Top 10 Trucks Of 2016: A Look At Your Best Open-Bed Options
If pickup truck sales were the sole indicator of economic health the U.S. would currently be experiencing a period of record prosperity. Full-size truck sales were up more than 5 percent last year, and midsize truck sales simply exploded, skyrocketing over 40 percent in 2015. While truck sales aren’t the U.S. economy’s only measure of financial strength they are among the hottest vehicle segments going these days, suggesting a strong hunger for open-bed options. This is welcome news for truck-heavy automakers like Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), Ford, GM and Toyota. Over the past 10 years trucks have transitioned from rudimentary cargo haulers into luxurious image enhancers. Truck pricing has undergone a similar elevation. At Kelley Blue Book we’ve seen full- and midsize truck pricing jump nearly 6 percent, and these segments were already one of the most profitable for automakers. What does all this mean for truck shoppers? It means more product activity in these two segments than we’ve seen in quite a few years. Between all-new and substantially updated full- and midsize trucks, buyers looking to tow, haul or climb hill and dale have more compelling options than ever before. And because trucks are the most highly configurable vehicles sold in the U.S. it can be daunting to figure out which version to get even after you decide on a make and model. With that in mind here are my Top 10 Trucks for 2016, presented in alphabetical order with the features I would order on each one.
All new in 2015, the Colorado received some solid upgrades for 2016. The biggest news comes in the form of diesel power, making it (and its corporate sibling from GMC) the only midsize truck to offer a diesel. The colorado’s smaller size and Duramax diesel give it the best fuel efficiency of any truck on the market, with 22 city mpg, 31 highway mpg and 25 mpg combined. The Duramax offers 181 horsepower, 369 pound-feet of torque and a 7,700-pound tow rating. Also new for 2016 is the off-road oriented Trail Boss trim. Go crew cab, with the diesel, for $37,000.
The Silverado was redesigned in 2014, but got a new grille for 2016 that features LED lighting on premium models like the LTZ and High Country. Speaking of premium trim, Silverado was one of the last large trucks to offer a full-tilt luxury version, and with the 2014 redesign came the new High Country trim, and for 2016 it’s got cool features like power retracting running boards, 4G LTE wifi along with wireless cell phone charging. And it’s got the Apple AAPL +0.26% CarPlay integrated cell phone interface. If I’m going Silverado, I’m going High Country for a starting price of $53,000.
The F-150 was all-new last year, so upgrades for 2016 are relatively minor. But for 2016 Ford’s perennial best-seller offers a trailer back-up system that makes backing up with a trailer as easy as turning a knob in the direction you want the trailer to go. If that’s not enough Ford also offers a 360-degree camera system to ensure you place the truck exactly where you want it, even in tight spaces. A 2016 F-150 XLT with the fuel-efficient 2.7-liter V6, Pro Trailer Backup Assist, storable loading ramps and new Sync 3 would be my choice…in Blue Flame paint for about $37,000.
The Canyon is GMC’s version of the Chevrolet Colorado midsize truck, which means it also got the new 2.8-liter Duramax diesel engine for 2016. But I think the color-matched grille on this truck is its best feature, and I like how that grille treatment is part of the Nightfall edition, which can’t be had with the diesel. So I’d go crew cab, two-wheel drive, short bed with Nightfall Edition black paint and 18-inch chrome wheels. That trim comes with the 2.5-liter inline 4 engine that still makes 200 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque, all for less than $35K.
GMC isn’t new to the premium truck market. It’s been offering the upscale Denali version of its Sierra for years, and like most GMC products the Denali version sells quite well. But for 2016 GMC also offers a “Sierra Elevation Edition” and, like the Canyon Nightfall Edition, the Elevation Edition takes advantage of the truck’s inherent good looks and adds body-color bumpers, mirror caps and door handles. It comes in extended cab form and rides on black 20-inch wheels. Engine choices are either a 4.3-liter V6 or 5.3-liter V8, in two- or four-wheel drive.
Honda’s Ridgeline has never sold in high numbers (at least by truck standards) even though it offers several features you can’t find in any other open-bed vehicle. I always felt its combination of fuel efficiency, car-like ride and handling and a class-exclusive ”trunk” under the bed (for weather-proof storage) were enough to justify a slice of the midsize truck market. Honda will be introducing an all-new version of the Ridgeline next week at the Detroit auto show, and because it’s based on the excellent new 2015 Pilot I expect it to be a highly desirable truck.
Like Honda, Nissan has struggled to find a market for its full-size Titan. For 2016 an all-new Titan debuts, with an XD version targeted at the “white space” between light-duty (half ton) pickups and heavy duty (three-quarter ton) pickups. Does this white space really exist? We’ll see, but the Titan XD does offer a Cummins 5.0-liter diesel with 310 horsepower and 555 pound-feet of torque. It also offers trailer aids like integrated brake control, trailer sway control and downhill speed control with engine braking. I’d go diesel Titan XD in PRO-4X (off-road) form — though it’s not cheap at a starting price of $52,000.
Dodge Ram 2500 Power Wagon
Speaking of off-road, Ram offers a wide range of trucks for nearly every occasion, but its 2500 Power Wagon model specializes in going off the beaten path. It comes in “Tradesman” form, which is essentially a no-frills, fleet-oriented version, or the more upscale (non-Tradesman) Power Wagon with a 6-foot bed and 6.4-liter Hemi V8. I’d normally think diesel is the way to go with such a large truck, but the Hemi provides all the pulling power you could ever want (9,790-pound tow rating). This truck is an off-road monster, yet quite refined and comfortable on road for around $50,000.
Another all-new entry for 2016, the Tacoma has enjoyed a dominant position in the midsize truck segment for quite a long time. But with GM jumping in last year, and Honda jumping in this year, the new Tacoma also faces some new challenges. After driving a TRD Off-Road version I can confirm the rugged nature of Toyota’s latest mid-size truck. The 3.5-liter V6 offers 278 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque, and while a range of upgrades are available I’d just add the $650 tow package and get out the door for around $35,000.
Like Nissan, Toyota isn’t selling anywhere near as many full-size trucks as its domestic rivals. But the Tundra does offer a desirable configurations if upscale off-roading is your idea of a good time. New for 2016, the top-of-the-line Tundra 1794 Edition can be combined with a TRD off-road package, including 18-inch wheels with Michelin LTX tires, trail-tuned Bilstein shocks and skid plates to protect the truck’s engine and fuel tank. At $50,000 it may not sound cheap, but compared to other premium-trim trucks the Tundra 1794 with TRD features is actually a bargain.
Article Written By Kar Brauer
Published On: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kbrauer/2016/01/04/top-10-trucks-of-2016-a-look-at-your-best-open-bed-options/#3d17f0804941