The Motor Trend '93 Truck of the Year competition proved that intensity isn't a function of quantity. Although only three trucks answered the call this year, there was no shortage of talent. Each entrant is a standout in its own class. The Ford Ranger, for instance, has been the best-selling compact pickup in America for the last six years. The Isuzu Trooper is the all-time sales champ for import sport/utility vehicles. And the Jeep Grand Cherokee, of course, is Chrysler's sequel to the poopular Cherokee, the vehicle that almost single-handedly built the four-door sport/utility market.

Naturally, other new trucks were introduced over the past year. But the new Range Rover County LWB, Land Rover Defender, and Chevrolet and GMC turbodiesel extended-cab pickups couldn't meet our minimum annual U.S. sales criterion of 5000 units. Three others -- Isuzu Rodeo with the new 3.2-liter V-6, Toyota T1OO intermediate-size pIckup, and Toyota Land Cruiser with a new inline six-cylinder engine -- didn't have production versions ready in time to participate. And Dodge decided not to enter its Ram pickup with the 5.9-liter Magnum V-8.

However, with fewer entrants to concentrate on, each was scrutinized even more closely. In addition to instrumented testing, each judge took each candidate on an extended loop that included freeway, around-town, and stop-and-go driving, twisty back roads, and a 6000-foot climb up Southern California's Mt. Baldy. This was followed by numerous discussions strong opinionizations, and, at times, heated debate. We felt like an NFL coach trying to decide Sunday's starter among three multimillion-dollar free-agent quarterbacks. We had three of the best trucks on the market, and the challenge of choosing only one as our '93 Truck of the Year.