2009 Dodge Ram 1500 STEnlarge Photo
Full-Size Pickups: 2009 Dodge Ram
The latest version of Dodge's full-size Ram is the company's best pickup truck yet. It's smart in the same way that the company's minivans are smart: every interior inch has been outfitted with storage bins, even under the back seats. The interior's also one of Dodge's finest efforts yet, a marked contrast to Chrysler's latest cabins. And of course, there's the big power of the Ram's available HEMI engine - which takes a toll on highway mileage but pours on the power to provide the Ram with great towing and hauling numbers. The biggest change for the 2009 model year, though, may be in the Ram's hugely improved ride, which isolated and cradles occupants better than even the GM trucks that TheCarConnection.com's editors preferred until recently. The 2009 Dodge Ram is the leader in the full-size pickup trucks--the best in class for a class that's growing stronger and more sophisticated with each passing year.
2009 Nissan Frontier XEEnlarge Photo
Mid-Size and Compact Pickups: Nissan Frontier
A repeat winner from our Best Bang for the Buck comparo, the Nissan Frontier does everything expected of a less-than-full-size truck. Its rugged styling wraps around a choice of regular and crew cabs, with rear-drive and four-wheel-drive underpinning a choice of four- and six-cylinder engines. The V-6 Frontier is a grunty, powerful truck, and four-door Frontiers have good interior space to go with numerous bins and cubbies--and Nissan's flexible bed and cargo options stand out among the mid-size trucks. For those of us who don't live on a ranch, the 2008 Nissan Frontier is large enough to haul real people and cargo, but sized for the urban-congestion reality.
Other Choice: Toyota Tacoma
2009 Cadillac Escalade EXTEnlarge Photo
Sport-Utility Trucks: Cadillac Escalade EXT
TheCarConnection.com's other picks in pickup trucks are clear-cut--but when it comes to sport-utility trucks, there's a little more leeway to judge a vehicle's merits. This type of pickup includes everything from the HUMMER H2 SUT, to the Honda Ridgeline and Ford Explorer Sport Trac, to the Best In Class, the Cadillac Escalade EXT. All these vehicles have SUV-style cabins and short pickup beds--but only the Cadillac has the superb V-8 drivetrain, refined handling and plush interior, not to mention an exhaust note that would make Challengers and Mustangs nod in appreciation, if they could. The Escalade EXT is silky and somewhat usable--though TheCarConnection.com's editors have their doubts about how often buyers will actually drop its Midgate and turn the rear seats into part of the pickup bed. Nonetheless, the 2008 Cadillac Escalade EXT stands out as the world's only transforming luxury truck/SUV.