Work Truck Buying Guide

By

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.

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, Automotive Editor - February 3, 2014

The perfect Work Truck. Does it exist? For 2014, the answer is yes. Today’s Work Trucks have it all: robust engine and transmissions, comfortable cabins, sky-high towing and payload capacities and bullet-proof reliability. The best Work Trucks on the market manage to cover all your work-a-day needs without so much as a complaint while offering all the comfort of a Lay-Z-Boy recliner. And due to recent advances in fuel-saving technologies, they are efficient enough to be daily-driven.

Gone are the days of 10-mpg pickups that cost a fortune at every fill up. Top Work Trucks for 2014 come with engine options bringing 22 or greater combined mpg without feeling dull and underpowered.

But no good Work Trucks is worth its salt if you can't afford it to own it. All of the Work Truck below come in inexpensive entry-level builds with all the essential tradesman features. Have a little more to spend, and you'll find advanced options like the RAM 1500’s built-in Wi-Fi connectivity and the Ford F-150’s efficient yet highly capable turbocharged EcoBoost 3.5-liter V6 engine. Without further ado, here are the Top 5 Work Trucks for 2014.

RAM 1500
Our Top Pick for a Full-Size Work Truck
RAM 1500

The refreshed 2014 Ram 1500 won the Motor Trend Truck of the Year award, and for good reasons. Class-exclusive features like 5-level air suspension and lockable sidewall storage compartments add capability. The interior quality is above class norms, while the available UConnect system could school competitive systems about usability. For the powertrain, there are a couple of grunty V8s available, but the excellent base combination of a 305-horsepower, 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 mated to a ZF-designed 8-speed automatic transmission should work surprisingly well for most owners not doing heavy towing. Lastly, body styling is clearly Ram, yet more evolved. Overall, Ram 1500 is a winning choice.

EPA-rated fuel economy: Up to 16 city / 23 highway mpg.

Toyota Tacoma
Best-In-Class Small Work Truck, Period
Toyota Tacoma

The Toyota Tacoma has been around longer than nearly every truck on this list, as it actually dates back to the Toyota Hi-Lux pickup, which began in 1969. A name change midway through the 1995 model year turned the Hi-Lux into the Tacoma in the U.S. market. It longevity makes it no surprise that it remains a leader in the compact pickup class. The 2014 Tacoma offers up super-low pricing – starts at just over $17K – a fuel-sipping base four-cylinder engine that delivers 159 horsepower, an optional 236-horsepower V-6 engine and a stout 6,500-pound towing capacity. That all adds up to one of the best compact trucks available today.

EPA-rated fuel economy: Up to 18 city / 22 highway mpg.

Ford F-150
Best-Selling Work Truck for 30 Straight Years
Ford F-150

With a little coordination, you and 50 of your closest friends could each order a 2014 F-150 and none of you would end up with the same basic configuration. That’s variety! Ford gave F-150 an extensive list of standard safety features and novel options like tailgate and box-side steps that make access easier. A standout amongst the four engines on tap, the EcoBoost twin-turbo V6 has more low-rpm torque than the 6.2-liter V8 engine while delivering the best rated fuel economy of the bunch. All that, plus the truck’s reputation for durability, make it easy to see why F-150 has been a 30-year best seller.

EPA-rated fuel economy: Up to 15 city / 21 highway mpg.

Nissan Frontier
Rugged Styling and Affordable Pricing
Nissan Frontier

The 2014 Nissan Frontier sits in that grey area between compact and full-size, but it is still known as a compact truck. The Frontier comes standard with a 152-horsepower, four-cylinder engine, but the real fun comes from its optional 4.0-liter V-6 engine that delivers a solid 261 horsepower and an outstanding 281 foot-pounds of torque. One thing the Frontier has done well over the years is maintain its classic styling, keeping its fans happy and appealing to the masses that like this more rugged appearance. With its 6,500-pound towing capacity, it can handle just about any day-to-to-day towing, much like its Japanese rival, the Tacoma. Where the Nissan really falls on its face is its bland and outdated interior that leaves so much to be desired.

EPA-rated fuel economy: Up to 16 city / 22 highway mpg.

Toyota Tundra
New and Improved in Every Way for 2014
Toyota Tundra

If Tundra played baseball, the Toyota would be a reliable base hitter. It boasts major-league towing, payload and horsepower ratings, even if it doesn’t hit anything out of the park. It has typical Toyota virtues like a reputation for top-notch quality and reliability, and the variety of cabs and drivetrains leaves little to be desired. The CrewMax is especially roomy, and the available Entune infotainment system has many useful apps. The hydraulically damped tailgate is a minor feature but an unexpected delight. Tundra’s interior isn’t as plush and its ride is more truck-like than some competitors, but this truck has earned its first-round draft status.

EPA-rated fuel economy: Up to 13 city / 18 highway mpg.

, 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

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