For five years in a row, we've collected all the specifications, breaking them down into easy-to-understand categories. We have chosen winners based on our own likes and dislikes, letting you know which ones stand above the crowd. Of course, that's not to say there aren't other good choices. It all depends on what your priorities are. Still, we've driven every one of these vehicles so you may want to pay attention to our selections. Astute readers may notice our picks tend to emphasize size and power, along with towing and hauling capabilities. After all, for the most part, a good pickup and SUV should be designed to do a lot of work, although we also understand fuel prices are becoming a strong consideration when buying a new vehicle. That's why we've included all available EPA city and highway figures.

In some cases, we weren't able to find photography of the exact model that won its class. If you feel it necessary to send us a note letting us know we have the wrong model, we're happy to hear it. Likewise, if you catch any chart mistakes (no doubt the result of late-night number-crunching), send us a note with those corrections as well.

For now, sit back and enjoy this collection of information. All the important specifications from every 2006 model sold in the United States--from big pickup trucks to little sport/utilities are here. Those of you familiar with our Best in Class awards may notice some of our categories have different titles. We renamed a few but all the same, valuable information is still there. Pricing data was collected from the 2006 Edition of the "Kelley Blue Book New Car Price Manual."


Winner: Dodge Dakota Club Cab
Although the Nissan and Toyota are probably the best bang-for-the-buck models in stripped, raw configurations, we've chosen the Dodge Dakota--it offers the only V-8 option for less than $1000. And the overall price is still a hair's breadth above $20,000. Likewise, the V-8 option gives the most torque of the group, the highest GVWR, and the highest towing capacity.

Little Guy Pickups
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Vehicle Chevy/GMC Colorado/Canyon Dodge Dakota Club Cab Ford Ranger SuperCab Isuzu i-280 Extended Cab Mazda B-Series Cab Plus Mitsubishi Raider Extended Cab Nissan Frontier King Cab Toyota Tacoma Access Cab
Base price $18,365/$18,365 $20,735 $19,850 $17,649 $19,510 $19,825 $16,380 $17,825
Wheelbase 125.9 131 126 125.9 126 131.3 125.9 127.2
Base engine (opt) 2.8L DOHC I-4 (3.5L I-5 $1000) 3.7L SOHC V-6 (4.7L V-8 $785) 3.0L OHV V-6 (4.0L V-6 $800) 2.8L DOHC I-4 (no V-6 option) 3.0L OHV V-6 (4.0L V-6 $2995) 3.7L SOHC V-6 (4.7L V-8 $4260) 2.5L DOHC I-4 (4.0L V-6 $3200) 2.7L DOHC I-4 (4.0L V-6 $2900)
Hp, SAE 175 (220) 210 (250) 148 (207) 175 154 (207) 210 (230) 154 (265) 159 (230)
Torque, SAE 185 (225) 235 (300) 180 (238) 185 180 (238) 235 (290) 173 (284) 180 (266)
Airbags Dual Dual Dual Dual Dual Dual Dual Dual
Brakes, f/r Disc/drum 4WAL Disc/drum RWAL Disc/drum 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/drum 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/drum 4WAL
Tires 205/75R15 245/70R16 225/70R15 225/75R15 225/70R15 245/70R16 225/70R15 205/75R15
Fuel cap, gal 19.6 22 19.5 19.6 19.5 22 21.1 21
EPA fuel econ, city/hwy 20/27 (19/24) 16/22 (14/18) 18/23 (17/23) 20/27 18/23 (16/19) 16/22 (15/20) 22/25 (17/21) 20/27 (16/21)
Max pass 5 6 5 5 5 6 5 5
Base curb weight, lb 3839 4261 3193 3346 3305 4310 3675 3460
GVWR, lb 5300 6010 5060 4600 5020 6010 5178 5350
Max cargo cap, lb 1500 1800 1640 1300 1660 1700 1400 1800
Max towing cap, lb 4000 7150 5860 3200 5760 6200 6500 6500


Winner: 2006 Chevrolet Suburban 2500
Although this appears to be in decline, there'll always be buyers looking for what full-size SUVs offer: space, carrying capacity, and lockable convenience. Our choice was an old favorite in several ways. Not only are we choosing the Suburban for its size and ride comfort, but because it offers some the best value options around. For an extra $1100 you get a 3/4-ton chassis as well as the option to pay $950 for the Vortec 8100 big-block. More towing capacity, more payload, and stronger axles for $2000 continues to be the best value in the automotive industry.


Full Size Suvs
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Vehicle Chevy/GMC Suburban/ Yukon XL Chevy/GMC Tahoe/Yukon Chevy/GMC Suburban/ Yukon XL 2500 Dodge Durango Ford Expedition Nissan Armada Toyota Sequoia
Base price $39,640/$40,330 $36,790/$38,730 $40,815/$41,405 $28,945 $33,480 $35,205 $33,425
Wheelbase 130 116 130 119.2 119 123.2 118.1
Base engine (opt) 5.3L OHV V-8 4.8L OHV V-8 (5.3L V-8 $800) 6.0L OHV V-8 (8.1L V-8 $950) 3.7L SOHC V-6 (4.7L V-8 $785; 5.7L V-8 $1780) 5.4L SOHC V-8 5.6L DOHC V-8 4.7L DOHC V-8
Hp, SAE 295 285 (295) 335 (325) 210 (230, 335) 300 305 273
Torque, SAE 330 295 (335) 375 (447) 235 (290, 370) 365 385 314
Airbags Dual, Side Dual, Side Dual Dual Dual Dual, Head Dual
Brakes, f/r Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL
Tires 265/70R17 265/70R17 245/75R16E 265/70R17 265/70R17 265/70R18 265/65R17
Fuel cap, gal 31 26 37 27 28 28 26.4
EPA fuel econ, city/hwy 14/18 16/19 (14/18) 13/17 (11/15) 15/18 (14/19, 11/15) 13/17 13/19 15/18
Max pass 9 7 9 8 7 8 8
Base curb weight, lb 5323 5037 6074 4471 5352 5168 4875
GVWR, lb 7000 6500 8600 6600 7300 7100 6700
Max cargo cap, cu. ft 131.6 104.6 131.6 102.4 110.5 97.1 128.1
Max towing cap, lb 8400 7700 12000 9000 8600 9100 6500


Winner: 2006 Chevrolet 2500 HD Duramax
In a class where working all day at maximum capacity isn't just necessary but the status quo, every ounce of power--specifically, every pound-foot of torque--is pushed to the limits for extended periods. We like that GM retuned the Duramax to get more power out of the V-8 and is keeping the overbuilt Allison five-speed a part of the package. Look for a six-speed soon. Although the priciest diesel/automatic of the group, this is a truck that's ready to work.


Best Work Truck (Longbed)


Vehicle Chevy/GMC 2500 HD Silverado/Sierra Dodge Ram BR2500 Ford F-250 Super Duty
Base price $28,950/$29,250 $29,390 $26,355
Wheelbase, in. 133 141 137
Base engine (opt) 6.0L OHV V-8 (8.1L V-8 $950, 6.6L TD V-8 $5310) 5.7L OHV V-8 (5.9L TD I-6 $5555) 5.4L SOHC V-8 (6.8L V-10 $600, 6.0L TD V-8 $5100)
Transmissions 4-spd/5-spd auto $1095/$2295 (w/6.6 only) $1095/$1170 (w/5.7 only) $1095/$1480 (w/6.0 only)
Hp, SAE 300 (330, 360) 345 (325) 300 (362, 325)
Torque, SAE 360 (450, 650) 375 (610) 365 (457, 570)
Airbags Dual Dual Dual
Brakes, f/r Disc/disc RWAL Disc/drum 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL
Tires (4) 245/75R16 E 235/70R17 E 245/75R16 E
Fuel cap, gal 34 35 38
EPA fuel econ, city/hwy N/A N/A N/A
Max pass 3 3 3
Base curb weight, lb 5142 5882 5611
GVWR, lb 9200 8650 8800
Max payload cap, lb 4047 3000 3320
Max towing cap, lb 12,000 13,650 13,000


Winner: 2006 Ford Explorer
In this value-sensitive class, we like how much value is inside a base-model Explorer as well as how many options are available to those who want to venture upmarket. There are four trim levels starting at $27,000, with a super-clean-burning 4.0-liter V-6 and strong 4.6-liter V-8. The cabin looks like the full-size F-150 pickup-truck interior--a major plus. And given that Ford is hurting, you should be able to find a dealer willing to work with you on price. Other standouts in this crowded market are the Nissan Pathfinder and pricier Toyota 4Runner.


Winner: 2006 Land Rover LR3
In the first full year of production that it offers two engine choices, the LR3 is a strong competitor with luxury and mid-level SUV brands (which tend to go soft on backcountry ability). After having a long-termer LR3 for 12 months, we're huge fans of the nav/info screen, responsive (but thirsty) V-8 engine, dial-what-you-want 4WD system, and smart seven-passenger seat setup. (In the interest of full disclosure, we averaged 12 mpg and our A/C system did fail.) We also like the laundry list of safety features. Only other performers at this level include the two Lexus entries: GX 470 and LX 470.


Winner: 2006 Jeep Commander 5.7 Hemi
If you're looking for a theme in our voting this year, it would be "choices." Manufacturers that offer buyers more choice ought to be rewarded. In fact, as it relates to the Commander, that's why this vehicle is so popular with urban and rural crowds. One V-6 and two V-8 engines, the biggest being a powerful Hemi, is quite a range of engines to offer--and the Commander allows seven passengers to climb on board (but the third row is strictly for kids). It all starts at $28,000, yet can be outfitted up to $45,000. And the shape is terrific.


Best Midsize Sport Utility Vehicles
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Vehicle Acura MDX BMW X3 BMW X5 Buick Rainier Cadillac SRX Chevrolet Equinox Chevy/GMC TrailBlazer/ Envoy Chevy/GMC TrailBlazer/ Envoy XL Ford Explorer Honda Pilot Hummer H3 Isuzu Ascender Jeep Commander Jeep Grand Cherokee Land Rover LR3 Lexus GX 470 Lexus RX 330 (400h) Mercedes-Benz ML350 Mercury Mountaineer Mitsubishi Montero Nissan Murano Nissan Pathfinder Subaru B9 Tribeca Toyota 4Runner Toyota Land Cruiser Volkswagen Touareg Volvo XC90
Base price $37,370 $37,495 $43,195 $33,785 $39,995 $23,980 $27,410/$29,300 $29,030/$30,630 $27,175 $27,545 $29,500 $26,664/$28,683 $27,860 $27,860 $38,950 $47,230 $37,065 ($45,355) $40,525 $29,790 $36,784 $28,055 $25,830 $31,320 $28,240 $56,720 $37,975 $36,335
Wheelbase 106.3 110 111 113 116.4 112.5 113 129 113.8 106.3 111.9 113.0/129.0 109.5 109.5 113.6 109.8 103.1 114.7 113.8 109.7 111.2 112.3 108.2 109.8 112.2 112.4 112.6
Base engine (opt) 3.5L DOHC V-6 3.0L DOHC I-6 3.0L DOHC I-6 (4.4L V-8 $10,000;4.8L V-8 $15,000) 4.2L SOHC I-6 (5.3L V-8 $2000) 3.6L DOHC V-6 (4.6L V-8 $8700) 3.4L OHV V-6 4.2L SOHC I-6 4.2L SOHC I-6 (5.3L V-8 $1500) 4.0L SOHC V-6 (4.6L V-8 $2800) 3.5L SOHC V-6 3.5L DOHC I-5 4.2L SOHC I-6 (5.3L V-8 $1500) 3.7L OHV V-6 (4.7L V-8 $720; 5.7L V-8 $1495) 3.7L SOHC V-6 (4.7L V-8 $720; 5.7L V-8 $1245) 4.0L OHV V-6 (4.4L V-8 $4000) 4.7L DOHC V-8 3.3L DOHC V-6 (3.3L V-6 hybrid) 3.5L DOHC V-6 (5.0L V-8 $9000) 4.0L SOHC V-6 (4.6L V-8 $3000) 3.8L DOHC V-6 3.5L DOHC V-6 4.0L DOHC V-6 3.0L SOHC F-6 4.0L DOHC V-6 (4.7L V-8 $2000) 4.7L DOHC V-8 3.2L DOHC V-6 (4.2L V-8 $7000) 2.5L SOHC I-5 turbo (4.4L V-8 $10,000)
Hp, SAE 245 225 225 (315, 355) 275 (300) 255 (320) 185 275 291 (300) 210 (292) 244 220 291 (300) 210 (235, 330) 210 (235, 330) 216 (300) 263 230 (268) 268 (302) 210 (292) 215 245 270 250 236 (260) 275 240 (310) 208 (311)
Torque, SAE 240 214 214 (324, 369) 275 (330) 252 (315) 210 275 277 (330) 254 (300) 240 225 277 (330) 235 (305, 375) 235 (300, 375) 209 (315) 323 242 (212) 258 (339) 254 (300) 248 246 291 219 266 (306) 332 229 (302) 236 (325)
Airbags Dual, Head, Side Dual, Head, Side Dual, Head, Side Dual Dual, Head, Side Dual Dual Dual Dual, Side Dual, Side Dual Dual Dual, Head, Side Dual Dual, Head, Side Dual, Head, Side Dual, Head, Side, Knee Dual, Head, Side Dual Dual, Side Dual, Head, Side Dual, Head Dual, Head, Side Dual Dual Dual, Head, Side Dual, Head, Side
Brakes, f/r Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/drum Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL
Tires 235/65R17 235/50R17 235/65R17 245/65R17 235/65R17; 255/60R17 235/65R16 245/70R15 245/65R17 235/70R16 235/70R16 265/75R16 245/65R17 245/65R17 245/65R17 255/60R18 265/65R17 225/65R17 235/65R17 245/70R16 265/65R17 235/65R18 245/75R16 255/55R18 265/65R17 275/70R16 255/60R17 235/65R17
Fuel cap, gal 19.2 17.7 24.3 22 20 19 22 25 22.5 20.4 23 21.7/25.0 20.5 20.5 22.8 23 19.2 (17.2) 25.1 22.5 23.8 21.7 21.1 16.9 23 25.4 26.4 19
EPA fuel econ, city/hwy 17/23 17/25 (16/23) 15/21 (16/22, 16/21) 16/21 (15/21) 16/23 (15/21) 19/25 16/21 15/20 (16/20) 16/21 (15/20) 17/22 16/20 15/19 (14/18) 16/20 (15/19, 14/18) 17/21 (15/20, 14/19) 14/19 (14/18) 15/18 20/26 (33/28) 14/20 (14/19) 15/21 (15/19) 15/19 19/24 16/23 18/23 18/21 (16/20) 13/17 16/21 (14/18) 17/23 (15/21)
Max pass 7 5 5 5 7 5 5 7 7 8 5 7 7 5 7 7 7 5 7 7 5 5 7 7 7 5 7
Base curb weight, lb 4551 4001 4652 4442 4164 3660 4430 4780 4400 4416 4700 4417/4790 4680 4400 5426 4740 3860 (4200) 4700 4461 4718 3890 4376 4200 4055 5425 5086 4450
GVWR, lb 5798 4993 6008 5750 5200 5070 5550 6200 5720 5500 5800 5550/6200 6200 6100 7121 6000 5245 6283 5740 6085 4800 5800 5300 5330 6860 6200 5640
Max cargo cap, cu. ft 82 71 69 80.1 69.5 68.6 80.1 107.4 84.7 90.3 55.7 80.1/107.4 68.7 67 87 77.5 84.7 72.4 81.7 96.4 81.6 79.2 74.4 68.4 90.8 71 84.9
Max towing cap, lb 4500 3500 6000 6700 4250 3500 6400 7100 7300 4500 4500 5800/6200 6500 7200 7700 6500 3500 5000 6980 5000 3500 6000 3500 7300 6500 7716 5000

Winner: 2006 Hummer H2
Two camps formed in support of the most expensive SUVs in our entire Best in Class story--always a class that creates heated debate around the editorial table. The Duramax Hummer H1 Alpha and 500-horsepower Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, both costing well over $100,000, are clearly great at what they do, but, in the end, were too one-dimensional for our voters. Once we let the dust settle (and the blood dry), we selected the vehicle that still exudes toughness with plenty of grunt and trail ability to boot--at less than half the price of either of the other extreme performers.


Best Ultimate-Performance Sport Utility Vehicles
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Vehicle BMW X5 4.8is Cadillac Escalade/ESV Platinum GMC Yukon Denali/XL Hummer H1 Alpha Open Top (Hardtop) Hummer H2 Infiniti QX56 Lexus LX 470 Lincoln Navigator Porsche Cayenne Turbo(S) Land Rover Range Rover HSE
Base price $71,795 $57,200/$71,050 $51,160/$52,810 $129,390 ($140,970) $53,855 $53,250 $67,990 $53,075 $91,091 ($105,000) $89,995
Wheelbase 111 116.0 / 130.0 116.0 / 130.0 130 122.8 123.2 112.2 118.8 112.4 113.3
Base engine 4.8L DOHC V-8 6.0L OHV V-8 6.0L OHV V-8 6.6L OHV TD V-8 6.0L OHV V-8 5.6L DOHC V-8 4.7L DOHC V-8 5.4L DOHC V-8 4.5L DOHC V-8 4.2L SOHC S/C V-8
Hp, SAE 355 345 335 300 325 315 275 300 450 (520) 400
Torque, SAE 369 380 375 520 365 390 332 365 457 (500) 420
Airbags Dual,Head, Side Dual, Side Dual, Side Driver Side Dual Dual,Head, Side Dual,Head, Side Dual, Side Dual,Head, Side Dual,Head, Side
Brakes, f/r Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL
Tires 275/40R20 F / 315/35R20 R 275/55R20 265/70R17 37x12.50R17E 315/70R17 265/70R18 275/60R18 255/70R18 255/55R18 255/50R20
Fuel cap, gal 24.3 26.0/31.0 26.0/31.0 28+24=52 32 28 25.4 28 25.1 27.6
EPA fuel econ, city/hwy 16/21 13/17 13/17 14/19 15-Dec 13/18 13/17 13/18 13/18 13/18
Max pass 5 6 7 4 6 6 7 6 4 5
Base curb weight, lb 5016 5347/5820 5609/5820 27-Aug 6400 5528 5590 5601 5000 5500
GVWR, lb 6008 6800/7200 7000/7200 10,300 8600 7100 6860 7400 6790 6724
Max cargo cap, cu. ft 69 104.6/131.6 104.6/131.6 58.2 86.6 94.2 90.4 104.7 62.5 74.9
Max towing cap, lb 6000 8800/7400 8200/8000 9303 6700 9000 6500 8600 7700 7718

Winner: 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8
Once we allowed properly equipped SUVs to compete with the more powerful pickups, much of this debate ping-ponged between two DaimlerChrysler products. And it may surprise some to know the V-10 favorite didn't get the most votes. Ultimately, where the 6.1-liter Hemi SRT8 beat up the 8.3-liter V-10 SRT10 was in the slalom and in mountain-road handling: The Ram has a light rearend, and the Jeep stays stuck. Much to the displeasure of Jeep loyalists, this is the best-performing street-tuned SUV around. And it can be had for $40,000.


Best Power Runner Trucks & SUVs
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Vehicle Chevrolet TrailBlazer SS Chevrolet Extended Cab Silverado SS Chevrolet SSR (manual) Dodge Ram SRT10 Regular Cab/Quad Cab Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S Land Rover Range Rover S/C Toyota Tacoma X-Runner
Base price $39,995 $36,625 $39,990 $48,505/$52,710 $39,995 $112,000 (est) $69,750 $24,150
Wheel Base 113 143.5 116 120.5/140.5 109.5 112.4 108 127.2
Base Engine 6.0L OHV V-8 6.0L OHV V-8 6.0L OHV V-8 8.3L OHV V-8 6.1L OHV V-8 4.5L DOHC V-8 TT 4.2L SOHC S/C V-8 4.0L DOHC V-6
0-60 mph. sec 5.6 6.6 5.6 4.9 4.8 4.7 (est) 6.7 6.1
Hp, SAE 395 345 400 500 414 520 390 236
Torque, SAE 400 380 400 525 410 500 410 266
Airbags Dual, Side Dual Dual Dual Dual, Head, Side Dual, Head, Side Dual, Head, Side Dual
Brakes, f/r Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc RWAL Disc/disc RWAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/drum 4WAL
Tires 255/50R20 275/55R20 255/45R19 F / 295/40R20 R 305/40R22 255/45R20 F / 285/40R20 R 275/45R20 255/50R19 255/45R18
Fuel cap, gal 22 26 25 26 20 26.4 23.2 15.8
EPA fuel econ, city/hwy 15/19 14/19 13/20 9/12 (est) 12/17 (est) 13/18 13/18 16/21
Max pass 5 5 2 6 5 5 5 3
Base curb weight, lb 4700 5013 4760 5100/5450 4700 5192 5650 3690
GVWR, lb 6000 6300 5775 6500/6500 6000 6500 6800 4600
Max payload cap, lb 1300 1300 1000 1400/1100 1200 1300 1200 910
Max towing cap, lb 6000 7500 2500 5000/6500 6000 7000 7718 5000

Winner: 2006 Dodge Ram Quad Cab
In a highly competitive segment, much of our debate centered on the newly revised front suspension on the 4x4 model, now incorporating the same coilover springs and rack-and-pinion steering as the current two-wheel-drive model. Add to that a much stiffer frame, monotube shocks, and a vastly improved interior, and the new Ram Quad Cab (really just an extended cab) beat out some tough competition. Plus, there's a navigation system, DVD option, and a hidden center console compartment. Lots to like here.


Best Half-Ton 4WD Pickup (Extended Cab)
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Vehicle Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra Work Trucks Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab Ford F-150 SuperCab Nissan Titan King Cab Toyota Tundra Access Cab
Base price $28,445/$28,885 $30,005 $28,010 $27,100 $28,250
Doors 4 4 4 4 4
Wheelbase 143.5 140.5 145 139.8 128.3
Base engine (opt) 4.8L OHV V-8 (5.3L V-8 $800) 4.7L SOHC V-8 (5.7L V-8 $895) 4.6L SOHC V-8 (5.4L V-8 $895) 5.6L DOHC V-8 4.7L SOHC V-8
Hp, SAE 285 (295) 230 (345) 231 (300) 305 271
Torque, SAE 295 (330) 290 (375) 293 (365) 379 313
Airbags Dual Dual Dual Dual Dual
Brakes, f/r Disc/drum 4WAL Disc/disc RWAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/drum 4WAL
Tires 245/75R17 245/70R17 235/75R17 245/75R17 245/70R16
Fuel cap, gal 26 26 27 28 26-Jan
EPA fuel econ, city/hwy 15/19 (15/19) 14/18 (14/18) 15/19 (15/19) 14/19 15/19
Max pass 6 6 6 6 6
Base curb weight, lb 5050 5300 5300 4900 4700
GVWR, lb 6400 6650 6950 6400 6300
Max payload cap, lb 1,350 1,470 1,470 1,500 1,600
Max towing cap, lb 8800 8600 9500 9500 7100

Winner: 2006 Nissan Xterra
In this highly competitive category, it came down to an all-new set of clones (Hyundai Tucson/Kia Sportage) versus one of our long-time favorites (Nissan Xterra). In the end, we opted for the stronger frame and real four-wheel-drive system, not to mention the most powerful V-6 around. We've always liked the size and retro-shape of the Xterra, but what tipped the scales is that its frame is a modified version of the full-size pickup truck's. Other strong performers here are the Toyota RAV4 and Jeep Wrangler.


Best Little-Guy Sport/Utility Vehicles
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Vehicle Ford AWD Escape Honda CR-V AWD Hyundai AWD Santa Fe Hyundai AWD Tucson Jeep 4x4 Liberty Jeep 4x4 Wrangler/Unlimited Kia 4x4 Sorento Kia AWD Sportage Mazda Tribute AWD Mercury Mariner AWD Mitsubishi Outlander Nissan Xterra 4x4 Saturn Vue AWD Suzuki Grand Vitara 4x4 Toyota AWD Highlander Toyota RAV4 AWD
Base price $21,745 $19,700 $23,759 $19,595 $23,210 $18,800/$24,725 $21,870 $19,190 $22,405 $23,745 $19,444 $22,530 $23,650 $20,794 $26,535 $22,305
Wheel Base 103.1 103.1 103.1 103.5 104.3 93.4/103.4 106.7 103.5 103.1 103.1 103.3 106.3 106.6 103.9 106.9 104.7
Engine (opt) 2.3L DOHC I-4 (3.0L V-6 $36900) 2.4L DOHC I-4 2.7L DOHC I-4 (3.5L V-6 $600) 2.0L DOHC I-4 (2.7L V-6) 3.7L SOHC V-6 (2.8L TD I-4 $7745) 2.4L DOHC I-4 (4.0L I-6 $2800/$5800) 3.5L DOHC V-6 2.0L DOHC I-4 (2.7L V-6 $1800) 2.3L DOHC I-4 (3.0L V-6 $3200) 2.3L DOHC I-4 (3.0L V-6 $1500; 2.3L hyb. $6100) 2.4L SOHC I-4 (auto only) 4.0L DOHC V-6 3.5L SOHC V-6 2.7L DOHC V-6 2.4L DOHC I-4 (3.3L V-6 $1800; 3.3L hyb. $9000) 2.4L DOHC I-4 (3.5L V-6 $2000)
Hp, SAE 153 (200) 156 170 (200) 140 (173) 210 (160) 147 (190) 192 140 (173) 153 (200) 153 (200, 155) 160 265 250 185 155 (215, 268) 166 (268)
Torque, SAE 152 (193) 160 181 (219) 136 (178) 235 (295) 165 (235) 217 136 (178) 152 (193) 152 (193, 124) 162 284 242 184 162 (222, 212) 165 (246)
Airbags Dual Dual Dual, Side Dual, Head, Side Dual Dual Dual, Head Dual, Head, Side Dual Dual Dual Dual Dual Dual, Side Dual, Side Dual
Brakes, f/r Disc/drum Disc/disc Disc/disc Disc/disc Disc/disc Disc/drum Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/drum Disc/drum Disc/disc Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/drum Disc/drum 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL
Tires 225/75R15 215/65R15 225/70R16 / 245/75R16E 235/60R16 225/75R16 215/75R15 245/70R16 215/65R16 235/70R16 235/70R16 225/60R16 265/70R16 235/60R17 225/75R16 225/70R16 215/70R16
Fuel cap, gal 16.5 15.3 19 15.3 20-Jan 19 21.1 15.3 16.5 16.5 15.7 21.1 16-Jan 16.9 19.2 14.8
EPA fuel econ, city/hwy 24/29 (20/25) 21/24 18/23 (17/23) 22/27 (20/26) 17/22 (22/26) 18/21 (15/19) 15/20 21/26 (19/23) 22/26 (19/23) 21/24 (19/23, 33/29) 22/28 17/22 19/25 18/23 21/25 (18/24, 31/27) 23/27 (20/27)
Max pass 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 7 7
Base curb weight, lb 3183 3508 3549 3240 4000 3200/3721 4149 3250 3201 3261 3241 4136 3480 3560 3810 3480
GVWR, lb 4200 4200 5000 4200 5200 4450/4600 5400 4200 4180 4360 4211 5400 4100 4400 5360 4087
Max payload, lb 1080 800 1300 1000 1200 800/800 1200 1000 1000 1100 950 1200 900 800 1500 750
Max cargo cap, cu. ft 66.3 77.1 77.7 65.5 69 47.1/63.3 66.4 66.6 66.8 62.4 60.3 65.7 63.4 68.9 80.6 65
Max towing cap, lb 3500 1500 3000 1500 3500 2000 3500 1500 3500 3500 1500 5000 3500 3000 3000 3500

Winner: 2006 Honda Ridgeline
Yes, we know this isn't a fifth-wheel-toting work truck. In fact, we've heard from a lot of people who don't even call this vehicle a truck. At this point, it doesn't matter. This category is about solving the many and varied needs and desires of an active family lifestyle, with the fewest possible trade-offs. With more interior room and flexibility than a Chevy Avalanche, a ride more akin to a family sedan (or minivan), and a hidden basement bin in the bed, the Ridgeline should lure a whole new group of buyers into the category.


Best Family Pickups
(Click "Next" to preview more vehicles in this comparision)


Vehicle Chevy/GMC Colorado/ Canyon CC Chevy/GMC Silverado/ Sierra Chevy Avalanche 1500/2500 Dodge Dakota Quad Cab Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab/Mega Cab Ford Explorer Sport Trac Honda AWD Ridgeline Ford F-150 SuperCrew Nissan Frontier Crew Cab Nissan Titan Crew Cab Toyota Tacoma Double Cab Shortbed Toyota Tundra Double Cab
Base price $25,675/$25,850 $31,135/$31,445 $37,625/$39,205 $24,985 $30,005/$35,980 $27,735 $28,250 $34,200 $24,130 $29,970 $24,840 $30,555
Wheel Base 126 143.5 130 131.1 140.5/160.5 130.5 122 139 125.9 139.8 127.8 140.5
Engine (opt) 2.8L DOHC I-4 (3.5L I-5 $1000) 4.8L OHV V-8 (5.3L V-8 $3000) 5.3L OHV V-8/ 8.1L OHV V-8 3.7L SOHC V-6 (4.7L V-8 $785) 4.7L SOHC V-8 5.7L OHV V-8 4.0L SOHC V-6 (4.6L V-8 $1250) 3.5L DOHC V-6 4.6L SOHC V-8 (5.4L V-8 $895) 4.0L DOHC V-6 5.6L DOHC V-8 4.0L DOHC V-6 4.7L DOHC V-8
Hp, SAE 175 (220) 285 (295) 295/325 210 (230) 235 (345) 210 (292) 255 231 (300) 265 305 236 271
Torque, SAE 185 (225) 295 (335) 330/447 235 (290) 300 (375) 254 (300) 252 293 (365) 284 379 266 313
Airbags Dual Dual Dual Dual Dual Dual Dual, Head, Side Dual Dual Dual Dual Dual
Brakes, f/r Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc RWAL Disc/disc RWAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/drum 4WAL Disc/drum 4WAL
Tires 235/75R15 265/75R17 265/70R16 / 245/75R16E 245/70R16 245/70R17 235/75R16 245/65R17 255/70R17 265/70R15 245/75R17 225/75R15 245/70R16
Fuel cap, gal 19 26 31.0/37.0 24 26.0/35.0 22.5 22 30 21.1 28 21 26.4
EPA fuel econ, city/hwy 16/22 (17/22) 15/18 14/18 / 10/14 16/20 (15/19) 14/18 (13/17) 16/21 (15/20) 16/21 14/18 (14/18) 15/20 14/18 16/21 15/18
Max pass 6 6-Jan 5-Jan 6 6 5 5 6-Jan 5-Jan 6 5 5
Base curb weight, lb 4000 5284 5682/6522 26-Apr 5250/6150 4480 4400 5506 4419 23-Dec 3900 4965
GVWR, lb 5300 6200 7000/8600 6010 6650/8600 5840 6000 6900 5700 6522 5450 6600
Max payload cap, lb 1300 1400 1318/1900 1500 1470/1600 1480 1500 1400 1246 1453 1500 1700
Max towing cap, lb 4000 8400 8200/12000 6900 8700 6700 5000 9200 6100 9400 6500 6500

Winner: 2006 Dodge Ram Mega Cab
For one of our more controversial picks, we went for more than factory torque numbers when making our decision. We're assuming this'll be the vehicle of choice for people who love (and have) to tow. Most likely that means carrying more than just a driver and some tools in the cab for an extended period. In fact, it may mean hauling quite a lot of gear. The Mega Cab has excellent rear-seat versatility and storage space and quite a list of luxury options, including nav, DVD, and heated seats. Sure, it comes at a cost, but a trucker's happiness isn't the place to cut corners.


Best Power Puller


Vehicle Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra HD Duramax 6600 Dodge Ram 3500/Mega Cab Cummins 5.9L Ford F-350 Super Duty Power Stroke 6.0L
Base price $36,080/$37,335 $37,255/$41,410 $35,370
Door Configuration 4 full-size 4 full-size 4 full-size
Wheelbase, in. 167 160.5 172.4
Base engine (opt) 6.6L OHV 32-val turbo, intercooled V-8 (6-sp auto $2295/4-sp auto $1095) 5.9L OHV 24-val turbo, intercooled I-6 6.0L OHV 32-val turbo, intercooled V-8 (5-sp auto $1490)
Hp, SAE 360 325 325
Torque, SAE 650 610 570
Airbags Dual Dual Dual
Brakes, f/r Disc/disc RWAL Disc/disc 4WAL Disc/disc 4WAL
Tires (6) 215/85R16 E (6) 235/80R17 E (6) 245/75R17 E
Spare-tire cost $405 $195 $295
Fuel cap, gal 34 3-Feb 7-Feb
Max pass 6 6 6
Base curb weight, lb 6245 6348 5978
GVWR, lb 15,400 15,800 15,000
Max payload cap, lb 5232 5020 4915