Pickups are big business in the auto industry and there are plenty of new entries on the scene in 2017. While each of these trucks has its pros and cons, we’re here to tell you which of these redesigns resulted in the best product overall.
Engine: 3.5L V6
Output: 278 hp, 265 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: 6-speed auto or manual
Tow rating: 6,400 lb/2,900 kg
US Fuel Economy (MPG): 18 city, 23 hwy (est.)
CAN Fuel Economy (L/100 km): 13.2 city, 10.7 hwy (est.)
US Price: Starts at $41,700
CAN Price: Starts at $50,000
To decide which truck is the best new product of the year, AutoGuide.com gathered together five of the most significantly revised pickups to hit the market to evaluate each over three days of testing.
Evaluation of these workhorses was done the high desert of California, and among the cacti and creosote bushes, we pushed in each truck with a trailer tow test, desert off-roading, and plenty of empty highway miles.
This year, our contenders are the Ford F-250, Ford F-150 Raptor, Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, Nissan Titan, and Honda Ridgeline. We will release a new video on each contender every day leading up to Friday, Feb. 17, when we will announce our winner.
Of course, each truck has its strengths and weaknesses, but we are here to find the truck that is truly special and has risen above its predecessor the furthest.
Here’s the lowdown on our first contender, the 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro.
2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD PRO
We begin with the 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, an off-road version of Toyota’s midsize pickup. Powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 278 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque, the Tacoma TRD Pro keeps the stock powertrain offered in the standard truck. It’s with the suspension that things get interesting.
A new set of TRD-tuned coilovers have been added to the front, while the rear uses leaf springs combined with a new set of 2.5-inch, aluminum-bodied FOX shocks all around.
Thanks to the new front springs, the truck is lifted by one inch, while the approach angle increases to a pretty substantial 36-degrees. The breakover angle also improves to 26 degrees.
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So how does it all come together? When we hooked a 2,000-pound trailer to the back, the weaknesses of the truck became glaring. The suspension handled the weight just fine dynamically, but it was the powertrain that felt weak. This V6 simply felt pushed to the limit, and we can only imagine how hard it would work if the TRD Pro was loaded close to its max tow rating of 6,400 pounds. There is a button to adjust the shift points, called ‘ETC PWR,’ that helps to get a little more out of this V6, but even still, the truck isn’t a towing champion.
Besides the V6, which has us wanting more power, the seats inside the Tacoma are another glaring weaknes. Sitting too low to the floor, they offer little in the way of comfort and an awkward seating position for both the front passenger and driver.
ALSO SEE: 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro Review
It’s when the Tacoma TRD Pro heads into the dirt that its positives are revealed. This truck gives up little in on-road dynamics, but when you start hustling it off-road, it absorbs bumps, rocks, and crags exceptionally well. Not to mention, the small size of the Tacoma naturally lends itself to off-roading, feeling compact enough to squeeze through, or over every obstacle easily.
It’s the equivalent of the Toyota 86 in that it may not be the fastest vehicle around, but thanks to good steering, suspension tuning and the truck’s relatively light curb weight of 4,445 lbs, it provides such a fun drive that it can almost be forgiven for its shortcomings. Almost.
Come back all week long to see how the rest of our 2017 Truck of the Year competitors do, leading up to our reveal of the winner on Friday.