#PTOTY20 – Day 1 Recap: Track Testing
Right on Track
Truck Trend's Pickup Truck of the Year testing is an extensive, week-long evaluation of all the new models of trucks on sale. Everything from midsized trucks, like the Ford Ranger and Jeep Gladiator, to heavy duty trucks, like the GMC Sierra HD and Ford F-Series Super Duty, are represented.
The first day is spent at Auto Club Speedway. There each truck is tested in acceleration and braking unloaded and loaded, as well as acceleration with a trailer in tow. To keep things consistent, resident hooligan Sean P. Holman handles the official scoring.
In the meantime, the rest of the group drives each truck in these various configurations and scores each tech in a variety of categories. Does the truck inspire confidence while hauling a payload? Is the infotainment easy to use? What sets the cargo bed apart from the competition? Everything gets logged for evaluation later.
Fontana, California isn't particularly known for having native moose roaming around, but throughout our day we kept running into an invisible moose on our course. The emergency maneuver generated some interesting - and sometimes scary - results in the trucks.
It's worth noting that these trucks aren't competing against each other directly. They are competing based on how well they perform in each class compared to expectation. A poorly executed heavy duty truck could lose out to a well-executed midsize. It levels the playing field and makes the competition fair.
The least powerful truck here is the 2020 Jeep Gladiator with the 3.6L Pentastar V-6 making 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. The most powerful truck, on the other hand, is the 2020 Ford F-Series Super Duty with the Power Stroke V-8 diesel. That engine makes 475 horsepower and an astronomical 1,050 lb-ft of torque. While only 190 ponies separate the two in power, 790 lb-ft separate the two in torque. That's nearly the same amount of torque as a 2014 Ford Super Duty itself.
With one of the largest collection of trucks present, testing went long into the night at Auto Club Speedway. While headlight performance testing isn't in the schedule, being able to light up the drag strip is important and the trucks with LED headlights provided more light for work to get done.
On tap next is extensive towing testing on public roads. Nearly all of these trucks have some special towing feature to make it easier. We'll see soon if there are any standouts.