Light duty trucks are described by the United States’ Department of Transportation as vehicles having a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 8,500 pounds designed primarily for the transportation of property—or a derivation of such a vehicle. With a description this broad, light duty trucks can include minivans like the Chrysler Town And Country, as well as SUVs like the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Jeep Wrangler. However, for the purposes of this article, we’re going bet you are looking for pickup trucks here and hew a bit more closely to the literal meaning of the phrase.
Light Duty Trucks: Chevrolet Colorado
All new for the 2015 model year, the Chevrolet Colorado will offer a 2.5-liter inline four with 200 horsepower and 191 ft-lbs of torque, or a 3.6-liter V6 with 305 horsepower and 269 ft-lbs of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission will be the standard offering. The mid-size pickup truck will feature an extended cab with a six-foot bed and a crew cab with five- or six-foot bed lengths. Colorado is estimated to be capable of towing up to 7,000 pounds when properly equipped. The model goes on sale in the autumn of 2014. Colorado pricing will start at $20,120.
Light Duty Trucks: Chevrolet Silverado 1500
All new for the 2014 model year, the Chevrolet Silverado offers a 285-horsepower normally aspirated 4.3-liter V6 with 305 ft-lbs of torque; alongside a 355-horsepwower 4.3-liter V8 with 305 ft-lbs. The V6 is offered across the entire range, where previous versions of the Silverado only offered six-cylinder power with the very basic model. The Silverado is also offered with three cab configurations and three bed lengths. Silverado will carry a maximum payload of 2,007 pounds (with the V8). Maximum towing capacity is rated at 11,400 pounds (also with the V8 and a 3.73 rear axle). Pricing starts at $25,575.
Light Duty Trucks: Ford F-150
Ford’s twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6, pumping out 365 horsepower and 420 ft-lbs of torque is fitted to the F-150. The Ford can also be ordered with a 3.7-liter V6, which makes 302 horsepower and 278 ft-lbs of torque. The other engine options are a 5.0-liter V8 with 360 horsepower and 380 ft-lbs, as well as a 411-horsepower, 6.2-liter V8 with 434 ft-lbs of torque. Ford claims a maximum 11,300-pound tow rating with this engine—when the truck is properly tow configured. All powerplants are offered with four-wheel drive. Pricing starts at $25,025. An all-new aluminum F-150 is due for 2015.
Light Duty Trucks: GMC Canyon
All new for the 2015 model year, the GMC Canyon will feature a 3.6-liter V6 with 305 horsepower and 269 ft-lbs of torque, as well as a 2.5-liter inline four with 200 horsepower and 191 ft-lbs of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission will be standard; a six-speed manual will be available optionally. The mid-size GMC pickup will feature an extended cab with a six-foot bed, and a crew cab with five- or six-foot bed lengths. Canyon’s towing is estimated at up to 7000 pounds when properly equipped. On sale in autumn of 2014, Canyon pricing will start at $20,955.
Light Duty Trucks: GMC Sierra 1500
All new for the 2014 model year, the GMC Sierra 1500 offers three cab types and three different bed lengths. Power comes from a choice of a 285-horsepower normally aspirated 4.3-liter V6 with 305 ft-lbs of torque, a 355-horsepwower 4.3-liter V8 with 305 ft-lbs of torque, or a 6.2-liter V8 with 420 horsepower and 460 ft-lbs of torque. The Sierra 1500 is good for a payload of up to 2,007 pounds and a tow rating of up to 12,000 pounds with 3.73-rear axle and the 6.2-liter V8. The V6 will tow up to 5,900 pounds. Pricing starts at $26,075.
Light Duty Trucks: Honda Ridgeline
The Honda of pickup trucks, the Honda Ridgeline drives more like a car than a truck, and the people who like the Ridgeline prefer it that way. Power comes from a 3.5-liter V6 producing 250 horsepower and 247 ft-lbs of torque. The all-wheel drive pickup defaults to front drive operation in steady state conditions, employing all-wheel drive capability only when traction is marginal. A five-speed automatic handles transmission duties. The five passenger Ridgeline features four doors and a midgate pass-through from the five-foot cargo bed to facilitate the transport of larger items. Honda Ridgeline pricing starts at $29,575.
Light Duty Trucks: Nissan Frontier
Offered in both King Cab and Crew Cab body styles, the Nissan Frontier’s base engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 152 horsepower and 171 ft-lbs of torque. The Frontier’s big engine is a 4.0-liter V6 good for 261 horsepower and 281 ft-lbs of torque. A five-speed manual transmission and rear-wheel drive is the standard powertrain configuration, while a five-speed automatic and four-wheel drive can be ordered as options. A V6 Frontier equipped with the proper towing kit can pull 6,500 pounds, while the inline four is good for 3,500 pounds. Pricing for the 2015 Nissan Frontier starts at $17,990.
Light Duty Trucks: Nissan Titan
For 2015, the Nissan Titan full-size pickup truck is offered in both King Cab and Crew Cab configurations with two bed lengths, either 6.5 feet or eight feet.. Power comes from a 5.6-liter V8 with 317 horsepower and 385 ft-lbs of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission is fitted to both the Titan’s rear-drive and four-wheel drive powertrains. The big Nissan pickup is good for a maximum payload of 2,153 pounds, while it is rated to tow a maximum of 9,500 pounds with the King Cab, or 9,400 pounds with the Crew Cab. Nissan’s 2015 Titan pricing starts at $29,360.
Light Duty Trucks: Ram 1500
The Ram 1500 is offered in Regular-, Crew-, and Quad Cab configurations with a five-foot box, a six-foot, and an eight-foot box. Its 305-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 makes 269 ft-lbs of torque. Ram 1500’s 3.0-liter turbodiesel makes 240 horsepower and 420 ft-lbs of torque, and the normally aspirated 5.7-liter V8 makes 395 horsepower and 410 ft-lbs of torque. The 3.6 will tow a maximum of 7,300 pounds, while the diesel is good for 9,200 and the V8 tops at 10,350. All are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, and all can be teamed with four-wheel drive. Pricing starts at $24,810.
Light Duty Trucks: Toyota Tacoma
Toyota’s Tacoma is one of the most versatile mid-sized pickups available. Offered in three cab styles with two bed lengths, as well as rear- and four-wheel drive, the Tacoma uses a 2.7-liter inline four with 159 horsepower and 180 ft-lbs of torque, or a 4.0-liter V6 rated at 236 horsepower and 266 ft-lbs of torque. TheV6 engine can be paired with either a five-speed automatic, or a six-speed manual transmission, the four comes with a four-speed automatic or a five-speed manual. A V6 Tacoma will tow 6,500 pounds; the four-cylinder engine is good for 3,500. Pricing starts at $20,765.
Light Duty Trucks: Toyota Tundra
Toyota’s Tundra is offered with a choice of three engines. The 381-horsepower, 5.7-liter V8 has 401 ft-lbs of torque. The 310-horsepower, 4.6-liter V8 has 327 ft-lbs of torque, while the 270-horsepower 4.0-liter V6 makes 278 ft-lbs of torque. The V6 engine can only be had with a rear drive, five-speed automatic transmission powertrain. Both V8 engines get a six-speed automatic transmission, and can be had with either rear- or four-wheel drive. Maximum towing capacity with the 5.7-liter V8 is 10,400 pounds when properly equipped, and the maximum payload is 2,040 pounds. For 2015, Toyota Tundra Pricing starts at $28,135.