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#PTOTY20 – Day 2: Our Guest Judge’s Thoughts

Hard at Work (and Play)

Chad Kirchner
Oct 16, 2019
Editor's Note: For this year's Pickup Truck of the Year testing, we decided to contract the services of Chad Kirchner, one of the industry's eminent automotive writers. Chad was generous enough to take a week of his time to fly to our global headquarters in Southern California to serve as one of #PTOTY20's expert judges, so we thought it best to let him talk about his first Pickup Truck of the Year experience in his own words.
When I was asked by the editors at Truck Trend to come and assist them with their 2020 Pickup Truck of the Year testing, I had a set of expectations of how it was going to go. Now that I'm in the thick of the testing, I must say things are different than what I thought. This is some serious stuff.
I've been fortunate enough to cover pickup trucks for about 6 years. During that time, I've participated in some "Truck of the Year" type awards. Some of them are nothing more than glorified popularity contests while others attempt some basic scoring. To be honest, I expected it to be similar here with Truck Trend.
It's not.
Photo 2/11   |   Ptoty20 Day 2 Our Guest Judges Thoughts Line
This year's competition oven of 11 trucks are tested rigorously back-to-back against each other over the course of a week. Just now we're spending over 8 hours of non-stop towing of each and every one up and down Cajon Pass, with an elevation gain of 4,260 feet and a 6-percent grade. The tractor-trailer run-off pits are evidence that towing here can get dicey.
Notes are taken about every aspect of the truck and jurors are expected to score each pickup on a variety of different metrics. The amount of data collected is enough to probably publish a year's worth of issues about what is learned here.
Photo 3/11   |   Ptoty20 Day 2 Our Guest Judges Thoughts Gladiator Haul
Another thing I noticed is how seriously the staff take the testing. Many of the names here you're familiar with from one of the Truck Trend properties, and each bring their own expertise and life experience to the testing. It's not just a job, these folks really want to find the best pickup truck on sale for 2020.
Nobody makes a bad truck these days, but only spending a short time in each ride on a manufacturer's launch program or during a home test isn't enough time to really differentiate the makes and models. In this back-to-back testing regime, trucks start to develop their own personality. Weaknesses become obvious and the little things that make life easier stand out.
I came into this event thinking I knew quite a bit. Leaving this weekend I'll have more knowledge on these new trucks than I really imagined.
Photo 4/11   |   Ptoty20 Day 2 Our Guest Judges Thoughts