It's no small feat to put together a comprehensive pickup truck segment comparison test like our 2013 Light-Duty Challenge; there are many details that have to come together to pull it off. When you add the fact there are new vehicles involved (many of which provide huge profits for the big automotive companies), the number of hidden dangers and potential nightmares is huge. But we knew you probably didn't feel like waiting any longer.
Sure, we could have waited for the 2014 Toyota Tundra to come out in several months. Yes, we could have waited for the availability of a Max Tow Package and bigger and more powerful 6.2-liter V-8s for the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra. And, yes, we could have waited for all the manufacturers to come out with their 2014 models so we could make this a "true" 2014 test. But we don't like waiting any more than we suspect you do.
Regardless of what anyone wanted, we thought there was enough value and interest in this segment and these trucks to justify asking each truck maker to enter our contest and adhere to our criteria. To their credit, none of them shrank from the challenge, and the fact that the results were so close (or in some categories, not close at all) should give all of us a pretty good reason to optimistic, no matter what your favorite pickup might be.
The Challenge yielded some standout information, including how much better the new GM trucks are, especially how impressive the new 5.3-liter EcoTec3 is. Yes, this engine will wake up an auto industry that loves to think V-8 motors are bad on fuel economy; their overhead valve technology still has a place in this high-tech universe. Likewise, the interior quality in the new trucks (specifically the Ram 1500 and both GM pickups) are light-years ahead of where they were. And finally, it's our hope the vehicle engineers for the Tundra and the Nissan Titan pour over this data to get a clearer picture of where they can make up — and in some cases overtake — some distance and terrain on the competition.
The truth is none of these trucks were dogs: They all have their own strengths, but some manufacturers are setting new bars and they won’t mind if their competitors don't step up.