2018 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2
Based off the mid-size Chevrolet Colorado, the ZR2 trim offers a lightly modified suspension lift and more aggressive tires to give it better off-road 4x4 performance. At the heart of the new off-road trim are four high-tech multispool-valve shock absorbers that work at new levels of capability.
Additionally, the ZR2 is the only mid-size pickup truck with front and rear electronically locking differentials, 31-inch tires, and a choice between gas and diesel engines. The ZR2 also offers a more aggressive front and rear bumper design to deliver class-leading approach and departure angles as well as a race-truck look to rival other top off-road players such as the Ford F-150 Raptor and Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro.
Inside, however, the Colorado ZR2 is much more conservative: There are no significant upgrades or design changes with the exception of a few ZR2 logos and some sturdy cloth seating materials. The ZR2 is brand-new and offered in either an extended or crew cab, with an impressive selection of GM GearOn accessories to accommodate new buyers who might want to customize their pickup with a light bar, bed-mounted spare tire carrier, side steps and other bed-storage fixtures.
2018 Chevrolet Silverado 3500
The big news for the Chevrolet Silverado heavy-duty pickups, which includes both the three-quarter and one-ton models, is all under the hood — specifically in the form of the upgraded and modified 32-valve, turbo-diesel 6.6-liter Duramax V-8 and strengthened Allison 1000 six-speed transmission, now with 445 horsepower and 910 pounds-feet of torque.
Although the same size, the Duramax engine has a new cast-iron block, larger-diameter crankshaft, stronger connecting rods and cast-aluminum pistons, as well as a stiffer cast-aluminum cylinder head with newly polished intake and exhaust passages. Likewise, the injection system is now smarter and better able to provide injection events at a much higher rate, making the engine stronger, much quieter and more fuel efficient. Of course, like most heavy-duty diesel engines, the key to getting more power comes from a larger and smarter turbocharger. The new GM HD pickups now use a bigger variable-vane turbocharger that gets more boost, as well. The bigger turbo also provides better engine braking while towing.
On the exhaust side, there are now three catalysts employed to reduce emissions by as much as 35 percent. Chevy has also designed a clever dual-route air intake that provides more air for the engine.
2018 Ford F-150
Although just a mid-model refresh, the 2018 Ford F-150 includes some substantial upgrades and changes that allows it to qualify for our award. Both of the naturally aspirated engines — the all-new 3.3-liter V-6 and 5.0-liter V-8 — are now direct-injection engines that offer more power and torque than ever before. The new V-6 is rated at 290 horsepower and 265 pounds-feet of torque; the new V-8 is rated at 395 hp and 400 pounds-feet of torque. The three EcoBoost engines carry over from the 2017 model year, though the 2.7-liter got more port and direct injection for more torque.
What isn't a carryover on F-150s that aren't the 3.5-liter-equipped or Raptor versions, though, is the all-new 10-speed transmission. This will be the standard transmission across the lineup, with the exception of the base 3.3-liter V-6 engine. This 10-speed will also allow for selectable auto stop-start modes, which helps fuel economy. Additionally, the F-150 will come available with a new Bang & Olufsen sound system and new Wi-Fi system that can accommodate up to 10 wireless devices, as well as an updated Sync 3 multimedia system. Also, 2018 F-150s now have a stop/start function in traffic, as well as pedestrian detection and autonomous emergency braking.
2018 Ram 3500
The 2018 Ram 3500 has been making big trim package additions as well as updates to important towing numbers. In fact, maybe better than any of the other heavy-duty pickup truck makers in the class, Ram is coming up with more creative special editions than ever before to serve its diverse customer base.
For model-year 2018, the 2500 and 3500 will come to market with two unique, high-dollar top-level luxury trims: the Laramie Longhorn Southfork Edition and the Limited Tungsten Edition. There also are two more functionally equipped special editions: the Lone Star Silver Edition and the Harvest Edition, the latter of which comes in Case IH Red and New Holland Blue.
The Ram 3500 dually equipped with the high-output Cummins diesel engine and Aisin six-speed transmission now offers the most fifth-wheel trailer capability, due in large part to a stronger bed-mounted hitch and accessories package. But most important of all, for the 2018 model year, Ram has upgraded the turbo and boost control software to deliver the highest torque ratings the Ram 3500 has ever seen at 930 pounds-feet of torque at 1,700 rpm.
2018 Toyota Tundra TRD Sport
Although relatively untouched since it debuted in 2014, the Toyota Tundra will offer a brand-new performance model for 2018 in the form of the TRD Sport.
Debuted at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show, the Tundra TRD Sport has an interesting mixture of on- and off-road performance. It offers a sporty hood, unique chain-link mesh grille, LED headlights with black surrounds, special 20-inch alloy wheels, a TRD exhaust, bed decals, a heavy-duty front sway bar and specially tuned Bilstein shocks.
The TRD Sport is a selectable trim package stacked on top of Toyota's most popular Tundra SR5 trim; it's offered in both Double Cab and CrewMax configurations. Along with the addition of this new, sportier trim, the Tundra also received an upgraded standard safety system that includes precollision warning, pedestrian detection and automatic braking, along with lane departure warning, automatic high-beam detection and adaptive cruise control.