We tested two versions of each contender, with different engines, transmissions, and body configurations in order to better evaluate the breadth of capability of each nameplate. Our testing began at Chrysler's desert proving ground near Yucca, Arizona. This 3840-acre facility boasts an 18-acre "black lake," where we conducted the usual battery of Motor Trend performance tests and more than 50 miles of test roads, ranging from smooth tarmac to rough gravel washes. As a truck proving ground, the facility also enabled us to hook up the contenders to loaded trailers to test their towing performance.

We followed up the demanding proving-ground tests with real-world driving on a eight-mile loop out of nearby Kingman, Arizona, where judges could evaluate each contender in stop-start traffic, on winding mountain blacktop, and on the freeway. Then we sat down to discuss, debate, and decide. One judge, one vote.

We knew this one was never going to be easy; we knew there were a lot of good people dealing with desperate, dark times who'd welcome a quantum of solace and that we were going to disappoint a bunch of them. We knew it would be close. And it was. With just two remaining votes to count, two trucks were tied, each with a shot at becoming Motor Trend's 2009 Truck of the Year. But there can be only one winner. And this is how it happened.

THE CRITERIA

Superiority
We look at engineering excellence, advancement in design, utilization of resources, and safety. Vehicle concept and execution are important, as are use or materials, packaging, dynamics, styling, and fuel consumption.

Significance
How well does the vehicle do the job its maker intended it to do? And how does it impact or change its particular market segment, influence consumer perceptions, and transform product development trends?

Value
How does each truck compare against its direct rivals? A vehicle with a low sticker price might not be as good a value as a more expensive vehicle that delivers outstanding performance, quality, and functionality.