2011 Pickup Truck Buying Guide


Automotive Editor

Armaan Almeida is the Editor-in-Chief of the New Car Pricing Insider blog and publishes daily incentives on new cars in addition to newsworthy articles pertaining to the auto industry.

Follow On: Google+ | Website

, Automotive Editor - December 5, 2014
The 2012 Pickup Truck Buying Guide is now available. Browse »

Compact Trucks

The compact truck class is for smaller trucks that are capable of light to medium-duty labor and loads. They are smaller in overall stature allowing for more maneuverability, especially when limited space in a location is a concern. Smaller engines and size ultimately mean better overall fuel economy. Especially popular in more urban areas, the compact truck provides cargo and towing capabilities at an entry-level price.

Compact trucks commonly have towing capacities of up to 6,000 pounds.

Price Range: $16,875 - $34,930


Consumer Guide praises the 2011 Toyota Tacoma, saying, "No compact pickup is more refined, and the Double Cab's available side curtain airbags are an important safety plus." The Tacoma comes with the option of a 4 cylinder or a V6 engine and is considered by many to be the best in its class. The 2011 Nissan Frontier gets a new Desert stone color and an MP3 auxiliary jack in trucks equipped with the 6-CD changer.

Though many might relate trucks to rough and rugged accommodations, the past several years have illustrated that prospective shoppers wan more creature comforts and more luxurious amenities.

The 2011 Suzuki Equator can be had with either a 2.5L 4-cylinder (152 HP) or a 4.0L V6 (261 HP) that allows it to obtain a towing capacity of up to 6,300 pounds. However, slowing American Suzuki sales might make the Equator the last new model for the company.

The 2011 GMC Canyon comes with the option of a 185 HP 2.9L 4-cylinder engine or 300 HP 5.3L V8 engine. When talking about the variety of interiors available NewCarTestDrive said, "The base Canyon has a no-fault interior right down to its rubber floor mats so you can get in with muddy work boots and not feel guilty. The SLE trim, however, has more comfort-minded interior with carpeting and more luxurious fabric on its seats."

Getting the best gas mileage in the compact truck class is the 2011 Ford Ranger at 22/27mpg. The Ranger also comes with a new tire pressure monitoring system.

The 2011 Dodge Dakota is a compact truck that Edmunds.com calls "refined" in design and performance. Thanks to lots of time spent on ride quality and exterior design, the Dakota is know for its handling and car-like driving attributes.

Chevrolet's compact truck the Colorado has a towing capacity of 4,000 lbs with its Vortec 3.7L I-5 engine and 2,900 lbs with the Vortec 2.9L 2.8L I-4. Interestingly, the Colorado is offered in a Work Truck trim, shaving the price down to a bargain-basement price.

Compact Truck Safety Guide

With the introduction of redesigned compact trucks, more safety features are included, though they don't come as well-equipped as vehicles in some other segments. Anti-lock brakes and front airbags withshut-off switches, which cut the power to the airbag on the front passenger side, come standard. On higher trims you may find side-curtain airbags and traction control, which stops the spin of a wheel, and in turn insures maximum contact between your tires and the road.

Full-size trucks are made for the working lifestyle. They can carry and tow the largest of work loads in addition to providing interior amenities. Features such as convenient tie down cargo systems, onboard generators, and durable storage areas turn some of these vehicles into moving tool sheds. However, led by the last redesign of the 2011 Ford F150, big trucks also compete with full-size SUVs.

This class has always been dominated by American manufacturers, but in recent times, foreign automakers have been making inroads. Companies like Honda, Toyota, and Nissan have all released large and powerful full-size trucks to compete with the leading models from Ford, Dodge, Chevy, and GMC.

Price Range: $22,120 - $59,245


The 2010 Toyota Tundra, now ten inches longer, five inches taller and four inches wider. The largest engine option is the 5.7L i-Force V8 capable of towing a a whopping 10,000 lbs. The 2010 Nissan Titan, which Consumer Guide says, "competes in size and power with Ford, General Motors, and Dodge rivals" remains the same. It comes with a 317hp 5.6L V-8. Ford lowered its price for the F-150 this year to $18,220. It also has DVD-navigation and tire-pressure monitor options available. The Chevy Silveradoand GMC Sierra made by GM are the best-selling full-size trucks in the country. Both come in a variety of engine sizes from the 1500 to 3500 models. In addition, classic models are still available which are based off the older design of the truck. Edmunds.com calls the Silverado 3500 a "hard truck to beat for those who need maximum functionality and capability from their work truck" and Truck Trend calls the Sierra 2500HD a "truck with class-leading power efficiency and smarts."

The Honda Ridgeline comes with front and rear independent suspension that allows it to keep all four wheels firmly on the ground. NewCarTestDrive says, "The incredibly high stiffness and strength of this body and chassis combination and the isolation of the drivetrain and suspension from the cab make the Ridgeline a joy to drive." The Dodge Ram is available in 1500, 2500, and 3500 models. USA Today calls the Ram series, "An amazingly appealing machine, delightfully tailored for people inside as much as for cargo in the back." As one of the more luxurious full-size trucks, the Lincoln Mark LT doesn't forget its rugged roots. MSN Autos says, "i ts interior is luxurious enough for a luxury car. It has ebony wood accents and premium Nudo leather seating, with French-style pleating." At the same time, its 300hp 5.4-liter Triton V-8 also allows it to tow up to 8,900lbs and a full rear seat makes room for a five-passenger capacity.

Hybrid Full-Size Trucks

Hybrid technology has finally begun to make its way into larger SUVs and trucks providing higher fuel efficiency without sacrificing their utility and power.

Introduced in 2005, the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Classic Hybrid features a 295hp Hybrid Vortec 5.3L V8 engine, Onboard 20-amp, 2400-watt generator, and a max trailer weight of 7,400 lbs. Edmunds.com says, "The automatic engine shutdown and startup feature work seamlessly in the hybrid truck. Additionally, the hybrid's electric power steering feels at least as good as the traditional setup." Similarly, the GMC Sierra 1500 Classic Hybrid also has the 295hp Hybrid Vortec 5.3L V8 engine that improves its gas efficiency by 10%. Both hybrid engines achieve better efficiency by using a compact 14-kW electric induction motor or starter generator instead of a conventional starter motor and alternator. This allows automatic combustion engine stops/starts to conserve fuel.

Full-Size Truck Safety Guide

Full-size trucks offer anti-lock braking systems as standard. This system works by regulating braking pressure to prevent skidding and loss of steering control during braking, which can be particularly important when carrying a load or towing. Side airbags are an additional safety feature that are increasingly becoming common in pickup trucks, and serve as protection to occupants against side-impact collisions.

, Automotive Editor

Armaan Almeida is the Editor-in-Chief of the New Car Pricing Insider blog and publishes daily incentives on new cars in addition to newsworthy articles pertaining to the auto industry.

Follow On: Google+ | Website