2018 Best Half-Ton Truck Challenge: How the Judges Scored

image from p.widencdn.net

It's a long-held belief here at PickupTrucks.com that to find out which pickup truck is the best in a given class, you must combine empirical tests and expert judges' opinions.

Related: 2018 Best Half-Ton Truck Challenge Video: What the Judges Said

For our recent 2018 Best Half-Ton Truck Challenge, we spent a week testing five competitors: the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500, 2018 Ford F-150, 2019 GMC Sierra 1500, 2019 Nissan Titan and 2019 Ram 1500 (Toyota declined our request to send a Tundra). We scored the trucks in 16 empirical tests and 10 subjective categories. Each competitor could earn a maximum 2,200 points, 1,600 of which came from objective tests such as acceleration, braking, dynameter and capacities. The remaining 600 points were awarded in the 10 subjective categories that targeted the trucks' comfort levels, handling, utility, visibility and value. Judges could award up to 10 points per category; their totals for each truck were multiplied by two. We double the judges' scores so that they account for 22 to 27 percent of total scoring.

Some readers let us know they'd like to see a deeper dive into how the judges scored, so that's what we're doing here. Our expert judges for this Challenge were PickupTrucks.com Editor Mark Williams, Cars.com Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman and automotive freelancer journalist/longtime pickup owner Andy Mikonis. You'll notice in the charts below that there was a good amount of disagreement among our judges, as well as agreement. While we're testing, we share our thoughts with one another but, like most pickup buyers, everyone has their own priorities and preferences.

Here's how the judges' scoring broke down by category, followed by the grand totals.



Interior Layout

Interior Layout

Even though the Ram 1500 did well in all interior categories, layout can be a personal taste question. Interior layout scoring considers how easy it is to reach function controls and how easy those controls are to see and use.

Interior Quality

Interior Quality

Perceived quality was probably the category in which our judges agreed the most. The Ram 1500 blew its competitors away here with material choices and an amazingly well-done design. Our judges have to focus like a laser beam on the details, so the scoring reflects forgivable quality hiccups and cost-cutting choices that are not.

Interior Storage

Interior Storage

This is an area that's seen tremendous improvement in the last 10 years, with all the major truckmakers providing more unique ways to stow cargo and offer security solutions to buyers. The more you can make your interior like a Swiss army knife, the more points you'll like receive from our judges.



Overall Interior Comfort

Overall Interior Comfort

For this test, the judges moved through all the seats in each contender's cabin to see how comfortable each seat is and what accommodations and compromises have been made for front and rear passengers. Think legroom, storage, layout and quality. Not surprisingly, the Ram 1500 made a strong showing.

How It Drives Empty

How It Drives Empty

Since many vehicles, including pickups, are driven empty most of the time, we spent time checking how well these trucks were suited for daily drive duty. We considered things like cabin noise, whether the ride was smooth or bumpy, and how the brakes responded.

How It Drives With a Trailer

How It Drives With a Trailer

If there's one absolute requirement for pickups, it's that they handle a good-sized trailer with a certain level of confidence, which is why we tow with them. For this category, we look at what comes in the truck's trailer package. Does it include towing mirrors, sway control and light-check technology? We also consider how the brakes handle the extra load.

Bed Features and Access

Bed Features

The business end of the pickup truck needs to be more than a big tub for carrying sacks and rocks. It needs to solve day and night storage, cargo-loading problems and provide tie-down and storage solutions. The RamBox storage system is impressive but, like everything, it comes with trade-offs. Access into the bed also is key here.

Related: 2018 Best Half-ton Truck Challenge: Bed Strategies



Being able to see over a large hood or down the side of long pickups can be tricky, especially if the truck lacks 360-degree camera technology. The adjustability of side and rearview mirrors can create visibility issues, too, as can the adjustability of interior lighting. We also factor in trailer detection and towing mirrors.



Engine Layout

Engine Layout

This category allows judges to consider the practicality of engine layout in terms of adding fluids, maintaining batteries, changing filters or just getting access. How well does the engine compartment provide a novice pickup owner with schematic information on fuse replacement?

Worth the Money?

Worth the Money

Our long-standing value category gives judges a chance to evaluate the content on a given trim level. What kind of bang-for-the-buck proposition does each player offer?

Grand Totals

Grand Totals

When you see the grand totals for each judge, as well as each vehicle, you get a pretty clear sense of which categories resonated with our judges and where they thought the manufacturers were not doing as much as they should when compared with their competitors.

Cars.com photos by Christian Lantry

Editor's note: This story was updated Dec. 7, 2018, to insert the correct Interior Quality chart.

image from p.widencdn.net

image from p.widencdn.net

image from p.widencdn.net



There imterior quality graph says its the storage graph

Toyota knew they would not do good. It is a good solid truck and rides like a TRUCK


It looks like they attached the interior storage graph for two different categories. Probably a mistake.

Mark Williams, How about going back to vehicles manufactured in 2008 and having a look at (Real World) long term reliability, fit and finish? Not all of us lease or trade in every five years...

This is why Ram will likely be #2 in full size by brand sales in 2019. Ram has stepped up their game more than the others.

Clear winner. Ram.
Gotta say I have to agree that Rams interiors are tops. I was recently at my local Ram dealer getting the oil changed on my 2500 and checked out a 2019 1500 Longhorn on the showroom floor. Wowzza that interior was drop dead gorgeous.
Biggest drawback on the truck? The $71K sticker price. And thats in the USA. Can't imagine what the folks up north in CND would pay.

Dale Milner,

Up in Canada we typically pay less for Ram trucks in order for them to sell. For the first time I've ever noticed, GM's and Fords are selling for 30% off, Ram has been doing this for years!

This is why Ram will likely be #2 in full size by brand sales


Are you really saying that RAM will surpass Ford in 2019?

@ Papajim (are you the real Papajim) If Ram surpasses Ford in full size sales they will be #1. Don't think it will happen in 2019.

Looking forward to Ram taking #2 from Chevy. The new Chevy needs its mid cycle refresh NOW. Ford's spot at the top is safe for now but they better stay on their toes.

In more interesting news Jalopnic recently tried fixing via photoshop the front end of the coming chevy HD and had a good bit of success by lowering the silly cross bar to almost center. Its amazing the difference such a minor adjustment would make and how badly chevy missed such a simple mark.

This is why Ram will likely be #2 in full size by brand sales


Are you really saying that RAM will surpass Ford in 2019?

Posted by: papajim | Dec 7, 2018 10:55:39 AM

Hey PapaJoke, Ford is the top full size brand. Or are you really that stupid to think otherwise?

#1 = Ram
#2 = Ford
#3 = Sierra
#4 = Silverado = dead last.

Even the market analysts are predicting the end for Ford. Good luck guys.

With the new ranger coming out ford sales of the f150 will drop naturally. All the ranger sales will come from the f150 sales.

"With the new ranger coming out ford sales of the f150 will drop naturally. All the ranger sales will come from the f150 sales.
Posted by: Chingon | Dec 7, 2018 1:35:52 PM"

Did that happen to gm full-size in 2015 when the gm mid-size were released??

Even the market analysts are predicting the end for Ford. Good luck guys.

Posted by: papajim | Dec 7, 2018 1:26:58 PM

Yet it’s GM closing plants and laying off 14,000 employees.

Plus, like GM did earlier...declare bankruptcy and write off your debt and screw over shareholders etc etc.

any update why all the dyno results were off

If Ram can get solid manufacturing under control, offer reliability and longevity to their customers, they can take a shot at Ford. I’m no expert but here’s what I’d do: Take plays from at least three playbooks.
Book 1, Toyota. Don’t be in such a hurry to innovate that you put out unreliable products. Instead, let necessity be the mother of invention. But simply work to incrementally improve backbone areas like powertrain, frame and fuel systems.
Book 2, Ram. Keep making the best interiors money can buy. But make them durable too.
Book 3, Ford. Make a product whose reputation is stubbornly well perceived. Win the numbers game. Ford makes a half ton for just about anybody. From mall monsters to tow monsters. And lots of people think the world of them.
Just my thoughts. Of course I’m well aware of my ignorance concerning the top floor decisions at RAM.

Your name should be Papa GM. Ha!

Isn't it a bloody shame that an erudite comment is recorded with some dignity and common sense and automatically Mr Ha wants to draw a comparison to... me.

LOL @ Andy Mikonis. I can't believe he took his mouth off GM's pole long enough to vote. Him voting the interior of the GM a 9 proves he's an incompetent GM shill.

another imposter wanting to cash in on the fine reputation I've earned over the years at PUTC with filthy innuendo.

......Don’t buy 1 new battery in 2018 - do this instead...

Hi there, 99% of people will waste money on new batteries in 2018…

But you don’t have to be one of them…

Instead, you can save a lot of money and bring your old batteries back to life and re-use them (instead of buying new overpriced batteries) with a simple new method.

Click Here To Learn How To Bring Any Battery Back To Life Again http://rurl.us/L0LSQ
This easy method works for nearly all kinds of old/dead batteries too...

You can bring car, phone, laptop, AA, AAA, alkaline, and cordless power tool batteries back to life

I just take my Everstart Maxx back to Wally and he gives me a new one. No charge.

another imposter wanting to cash in on the fine reputation I've earned over the years at PUTC with filthy innuendo.

Posted by: papajim | Dec 8, 2018 5:28:18 PM

you sank low enough to stroke your own ego, that medication you're on is really working and it also affect your judgement you phucking hypocrite

What an ugly thing to say! Does this mean we aren't friends anymore?

There imterior quality graph says its the storage graph .

Even the market analysts are predicting the end for Ford. Cool

no surprise here, GM is tanked, closing plants, mpg getting worse, bad press-unamerican, gm bye bye.....

Love to have a new dodge diesel

My son bought a 2018 f-150 from Cambell Ford in OTTAWA.
and it seems there is always something wrong with the engine and he keeps having to bring it back in for service. Who can be approached to make sure he is not being played as a cash cow.
at PRESENT if I were looking to by a small truck f-150 would be the last vehicle I would by given the poor service he is receiving which started almost immediately after he purchased it

Post a Comment

Please remember a few rules before posting comments:

  • Try to be civil to your fellow blog readers.
  • Stay on topic. We want to hear your opinions and thoughts, but please only comment about the specified topic in the blog post.
  • Your email will not be shown.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In

Home | Buy or Sell a Truck | News | Special Reports

Powered by Cars.com. By using this site, you agree to our terms of service | © 2017 Cars.com | Privacy Statement | Contact Us