Top Pickup Trucks From Chevy and Dodge

Top Pickup Trucks From Chevy and Dodge
The redesigned 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 has been named the top-performing, full-size pickup truck by a panel of automotive experts at Consumer Reports.

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The redesigned 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 has been named the top-performing, full-size pickup truck by a panel of automotive experts at Consumer Reports, but the 2014 Dodge Ram 1500 came in a very close second. 

The Silverado (and effectively its GMC twin, the Sierra 1500) edged out the Ram in several categories. But Consumer Reports technically recommends the Ram, not the Silverado, as a best buy because of its good reliability record. The Silverado, on the other hand, cannot yet qualify for such a rating because it’s too new to the market, says Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing. 

The rating scores resulted from more than 50 rigorous tests performed at CR’s 327-acre vehicle testing center and surrounding roads in rural Connecticut. CR buys the cars anonymously and drives each one thousands of miles. Tests run the gamut from routine and emergency handling to braking and acceleration, plus evaluations of a myriad of things such as ergonomics, fit-and-finish, safety features, comfort and gas mileage. The performance testing includes an off-track component in which a jury of drivers uses the vehicles for everyday activities, Fisher says. 

“The interesting thing about the Silverado is its gas mileage (16 mph), which is one mile per gallon better than the Ram,” Fisher notes. “That’s pretty impressive mileage for a big truck. One gallon per mile may not seem like much, but when it’s 16 versus 15, as opposed to, say, 30 and 31 mpg, it really adds up over the course of a year.” 

The Silverado was tested with a six-speed automatic transmission and a 5.3-liter V8 engine (355 hp); it’s also available with a 4.3-liter V6 (285 hp) or a 6.2-liter V8 (420 hp). The Ram was tested with an eight-speed automatic transmission and a 5.7-liter V8 engine (395 hp), but also comes with a 3.0-liter V6 turbo-diesel (240 hp) or a 3.6-liter V6 (305 hp). 

Significantly larger payload and towing capacities – 1,704 pounds and 11,200 pounds respectively for the Silverado, compared to 1,270 pounds and 9,950 for the Ram – also set the Chevrolet ahead, Fisher notes. 

The Silverado earned high grades for handling, a spacious cabin with easy access, simple controls, an easy-to-raise-and-lower tailgate, corner bump steps and a lower step-in height. It received lower marks for wet-braking distance and unsupportive seats. 

The Ram, referred to by CS as the “most civilized” full-size pickup on the market, received high marks for its cushioned ride, delivered courtesy of a coil-spring rear suspension; a spacious cab; and an 8-inch touch-screen “infotainment” system. 

“The Silverado is better at ‘truck’ things,” Fisher says. “But the Ram is actually a better ‘car.’ The hemi engine is very nice and feels quick, and the truck offers a very nice, quiet ride. So which truck is best depends on what it’s being used for. They’ve both come a long way and are very impressive trucks.” 

In the last five to 10 years, pickup trucks in general have morphed from Spartan, utilitarian workhorses to luxury vehicles, while still retaining – or even improving – on work-performance capabilities, Fisher observes. 

“Comparing older pickups with today’s models is like night and day,” he says. “Today’s pickups offer smooth rides and responsive steering, and they’re among the quietest vehicles out there – on par with the best luxury cars. Plus they come with all kinds of gadgets and bells and whistles. They’ve gone completely up-market.”


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