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Consumer Reports puts trucks to the test

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

It's no surprise pickup trucks are among the most popular vehicles in America. In fact, nearly 2 million of them are purchase every year. So which ones are at the top of drivers' lists?

The Ford F-150 leads the pack in sales. But the new Chevrolet Silverado and Ram 1500 are bringing some stiff competition, according to a recent study by Consumer Reports.

Pickup trucks aren't just for hauling stuff around. More and more, they're built for everyday driving. Full-sized pickups like these have plenty of room and capability. They're pricey though, with an MSRP at around $42,000.

"Not only can you use them for heavy work or towing but now they're also civilized enough to serve as family transportation," Consumer Reports' Tom Mutchler said.

Ford's F-150 is the top-seller, and the ladder for climbing into the bed is a clever feature. But it doesn't earn top scores in Consumer Reports tests in part because handling isn't agile and the ride isn't refined.

"In our tests, both the Chevy and the Ram outscored the Ford F-150 by a considerable margin," Mutchler said.

Redesigned for 2014, the Chevy Silverado handles well. Plus it gets 16 miles per gallon, which is the best fuel economy of any full-size V8 pickup.

"It also has very competitive payload and tow ratings. And it has a low step-in height that makes it easy to get in and out," Mutchler said.

The RAM 1500 trails the competition in sales. It was updated for 2013, plus a unique rear coil spring suspension gives it the best ride of any full-size truck. And the interior is very quiet.

So which one to choose?

"The Silverado's the better truck. It has higher payload and tow ratings. It also is more fuel-efficient. But for everyday commuting if you're not using all that truck capability, the RAM is more luxurious and more pleasant," Mutchler said.

According to Automotive news, one out of every six trucks made in the U.S. is sold in Texas, and the cities of Houston and Dallas have more trucks purchased than any other U.S. state.

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