2015 AutoGuide.com Truck of the Year: Part 1

Searching for the Best New Truck

There was a time when pickup trucks weren’t expected to do anything but backbreaking work. Some people think of those as “the good old days,” but I respectfully disagree.

Modern trucks are comfortable, luxurious and about as easy to drive as a large crossover. It seems that families now depend on trucks as much as contractors do. Yes, these tools of the road have adapted to meet new needs and that leaves us with a particularly tricky task: deciding which one is the best of the bunch.

For the 2015 AutoGuide.com Truck of the Year, we gathered four new or significantly updated pickup trucks that hit the market in 2014. This ended up boiling down to one truck from each segment. We tested the midsize 2015 GMC Canyon, the half-ton 2015 Ford F-150, the three-quarter ton 2014 Ram 2500 Power Wagon and the one-ton 2015 GMC Sierra 3500 Denali.

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To be clear, this isn’t a head-to-head comparison. We looked at each truck in the context of its own segment and set out to determine which one made the furthest advancement relative to its rivals. We used four key measurements to determine the winner: how the truck drives unloaded, how it handles a trailer loaded to 50 percent of its maximum towing capacity, how it handles off-road and how easy its features are to use.

  • Rickers

    Go home GMC… this isn’t a beauty competition.

  • KBlockFan

    This must be the first time EVAR that Steve isn’t picking a Ram to win. That guy is such a fanboy. Nice to see he finally opened his eyes.

  • Dougie

    I think everyone already knows the winner… F-150!

  • Dave Foley

    I like this format. Review 4 trucks, and then 2 of them move on to the next round. Given we are talking about vehicles, you could call it “American Idle”! Haha!

    As the premise of these reviews are to discuss each truck ‘within’ the context of their direct competitors, I won’t be surprised if the Canyon takes it. The F150 may or may not be significantly better than the rest of the full size pickup market, (stay tuned)!! but I think it’s fairly easy to say that the Canyon appears to be head and shoulders ahead of their competition in the mid size truck market. I mean, what does it compete against? Tacoma? Frontier? A golden lab tied to a shopping cart?? It seems like a gimme for the GMC.

    I sit here anxiously awaiting the next instalment of…… American Idle!

  • LarryNC

    There are two newish trends that I see in pickup trucks. One I don’t like, but can see why they are doing it, and number two is just too stupid. One is the thing about moving away from offering a pickup truck in the regular cab configuration and number two is the ridiculous move to twenty-inch and larger wheels on both cars and trucks. I took my 2009 RAM 1500 to the dealer the other day for its regular maintenance, while I was there and waiting, I decided to walk around looking at the new offerings. There was a Jeep Grand Cherokee with twenty-inch wheels and parked right across from it was a RAM 3500 with seventeen-inch wheels. From what I have read, the larger wheel size does not do ANYTHING for the cars or the trucks. The larger wheels on a pickup equal less mileage, less towing ability, the ability to haul less, slower zero to sixty times, etcetera. That and the fact that the larger wheels give a rougher ride because there simply isn’t as much cushion there anymore. And as many here already know, when four-wheeling, it is sometimes good to be able to air down the tires. I don’t think that is possible with a 1.5 to 2.0 inch sidewall. The whole thing, as far as I can tell, is because these younger people think that it looks so cool. I’ll stay old fashioned, thank you. Just my opinion. I am very open to hearing any rebuttals. Thank you.

  • Troverman

    Well, you’re mostly right. Its true that the large wheels add weight; combine this with the low profile tires that wrap these wheels and you get an instantly worse ride quality. Additionally, the larger size reduces acceleration slightly; and you really can’t let much air out for off-road driving.

    However, the large wheels do two positive things: they handle better (lower profile = stiffer sidewall with less flex during cornering) and, most importantly for manufacturers, they sell cars. People love to look at these large wheels. And its true, a large rim fills the wheel arches much better than a small one. The larger wheels make a vehicle look sportier and more costly.

    The manufacturer can overcome (for the most part) the poorer ride quality and lesser acceleration by improving the suspension and adding more power or a shorter final drive ratio. They really don’t care about off-road driving, since virtually no one does, and the other problem of more expensive replacement tires isn’t their concern either. They figure if someone wants to off-road their new truck or SUV which came equipped with large, low-profile wheels, that person can buy a second set of smaller rims with taller, high-profile tires. (Of course late-model Land Rovers all come with low-profile tires and perform admirably off road with these stock tires). Thus, the manufacturer has solved the two issues people might complain about while test-driving a new car, but still leaves them with the selling points of looks and handling. Its easy to see why many vehicles are so equipped…

  • Soyntgo4it

    lmao test was a joke.. thank you for the lol on this article..

  • Steve Waclo

    Anyone else notice the price tags on these beasts? No wonder 96 month loans are becoming common.

    Also, I wonder how many of these beauties ever have to “work” for a living. In the motorcycle world we call them “trailer queens”.

    Beautiful, but for most owners, an extravagance…

    I’ll stick with my ’03 Sierra 2500HD!

    All the best.

  • Dave Foley

    I’m with you. “Handling” is not something a person with a pickup truck really ever explores, despite how it is touted as the be-all and end-all. Towing/hauling ability, and a comfortable ride are traits that I think MOST buyers are actually looking for.

    The nicest riding vehicle I’ve ever ridden in was actually a pickup truck. We used to own a ’93 Silverado 1500 long box Ext cab. It took like 100′ to do a u-turn, but it was amazing on the road with its 75 series 15″ tires. With the new shocks, it was comfort and bliss, all the way!