Truck of the Year

2016 Motor Trend Truck of the Year Introduction

Fight Song: Another Year Passes, and We Keep Cheering On the Truck Renaissance

Fight Song: Another Year Passes, and We Keep Cheering On the Truck Renaissance

Trucks. For today’s shopper, the selection has never been more fascinating. Pickups are better built, use finer interior materials, have more space for occupants to luxuriate in, and can comfortably haul and tow more than ever before, all while consuming less fuel. And, perhaps most important, they drive pretty darn decently. It’s a sensational time for trucks, as our latest harvest of Truck of the Year aspirants establishes.

Our testing is extensive and physically exhausting for man and machine.

Representing Toyota, the new Tacoma seeks to sustain the strong sales leadership it’s established in the midsize segment. General Motors continues its campaign against the class chief with diesel versions of the GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado, the latter already riding high as the TOTY incumbent. The diesel engine reports for duty in the Cummins-motivated, not-a-half-ton-and-not-a-three-quarter-ton Nissan Titan XD. Two well-known workhorses, the refreshed Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, round out this year’s stable. As always, only all-new or significantly updated vehicles were eligible to participate.

Read about the 2016 Motor Trend Truck of the Year finalists below, in advance of the official winner announcement on the evening of November 16.

Our testing is extensive and physically exhausting for man and machine. Starting in the Los Angeles area, each truck took on an average payload weight—500 pounds (227 kg) for a midsize, 1,000 (454 kg) for a full-size, 1,300 (590 kg) for the Titan XD—for the journey out to Bullhead City, Arizona. There, each truck went through our Frustration Test on the constant 6 percent incline that is the SAE J2807-standard Davis Dam grade in an exercise of uphill passing performance from 50 to 70 mph (80 to 113 km/h).

Afterward, we ditched the payloads and each judge drove each truck around a 21.5-mile evaluation loop. Every major driving situation was covered, from city stop-and go-traffic to two-lane country back roads to highways trafficked by long-haul 18-wheelers.

Utilizing an eight-editor lineup, our team made short work of loading 68 100-pound (31 45-kg) horse-stall mats for payload testing.

For our final day of testing, we trekked to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Arizona Proving Grounds in Yucca, where 32 trailer hookups and unhitchings awaited. The trucks were acceleration tested with an average trailer weight—3,000 pounds (1,361 kg) on the midsize, 7,000 (3,175 kg) for the full-size, 8,500 (3,855 kg) for the Titan XD—and then each pulled its maximum claimed tow weight, in compliance with gross combined weight ratings.

Naturally, all this driving, testing, and trailer reversing yields strong opinions, which you’ll learn all about by reading about the Finalists and our winner, the 2016 Motor Trend Truck of the Year.

THE CRITERIA

Advancement in Design

Well-executed exterior and interior styling, innovative vehicle packaging, and a good selection and use of materials.

Value

Each vehicle’s price and equipment levels compared with those of vehicles in the same market segment.

Performance of Intended Function

How well the vehicle does the job its planners, designers, and engineers intended it to do.

Our 21.5-mile road loop utilized parts of the city of Kingman, Arizona, as well as a hill climb. The 1,785-foot elevation gain, with a series of twists and turns, was an excellent way to evaluate transmission performance and handling. Upon descent, our loop joined Interstate 40 back into Kingman, a short stretch perfect for testing wind and road noise and the infotainment systems.

Efficiency

Fuel efficiency and carbon footprint size relative to the vehicle’s competitive set.

Safety

The ability to help avoid a crash, plus secondary safety measures to protect occupants during an accident.

Engineering Excellence

Total vehicle concept and execution; clever solutions to packaging, manufacturing, and dynamics; and cost-effective technology that benefits consumers.

FCA's Arizona Proving Grounds is a world-class vehicle evaluation facility with every manner of test surface and condition you could imagine. In the past, we've attempted top-speed blasts on the 5-mile oval and run amok on the surrounding miles of dirt roads, but for Truck of the Year, it has the perfectly flat, 16.9-acre asphalt lake and eight precision-ballasted trailers we need.

JUDGES

  • Ron Kiino
  • Benson Kong
  • Ed Loh
  • Nate Martinez
  • Kim Reynolds
  • Christian Seabaugh
  • Brian Vance

2016 Motor Trend Truck of the Year Finalists: