Awards News Truck of the Year

2019 Truck of the Year Introduction: Bring It On

Detroit's full-size trucks throw down for the Golden Calipers

Detroit's full-size trucks throw down for the Golden Calipers

The Motor Trend Truck of the Year award is a battle for working-class bragging rights. No vehicle encompasses Americana more than the full-size pickup truck, and Motown knows it.

For 2019, three of the four major truck brands have significantly renewed their players in the full-size segment. From mild-hybrid powertrains to multifunction tailgates and connectivity-laden luxury trim packages, the 2019 Truck of the Year showdown was full of new technologies that are reimagining the truck game.

Ram sent five examples of its 1500, Chevy gave us three Silverados, and GMC handed us the keys to two Sierras. Of course, America’s best-selling vehicle was also present—this time Ford sent an F-150 with its first diesel engine.

With 11 variants at this year’s TOTY, our judges and testing crew were busier than ever. Under the searing early-August sun, we hooked up trailers while the test team gathered every byte of data during two days at FCA’s Arizona Proving Ground in Yucca. Our “frustration tests” continued the next day when we towed a John Deere excavator up and down Davis Dam, measuring acceleration on the way up and cruise control overrun each truck allowed on the way back down, followed by looping every truck on a circuit with freeway stretches, winding roads, and elevation changes.

Although we had a big selection, none of the automakers sent their base model, leaving us with a pretty extravagant group. The average price was a hefty $60,265 USD. The least expensive of the pack was the Ram 1500 Big Horn V-8 Quad Cab 4×2 at $46,240 USD, while the Ram 1500 Longhorn Crew Cab 4×4 crossed the checkout counter at $68,385 USD, the highest price here.

As you can imagine, with these premiums come new technologies. The mild-hybrid powertrains of the Ram 1500 make FCA the first automaker to bring a 48-volt mild-hybrid system to a truck in North America. We had a chance to test eTorque in both the base 3.6-liter V-6 and the 5.7-liter V-8; we also tested a 5.7-liter V-8 with no eTorque.

Three off-road variants equipped with fancy suspensions and rock-crawling chops also made their way to TOTY. The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado Trail Boss—with its angry looks and off-road Rancho shocks—made a strong case against the 2019 Ram 1500 Rebel, which was equipped with a locking rear differential and a 4×4 off-road package. The all-new 2019 GMC Sierra AT4 also showed up with a 2-inch suspension lift and a two-speed transfer case.

Both GMCs were armed with the same powertrain—a 6.2-liter V-8 engine mated to a 10-speed automatic. The Chevy Silverado Trail Boss and RST trims were set up with the 5.3-liter V-8 coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission. At the opposite end, the High Country, Chevy’s most luxurious Silverado, was equipped with the same powertrain as the GMCs.

On the other side of the ring, the defending Truck of the Year champion returned with its first diesel engine. The Ford F-150, propelled by a 3.0-liter Power Stroke V-6 diesel that deploys 250 hp and 440 lb-ft of torque and its own variation of the Ford/GM-developed 10-speed, is able to tow up to 11,400 pounds (5,171 kg). Naturally, this was the light-duty truck that was rated to tow the most at this year’s TOTY.

The competition was fierce, but after driving each truck for more than 800 miles (1,287 km) and packing a week with instrumented testing, only one model could be named Motor Trend’s 2019 Truck of the Year.

The Judges

Ed Loh, Editor-in-Chief

Kim Reynolds, Testing Director

Chris Walton, Road Test Editor

Scott Evans, Features Editor

Christian Seabaugh, Features Editor

Miguel Cortina, Managing Editor, Motor Trend en Español

Kelly Pleskot, Associate Online Editor

READ ABOUT 2019 SUV OF THE YEAR CONTENDERS:

READ ABOUT 2019 SUV OF THE YEAR FINALISTS:

READ ABOUT 2019 CAR OF THE YEAR CONTENDERS:

READ ABOUT 2019 CAR OF THE YEAR FINALISTS: