It's one thing to look at factory specs and dealership materials or take a pickup truck for a quick test drive; it's an entirely different thing to drive a new pickup in a head-to-head comparison test with all of its direct competitors.
Many automotive media outlets and websites are comfortable choosing winners in different automotive segments based on one editor's driving impressions or manufacturer-supplied marketing material and specifications. We see it all the time.
But that's not how we do comparisons and choose segment leaders at PickupTrucks.com.
We lasted tested the midsize pickup truck segment early in 2015, and since then Honda has released the all-new 2017 Ridgeline, and Toyota has seriously redesigned and enhanced the Tacoma. So we thought it was time to find out which midsize pickup now sits on the top of the hill.
If you've seen any of our past comparisons, you know we like to test. Specifically, we like to test trucks for their intended purposes — hauling and towing, for example — and sometimes beyond their intended abilities.
For our upcoming 2016 Midsize Pickup Challenge, we required all competitors to have four full-size doors and a four-wheel-drive system; we also asked manufacturers to get as close to a price cap of $37,500 as possible.
Winners of our comparisons tests are chosen after a week or more of testing by PUTC and sibling site Cars.com expert judges. Our fuel-economy tests are done doing empty and full-payload runs; other tests include a day at the track testing acceleration and braking (empty and loaded), dyno testing, off-roading, towing and back-to-back driving loops over the same dirt and paved roads. We even invite an in-market family, who serve as judges, to listen to manufacturer presentations and test-drive each of the competitors over identical routes. The family's scores are included in the overall test results.
From all of this we select our winner and present our data, making our testing procedures and results as transparent as possible.
The competitors for our 2016 Midsize Pickup Challenge were:
- 2016 Chevrolet Colorado: All new two years ago and one of two platforms from GM. We had a Colorado Z71 long bed.
- 2016 GMC Canyon: All new two years ago and one of two platforms from GM. We had a Canyon SLE short box.
- 2017 Honda Ridgeline: All new this year, it continues to provide qualities of both an SUV and pickup. We had a Ridgeline RTL-E.
- 2016 Nissan Frontier: The oldest of our competitors still offers a strong value. We had the Frontier PRO-4X.
- 2016 Toyota Tacoma: Significantly upgraded and improved for 2016, this is the volume leader. We had a Tacoma TRD Off Road.
As you can imagine, putting a PUTC Challenge together takes some time; you can expect the full story and results in late August. Any guesses how it turned out?
Cars.com photo by Angela Conners