Below is a quick breakdown of this year's 2012 Motor Trend Truck of the Year Contenders, won by the Ford F-150:
The obvious big news from the Blue Oval boys for the F-150 are the new engines and powertrains. From top to bottom, all of them are impressive, with class-leading power and torque in their segments. We’ve previously tested the 302 hp 3.7-liter V-6 and 411 hp 6.2-liter V-8. For the purposes of this test, we focused on the 5.0-liter V-8 and the talk-of-the-town 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6. It’s hard to beat the 5.0’s musclecar soundtrack, except when you’re talking about the EcoBoost’s astounding 420 lb-ft of torque. With sales of V-6-powered F-150s out-pacing V-8s, it seems truck buyers are warming to Ford’s high-tech vision of the truck future faster than many expected.
Formerly a rather forgotten and overlooked market segment (at least with mainstream consumers), Nissan decided to jump in to the commercial vehicle market big time with its Titan-based NV full-size vans. The angular, no-frills NV is truly unique in the segment. The first thing you notice is its imposing size, amplified even further by the towering high-roof version. Another unique design aspect is its unusually long hood for a van. Nissan claims this was for easier serviceability and maintenance. Its eight-lug wheels and sheetmetal-dominated interior make its mission in life clear. It’s built for no-nonsense work. The Titan’s throaty 5.6-liter V-8 also carries over, making the NV feel (and sound) more muscular than its 8.5-second 0-60 time would suggest.
RAM HD LARAMIE LONGHORN
The Ram HD makes a repeat appearance for 2012 after taking home the golden calipers in 2010. Why is it back so soon? Some significant updates since the last comparison. Nobody could accuse the 2010 model’s 350 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque from its Cummins 6.7-liter turbodiesel as being “wimpy,” but Ram wasn’t content to rest on its laurels. Thanks to some powertrain tuning, peak torque is now a jaw-dropping 800 lb-ft. Equipped with the Max Tow package, our tester was rated at a herculean 22,700-lbs of towing capacity. But all that strength and capability comes at a cost. The dualie rolled onto the scales at a crushing four tons (8020 lb, to be exact), and completed the sprint to 60 mph in a somewhat leisurely 9.1 seconds. But trucks of this ilk are about working and hauling, not drag racing, and by that measure, the Ram succeeds.
After winning Truck of the Year in 2005, the Tacoma makes another appearance for 2012. Changes since then are fairly minimal, consisting of a facelift, and the addition of Toyota’s Entune multimedia interface. Powertrains also carryover, consisting of a 159-horsepower 2.7-liter four cylinder, and a 236-horse 4.0-liter V-6. The four is matched to a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual, while the six gets the choice of a five-speed auto or six-speed manual. The fact that the Tacoma has been the segment sales leader for so long with few changes along the way is a testament to its enduring popularity with customers. Testers cited our Double Cab 4×4 V-6’s good ergonomics and maneuverability, but dinged it for its hard, plasticky interior.