NEWS

Best Pickup Truck of 2016 Nominees

By Mark Williams

December 3, 2015

We look at all pickup trucks to see which of them have the best Power, Capability and Value for shoppers. Here are our picks.

2016_nissan_TITAN_xd_OEM.jpg 2016 Nissan Titan XD; | Manufacturer image

2016 Nissan Titan XD

After much debate, the level of refinement and innovation over the truck it’s replacing pushed the “tweener” Nissan Titan XD onto the center stage to take home our trophy.

Let’s take a closer look at exactly what this truck does that no other truck can.

Not only does this new truck attempt to carve a unique place for itself in between two well-established segments (the half-ton and three-quarter-ton segments), but it also tries to re-establish Nissan as a competitive player in the world of full-size pickup trucks — and that’s a tall order. Where the previous light-duty Titan was a clear attempt to court younger, affluent, family-oriented buyers (which is and always has been the heart of the half-ton market), this new Titan XD attempts to be a more credible “true-truck” competitor by coming to market with a heavier-duty ladder frame and chassis, giving it solid and much-needed payload and towing credentials. Add to this a stronger powertrain with a stout 32-valve twin-turbo 5.0-liter V-8 Cummins engine, rated at 555 pounds-feet of torque, and you can see why Nissan is excited about the XD’s potential, not only with more affluent lifestyle consumers, but fleet buyers looking for a solid workhorse.

The new Titan XD is the first in a two-prong approach; the next is when the lighter-duty Titan arrives later in 2016. In the meantime, this new pickup sits in a space where Nissan hopes to lure a decent percentage of pickup buyers to a new type of “right-sized” choice: one with more towing capacity than many half-tons, and with better ride and handling characteristics than the more rigid and punishing (particularly when driven empty) three-quarter-ton competitors.

We especially like the new interior and well-defined trim packages, which include a new, versatile off-road package that has the ground clearance and gear ratios to make it a strong player in the world of dirt and rock while at the same time remaining a comfy daily driver. We also like the thought and planning that Nissan engineers put into the bed of the truck, where they’ve combined Nissan’s Utili-track system with new LED lighting at the top of the cab as well as under the bed rim. Additionally, all Titan XDs will come standard with a gooseneck hitch embedded in the bed, ready to accept any large fifth-wheel travel or gooseneck flatbed trailers.

As you might expect, having a premium engine and transmission combination on a sturdy platform means this offering might strike some as pricey, but if you take a deeper look into and underneath the truck, you’ll notice there are things here that no one else is offering. And we think that’s going to make many truck buyers happy.

Congrats to Nissan for the all-new Titan XD, our Best Pickup Truck of 2016.
 

Shop the 2016 Nissan Titan XD near you

Used
2016 Nissan Titan XD SL
94,635 mi.
$35,998
Great Deal | $1,104 under

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16Chevrolet_ColoradoDiesel_OEM(2).jpg 2016 Chevrolet Colorado | Manufacturer image

Best Pickup Truck of 2016 Nominee

Astute readers will remember that the Chevrolet Colorado took our Best Pickup Truck of 2015 award by busting onto the scene with an all-new platform, two new gas engines and a strong value proposition. This year Chevy has gone one better by adding a powerful inline-four-cylinder Duramax turbo-diesel to the mix that delivers gobs of low-end torque, yet is quite civilized (empty or loaded) when driven around town like a passenger car. GM engineers have done a spectacular job integrating the new diesel with the existing six-speed transmission, getting the powertrain pieces to seamlessly work together. As if that's not enough, the diesel Colorado gets a standard brake controller, locking rear differential and, as a bonus, this is also the most fuel-efficient pickup sold in the U.S. with an EPA rating (two-wheel drive) of 22/31/25 mpg city/highway/combined.

Shop the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado near you

Used
2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71
67,114 mi.
$32,995
Good Deal
Used
2016 Chevrolet Colorado WT
89,343 mi.
Not Priced

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16GMC_Sierra-All-Terrain- SLT_OEM.jpg 2016 GMC Sierra; | Manufacturer image

Best Pickup Truck of 2016 Nominee

The GMC Sierra 1500 (and its Chevrolet sibling, the Silverado 1500) gets a new hood, grille and tailgate redesign for the 2016 model year. In keeping with its bigger, bolder design look, the GMC Sierra 1500 will offer unique grille, headlight and hood designs for its most popular trim levels: the Denali, All Terrain and SLT. Although the driveline and powertrain essentially remain the same (there will be more availability of the eight-speed transmission with the smaller 5.3-liter V-8), the new look and design flows inside the half-ton pickup as well, delivering better storage compartments in the center console along with a wireless phone charging station. Finally, a unique articulating side-step option will be offered that not only drops to make stepping into the truck easier for smaller passengers, but it also swivels back behind the cab to provide easier step-up access to gear inside the bed.

Shop the 2016 GMC Sierra 1500 near you

Used
2016 GMC Sierra 1500 SLT
109,919 mi.
$36,990 $1,000 price drop
Fair Deal
Used
2016 GMC Sierra 1500 SLT
96,814 mi.
$35,497 $1,480 price drop
Great Deal | $1,483 under
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16RAM_1500_RebelCrewCab_ES.jpg 2016 Ram Rebel; | Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

Best Pickup Truck of 2016 Nominee

Introduced at the 2015 North American International Auto Show, the Ram 1500 Rebel is dramatic to look at yet difficult to describe; it's more than a new trim package (although it's made up of existing Ram parts and pieces), but it's not exactly a new half-ton Ram. With that said, it's probably the most adventure-oriented factory Ram in the truckmaker's portfolio because of a sophisticated and off-road-biased four-corner air suspension, big wheels and tires, extra skid-plating and a new look (both inside and out) that could point the way to a stronger-looking, more customizable Ram future. We've driven the Ram Rebel on just about every type of terrain imaginable and it's never failed us, roaring up giant sand dunes, low-range crawling over boulders and even grappling with waist-deep mud bogs. Although it's a little pricey with all the options, the Rebel can be ordered in two- or four-wheel drive, with quad or crew cabs and with either the V-6 or V-8.

Shop the 2016 RAM 1500 near you

Used
2016 RAM 1500 Laramie
66,829 mi.
$36,000
Fair Deal
Home Delivery
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Used
2016 RAM 1500 Tradesman/Express
17,760 mi.
$29,998
Good Deal | $741 under
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2016Ram3500HeavyDutyOEM.jpg 2016 Ram 3500 HD | Manufacturer image

Best Pickup Truck of 2016 Nominee

We've been a huge fan of heavy-duty one-ton dualie pickup turbo-diesels for as long as we can remember, but we've never seen numbers like the ones coming from the new max-tow Ram 3500 HD Cummins. Newly rated to deliver 900 pounds-feet of torque with the benefit of some mechanical changes in the turbocharger, injection system and exhaust, the Ram now has the biggest rear differential and rear axle in the segment. The maximum payload for the Ram 3500 dualie is 7,390 pounds, and it's rated, when equipped with the high-output Cummins engine tow package, to pull a 31,210-pound gooseneck trailer. This max-torque package is only available with the six-speed automatic Aisin transmission and hulking rear axle. It has the rest of the current-gen one-ton competitors scrambling back to their tech centers.

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2016_Toyota_Tacoma_OEM.jpg 2016 Toyota Tacoma | Manufacturer image

Best Pickup Truck of 2016 Nominee

It's difficult to find any aspect of this all-new 2016 Toyota Tacoma that hasn't been redesigned or upgraded in some way; in every way it's a better truck than the model it's replacing, but, as odd as it sounds, it still wasn't enough. At a time when other manufacturers in this evolving segment have come out with true innovations and new technologies, Toyota made only incremental improvements and did not take many risks. Nevertheless, there is still plenty to like about this new pickup. The all-new engine is smaller, has more horsepower, more usable torque and improved fuel economy. The cabin is quieter than any smaller pickup in Toyota's history, the frame is stronger and the variety of four-wheel-drive systems has no equal. However, payload and towing practically stays the same, and Toyota did not provide any unique bed or tie-down technology. As good as this new Tacoma is (better in every way from the previous model) we're disappointed Toyota didn't go further and attempt to reset the bar in this evolving segment.

Shop the 2016 Toyota Tacoma near you

Used
2016 Toyota Tacoma SR
66,386 mi.
$37,998
Good Deal
Home Delivery
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