Although small in number, they’re big in sales … really big. In fact, although there are only six vehicles in the large pickup class, two are typically the top-selling vehicles of any type, and another is often within the top five.
It’s those huge sales numbers that make the competition in this class so fierce. In recent years, pickups have gone from being commercial workhorses and “urban cowboy” fashion statements to truly sophisticated and luxurious vehicles. And none of that has diminished their original appeal as motorized beasts of burden.
As such, manufacturers offer a dizzying array of cab styles, trim levels, and powertrains. And then there are the options. Available features run the gamut from work-related convenience to country-club luxury, and they often stretch on for pages. Manufacturers keep adding amenities, and based on the success of recent high-end models, they haven’t yet found the price line customers won’t cross. Today, it’s not difficult to option a pickup well past $65,000, primarily because numerous buyers willingly do.
WHAT’S NEW FOR 2019
The Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, and Ram 1500—all of which are redesigned for 2019—are detailed in their respective Best Buy reports. Note that previous-generation versions of these three trucks will remain available for the 2019 model year as the Silverado LD, Sierra Limited, and Ram 1500 Classic, respectively.
The Ford F-150 line’s flagship Limited model now comes standard with the 450-hp EcoBoost 3.5-liter V6 engine that was formerly exclusive to the off-road-ready Raptor model. The Limited also gets an updated interior that includes heated/ventilated/massaging seats, as well as a new dual exhaust system with exhaust tips that are integrated into cutouts in the rear bumper. The F-150 Raptor gets Recaro sport seats, electronically controlled adaptive FOX-brand shocks, and Trail Control (essentially a cruise-control system for low-speed, rugged terrain). The Nissan Titan gets an available Fender-brand 12-speaker premium audio system, a new infotainment system, and a Rear Door Alert system on King Cabs and Crew Cabs—the system helps remind drivers to check the back seat after the vehicle is parked. The Toyota Tundra lineup adds an SX Package appearance group and a TRD Pro model that includes a raised suspension with FOX shocks, BBS-brand wheels, Rigid LED fog lights, and unique interior/exterior trim.
MODELS THAT OFFER SOMETHING UNUSUAL
Diesel engines used to be uncommon among half-ton pickup trucks, but they’ve become more popular as manufacturers continue to sharpen their focus on fuel economy. The Ram 1500 added a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 midway through the 2014 model year; that engine is on a brief hiatus with the Ram’s 2019 redesign, but it’s scheduled to return soon. In mid-2018, Ford rolled out a 3.0-liter Power Stroke V6 for the F-150, and GM is slated to introduce an all-new 3.0-liter Duramax 6-cylinder for the redesigned Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra later on in the 2019 model year. (We’ll also note that Nissan offers a 5.0-liter Cummins diesel V8 in its Titan XD models, but those are more “heavy half-ton” trucks than true half-ton models.)
The new Ram 1500 currently offers the only broadly available mild-hybrid system in the class: the 48-volt “eTorque” system supplies supplemental torque to the gas engine and can recharge the regular 12-volt battery. It’s standard on the Ram’s gasoline V6 and optional on the Hemi V8. The Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra will offer the only 4-cylinder engine in the segment when their new turbocharged 2.7-liter four debuts later in the model year.
In terms of unique features, the Ram 1500 offers the novel RamBox storage system, which consists of two lockable storage bins integrated into the sidewalls of the cargo bed above the rear wheels. The GMC Sierra gets an available MultiPro tailgate that includes an integrated “mini-gate” with a flip-out panel—this setup can be configured to make a tailgate step, a horizontal work surface, or an open-tailgate cargo stop, among other uses.
The brawny Ford F-150 Raptor stands out for its uncompromising focus on off-road high performance. In addition to its muscular turbocharged V6, the Raptor comes standard with wide fender flares, huge off-road tires, skid plates, and a specialized long-travel suspension with heavy-duty shock absorbers.