Who Has the Best Pickup Truck for $30,000?


By Mark Williams

We made a simple request. We asked each half-ton truck-maker to send us its best vehicle, with just one condition: keep the price under $30,000.

Manufacturers sent their best truck for the buck. Not surprisingly, they were all closely equipped and configured. We ran the trucks through a battery of tests and spent so much time in them that they felt like family.

At the end of the competition, only one half-ton stood above the rest, offering the best overall value. Which pickup rose to the top? Our players, as you might have guessed, were the Chevy Silverado, Ford F-150, Nissan Titan, Ram 1500 and Toyota Tundra.

We’ll tell you how they ranked when we publish the results on Monday.


Anybody see something wrong with that picture why is the Ford the only reg cab when everybody else appears to be a extended cab? It appears Ford is cheating!

I will guess that the order of finish, from best to worst, is as follows:

1) Ford F-150
2) Ram 1500
3)Chevrolet 1500

The rest do not really matter.

It will be interesting to see how a regular cab stacks up against extended cabs in the ride quality category.

@5.3 LOL: Or, you don't get as much for your money :D

Passive aggressive move by marketing depts by sending in extended cab to lose. It's called forfeiting. The $30,000 cap is the only reason they didn't send all crew cabs.

Mike Levine made the parting comment
"@All: Thanks much for all the kind words. I couldn't have expected or asked for better readers.

Don't forget. The $30K and Under Half-Ton Shootout results are coming before the end of the month. I bet you can probably guess who the winner is. Right? The finishing order will surprise everyone. :-)

Posted by: Mike Levine | Sep 9, 2011 2:27:15 PM"

The only way I'd be surprised is if the Silverado or Titan won the test.

The F150, Tundra, and Ram are my top 3 picks for a new pickup.

(Mind you, Mike said we'd be surprised with the results of the Hurt Locker shootout. The GM won - no surprise to me)

@Buy American Or Say Bye To America!

"The rest do not really matter." Typical ignorant answer from you was just a matter of time.

I hope they run them through a 1/4 mile test. I'd be curious to see roughly how fast a regular cab F150 with the 5.0L is.

If a cushy ride is what you are after then it is probably Ram followed by GM twins.


That is his opinion. If you don't like, you can grab your purse and leave!


Typical liberal that wants to keep our borders wide open for the foreign markets to continue to paralyze the U.S.A.'s economy.

guess u can't get a supercab for under 30k

@ Frank

No issues there, we both have opinions. It just got old after reading PUTC for 2+ years noticing almost every comment of his bashing everything that is not American. Thats all I just wanted to vent this one time since I never post, just read the site. \\grabing my 'purse" Frank and hiding back behind the screen where I will continue on reading, keep up the good work PUTC\\

"Best" in what way? Without having a criteria to judge against, "best" is rather subjective (and therefor meaningless).

And also, the qualifier of "under 30k" really means one thing to me, which manufacturer is willing to have the narrowest profit margins? From a manufacturer's point of view, I would rather win the "Who can sell the most in the 40K+ price range" contest.


It was a figure of speech.

Keep hiding if you wish, this is why nobody knows who you are.

Hmmm...interesting competition. The fact that the Ford is in front on the photo makes me wonder if Ford is the winner. I can't tell what motor is in the Ford, but it looks as though the Tundra received the grand-daddy 5.7L V-8 and Ram got the Hemi. I'm going to guess Tundra, Ram, and F-150...in that order. Looking forward to this comparo!

I dont mind posting the results of the Ford but since they wouldnt send a 2011 5.0L SuperCab 4x2 XL F150 which I configured for under $30,000.00 I think it should be disqualified because the only reason I think they sent a reg cab was because they knew Toyota and Ram were sending their 5.7L's and for $30,000.00 and under they couldnt send a SuperCab ecoboost or 6.2L to match up so they thought they would be slick and send a reg cab like nobody would notice.

"We made a simple request. We asked each half-ton truck-maker to send us its best vehicle, with just one condition: keep the price under $30,000."

@5.3 LOL

There is only one requirement here, under $30K.

Quit it already!

Why didn't Toyota send a bare bones regular 5.7L?

Answer that?

So many conspiracies, so little time.

"Best Vehicle" means what they think is the overall best. They sent an XLT because it offers the most bang for the buck. More options are included.

Ford could have sent the XLT with EcoBoost with an 8' bed and tow package. Looks like they opted for the shorter bed and 5.0 instead. It will be nice to see the 5.0 in a competition for a change.

The engines for the comparo are as follows:
Chevy 5.3, Titan 5.6, Toyota 5.7, Ford 5.0, Ram 5.7

@5.3 LOL
Why should the Ford be disqualified? Mike said the only criteria for the manufacturers was that the trucks have to be under $30,000. Everything else was left up to them.

If anything, ford providing a regular cab truck was pretty smart on their part. A lower base price means they can give it more interior options. It will also be less weight, giving it better 0-60 and 1/4 miles performance, as well as better fuel economy.

It will be interesting to see how the 5.0 will stand up against the "bigger" engines. It has more Hp and torque than the old 5.4. The dyno testing showed it pulled harder than the EB up to 30 mph. I am surprised Ford didn't send the EB 3.5. It has always been the Modus Operandi of all of the brands to send their "big guns" to a shootout.
Might be a mistake for Ford.

That picture tells me all I need to know Ford is scared they wouldnt send a extended cab like everybody else. Their must be a reason Ford runs from that equal configuration 5.7L ifoce Tundra maybe because they know daddy is goona spank ya. We all know it aint the first time since your new engines you ducked an equal configuration 5.7L ifoce I saw your little buildt Ford Tough Challenge as far as I am concerned your a paper champion unlike the GM HD's.

if there all v8's the rams got it but if ford has that eco boost then fords got it with ram right behind them hemi and that ecoboost are kickin chevys but

I'm sad to see that Ram didn't send an express w/ extra features a 4x4 express still leaves plenty of room to throw in lots of extras and I personally have always only bough r.c so id be more interested in that lol. this is a great idea seeing that this shoot out will prob convince more people to buy a certain truck I think these trucks apply to more everyday people than the hd shootout or V6 shootout

Tundra is really an irrelevant truck in todays market.

@5.3 LOL - There may be some truth in what you say. I was surprised that the 5.7 Tundra wasn't at Ford's Davis Dam commercial. That hit me as strange. Apologists for the Blue Oval rationalized that theTundra wasn't a market threat to Ford therefore it didn't need to be there. The EB did outpull the Ram. I'd have to refresh my memory of the last shootout. Didn't the Tundra 5.7 outpull the Hemi 5.7? I doubt that the EB would loose to the 5.7 Tundra.
The 5.0 at a shootout is an odd choice for Ford. The base V8 against the competition's mid to big guns.
It could turn out to be a marketing coupe for Ford if the 5.0 does well.

@ 5.3 lol,
your post doesnt even make sense, how is sending a smaller engine running away from the compitition? please explain

@ everyone,
the f150 is an xlt not an xl, so its not a bare bones truck, the new xlt's are pretty nice on the inside and can come with a lot of goodies thrown in.

I would guess that the f150 or ram wins, followed by the Toyota

Personally I don't care how futile it may seem, I'm rooting for the Titian. He gets no respect anymore. Go Nissan!

In the performance category, I am pretty confident that the Datsun (Endurance) finished ahead of the Chevrolet (Vortec). There is no way though, that it beat out the Toyoda (i-Force), Ram (HEMI Magnum), or the Ford (Coyote).

I would say if you beleive in your 5.0L or any other engine then why not send it in a equal configuration and not a lighter one.
People don't compare the 5.7L ifocre to the 5.7L Hemi as the 5.7L iforce has a competent tranny that knows what to do with power and its peak torque is lower than the Hemi so yes it can out pull it.
I beleive the whole F-Series is nothing but paper champions your Superduty lost to an equal configuration GM HD and your F-150 would have done the same if it chose to show up an equal configuration like everybody else. Not to mention Ford one the V6 truck shootout but wait the 2011 4.0L V6 Tundra wasnt their it couldnt make it so you have yet to prove that you can beat a equal configuration 2011 Tundra. The F-Series equals Hype and nothing else paper champs.

@Lou, I just rented a 2011 F-150 for a few days while I was travelling for work. The 5.0 has some serious muscle. I was amazed. I would put it up against any of them. Don't underestimate this engine I'm telling you.

@5.3 LOL,

Go home!

The Toyota Tundra already won. Mike gave it away.

1) Ford F-150
2) Chevy Silverado
3) Ram 1500
4) Toyota Tundra
5) Nissan Titan


@5.3 lol- Your saying they should have sent an equal truck? The way I see it is the 5.0 would be on the same level as Toyos 4.6(7?). Im going to turn this around: Why didnt toyo send a 4.6 Tundra? Are they not confident enough in the motor so they felt they needed to send the 5.7? If I remember correctly these trucks are going to be judged on more than 0-60 and 1/4. If options, ride, etc. are all going into the decision then it was just a smart move on fords part. Reg Cab= lower base price, thus more options. Dont be mad Toyo wasnt smart enough to think of this.

@5.3 lol- Also, I bet if Ford could have got a 6.2 in an ext cab and Toyo had sent a 4.6 Reg cab, you would be saying the exact opposite as you are now.

As far as 1/4 mile times go: Ford. Toyota. Dodge. Chevy. Titan. Chevy and Titan could go either way.

@Unclebud - thanks for your input. I'm not completely writing off the 5.0. The surprise may be the smallest engined truck of the group is the best. Until the shootout hits these pages - its all conjecture.

@5.3LOL - the F150 lineup is far from a paper champion. The underpowered 5.4 won the overall shootout a few years back and has won many other shootouts.
There are other factors to buying a truck than outright power, or first past the timing lights.
GM has the most powerful diesel truck that has won the most tests, but why does Ford still sell almost double the number of GMC HD's?
Sales do not determine the best truck, but as Abe Lincoln once said:
"You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time."
I like the Tundra but I like the F150 better. Outright power wasn't my main screening tool for a truck. Sales would indicate that it isn't the main purchase criteria for many buyers. I'd buy a sport bike if "go fast" was my primary goal.

@5.3LOL - filling in for Bob?

Another option that the regular cab price allows for: 4 wheel drive. That's a big intangible value, as many can't have a truck without 4x4, myself included. I don't see 4x4 on the side, I wonder if it has it. Also, the Ford regular cab has a relatively large amount of room behind the seat. It's almost like an extended cab without a back seat.

I like to Ford to win it.

my guess is the ram wins

gm have a better quality.trany,engine.front wheel .if you have a 4 wheel drive...ford trany problem almost every year,front bearing use face for no reason ,tire go bad fast..

Let us hear it for... FORD!!!

...Now, Ram!!

...Now, Chevrolet!

Let us hear it for North America!!!! That includes Canada, Mexico, and Central America. Keep it real by keeping it at home!

Im not going to tell you where to go.
Lets see Ram sent the Hemi , Toyota sent the 5.7L, GM sent the 5.3L and Nissan sent their 5.6L all in extended cab configuration for a fair comparison why did one company not do the same when they could have.
As for the paper champion I got that from GM here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCvKCa9ORgw&feature=related @1:15 and as far as running goes I think Ram was right here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dr2Rph3gFTc you have no guts but someone had guts before having guts was cool http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nM5dj7KO2aY&feature=related. Also Lou your better off when you stick to facts which I have given
People Ford hyped up their new engines not me and then they dont send a truck for a fair comaprison they go lighter and im the bad guy because I notice Ford seems to duck and dodge consistently when one truck comes around and all the Ford people can say is I bet Toyota would have done the same.

Judging by the Ford's; chrome, fog lights, and alloy wheels, it looks like it is going to be well optioned. It will likely be nicely appointed with; the integrated trailer brake controller, productivity screen, navigation, back-up camera, tailgate step, Microsoft Sync, and satellite radio to name a few luxuries.

Quality is job #1!

@5.3 LOL

How is Ford being "slick" or "cheating"? It's a 'Shootout'... get it? Would you send a 'gun man' to a shootout with a rifle in the holster??? DUH.... The others wanted no part in this shootout and opted out by sending trucks that couldn't compete. Techincally they can't lose if they didn't really compete so who's really ducking & dodging???

@Buy American Or Say Bye To America!

Last time I checked, Central America was NOT a part of North America. Close though.

Heh-heh, heh-heh...he said ducking & DODG(E)ing! Heh-heh.


Greg B.-

When was the last time you checked? You better check again, today.

"Central America (Spanish: América Central or Centroamérica) is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast" -courtesy of our friends at wikipedia

There you have it, Amigo!

@5.3 the reg cab will only help in the performance category. It will hurt badly in others. Give and take. What's hard about this shootout is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

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