2013 Drivers’ Choice Awards: Winning Trucks/Utilities
Over the years, the duty and definition of the word “truck” has drastically changed. No longer considered purely commercial vehicles, today’s trucks; pickups, SUVs and crossovers; do a lot more family hauling than heavy hauling. So, let's see which “trucks” are our Drivers’ Choice Picks For Best of 2013. Indeed, today’s trucks and utilities are all about helping families get through their weekly tasks as comfortable as possible, and then having what it takes to deliver fun adventures on the weekend.
And for small families, none does it better than the original small crossover, the Toyota Rav4. The all-new 2013 edition is the 4th generation of the Rav. And while its exterior may have gotten a bit smaller, mostly from the relocation of the spare tire from outside to inside, interior room is up; including class best maximum cargo room. Besides more space, the interior is far more luxurious and tech-savvy. Gone too is the previous gens dour looking sheet-metal, replaced by a much more vibrant looking design that matches its more dynamic driving character.
For even more evidence of that shift to increased comfort and luxury, look no farther than our Best Large Utility, the Nissan Pathfinder. While the previous generation boasted a full frame and optional V8 with best in class towing, the new Pathfinder casts all of that aside for a unibody chassis and V6-only power. But that’s okay by us as it remains plenty capable off road and can still tow 5,000-pounds.
And of course you can ratchet the luxury factor up to the hilt by upgrading to its kin, the Infiniti JX. Not only will you travel in a downright plush environment, but do so in a bold but richer exterior design, with a ride that’s as smooth as you’ll find in the crossover ranks… …making this American-made pair an easy winning hand.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the truck year is the emergence of our Best Pickup Truck winner, the Ram 1500, as a fuel-economy trend setter among full-size haulers. Ram designers recognized that while pickup sales remain strong, buyers want more options to save on gas. The Ram 1500 gives it to them with an ultra-modern V6, backed by the first 8-speed automatic in a full-size truck. Its 305-horsepower is more than enough to handle most family hauling duties, including towing 6,500-pounds. And, if you need more tow, two V8’s, including a HEMI, are still available. Ram’s new guts are joined by the glory of a handsomely rugged exterior facelift, and a complete overhaul in truck interior design that provides a new benchmark for practical comfort. Huge controls, and the biggest factory NAV screen going, make this “big” truck and big winner in our book.
So while kinder and gentler may be the new norms for trucks, these hauling winners still deliver the goods.