What's the Best Midsize Pickup for 2016?

Group Bundy 2 II_results

By Mark Williams, PickupTrucks.com

After a week of testing all the midsize pickup trucks in the segment for our head-to-head 2016 Midsize Pickup Challenge, we learned quite a few things about each of our competitors. Each one had its own strengths and weaknesses as well as a strong value proposition. Maybe that's why, from a percentage basis, each player in this segment is a sales success when compared to 2015 sales numbers. And from the way these players performed during our battery of tests, we don't expect that to change anytime soon.

Midsize pickups will continue gaining marketplace traction as they keep providing better solutions for buyers looking for an alternative to a full-size pickup or crossover. And the fact that two of the midsize competitors — the Honda Ridgeline and Toyota Tacoma — now have new versions to better compete with GM's popular Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon might have quite a few people interested in the results of this Challenge, some of which are surprising.

As interesting as it is to find out which pickup takes the top spot in one of our comparison tests, sometimes the substories can be just as interesting. As we've seen in Olympic competitions, sometimes outstanding individual performances don't always lead to a gold medal. And sometimes the silver medal winner can be the biggest story of the day. With that said, this year's overall winner did not win the most scored categories, but it put in a consistent performance throughout the competition to make it to the top.

Here's how our five contenders finished, with the specific tests they won and overall point totals:

No. 5: 2016 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X, 2,307 points

Frontier Motion 1 II

First-place finishes: Best 60-to-zero mph, empty braking; best 60-to-zero mph, loaded braking

You have to give Nissan credit: It has the oldest midsize pickup in the segment and it continues to sell well. It's likely to finish 2016 in a strong third place just behind the hot-selling Chevrolet Colorado. We know it's an easy vehicle to dismiss because of its aging interior, but there are plenty of Frontiers on the road and from what we're hearing, dealers must be willing to make midsize truck shoppers a good deal.

Still, because it's a small and relatively heavy (it was the heaviest in our test) midsize pickup that hasn't been improved much in the last 10 years, the hard-plastic interior materials, small navigation screen, squared-off center console, small cupholders and storage cubbies make the Frontier's interior feel even older than it actually is. However, a few of our judges liked the old-school look of the pickup and appreciated that it's not trying to pretend to be anything but an efficient, durable tool.

Frontier Interior 1 II

Our testers liked how much pep the engine offers off the line; it was one of the most powerful of the group with its quick throttle response. But maybe more impressive than it's off-the-line feel was how well it stops, both empty and loaded. Not surprisingly, the braking tests were the only two the Frontier won.

The PRO-4X has been one of our favorite off-road pickups for quite a while because it's so simple. There's not a lot of software technology, but you do get a push-button locking differential, strong gearing, big, knobby tires and Bilstein shocks, all of which will get you over any rock pile with relative ease. Unfortunately, the outdated styling, rough-and-tumble chassis and sluggish steering kept the Frontier solidly at the back of the pack during most of our testing. Even more unfortunate? A next-generation Frontier is still 18 to 24 months away.

No. 4: 2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road, 2,390 points

Tacoma Track 1 II

First-place finishes: Least expensive, most horsepower on dyno, mpg loaded

In some ways, this could be the most surprising news coming out of our Challenge: that the No. 1 selling vehicle in the segment finished fourth in a five-truck comparison test. How is it that the all-new Toyota Tacoma is better in every way from the aging vehicle it replaces — which also was the No. 1 selling truck in the segment — but still falls well short when compared to its direct competitors?

According to our judges and testing, the answer is both simple and complicated. To begin, we found the Tacoma's ride height and seating position challenging; some of our testers couldn't get comfortable with a relatively high and flat seat height that only allows for seatback and front-to-back slide adjustments. Other areas where the new Tacoma lost points with our judges included the love-it or hate-it interior update, where the textures and materials are nice but the horizontally biased dash and gauge layout did not impress, especially not with our in-market-shopper guest judge.

Tacoma Interior 1 II

However, had this competition heavily weighted off-road performance, the TRD Off-Road with its Multi-Terrain Select system and Crawl Control would have been our runaway champ; in fact, in the off-road category, the Tacoma tallied one of the highest average scores from our judges. As to its off-road capability, the Crawl Control takes some getting used to. It provides the driver with a lot of noise and herky-jerky motions when engaged, but when set properly, we found there is almost nothing it can't conquer. Unfortunately, the off-road portion of this test was only one of 10 categories our experts were assessing.

Probably the most commonly noted disappointment with the Tacoma was the feel and overall performance of the engine and transmission when towing or hauling a load. Thankfully, as in many of the Toyota's vehicles, the Tacoma has an electronically controlled transmission button that allows the driver to change the transmission shift points, but in many cases we found it lacking in terms of what we were hoping for.

As efficient as the powertrain is at delivering good fuel economy, our judges made note of fluctuating dead spots in the midrange power band. Yes, the Tacoma does a lot of things well, but based on our time behind the wheel, you have to really want to overlook a lot of things it does marginally.

No. 3: 2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71, 2,462 points

Colorado Motion 2 II

First-place finishes: Gross combined weight rating (tie with GMC), max tow rating (tie with GMC)

The Chevy Colorado was literally the only truck in our contest that did not win a single scored category outright; however, it did tie with the GMC Canyon for highest GCWR and max tow rating — both manufacturer-supplied specs. But that's not to say it didn't perform well during our multidimensional test. Our judges noted that in some ways, it is a packaging mystery because it offers from 12 to 15 more inches of wheelbase than the competitors (in frame and bed length, both steel), yet is not the heaviest truck in the Challenge. In fact, the 12 extra inches of wheelbase (which means a 6-foot-plus bed) seemed to help our test drivers on off-road trails, keeping its wheels out of shorter wheelbase ruts and holes. However, when it came to navigating tighter parking lots in shopping malls or at Ann Arbor, Mich., restaurants, the longer pickup was noticeably less maneuverable.

Also of note, during our off-road testing, the longer wheelbase seemed to get hung up on ledges and off-camber mounds; additionally, the low-slung front air dam (great for improving aerodynamics) is horrible when trying to avoid rocks and ruts on the trail. But we don't want to make it sound like it wasn't perfectly competent during our off-road driving, because the Z71 all-terrain tires had the most aggressive tread of the group and showed it when climbing unwalkable hills.

Colorado Interior 3 II

On the plus side, and based on several comments from the judges, the Colorado's technological standout feature was the multimedia system with Apple CarPlay. The system was easy to use and intuitive, and synced quickly to most of our devices. The Colorado's overall interior quality — seats and dash textures — ranked pretty high as well.

Although we found the 3.6-liter V-6 gas engine sufficient for powering this almost 2.5-ton vehicle (mostly because it has a dedicated Tow/Haul mode), we would have liked to have had the 2.8-liter inline four-cylinder turbo-diesel. Unfortunately, Chevy told us it could not package the diesel in the Colorado crew-cab 4x4 and meet our other criteria. We'll have to save that test for a later date. Regardless, the Colorado performed like the Sporty Spice choice, with its Z71 looks and performance to back it up.

No. 2: 2017 Honda Ridgeline RTL-E, 2,490 points

Ridgeline Motion 1 II

First-place finishes: Zero-to-60-mph acceleration, empty; zero-to-60-mph acceleration, loaded; quarter-mile, empty; quarter-mile, loaded; gross vehicle weight rating; max torque on dyno; max mpg, empty; quietest at idle; quietest at 60 mph

There's no question the Ridgeline was the surprise of this Challenge — in fact, for much of the contest, we thought it was going to win — especially when it beat the competition at the racetrack in both empty and loaded acceleration runs.

To its credit, the Ridgeline won half of all our objective categories — nine of 18 — and not surprisingly, most of our judges found the Ridgeline quite civilized on the highway since it shares many cabin features and much technology with its sibling, the Honda Pilot SUV.

Our biggest surprise came at our daylong romp at the Bundy Hill Offroad park, where we found the Honda Intelligent Traction Management system to be shrewd and smooth during our sand drags and steep hill climbs (see our off-road story). However, as well as it performed, it still had a few problems.

Ridgeline Interior 1 II

Among the characteristics that our judges did not like was how much sag occurs while carrying payload. According to our payload calculations (GVWR minus actual truck weight), the Ridgeline can carry 1,519 pounds. But when we loaded it to 90 percent of that amount, nearly 1,400 pounds, it sagged worse than any of its competitors, all of which were carrying close to their own maximum payload capacity. Additionally, the braking feel (a little mushy when empty) became sometimes unpredictable when carrying a nearly max payload.

Regarding the Honda's interior, we had a huge problem with sun glare and using the nav/multimedia screen. Our judges hammered the interior touch-screen multimedia controls, many of which do not have corresponding manual knobs or buttons. Interestingly, by not providing us a less expensive lower trim model (which does not have the large touch-screen), Honda seemed to cost itself several judges' points. Still, if you need your pickup to be a Swiss army knife and you don't need to carry a lot of gear, there isn't anything else in the Ridgeline's league.

No. 1: 2016 GMC Canyon SLE, 2,509 points

Canyon Beauty 2 II

First-place finishes: GCWR (tie with the Chevy), lightest vehicle, most payload, max tow rating (tie with the Chevy), most judges' points

Finishing in first place by one of the slimmest margins in any test we've conducted, the GMC Canyon won this competition by keeping a slow and steady pace in each and every event. Yes, the Canyon won four objective test categories outright (two of which it tied with Chevy Colorado), but maybe more importantly, it finished first or second in the majority of categories, as well as scoring two and four points (out of a possible 1,000) ahead of the Ridgeline and Colorado, respectively, in the five-judge portion of our test.

Canyon Interior 1 II

Many of our experts commented on how well-balanced and confident the truck felt while on the track, driving around country roads and even at the off-road park. The midlevel SLE package is decently appointed, collecting a solid number of points from most judges, while the structure of the vehicle put it at the top of the capability categories. This pickup had the highest payload capacity and GCWR, it was the lightest of our competitors, was the only four-wheel-drive system in our test with a separate all-wheel-drive setting, and the V-6 gas engine was both powerful and efficient. The GMC Canyon SLE is probably the best heart-of-the-market offering of the test, providing value and strength for those who need versatile capabilities in a downsized package.

Canyon Action 3 II

How We Conducted the Testing

As with many of our past comparison tests, we put all of the competitors through head-to-head testing in multiple objective categories — this time 18 (see all the charts below) — scoring each against the other. We do not weight any of the objective categories and provide you with all the results so you can select the categories that are more important to you to help you choose the midsize pickup that best meets your needs.

Like many of our other industry-leading comparison tests, we track tested each truck, carried heavy loads, did some towing and took them on a real-world fuel economy route. Additionally, we tested each vehicle on the same Mustang chassis dyno, conducted sound measurements at idle and at 60 mph on the same stretch of highway, and measured each truck against the others in categories such as manufacturer towing capacities, overall weight and price. This portion of the test accounted for 70 percent of the total points for this Challenge.

JV Ridgeline 1 II

In our judges' categories, considered the expert-review part of the test, the vehicles were scored in 10 different categories that covered interior quality, cabin and bed storage, tech and entertainment, seating comfort, performance and value. Our judges scored each category on a 1-to-10-point scale. We then doubled their scores so that that they accounted for 30 percent of the total points. We'd like to especially thank in-market judge Jennifer Vigus for spending so much time learning about each pickup from their respective manufacturer representatives and then driving each pickup on the same designated test route. You'll find many of her comments woven into our "What the Judges Said" piece.

In the end, we added up the numbers to find out which truck won; it's as simple as that. This year the returning 2015 champion, the GMC Canyon, nosed out the impressive, all-new Honda Ridgeline by just 19 points out of a possible 2,800. Check out all the head-to-head test results in the charts below.

Group Milan 2 II

Cars.com photos by Angela Conners

Overview | Acceleration and Braking | Off-Road Performance | Mileage | What the Judges Said | Results

2016_MSPU_AllChart_F2

Comments

Hey Road Whale...

I agree 100%. My 1st gen RL can be a pain like when I tried to squeeze a Glass Shower box in. The door's arm rest sticks out one way and the folded seat sticks out the other way preventing a straight in path. I think the 2nd gen has compounded the problem with a slightly narrower door.

If you don't have kiddies and rarely need the back seats I have this fix for you. A friend, also with a 1st Gen has one son so he permanently removed the smaller bench seat in the back. His son still has a good amount of space, the center arm rest cup holder remains and in a pinch he can still transport four with comfort and seat belts.

He has extra cargo space. A space that holds fatter and bigger boxes and he can now load any long and wide inflexible object.

Just a thought.

PS in my case I has to unscrew the door arm rest to get the box in. Not a very good solution, I agree. But, I've only needed to do it once and I carry a wide range of crap back there. As I have two kids, my friends modification wasn't an option.

One aspect that is missed in this test is safety. My most valuable and common cargo is my wife and children. The Body on Frame crowd ignores the engineering difficulty it presents to designers when it comes to collision integrity.

The frame is heavy and that dictates making the body lighter.

The results are here

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KhHEtoZ7HkM

In contrast, while the Ridgeline has not yet been tested the structurally similar 2016 Pilot has and the Pilot's earned a Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS, and the NHTSA gives it five stars.

"By the way, Honda's fingerprint magnet of a touchscreen can be easily solved with a screen protector. Volume knob is no big deal for the driver with steering wheel controls while passenger can take his/her time with the volume screen. No big deal."
Posted by: CaptainObvious

I'm hoping a product like

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1Set-Car-Steering-Wheel-Bluetooth-Media-Remote-Control-Motorcycle-Bike-Handlebar-Multimedia-Remote-Button/32673775916.html

or

https://www.amazon.com/Griffin-PowerMate-Multi-Media-Bluetooth-Connectivity/dp/B00IRDRL4K

Will solve the touch screen issue.

The Honda needs some air adjusted springs and or shocks. The ones that were available for the old Ridge gave you a lift of about 1.5 inch and could level the bed at full load.

Hey Honda if I wait till next year and the 2018's will you give us a better infotainment, a skid plate package, adapt the 9 speed Pilot tranny using the first two gears as a pseudo low range, the ninth gears as a gas saving overdrive and air spring/shocks? Please?

Oh and Lastly lets us adjust the speedo ratio if we use larger wheels and tires.

johny,really, gmsrgreat all seem similar, wonder why that is?

The GMC weighed 100 lbs. less than the Chevy model of the same truck?

What?

Can somebody explain how that happens?

WXman , The Chevy has a longer box than the GMC. 74 inches vrs 61.75

The GMC weighed 100 lbs. less than the Chevy model of the same truck?
What?
Can somebody explain how that happens?
-- Posted by: WXman | Aug 25, 2016 7:41:42 AM

The longer box mentioned by Opinion may be one factor, but note also that the Colorado was wearing larger shoes, too. Bigger tires obviously weigh more.

Nice to see we have enough midsize trucks to have a decent test. Five verses two is a good start but I do think by 2020 we will have at least 8 to 10 midsize and there will be at least 2 (or more) compact trucks out by then. PUTC will just have to hire more people to test trucks.

So, the real takeaway is that pickup trucks are archaic, and Honda with a half-hearted effort can nearly beat everyone in the segment.

NO pickup trucks for sale in the United States offers a center differential transfer case.

How many use red 'turn signals'?

I think the Honda supplied the RTL-E thinking the safety package and other creature comforts would impress. Only they never mention the emergency braking, adaptive cruise, blind side camera etc. So that strategy actually worked against Honda.

However I think your argument that the higher priced Honda was unfair, is flawed for this reasons. All RL grades with AWD are identical in terms of the tests conducted in the Challenge. Same engine, transmission, tires, traction control spring and suspension etc.

Honda could have and maybe should have supplied the RL that match the pricing criteria. Seem the testers think it might have won without the atrocious Upgraded infotainment system.


Posted by: Happy Jack | Aug 25, 2016 1:05:12 AM

Thats not at all the point I was making. Honda supplied the RTL-E because thats all they have in their press fleets right now because they are busy stuffing the channel with high margin high trim level options while production of the whole line ramps up.

PUTC stated specifically that they relaxed the rules on price to get the Honda into the test. My point was, the GM 2.8L Duramax is probably far more relevant to the buyers in this segment than is the new Honda Ridgeline but when GM said they didnt have one in their fleet that met the price requirements the response from PUTC was "aw shucks guys I guess we will just have to wait till the next round.

Sure, the new Ridgeline is revolutionary in the segment, but so is the first ever small diesel midsize though (and I would argue more so) yet one was allowed to stretch the rules to participate and the other wasnt.

At least GM sent two different cab/suspension/wheelbase configurations so there was some different, but I would have preferred to see something like PUTC does in the half ton tests where one of trucks has the volume engine and one has the premium engine (ie last time around they had an extended cab Ford with the 2.7 and a Crew Cab high trim level with the 3.5, as well as a Silverado 5.3 and a Sierra 6.2).

Ever notice the Suzuki Equator never makes it into these rankings? I don't have one, but it's a much nicer looking TRUCK than the Honda Van-line...

I will take the street queen Ridgeline anytime.
I told you it would do well in comparison test.
It's not a rock crawler or can tow a house work vehicle.
This is a light duty pickup truck well suited for the every day worker with light hauling or towing needs. Well suited for a daily commuter back and forth to work in an office job or anything else.
This is a grocery getter as some call it a vehicle you can drop of & pick your kids up from school in. You could use it for your hunting and fishing type stuff.
You can load your family or your best buddies in the street queen and drive 1,000 miles or more with ease and comfort. No jiggle wiggle like the other trucks. The little comparison test did not get to the meat of this. Seems like the Tacoma is the niche vehicle as many like to refer to the Ridgeline as being.
If the Tacoma is really only good for off road type of stuff can't handle the real streets.
Again as I said and several other posters have mention as well.
The Ridgeline is built on Honda's Global Light Truck Platform.
The platform was designed for the Ridgeline but the 2014+ Acura MDX 2016+ Honda Pilot and 2017 Ridgeline & Next Gen Honda Odyssey will all share the platform. So it's the other Honda/Acura vehicles using the Ridgeline light truck platform.
So instead of comments like Pilot with a bed or SUV with a bed say the other SUVs and Minivan are built on a light truck platform

The Honda needs some air adjusted springs and or shocks. The ones that were available for the old Ridge gave you a lift of about 1.5 inch and could level the bed at full load.

Hey Honda if I wait till next year and the 2018's will you give us a better infotainment, a skid plate package, adapt the 9 speed Pilot tranny using the first two gears as a pseudo low range, the ninth gears as a gas saving overdrive and air spring/shocks? Please?

Oh and Lastly lets us adjust the speedo ratio if we use larger wheels and tires.
Posted by: Happy Jack | Aug 25, 2016 3:50:52 AM

That's a terrible idea. By lifting it that much, you'll rapidly wear out your CV joints and put yourself at risk for breaking your CV's. Even moreso if you put big tires on afterwards. And with Honda's history of bad transmissions, I wouldn't recommend putting it under greater strain by running big tires.

devilsadvocate

There is no Duramax that meets the price cutoff. There are Ridgelines that do and those ridgelines are mechanically identical to the RTL-E. The extra cost of the E model had little influence on the outcome. Someone mentioned the acoustic glass and maybe that would make a small difference...

devilsadvocate

There is no Duramax that meets the price cutoff. There are Ridgelines that do and those ridgelines are mechanically identical to the RTL-E. The extra cost of the E model had little influence on the outcome. Someone mentioned the acoustic glass and maybe that would make a small difference...
Posted by: Happy Jack | Aug 25, 2016 7:27:02 PM

No comment on the VTEC race truck mod you mentioned before? Or Honda's class leading transmission failure rate?

I agree with the previous comment that the Chevy should have been supplied with the diesel.

Also, How do you not even mention the Ridgeline's in-bed trunk?! I literally use mine everyday, and it's the only truck that offers it.

So the truck might sag a bit more on the rare-occasion the bed is weighed to near-capacity, but offering secure, locking storage in a pick when no-one else does it isn't mentioned?!

90% of max payload = apples to oranges = epic fail.

The weight of a boat, 1/2 yard of mulch/gravel, paving stones, ATV, etc. etc. will always be the same for the customer regardless of model.

Compare like payloads or don't bother. A truck site where a manufacturer loses points in tests for increasing payload, is absurd.

There are 4 tests that get decreased scores (0-60, 1/4 mile, fuel economy, braking) with higher payload ratings, and 2 that get increased (GVWR, payload) scores with higher payloads, yet what is better for a truck? Skews the results and totally defies common sense.

Apples to apples or bust.

This is the first 'test' I've read from these people, and it's also the last.
The Chevy and GMC are the SAME TRUCK!
That they took the longbed with the Chevy, and the shortbed with the GMC has NOTHING to do with the actual vehicle itself, ie the GMC DOESN'T have the lowest weight. If they'd brought the Chevy in with a short bed, it would've been the SAME TRUCK. And to complain about the Chevy for being hard to drive in a parking lot because of it's long wheelbase, when they could've easily taken a Colorado with a SHORT BED and not have that 'problem', is totally ridiculous. It says that these people didn't bother to do any research on the subject matter of this article, which is inexcusable. Especially when they want us to buy into their 'expertise'. I'd be more apt to believe they woke up one day completely oblivious to the world around them, and decided to 'test' 5 vehicles they know absolutely NOTHING about.
What a waste of time

Frank's brother - And with Honda's history of bad transmissions.

THis is news to me. Do you have a reference or is that just your opinion?

Great challenge! I like the personal comments that give us information that is not quantifiable.

I like the 90% payload test, but like Happy Jack, I think equal payload testing by stepping up the payload from the lowest on up would be very useful information (e.g. How does the Ridgeline perform with Nissan's/Tacoma's 900lb weight or maybe for testing purposes only, how does the Nissan/Tacoma handle the +50% more 1400lbs of Ridgeline weight -- even if just to measure squat!)

I'm not sure someone who is shopping a TRD Off-Road Tacoma isn't cross-shopping a Ridgeline or the GM twins. Different birds all together.
Hondas aren't bad vehicles, when they are used by their intended audience for their intended purpose. They are known for light duty transmissions that have low fluid capacities and a limited ability to dissipate heat. Towing, heavy use, MAX GCWR all dramatically shorten the life of Honda automatics.
Conversely, in this weight class a unitized body is of no concern. I've been wheeling Grand Cherokees in places where NONE of these trucks, except that Taco, could go for many years and they hold up very well. Not the best design for a 1500# pin weight gooseneck, but that's a totally different class.
My neighbor who has a new Ridgeline summed it up the best. He drives it like a car, only off-road excursions are graded gravel, he doesn't haul things, tow, or own any equipment that might be too heavy.
If towing, even occasional towing, at 5,000lbs is in your future, get a bigger truck. They provide a margin of safety without much loss in efficiency. If your heaviest trailer is a 3,000 lbs folding camper, any of these trucks will fit the bill. Just service that Honda transmission every 25,000 miles.

I'd wait to see what Nissan brings with the international truck of the year 2016 np300 ,if they make the next Frontier with using that It should be pretty dang sweet

I run circles around all of the above trucks with both a quad and Razer; you want to really go off road, use these trucks to tow a toy to where the road meets the trail....

I agree that the Tacoma is an offroad champ. I don't think I need that level of offroad chops on a camping trip to Alaska. I want a truck that will go on some of the harsh gravel roads holding a tiny camper from ATC or FWC which were typically carried on the older Tacomas when they had more payload. The GMC and the Ridgeline have almost 50% more payload then the new Tacoma. The comments on the Ridgeline's performance fully loaded is disconcerting, which is why performance at various loads would be useful information. The way the prices and performance of midsize trucks are going though, I am seriously rethinking them and considering a 1/2 ton reg cab shortbed instead for the same size or shorter, same or less money, and competitive MPG.

Anyone else notice that the Tacoma got better gas mileage with the load than without? How is this possible, when all the other trucks mileage went down. Makes me question all their data.

Sound level measurements and points? For a truck?

Yea, that's what I base my purchase decision on, which one's quietest.

Take that away and check the results again.

JimSC, better MPG loaded has happened before. Look at PickupTrucks' article "What's the Best Light-Duty Truck for MPG 2016". Three of the four trucks got better MPG loaded. The reason given for the improved MPG is driving style when driving a heavily loaded truck: Accelerate slower, brake slower, do more anticipation and coasting before braking.

Unless you are looking for the hardest working mid size truck, the gross combined weight rating and towing max categories are somewhat irrelevant. If a 5000 lb towing max works for you, well Ridgeline won this thing handily by 27 points. Honda reliability, bit of a no brainer for me.

So you go to Michigan and seem surprised that a domestic ran away with the competition. There's a reason the Tacoma is the number 1 seller, but your "judges" don't look at that. Interesting to say the least

Personally all the trucks are close by a small difference. They should all be rated on how many times they visited the dealership for repairs in a one year term. That's my opinion. Quality is more important than difference in performance specially since they all are so close. I tell you what, American trucks beat the hell out of any Japaneese on towing and payload any day. I would never buy anything other than a domestic truck (if I'm gonna use it for work wich is what is made for) unlike other people out there with a F350 diesel and a tonneau cover on the bed:).

With judge comments like "The power level pushes it into half-ton pickup territory for towing and hauling," and observing that the midsize prices are comparable to half-tons, I think a PRICE SHOOTOUT would be very interesting way to compare the two segments. I really would like to see how the Ram 3.6 reg/quad cab would compare since their payload and towing is almost the same as the GMC. Then there is the F150 2.7. Are some of the new midsize trucks as capable or even better than the smaller half tons at limits? Impression differences empty and at limits? Room and comfort of midsize crew compared to half ton quad? Admittedly, I may be the only person really interested in this though.

I'm confused, the Canyon SLE & Colorado Z71 are the exact same car (EXACT same motor and chassis/frame/suspension).

Basically the differences you are noting here are either driver preference/bias or the minimal aerodynamic/weight differences between the Canyon and Colorado - yet they only tied in 2 categories?

Not to be rude, but would it hurt you to involve someone with an auto/engineering background (an industry expert or even just an educated mechanic) in these tests so you can have more than just simple "drag race" style results and journalistic opinions?

It all boils down to opinion vs reality from the comments I've read. The Honda obviously paid a lot of folks to make comments on this article in favor of the SUV / car with part of the roof missing. The ridgeline is a car, unibody and by no means a real truck. That being said, if you want something that will high center on a 10 " snow drift, or tear the front or rear bumper off when departing the highway to cross a typical bar ditch, go ahead. I parked next to a ridgeline yesterday and the front airs am was crushed against thee curb :(. The truth is, you can take a mini van and accomplish all that a ridgeline can do. The Toyota, the GMC and the Nissan trucks are real trucks and will be on the road 30 + years from now. The ridgeline will have been relegated to trash heap. Another nitch vehicle for Honda. I'm sure as with the last ridgeline, there will be a fewl honda worshippers who praise it's car like ride and handeling while calling not a truck. My wife has 2016 MDX and it's not a real 4x4 nor does it have a true off road capability any greater than an AWD car. It's darn near the same vehicle as the Ridgeline.

@Bret But the Ridgeline IS a real truck and it's not a trash heap! And there will be TRILLIONS of Ridgelines on the road for Honda 2000 yearse from now!

My decision to buy the Honda beside any other test performing here was the cabin space and rear leg room for my child's more than any other midsize, Android auto and Car Play, truck bed is width more than any other and also the underbed cargo of 7 cu ft this is awesome, and I don't want forget the dual tailgate that allow me to reach more things without steeping to the truck saving me back and knees pain. Honda Rocks with this midsize. 90% of my time or more will be in street no off road just to go to the beach and the AWD system is perfect because is ON all the time and is perfect for my in the Rain.

The Ridgeline is the clear winner. It seems like they tried their darnest to knitpick on the subjective areas to make sure it does not get the top spot. I guess it's so not to upset the hardcore truck fans who are not ready to admit that unibody is the future for trucks. Ridgeline is the avante garde and the most unconventional truck in the group having a unibody design and using a front wheel drive system. The Ridgeline wins.

As many here already know, I am not a fan of full-sized trucks. Even today's mid-sized models are bigger than I really like (see TTAC's article about the '83 D50 for further details.)

However, this past weekend I got the opportunity to check out all the available pickups, full-sized and mid, at a local auto show. The reasoning is that I now own three vehicles and I need to pull it down to two, which means the Jeep SUV has to go and one of the other two, either the Fiat 500 or the Ford Ranger, to be replaced by some vehicle that can serve both purposes. The Jeep offers seating for four, a decent interior load capacity and 4x4 for foul weather and off-roading (not sport but in particular muddy fields and driveways.) Her car offers extreme fuel mileage and is easy to maneuver on small-town streets and heavy traffic. The Ranger offers good fuel mileage (rated 27mpg on the highway and has done so) is still reasonably maneuverable and gives me a 6' bed for hauling whatever. But no 4x4 and the standard cab makes it impossible to carry anything inside when I'm carrying a passenger. So the options are either to get a more economical SUV OR get a compact AWD pickup. The final issue is the transmission, as the wife as yet does not know how to drive a stick and our current Jeep and Ranger are both manual transmission models.

Yes, there's a reason behind this exposition; as I said up front, we looked at trucks (and SUVs but even the ones we'd been looking at before show unexpected issues that would require possibly illegal modifications.) I and the wife sat in each one and studied their layout and their stickers for fuel economy and other data. In each case, the full-sized trucks were complete failures due to their size, layout and in most cases their poor economy (not really any better than the Jeep's.)

That brought us down to the mid-sizers and similar to the testers' scores, we ended up with two choices that came closest to what we want. The truck had to be able to seat both of us comfortably behind the wheel, which killed the Toyota as while it fit me just fine, her 6' height and long legs had her thighs rubbing the underside of the steering wheel with the seat in the last notch on the track and the wheel in its highest position. The Nissan did reasonably well, but there were too many 'small' things that just couldn't bring it up to what we wanted. The Canyon fit most of our wants and needs, though its slightly higher price and oversized grill didn't really appeal to us the way the Colorado did. The Colorado made #2. The Honda Ridgeline however, made #1 on our list.

It's hard to give credit to testers who can't tell that the Colorado and Canyon are EXACTLY THE SAME TRUCK with a different badge on them. The two should have scored no different in "objective" testing.

And the Ridgeline is not a pickup truck. It is a minivan with a bed instead of rear seats.

@Richard

Me thinks you own Mr Pierce an apology. His assessment of the Ridgeline is a tough one, but it's not far from the truth.

One of my kids owns (and loves!) her Honda, so I have some experience with this, and you've failed to address Mr Pierce's chief objection and failed to cite any facts, apart from your gratuitous assertion.

Please cite some stats and please show more courtesy to your fellow posters.

Thank you,

PapaJim

Honda? They don't make a truck, they cut the back of a Pilot out and leave a bed. Junk compared to the other trucks shown.

I'd take my chances with the Toyota over all of them cause it would be easier to sell used retaining more value where I live.however I think the interior is cheap looking and feeling,it's underpowered and the mpg isn't great.the Honda is ridiculous looking,please drive it off a cliff if you own one thanks

Unfortunately I to think the Ridgeline is an SUV with a box. It looks way better than the very odd styling of the previous model, but the chassis is still SUV based. I don't need 4 wheel drive and prefer two (rear) wheel drive for its simplicity and driving dynamics (drifting abilities in the snow). The only two wheel drive Ridgeline is front wheel drive! A front wheel drive truck! Really? I can't do! Any of the other truck would work for me.

How does the Tacoma get better mileage when it is heavier?(loaded)

How does the Canyon brake a shorter distance when it is heavier?(loaded)

Both of those results make ZERO sense.

Also, this article should state the rear gear ratio for each truck tested.

Love these comparisons. Pointing out that each truck had a unique niche is a very good point indeed proven by various commenters expressing the characteristics they value and changing the winners for them.

Payload: I agree with others that one of the tests should be loading the higher payload trucks with the same 90% of the lighter payload trucks. Even if I only need the lower payload, it would be VERY USEFUL to hear if the trucks handled the same weight any differently. For example, an older test had Ford raising its payload rating to beat competition without any changes to the truck, but when independently tested, it was reported to feel unsafe with the higher payload (example to make the point, not Ford bashing). Paper Ratings and actual Performance can be very different.

Towing test: where?? Come on. This is basic.

Need: Performance per $$. Some of these setups are a lot more expensive, and some are more expensive than a half-ton with more ability.

Better MPG loaded: I have seen other tests that showed better MPG when heavily loaded on bigger half-tons. At first they thought there was some kind of testing error. However what they found was drivers used a lot more coasting to a stop and gentle acceleration when loaded, thus basically using hyper-milling techniques automatically (testing was on very flat terrain).

Love the Honda, but it does not do what I want - it does not carry a camper made for a Tacoma that has a lower payload. Wrong niche for me.

However, for me, I still keep coming back to the value of a Regular cab bench seat (3-person) half ton that gives me equal or better price and performance. Better fits the niche I want.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee never had a body on frame.
I`m glad Honda builds such a truck as the Ridgeline.
If they can happen to get the gas mileage that beats the others I would give it a hard look.
If not then there`s no reason to buy a Honda over the other more capable trucks.

Roar! This car is my type! I can go anywhere with this buddy! Great article about this truck! http://www.wrightimport.com/

I appreciate what PUTC did here. And they did explain people weight everything differently. But there are also key criteria missing. Yes they had 18 test criteria but there are 100 more that determines why someone buys a vehicle.

My choice is the Tacoma. My 2015 TRD Sport is worth 36,500 to 37,000 Canadian right now and I paid 39,500 for it brand new 2.5 years ago. No other truck, in fact no other vehicle on the planet can match a Tacomas resale value. So despite what price you pay or what options you choose the Tacoma loses you the least amount of money on resale. That is because they are built to Off Road tuffness which gives them reliability, dependability and popularity. They also provide the body clearance needed to have fun and you can experience a worry free atmosphere that your truck won't bottom out, won't hit a curb, won't hit a snow bank, or bottom out on steep driveways and if you do need off road capability even once than it's worth it to me

But Toyota did take a step backwards with this engine choice. The 4.0 was so much better like the Frontier. How the HP went up and yet it got slower is just ridiculous and they did take a hit on consumer complaints when this new model came out but it's seems to have gotten better as the bugs are ironed out.

The manual Tacoma however, would have beat all of these trucks in the 0-60 runs. It's geared lower on the final ratios and will get the hole shot big time with the manual so that it's higher HP at the wheels would actually be used and it comes in lighter

It was a nice review PUTC, especially the Dino testing, that is much appreciated. It would be nice if you posted the Dino charts so we could see the power curves.

When I drove the Canyon I kept sliding out of the seat in the corners and on exit the plastic on the side of the seat digs into my thigh. The Tacoma seats hold you in place better and are a lot more comfortable for me. And my short friend could actually reach the pedals in the Tacoma and see over the dash. In the Canyon she cannot see over the dash and the seats are too high to reach the foot pedals and there was less room for your foot. And I am 6,4 and fit very comfortably in the Tacoma and my right knee is not digging and resting into the console found on the Canyon. For interior comfort the Tacoma wins for both of us and the seats are better because they hold you in place better and it's all soft material upon exit.

We are ticked off that Toyota got rid of the grab handle on the drivers side to help get you in, but the Canyon is missing that as well. All in all we are both buying new Tacoma's again as they are a far superior truck for our reasons.

It's much better if there are videos on this. It's a bias with the other competitor over GMC. http://www.transmissionrepairgeorgia.com/



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