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. 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 continued success of their 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 2020
The 2019 model year was a big one for full-size pickups—the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, and Ram 1500 were all redesigned—but things are a bit quieter for 2020. The above pickups get expanded powertrain lineups, a few new features, and some trim updates. The Nissan Titan and “heavy half-ton” Titan XD models undergo a refresh that includes styling updates and the discontinuation of the single-cab body style and the XD’s Cummins diesel engine. The Ford F-150 sees a shuffling of standard and optional equipment and gets a couple new appearance packages. Ford has previously announced that a hybrid F-150 is coming, and a substantial refresh is in the works as well—both of these could happen for 2021. The Toyota Tundra’s 4.6-liter V8 is dropped; all models now come standard with the 5.7-liter V8, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. A revamped Tundra is also in the works; it could possibly debut as a 2021 model.
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. In mid-2018, Ford rolled out a 3.0-liter Power Stroke V6 for the F-150. The Ram 1500 added a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 midway through the 2014 model year; that engine went on a brief hiatus with the Ram’s redesign last year, but it returns in improved form for 2020. The Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra get an all-new 3.0-liter Duramax inline 6-cylinder (which was originally scheduled to be a mid-2019 addition) for 2020.
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 offer the only 4-cylinder engine in the segment; their turbocharged 2.7-liter four debuted midway through the 2019 model year.
In terms of unique features, the Ram 1500 offers the novel Ram-Box storage system (two lockable storage bins integrated into the sidewalls of the cargo bed above the rear wheels), as well as a Multifunction Tailgate that can open in a 60/40 vertical split as well as traditionally. The GMC Sierra has 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 fl ares, huge off-road tires, skid plates, and a specialized long-travel suspension with heavy-duty shock absorbers.