
with optional double-lens, extendable trailer towing mirrors while the
rest of the herd had standard single glass mirrors.
If you’re going to
tow frequently, trailer-towing mirrors are invaluable. We were able to
get by with the rest of the trucks because our test sleds used flat
metal plates for to weigh them down. It would have been difficult to see
around the sides of the trailers if they’d had wide and tall profiles
like an Airstream or a boat.
thankful to all the involved manufacturers for their support putting
this event together; any aid aside, you’ll still be doing yourself a
favor if you consider their products when shopping for your next truck
or accessory. We'd also like to thank the team from Ricardo Inc. who
instrumented all the trucks and certified our quarter-mile, hill climb,
autocross and brake tests.
And, of course,
we're very thankful to you, our readers. We do this for you.
Some are likely to
be disappointed with the results because their favorite truck didn’t
finish where they expected. Our test is only a snapshot of how specific
truck models performed in our week-long test under rigorously controlled
conditions, not a comparison of manufacturer half-ton lineups. The
results could have been dramatically different had we included other
engines or different cab configurations.
To determine the
best overall half-ton in our comparison, we created a scoring system
that measured the trucks subjectively and analytically. We believe our
scoring system reflects how core truck buyers drive and evaluate their
half-ton pickups during everyday use. Tests involved moderate to
difficult towing situations, and considered towing confidence and safety
to be the factors worth scoring, not cup holder size.
number of points a single truck could have scored was
if it had performed better than every other truck in every test.
Analytical scores (power, pulling and fuel economy) and subjective
scores (driving impressions and features) were divided near evenly, so
empirical data made up 48 points (48.48 percent) and personal opinions
made up 51 points (51.52 percent) of the 99.
The first component
of our ratings was points assigned for driving impressions. Impressions
were split into three categories: driving empty, pulling a trailer and
performance over an offroad obstacle course. For each category, we gave
the best-driving truck six points and the least-comfortable truck one
point. The rest either drove similarly or had pluses or minuses that
canceled out any advantages or disadvantages, so we scored them all with
three points. The maximum a truck could have earned for this component
was 18 points.
The second component
awarded points based on the trucks’ power and pulling capabilities.
Points were earned according to where the trucks finished in various
time, distance and suspension-travel tests, with the top finisher
getting six points and the bottom finisher getting one. The maximum a
truck could have earned was 42 points.
The third component
awarded points for key features that we think are important in
determining how usable a truck is and how confident it makes its driver
feel when working the truck hard. Unlike the other components, where
points were assigned according to where the trucks ranked relative to
each other, each truck could have potentially earned a maximum three
points for any feature (except storage, which we assigned a maximum 6
points to because we think the new RamBox was worthy of special
attention) – with three points meaning the feature was both available
and well-executed. We compiled a list of 10 important features and
assigned a maximum 33 points according to availability and execution for
The fourth and final
component ranked the trucks -- assigning 6 points for the best
performing and 1 for the least performing – according to how well they
did in our fuel economy test.
With 61 points (out
of the maximum 99 possible), the Ford F-150 earned the title of 2008
PickupTrucks.com Shootout Best Overall Half-Ton Pickup. The only thing
this truck is missing is a powerful V-8 -- it finished last in two of
the three pure-power towing tests -- but the rest of its performance and
packaging was excellent. It took top spots in both our timed
ride-and-handling test and our fuel economy test, and it offers value
and features the other trucks couldn’t compete with -- like trailer-sway
control, which can manage the trailer’s brakes, and excellent road
manners when towing.
Silverado ranked right behind the Ford, with 58 points. It so
tremendously dominated the power and pulling tests that it only barely
lost to the better-equipped, better-riding F-150. If the Silverado’s
fuel economy performance had been even in the middle of the pack rather
than last, it would have won this contest.
One interesting side
note: The Ford F-150 and Chevy Silverado were the only trucks we tested
that didn’t have fancy navigation screens.
The Toyota Tundra,
with 56 points, took third. If we catch any flak over this Shootout, it
will be because the Tundra jumped ahead of the all-new 2009 Dodge Ram
1500 and the GMC Sierra. Like the Silverado, the Tundra had excellent
power and performance numbers. While it couldn’t beat the Silverado in
that category, it beat the Sierra by nine points and bested the Ram by
14 points in those tests. That was enough to push its score up to the
third spot. It did very well in the brake and traction-control tests,
even though its stability control performance in the autocross was poor.
Its lack of towing-support features also lowered its score.
Dodge Ram took fourth, with 54 points. The Ram got top marks in unloaded
ride and for its storage options, particularly the new RamBox bedside
bins, but that wasn’t enough to make up for its overall
the power and pulling tests. We think a six-speed transmission would
have made a big difference because the new Hemi V-8 (higher rated than
the Tundra’s iForce V-8) had plenty of power but difficulty finding and
staying in its peak power band. If you need a very light-duty pickup,
the Ram is a great choice.
as shocking as the Ram ending in fourth place is the GMC Sierra’s
fifth-place finish, with 50 points, considering it’s practically a twin
to the Silverado. This was thanks to our descending, six-to-one scoring
system. Between the Tundraconsistently
finishing second to the Silverado and the Sierra’s two critical
last-place finishes -- in the autocross and brake tests -- the GMC
Sierra lost ground that it couldn’t recover. It’s proof that no two
trucks are 100 percent alike, even if they roll off the same lines.
The Nissan Titan
ranked in sixth place, with 47 points. The truck was the oldest one in
our group, and its results reflected its age. Its pulling and power
performance was lacking, and it hasn’t kept up with the next-generation
technology that makes towing and hauling easier on drivers.