2016 has been the year of the truck in some interesting ways. Among 2016’s top trucks, you’ll find some new kids on the block. Well, maybe not entirely new, but they are remakes that fill a niche in the market. One midsize and one full-size are true originals, but that doesn’t push out the most iconic light duty choice.
New Midsize Truck: Honda Ridgeline
The Ridgeline is a reboot of a unique midsize truck. It’s the only one to offer a watertight trunk for luggage. You’ll find it below a panel in the floor of the bed. This feature doubles as a drainable cooler, making this the choice of tailgaters everywhere.
The new Ridgeline picked this trick up from the 2014 edition. Otherwise, it really is a new product. The bed is bigger and longer. There’s more cabin space, more capability, and a host of modern features. The 3.5-liter V6 engine kicks out 280 horsepower. That’s a boost of 30 horsepower over the 2014 edition. At 22 mpg combined, fuel economy is good for a truck. It earns 19 city and 26 highway. AWD payload is best in class.
- FWD: 3,500-pound tow
- FWD: 1,465-pound payload
- AWD: 5,000-pound tow
- AWD: best-in-class 1,584-pound payload
For those who want an occasional hauler, the Ridgeline offers the most SUV-like cabin on the market. Modeled on the Pilot, the driver has every comfort, and passengers have plenty of headroom and legroom. Fair warning, you’ll have to unload the bed if you need the spare tire. More importantly for adventure lovers, the all-wheel drive editions are aimed at all-weather driving, not off-roading. The Ridgeline has class-leading fuel economy.
- Ridgeline: 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway; 280-horsepower engine
- Nissan Frontier: 19/22; 154-horsepower engine
- Chevy Colorado: 19/26; 200-horsepower engine
If you are looking for an affordable midsize truck, the Toyota Tacoma is a best seller, although critics love the modern Colorado with its three engine choices. The Chevy has earned Motor Trend Truck of the Year two times. Shoppers love the Nissan Frontier’s low price. These trucks also offer more than one configuration, giving you more choices.
- Honda Ridgeline Crew: $29,475
- Chevy Colorado: $23,800 Extended Cab/$30,820 Crew Cab
- Nissan Frontier: $18,390 King Cab/$23,900 Crew Cab
- Toyota Tacoma: $24,120 Access Cab/$24,950 Double Cab
Best Light Duty Choice: Ford F-150
The Ford F-150 has been the nation’s best seller for 39 years. Still, it took everyone a year to be sure that the aluminum body was a good idea. Critics and buyers are officially persuaded. Military grade aluminum doesn’t rust, and it is tough like steel. Of course, it is also lighter weight than steel, allowing the truck to drop some 700 pounds.
A reliance on V6 EcoBoost engines has also helped Ford to become the top fuel efficient fleet. Now the F-150 gets a ten-speed automatic transmission. To put that into perspective, Nissan and Toyota still use six-speeds. Ram and Chevy now use eight-speeds.
Extra gears allow the truck to make more out of its power outlay. This really counts when you need extra torque at low speeds. A quick look at the Ford F150’s vital statistics shows:
- Price Range: $26,540 — $59,600
- Number of Trims: 7
- Fuel Economy: 15/18 mpg (worst); 18/24 mpg (typical); 19/26 mpg(best)
- Best-in-class Towing: 12,200 pounds
- Best-in-class Payload: 3,270 pounds
- Top Engine Output: 450 horsepower; 510 lb.-ft. of torque
Ford F150 Safety
When it comes to safety, the F150 really does emerge as a better choice in its class. It can claim all five stars for crash testing, unlike the Ram. Beating all of its rivals, it also claims Top Safety Pick Plus Awards from the Insurance Institute.
Ford has seen fit to offer more features than any other full-size pickup truck ever. This includes an exclusive Pro Trailer Backup Assist and a split-view display 360-camera system. Crash avoidance tools include:
- Lane Keeper
- Blind Spot Monitor
- Cross-Traffic Alert
- Forward collision warning with brake support
- Curve Control
- Active Park Assist
Ford F150 Rivals
The Chevy Silverado earns big points for quiet cabins and unique CornerSteps. You also can’t discount the fact the Silverado was named Best in Initial Quality by JD Power for two years in a row. A load-leveling air suspension, a special turbodiesel, and class-leading cabins help set the Ram 1500 apart. The Toyota Tundra doesn’t match the Ford’s towing or payload power, but it retains its value better than the competition. The Nissan Titan brings up the rear with just a few changes to its regular trucks.
Unique Contender: Nissan Titan XD Diesel
Carving out a unique niche, the Nissan Titan XD wedges itself between traditional light-duty and medium-duty trucks. The newest Nissan emphasizes work needs. Thus, it only comes as a crew cab with a 6.5-foot bed. Bigger than the regular Titan, the XD has a longer wheelbase. A tougher build allows it to accommodate bigger payloads. The ladder frame is fully-boxed for extra durability. The engine cooler is fed by air channeled through the truck’s large grille.
- MSRP: $37,140 (Single); $41,340 (Crew)
- Power Outlay: 310 horsepower, 555 lb.-ft. of torque
- Top Traditional Tow: 12,640 pounds
The XD may be the perfect choice for those who are working on jobsites every day. Individual users may be more likely to step up to a medium duty for about the same price. Shoppers may step down to a regular light duty to save money or to use the extra money for a nicer cabin. Still, there’s no doubt that the XD is one of 2016’s top trucks. Standards include:
- Push Button Start
- Nissan Connect with Mobile Apps
- Text Messaging Assistant
- Easy Clean Flooring
Titan XD Rivals
Compared to regular light duty trucks, the Titan XD is longer. This ranges from a gain of .7 inches (Ford) to 2.4 inches (Ram). However, the truck isn’t wider than its rivals. The bed is deeper than the Ram 1500’s, but it is shallower than the Ford F150’s. As critics have noted, the Titan XD is a harder worker than the Ram EcoDiesel.
The other rivals are the Ford F250s, Ram 2500s, and Silverado 2500s. These offer more power, but generally the prices are higher. So, the Titan XD carves out an attractive, affordable middle ground.
If you are on the hunt for the best pickup trucks, you’ll want to consider one of these three before making a final decision.