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Pickup Truck of the Year 2015 -- Day Three

Desert Shakedown

Jan 5, 2015
Day three of our #PUOTY2015 competition really illuminated some of our testers’ strengths and weaknesses in the Southern California desert. Our 100-mile off-road loop took us over some relatively high-speed smooth dirt roads, rough washboard surfaces, undulating whoops, loose shale rock, and a few tight canyon sections. The conditions taxed all of the vehicles but some more than others.
Photo 2/13   |   PTOTY 2015 Desert Danger
Our group’s immediate standouts on day three were predictable -- The Ram 2500 Power Wagon, Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, and Toyota Tundra TRD Pro each acquitted themselves exceptionally well in this terrain. The Ram impressed us with its exemplary suspension articulation, while the Tacoma proved to be a nimble handler in tight situations and over rough roads, and the Tundra’s brawny V-8 and impressive ride comfort blew our editors away. We wouldn’t expect anything less from these three, and they didn’t disappoint.
Other trucks didn’t fare so well. The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 High Country had a frustratingly low approach angle, which meant it scraped its air dam on even gentle slopes. The Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon were easy to drive, but their on-road suppleness translated into too many up and down motions over large undulations. And the Ford F-150’s wonderful EcoBoost V-6 impressed us with its power, but the truck fell solidly midpack in these driving conditions.
Photo 9/13   |   2015 Ford F 350 Mud Bog
Although the GMC Sierra 2500HD All-Terrain and Ford F-350 King Ranch were almost too large for some of our obstacles, they each did well enough in this test. Although both came equipped with running boards, their heavy-duty suspensions meant they had plenty of ground clearance, and although they rode somewhat harshly, their well-appointed interiors left little to be desired. Some of us especially loved the F-350’s ventilated seats.
At the end of the day, we were left with nine muddy trucks, 10 tired staffers, dozens of beautiful desert photos, and countless insights on what made the trucks good and bad in dirty situations. And yes, this job is as fun as it looks.
Photo 10/13   |   2015 Ram 2500 Power Wagon Flex