Introduction This massive display of sheet metal represents the latest and greatest in crew cab half-ton pickups. By Ed Hellwig Date Posted 05-20-2004 We've all seen the commercials. Big burly pickups dragging tree stumps out of the ground or barreling through thick patches of mud in a downpour. They're flag-waving tributes to the vehicles Americans have grown to love, but somewhere in the back of our minds, we know the reality is much different. Not only are most full-size trucks not dragged through the muck on a regular basis, they're not even all American. They haul kids to school as often as they carry loads of sheetrock and we expect them to be as comfortable as Camrys in the process. This idea of the full-size pickup as part work truck, part family vehicle has led to the proliferation of the four-door crew cab as the body style of choice. You get room for as many as six people, a cargo bed out back and a V8 under the hood — now all you have to do is choose one. The current field of competitors has undergone a recent transformation that has made it more competitive than ever before. Not only did Ford unleash an all-new version of its top-selling F-150, but newcomer Nissan introduced its first-ever full-size in the Titan. The Dodge Ram was fully redesigned just two years ago and the Chevrolet Silverado received significant upgrades last year as well. Even Toyota came through with a crew cab version of its Tundra full-size for the first time this year. While every manufacturer thinks its particular truck is the perfect jack-of-all-trades workhorse, we set out to determine which one of these overachievers puts it all together into the most complete package. Our comparison involved hundreds of miles of combined freeway, city and off-road terrain, as well as our usual battery of instrumented tests. And since these were trucks, we also hitched up an approximately 6,000-pound trailer and piled three adult passengers inside the cab to see how each vehicle would fare under load. We performed both timed acceleration runs and a climb up a 7 percent grade with the added weight aboard, and the results were revealing to say the least. Picking an outright winner is always a tenuous decision given the peculiarities of today's truck buyers, but after two weeks of head-to-head test-drives, the winner was obvious. We didn't pull out any tree stumps with it or plow it through the mud, but we did just about everything else with it and it came out in one piece asking for more. Think you know which truck came out ahead? Read on to see if your guess matches our results. ------ Fifth Place: 2004 Chevrolet Silverado It still has the classic lines you expect from a Chevrolet, but six years on the market has a way of making even the best-looking designs seem old. It may have finished at the bottom of the pack, but the Silverado wasn't so much a bad truck as it was a victim of old age. Now into its sixth year on the market, the Silverado is still a solid performer, but the competition has clearly passed it by in several key areas. There are still some elements of Chevrolet's popular pickup that make it worth considering, but if you're looking for best-in-class attributes, the Silverado forces you to look harder than ever before to find them. Given our test truck's lofty sticker price, we weren't expecting such a treasure hunt. At well over $41,000, our Z71 crew cab was the most expensive truck in the test. The inflated entry fee guaranteed just about every option and feature in the GM arsenal, but even that wasn't enough to dig the Silverado out of fifth place. So what was it that sunk the Silverado to the bottom of the order? For one, its marginal interior design looks and feels older than ever. For 41 big ones, you would expect an upscale cabin, but the Silverado still wears layer upon layer of mediocre plastic trim. "Functional, familiar — and ugly," was the not-so-complimentary summation of one editor. "You might not think that the Silverado is the oldest truck on the outside, but sit in the driver seat and there's no doubt about it," wrote another. It's not the prettiest pickup on the inside, but given that most buyers are looking for function over form, the Silverado isn't a total loss. The front seats were judged the best of the five trucks and extensive steering wheel satellite controls allow you to control everything from the radio to the trip computer without taking your hands off the wheel. The center console has large cupholders, plenty of storage room and a flat top that's useful for keeping a cell phone or notebook handy. The dual-zone automatic climate control works well and even the well-spaced buttons for the XM-equipped radio are a snap to use. Rear-seat room in the Silverado is generous and the well-formed seats provide solid comfort for adult-sized passengers. It's not the biggest rear cabin in this segment, but most editors found the Silverado plenty comfortable in back. Additional radio controls and a flip-down DVD player made it all the more passenger-friendly. Still its worst asset, the Silverado's cabin wears way too much cheap gray trim to pass for a $40,000 truck. The Silverado's lack of competitiveness in the interior design category was hardly a surprise, but where it really fell behind was in the performance category — an area it dominated in years past. With its standard 5.3-liter V8 rated at 285 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque, the Silverado is now outgunned by the Dodge, Ford and Nissan entries, all of which post horsepower figures above 300 and maximum torque levels well above 360 lb-ft. At the track, the Silverado posted competitive 0-to-60-mph and quarter-mile times of 8.6 and 17.1 seconds, respectively, but when loaded with a 6,000-pound trailer and three passengers, it quickly fell behind the front-runners. Its 22.6-second 0-to-60 time put it two seconds behind the Ford and a full second behind the Toyota. Out on the highway, the Chevrolet struggled to maintain its acceleration up a steep grade and made a considerable racket while doing so. A big factor in its disappointing perfomance was its four-speed automatic transmission, as it had problems trying to find a gear that could keep the engine in its optimum power band. Like the Ford, a five-speed gearbox would do wonders to help close the performance gap. In addition to falling behind when it came to overall speed, the Silverado has also lost much of its edge in the ride comfort and handling category that it used to dominate. It still feels nimble in day-to-day driving, but the steering that was acceptably numb in previous years now feels hopelessly vague compared to the sharper setups in the Dodge and Ford trucks. The ride quality isn't rough by any means, but more than one editor noted that it seemed to bounce and hop over bumps more so than the other trucks. Braking was also a sore point, as the Silverado turned in some of the longest stops of the group at the track. During our off-road excursion, the Silverado sucked up the rough terrain better than we expected. The optional Z71 package adds heavy-duty shocks and sturdier bump stops, but there were still times when it bounced uncontrollably over washboard ruts. We liked the fact that it offered an "Auto" mode for the transfer case for varying terrain, but we would have liked to have better compression braking on downhill sections when in low range. Ground clearance was never an issue as it tackled our rock-strewn hill-climb course without scraping its skid plates. It might seem hard to believe that the Silverado's fortunes could fall so fast, but consider it a testament to the improved competition more than a combination of glaring deficiencies. The Silverado isn't seriously lacking in any one area, but it doesn't excel in any, either. If you drove this truck and nothing else, you probably wouldn't have much of a problem with it, but our reality was much different. Drive it back-to-back with its peers and this Chevy's age becomes all too obvious. A redesign is on the way for 2007 and there's no doubt that the Silverado will come back bigger and better in every way, but until then, it will have to suffer in the face of more modern and powerful rivals that make it feel like the 20th-century pickup that it is. Oversize all-terrain tires, black fender trim and "Z71" badges give this Silverado a tougher look than your average crew cab. Ups: Feels quick on its feet when it's not loaded down, better seats than most cars, straightforward control layout, enough room in back to stay comfortable on long trips. Downs: Loses its gusto with weight onboard, interior looks even more dated against newer competitors, suspension gets skittish over bumpy pavement. The Bottom Line: Still a solid all-around truck, but newer, more refined competitors make it feel like the 20th-century pickup that it is. Base MSRP of Test Vehicle: $35,040 (including destination charge) Options on Test Vehicle: Z71 Convenience Package 2 ($4,048 — includes front bucket seats with power adjustment, dual-zone climate control, power-folding mirrors, six-speaker Bose audio system, OnStar, satellite steering wheel controls); Rear-Seat Entertainment System ($1,295); XM Satellite Radio System ($325); Trailer Tow Package ($305). MSRP of Test Vehicle: $41,013 (including destination charge) Editor in Chief Karl Brauer says: This truck came in a strong second during our 2000 Full-Size Truck Comparison Test, but like most automotive segments these days, four years might as well be 40 years. Since that test, the Ford and Dodge entries have been redesigned, Toyota has introduced a Tundra crew cab and Nissan has flashed onto the scene with the Titan. The Silverado has seen only modest upgrades in those four years. Not surprisingly, of all the trucks in the test, the Chevy felt the oldest and least refined. The steering is too slow and too light for my taste. The brakes feel like something from the last millennia (which technically they are), and even its drivetrain — usually a GM strongpoint — couldn't compete with the Titan or Ram. When loaded with our 6,000-pound trailer, the Chevy pulled the slowest quarter-mile times, even slower than the Tundra's. Other items, like the interior materials and exterior styling, didn't add to the Chevy's desirability, though it does have a better rear seat than the Dodge and it performed relatively well off-road. Bottom line, the segment has gotten more competitive while the Silverado has simply gotten older. Time for a redesign. Road Test Editor Brian Moody says: This truck has long been my favorite. The Silverado has always been my "go to" truck when it comes to comfort, power, styling and value. It's hard for me to admit it, but I think the Silverado has slipped. I firmly believe that trucks like the Titan and F-150 are now better in many ways. I still like the Chevy's engine for its powerful refinement, but the Titan's feels stronger. In everyday driving conditions, the Silverado feels stronger and faster than the F-150, but under a heavy load or more demanding circumstances, it's the Ford that comes out on top. The F-150 also offers a more carlike ride and is better-looking. One thing the Silverado does well is offer ample rear-seat room. Although the overall length of the Silverado makes it cumbersome in some driving situations, as well as off-road, the extra room in back is appreciated. Ford's recent redesign of the F-150 improved that truck by leaps and bounds. Let's hope Chevy can do the same. The current Silverado is still a fine truck but newer versions of the Ram and F-150, plus the addition of the Titan, make the Silverado seem a bit behind. ------ Fourth Place: 2004 Toyota Tundra Taller and wider than its extended cab sibling, the Tundra Double Cab has a slightly more authoritative look. Unlike the Titan that was built to go head-to-head with the full-size domestics, the Toyota Tundra has always appealed to buyers who didn't need the biggest and baddest truck on the block. In return for its slightly smaller size, the Tundra offered carlike handling and a level of refinement rarely found in a truck. The introduction of the 2004 Tundra Double Cab tweaked that formula slightly by giving the Tundra a bigger cab in nearly every dimension and a longer bed than typical crew cabs. It was an attempt to close the gap between the Tundra and its full-size competitors, but as we found out during our rigorous testing, it's still a lightweight in the world of good ol' "American" pickups. With an MSRP of $35,047, our Tundra test truck barely edged out the Nissan for the lowest window sticker of the group. Its "bargain" price didn't keep it from showing up with a cab full of options, however, as the Tundra was loaded with everything from the TRD off-road package to a rear-seat DVD player. It had the feel of the more expensive trucks like the Dodge and the Chevrolet, but it suffered much less when it came to tallying up the final scores. The Tundra ultimately lost most of its points in the performance and personal picks categories. While the latter is a highly subjective category based purely on our editors' individual tastes or lack thereof, the former is the ultimate in objective results gained from precise instrumented testing. After all the numbers were crunched, one thing was obvious — if you want big truck power, the Tundra doesn't have it. What the Tundra does have is a big weight advantage over the other trucks, thus allowing it to beat out the aging Silverado in nearly every category and keep pace with the F-150 up to 60 mph. Its standard 4.7-liter V8 is only rated to produce 240 horsepower and 315 pound-feet of torque, but a shorter rear end gear than the standard model and a quick-shifting transmission gave it a more athletic feel than we expected. That quickness faded, however, when we hitched up our trailer and piled three passengers into the cab. It still turned in competitive numbers at the track, but during our hill-climb test, the Tundra was the only truck that failed to maintain steady acceleration all the way up the grade. Not much has changed on the inside of the Tundra for better or worse. A lack of shoulder room makes the cabin a bit cozier than we would like but the overall layout is very functional. A track category that it did manage to dominate was speed through the slalom, a test that rewards smaller, nimbler vehicles with precise steering. It's unlikely that you'll ever push any truck as hard as we did through the cones, but there's something to be said for a truck that can handle itself so well during such evasive handling maneuvers. The Tundra also turned in the shortest stopping distance from 60 mph, but we were less impressed by that feat after it revealed massive fade during repeated hard stops. The Tundra's predictable manners at the track translated into an extremely likable truck on the street. For better or worse, the Tundra has plenty of Camry in it when you're just puttering around town. "This is the truck I would want to drive if I had to use one of these monsters everyday," one editor wrote, while another lamented that although he loved the power of the Dodge, "the Tundra delivers the kind of refined driving experience that makes me think I would prefer it in the long run." With the help of its optional off-road package, the Tundra battled the Titan for top honors in the dirt as well. Its tight, well-controlled suspension and smaller size translated into a feeling of confidence in the rough stuff that most editors found reassuring. While the Tundra's ride and handling earned it high marks all around, its aging interior design was met with a less enthusiastic reaction that landed it at the bottom of the pack. "This is the part that I wish didn't feel so much like a Camry," was the comment from one editor. Most agreed that it was functional in nature but bland in appearance and feel. The front seats were considered the least comfortable in the test while the rear bench offered ample space but poor seat comfort. Although the Tundra is as wide on the outside as the other four trucks, its lack of shoulder space on the inside gives it a more restrictive feel than any of the other competitors. When it came to features and overall utility, the Tundra fared a little better. Other than the Titan, the Tundra was the only other truck to offer stability control as an option, although that feature can't be coupled with its off-road package. A trick roll-down rear window was one feature that most editors found useful mainly due to its ability to draw fresh air into the cabin better than the smaller rear window openings on the other trucks. The Tundra also scored points for its larger cargo bed that comes in over half-a-foot longer than those of most full-size crew cabs. As one editor observed, "If you're going to get a full-size truck, you might as well have a bed that's big enough to haul stuff in." Clearly, the Tundra still doesn't have the big-truck credentials needed to displace the biggest and brawniest pickups in the segment, but as always it does offer a compelling combination of capability and refinement that will entice non-traditional truck buyers. It didn't leave quite the same impression as the all-conquering Titan, but neither did most of its competitors. With Toyota gearing up to build an even bigger and better full-size truck within the next couple of years, the Tundra's days of playing the undersize import are numbered. Until then, it will have to concede to the big boys and play to those who want full-size dimensions without full-size attitude. Adding the TRD off-road package gives you more than just a big sticker on the side. More aggressive tires, heavy-duty shocks and progressive rear springs are also part of the package giving the Tundra an extremely nimble feel in the dirt. Ups: The Camry of trucks, useful cargo bed, nimble off-road, trick roll-down rear window. Downs: It's the Camry of trucks, narrow cabin, doesn't handle heavier loads well, requires more five-point turns than you might like. The Bottom Line: If you have to drive a truck everyday and heavy-duty towing isn't a concern, a Tundra should be in your driveway. Base MSRP of Test Vehicle: $29,515 (including destination charge) Options on Test Vehicle: DVD Entertainment System ($1,770 — includes rear audio controls, wireless headphones and 115V AC outlet); Trip Computer ($160); TRD Off-Road Package ($935 — includes 16-inch aluminum wheels, all-terrain tires, color-keyed overfenders, foglamps, TRD graphics); Premium Audio System ($480 — includes AM/FM/Cass/CD and 8 speakers); Privacy Glass ($80); Anti-Theft System ($220); Daytime Running Lights ($40); Tow Package ($430 — includes transmission cooler, heavy-duty alternator, receiver hitch, 7-pin connector w/converter); Floor Mats ($148); Bedliner ($299). MSRP of Test Vehicle: $35,057 (including destination charge) Editor in Chief Karl Brauer says: Toyota gets credit for doing what only Toyota can do. The company has managed to put four-wheel drive, a crew cab, an open bed and a V8 engine into a vehicle without actually creating a truck. Oh sure, the company calls it a truck, and it certainly looks like a truck. In some ways, it even performs like a truck. But hopping from the F-150, Ram, Silverado or Titan into the Tundra is like hopping from a horse and buggy into a luxury sedan. The Tundra is easily the most carlike truck in this segment. That's great if you're a truck buyer who doesn't really need a truck, and if I was in that position, this vehicle would be my first choice. The problem is that if I'm buying a full-size truck, I sure as hell better need a full-size truck. If I don't, then I'm shopping the Dodge Dakota or, if my tow/haul needs are really low, a Ford Explorer or Honda Pilot. With a 6,500-pound max towing capacity and a V8 engine that tops out — as well as starts — at 4.7 liters, the Tundra doesn't have the muscle to compete with the other players here. This was apparent when we hooked up 6,000 pounds' worth of car and trailer to it and wondered if the Toyota was going to actually move when we prodded the gas (it did…sort of). The big "T" started by dipping its toenail into the full-size truck category with the T100 in 1993. With the Tundra, I'd say the company is up to its kneecaps. But this is a category that demands a full-body dunk (à la Nissan) if you want to be taken seriously. Until Toyota gets serious, the Tundra will remain a very pleasant (and very second-tier) player. Road Test Editor Brian Moody says: The Tundra is such a mixed bag that I almost don't believe it belongs in the same class as trucks like the Dodge Ram or Chevrolet Silverado. And at the same time, its good points are so good it comes out as better than most on paper. The truck is too small. Inside, the driving position was uncomfortable and I felt as if I could never get the driver seat back far enough. On the other hand, its small size makes it a hero off-road. The Tundra is so smooth and calm both on- and off-road that I believe comfort and all-around usability are why full-size truck customers choose the Tundra. I also found it odd that some of the interior materials were of lower quality than other Toyota products. The ergonomics are also lacking — Ford and Chevy have a better dash design. I don't like the Tundra's exterior design, either; it looks too generic. The Tundra's V8 is a huge bright spot. The motor is smooth and peppy with just enough of an exhaust note to let you know it's there. While the Tundra is probably the best truck of the bunch for everyday use, it falls short when more serious towing or hauling duties are required. For me, the Tundra would be perfect as a family car that can also do double duty when it comes time to make a run to Lowe's for home improvement supplies. ------ Third Place: Ford F-150 SuperCrew XLT With its classic good looks and unbeatable ride quality, the F-150 is hard to dislike. Third place might seem like a disappointing finish for a truck that won our last comparison, but a quick look at the numbers reveals that the F-150 came in a close third to the second-place Dodge. As close as they finished, however, the F-150 and the Ram displayed very different personalities. Both had their strong points but neither managed to outgun the mighty Titan. Fully redesigned for 2004, the F-150 came into this test sporting an all-new engine, heavily revised suspension and a completely revamped interior. Our particular test truck was a midgrade XLT SuperCrew with a standard array of options — in other words, it wasn't some big-dollar press fleet truck, it was your typical high-volume model. Unlike the Silverado and the Ram, the F-150 came in at a more reasonable $35,295, just slightly more than the Nissan and Toyota. With so much going for it, the Ford seemed like the truck to beat at first, but subsequent miles behind the wheel revealed that although the F-150 excelled in several areas, it fell a little flat in others. The Ford puts its best foot forward out on the highway, as almost every editor remarked on how quiet and composed it was at speed. "This thing is a cruise missile on wide-open roads. You have to watch your speed closely, as this truck will do 85 with barely a trace of wind or road noise," one driver wrote. The Ford's ride quality earned similar praise for its ability to isolate bumps without feeling overly soft. "The Ford's setup makes for an easy commute; stiff enough to keep you in control but not so firm that it's ever uncomfortable." During our backcountry trip, the Ford kept its composure over most terrain but washboard trails tended to overwhelm the shocks quickly. Its low-range gearing did an excellent job of maintaining low speeds on steep descents and the precise steering made for easy maneuvering in tight spots. Not so impressive was the performance of the Ford's powertrain. Its new 5.4-liter Triton V8 is rated at a solid 300 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque, but its track numbers were well behind that of the front-runners. With an unloaded 0-to-60-mph time of 9.5 seconds, the F-150 was tied with the Toyota and almost two full seconds slower than the Titan. Disappointed Ford fans might point out that these are trucks, not sports cars, but we're guessing that F-150 drivers face the prospect of accelerating to highway speeds from a stop more often than they go around pulling 9,500-pound (the Ford's best-in-class maximum) trailers. When the Ford was saddled with a trailer and three passengers, it took 20.2 seconds to hit 60, nearly 3.5 seconds slower than the Titan (16.8). The F-150 also turned in the longest stopping distance from 60 mph at 145 feet, roughly 10 feet farther than either the Dodge or Nissan. Although the top-of-the-line models look like a luxury car inside, the F-150 XLT looks more like your typical pickup with its gray plastic trim and column shifter. Why the mediocre numbers from what looks to be a competitive engine? Weight is one issue, as the F-150 tipped the scales 161 pounds heavier than the next weightiest truck (the Titan) and over 500 pounds heavier than the Tundra. Another issue is the use of a four-speed transmission instead of a more flexible five-speed. Both the Dodge and the Nissan use five-speeds to keep their engines in the heart of their power curves, while the Ford's V8 is often left dragging at engine speeds that are too low to make adequate power. When climbing a 7 percent grade on our test loop, the F-150 pulled strongly in second gear, but when it dropped into third its momentum vanished and it struggled to build speed the rest of the way up the hill. The Ford was also hit-or-miss when it came to its interior. Most praised the F-150 for its modern design and spacious layout, but a few found its new look just adequate. "Considering all of the hoopla made about the F-150's new interior design, the XLT version isn't exactly awe-inspiring," one editor wrote. Overall interior space is excellent both up front and in back, but the Ford received only average scores when it came to seat comfort. Storage space and feature content were two more areas where the F-150 earned only average scores. The fold-down center console is only about half the size of the ones found in the Dodge and Nissan trucks, and although the Ford's innovative overhead track system allows you to add more compartments as needed, our particular truck only had one. Folding up the rear seats takes little effort, but you're greeted with a load floor obstructed by the tire jack — even the six-year-old Silverado had that one figured out. On the features side, the F-150 lost points for not even offering side airbags, stability control, rear A/C vents or any of the Nissan's utilitarian enhancements. The F-150's assisted tailgate feature was appreciated by most, but not to the point where it was considered a must-have. Though it might seem as if the Ford went underappreciated in this test, the exact opposite was true. Several editors agreed that they liked the F-150 more after driving it back-to-back with the competition. Between its easy-to-drive character, quiet cabin and clean design, the Ford earned considerable praise. "I think this truck would appeal to the average buyer as much, if not more so, than it does to the hard-core 'truck guy' buyer," one editor noted. We're not sure if that's what Ford was hoping for, but if the more aggressive personalities of the Dodge and Nissan aren't what you're after, the F-150 could very well be the truck for you. With a deeper bed than the previous model, the F-150 strikes a tall profile from behind. Ups: Sublime highway cruiser, clean interior design, confident handling, sizable rear seat. Downs: Sluggish performance, limited storage space, side airbags not available, no base model crew cab. The Bottom Line: For buyers who want a truck that really feels like a car, the F-150 won't disappoint. Base MSRP of Test Vehicle: $33,030 (including destination charge) Options on Test Vehicle: 5.4-liter V8 ($895); 3.73 Rear Axle Gears ($285); Power-Adjustable Pedals ($120); Sliding Rear Window ($125); Trailer Tow Package ($350); AM/FM/6-CD Changer ($295); Pickup Bed Extender ($195). MSRP of Test Vehicle: $35,295 (including destination charge) Editor in Chief Karl Brauer says: The best-selling vehicle on the planet got a redesign this year, and with the amount of pressure riding on this F-150 to lead the Blue Oval boys' revival, it had better deliver. My initial impressions of the F-150 were lukewarm at best. I liked the ride quality, the steering felt pretty good and the exterior styling was a vast improvement. But for a vehicle this vital to the company's future, well frankly, I was expecting more. Or maybe less, because my biggest issue with the F-150 was the fact that it gained between 500 and 800 pounds this year (depending on body style and trim). I don't care how creative your engineering team is, that kind of weight hurts performance and fuel mileage (not to mention anything unlucky enough to get in this truck's path). I was also surprised by Ford's lack of vision in offering no side airbags or truly innovative features (the tailgate leverage bar doesn't really count in my book). However, while I'm not ready to reverse my opinion on the all-new F-150, driving it back-to-back against the competition highlighted a few facts that I was only vaguely aware of before the test. The ride and steering that seemed pretty good to me? It's probably the best in the segment. The steering is particularly impressive with both its tight feel and "just right" weighting. I was also happy to see that, in spite of its massive weight gain this year, the F-150 was not the slowest truck in the field (either with or without a 6,000-pound trailer being pulled). It also performed well when off-roading (once again, despite its large size and weight). Does this mean I'm ready to rename the F-150 as my personal "Most Wanted" truck? Nope. It's still too slow, even with the 5.4-liter engine (and I personally can't imagine what it would be like with the standard 4.6-liter V8, but I'm sure I wouldn't like it). I also want side airbags and maybe even four-wheel steering and rear doors on the extended cab that open nearly 180 degrees. It may seem like I'm stealing cool feature ideas from other trucks. I am, just like Ford should have during the F-150's redesign. Isn't that the whole point of a redesign? Take the cool ideas from all of your competitors and put them together in one vehicle? I guess that's what I was expecting from the new F-150. Photography Editor Scott Jacobs says: Ford's styling guru J Mays works his magic with another classically great-looking design. The F-150's symmetrical lines and athletic proportions give this truck a touch of panache that its competition doesn't have. It unfortunately has bulked up for the new season, as it gains 800 pounds over its predecessor. Those pounds hurt the throaty V8 churning under its massive hood, as it feels sluggish and unresponsive in comparison to the Titan or Ram. The weight gain hasn't hurt its capability, however, as it has a class-leading 9,500-pound towing capacity. Performance aside, the beautiful interior and comfortable ride will surely soothe tired workers at the end of the day, or help make those long trips to the lake on the weekends enjoyable. Though the F-150 is an all-around solid choice, as a completely redesigned entrant to the segment, it does not stand out as a clear-cut winner. Most of its attributes are matched by older designs that will soon be replaced by even more capable trucks. Keeping par doesn't win championships.