Although small in number, they’re big in sales … really big. In fact, although there are only six vehicles in the large pickup class, three of them—the Ford F-150, Ram 1500, and Chevrolet Silverado—are typically America’s top-selling vehicles of any type.
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 half-ton pickup well past $65,000, primarily because numerous buyers willingly do.
HIGHLIGHTS FOR 2022
The Toyota Tundra is redesigned from the ground up, gaining an all-new frame with new front and rear suspension, provocative new styling, and new technology features. In place of the previous 5.7-liter V8 are two turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 powertrains. The base “i-Force” twin-turbo engine makes 348 or 389 horsepower, and the i-Force MAX—the Tundra’s first gas/electric hybrid powertrain—makes 437 horsepower with the help of a 48-hp electric motor/generator and a 1.87 kWh nickel-metal hydride battery pack.
The Chevrolet Silverado gets a significant refresh that includes an exterior styling facelift, availability of GM’s Super Cruise hands-free driver-assist system, and an upgraded interior on higher-end models that includes a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 13.4-inch touchscreen. The 4.3-liter V6 has been discontinued, but a specially equipped ZR2 model, outfitted with a standard 6.2-liter V8 and unique off-road-ready suspension and trim features, joins the lineup. The Silverado’s slightly more upscale corporate stablemate, the GMC Sierra, receives similar updates—it is also slated to get available Super Cruise, along with refreshed styling, revised interior, and a new luxury trim level that slots above the current-flagship Denali. The pure-electric GMC Hummer EV pickup also launches for 2022, and the Silverado and Sierra are both slated to gain EV versions soon.
After its redesign last year, the Ford F-150 loses its diesel engine option but gains a pure-electric version named F-150 Lightning. A super-performance Raptor R version of the new-for-2021 Raptor off-road-performance truck is also in the works. The Ram 1500 gets several new special-edition models, and the Nissan Titan gets minor revisions in standard and optional equipment.
MODELS THAT OFFER SOMETHING UNUSUAL
Relatively economical powertrain choices are now more common among half-ton pickups. Ram and GM offer diesel engines: The Ram 1500 can be fitted with a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6, and the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra are available with a 3.0-liter Duramax inline 6-cylinder. The Silverado and Sierra offer the only 4-cylinder engine in the segment—a turbocharged 2.7-liter that’s been enhanced for 2022 and now makes 420 lb-ft of torque. The Ford F-150 and Toyota Tundra offer gas/electric hybrid V6 powertrains.
In terms of unique features, the Ford F-150 boasts available jobsite-focused gear such as the Pro Power Onboard integrated power generator and Interior Work Surface center console. 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 Chevrolet Silverado’s and GMC Sierra’s available multi-function tailgates include 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 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2, Ford F-150 Raptor, and the 702-hp Ram 1500 TRX stand out for their focus on off-road high performance.