When there's work to be done, nothing comes to the rescue like a pickup truck. That's why millions of them roll off the assembly line year after year. Underneath all the style and luxury you could want is a trusty workhorse for the long haul. These are the proudest of the bunch for 2017.
The current F-150, which debuted in 2015, makes extensive use of aluminum body panels to keep weight in check. Underneath is a traditional pickup frame made of high-strength steel.
The engine roster starts with a 3.5 V6 good for 283 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. Next is the turbocharged 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6, which delivers 325 horsepower and 375 pound-feet of torque. The F-150 wouldn't be a full-size pickup without a V8 on hand as well. The 5-liter ups the ante to 385 horsepower and throws in a bit of additional torque.
There's also a multi-fuel option for the V8 that allows it to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) or propane in addition to gasoline. The range-topping 3.5-liter version of the EcoBoost yields 365 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque.
When it comes to the all-important maximum towing capacities, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost wins at 12,200 pounds, followed closely by the V8 at 11,100. The 2.7-liter EcoBoost can handle up to 8,500 pounds, while the base V6 maxes out at 7,600.
Regardless of engine, you get a six-speed automatic transmission with Sport and Tow/Haul modes. Available across the board is a four-wheel drive system with low-range gearing.
You can also add Pro Trailer Backup Assist, which allows you to steer a trailer while backing up using only a dash-mounted knob. The truck's steering and speed adjust automatically to where you want the trailer to go.
As the volume model in the Chevy truck line, the Silverado 1500 wears many hats: light-duty hauler, blue-collar commuter, chromed luxury sled, and so on. You can tailor the Silverado to any of these ends without compromising its rugged, all-American character.
The current Silverado 1500 hit the streets in 2014 and received updated styling and features last year. The Chevy starts out with 285-horsepower 4.3-liter V6 engine. Beyond that, there are two V8s: a 5.3-liter with 335 horsepower and a 6.2-liter that makes a stout 420 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission comes standard with the V6 and 5.3-liter engines. An eight-speed unit is optional for the 5.3-liter and standard with the 6.2-liter.
Four-wheel drive is available across the board. Towing capacity maxes out at 7,600 pounds with the V6, 11,500 with the 5.3-liter, and an even 12,000 pounds with the 6.2-liter.
RAM's all-purpose truck, the 1500, delivers the capability and character you expect in a full-size American pickup. You also get uncommonly smooth on-road performance, a refined interior, and a huge selection of trims and special packages.
The standard 3.6-liter V6 produces 305 horsepower and is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Next up is a 395-horsepower 5.7-liter V8, which comes with a six- or eight-speed automatic depending on the trim level. For enhanced efficiency, RAM also offers a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 with 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, matched to an eight-speed automatic.
Buyers who want four-wheel drive can choose a conventional part-time system or one with an automatic four-wheel-drive mode. Both systems feature low-range gearing. With the eight-speed automatic, gear selections are made using a dash-mounted rotary knob instead of a shift lever.
The V6 RAM 1500 can tow up to 7,610 pounds, and turbodiesel models top out at 9,210. The V8 offers the most pulling capability at 10,640 pounds. The 1500 is available in no less than a dozen trim levels, from basic to plush.
Nissan's full-size Titan XD received an complete overhaul last year with emphasis on capability, refinement, and safety technology. With more available power and a beefier frame than the regular Titan, the XD fills the gap between light-duty pickups and thirstier, more expensive heavy-duty rigs.
The standard 5.6-liter V8 delivers 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed automatic does the shifting. The available Cummins turbodiesel 5-liter V8 lays down 310 horsepower and 555 pound-feet of torque, enough for the XD to tow up to 12,300 pounds or carry 2,091 pounds in back. The turbodiesel comes with a heavy-duty six-speed automatic transmission.
The Titan XD is available with a regular or crew cab, and four-wheel drive is available or standard on all variants.