Each year, putting together the "Best in Class" story gets a little tougher. For starters, the quality and capability of the vehicles in every category improves. For the most part, today's trucks, SUVs, and vans aren't penalty boxes. In addition, it gets harder to separate vehicles into the different categories. It's difficult enough to pick winners for each category-- factor in determing the what the categories themselves should be, and it's exponentially harder. We also strive to make sure the comparisons within each category are as fair as possible.

That's why we continue to work on our Best in Class categories. We have stuck to our new treatment of the Midsize SUV category, which is based on towing capacity instead of wheelbase length. That does a better job of keeping competitive vehicles together. Within that segment, we have a slight change. We have split the trucks between those that can tow up to 4500 pounds and those that can tow more, and split them again between vehicles offering luxury amenities and those that don't. We figure that buyers in this segment either want to buy capability or luxury cachet -- or maybe both.

In the Vans category, we give Full-Size and Compact each its own award. The truck categories remain the same, as do Hard-Core 4x4, Full-Size SUV, and Factory Power Runner. All vehicles here are from the 2014 model year, and all specifications are from the manufacturers' media sites, accurate as of press time. Prices reflect the specific models listed in each category, and in some cases include optional equipment. The Power Wagon's specifications are for the 2013 model year, as the 2014s were not on sale as of press time.


Categories:

Work Truck
Topline Power Puller
Hard-Core 4x4
Crew Cab Pickup, 2WD
Compact/Midsize Pickup
Full-Size SUV
Mainstream SUV (Towing 4500 Pounds And Below)
Mainstream SUV (Towing More Than 4500 Pounds)
Luxury SUV (Towing 4500 Pounds And Below)
Luxury SUV (Towing More Than 4500 Pounds)
Cargo Van
Factory Power Runner