The best-selling vehicles in America are not cars. For over two decades, the best-selling vehicle year-after-year has been the Ford F-150 half-ton pickup truck. This impressive record stems from the pickup truck's wide appeal and usefulness. Today, the pickup truck has become more civilized and comfortable, but the majority of pickup trucks sold are still being put into the field as work trucks. These working pickup trucks support a dizzying array of industries, from farming and mining to delivery services and construction.
Choosing the best pickup truck for your business can be a tough decision. For many buyers, brand loyalty and company legacy are enough to sway the decision in the direction of a certain pickup truck. If the company has a fleet of GMC trucks, a shop full of GMC parts and a crew of mechanics who know GMC trucks like the back of their hand, it only makes sense to continue to invest in new GMC pickup trucks.
However, those not bound by company legacy have a seemingly infinite variety of trucks and truck configurations to choose from. Regular cab, extended cab, crew cab, four wheel drive, rear wheel drive, long bed, short bed, automatic transmission, manual transmission, towing packages, heavy duty packages and trim packages are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to configuring a new work truck.
Buyers can now consider pickup trucks from foreign manufacturers such as Toyota, Nissan and even Honda. Until recently, the working pickup truck market was the sole domain of domestic automakers. It could be argued that the bread-and-butter pickup truck market is what saw more than one automaker through hard times.
Computing the Rankings
A total of 10 half-ton pickup trucks were selected as the best working pickup trucks for 2008. Because working trucks see such a wide variety of uses, it was difficult to come up with a top-10 that would satisfy every business owner. Therefore, we narrowed down the top-10 selection criteria to include towing capacity, payload capacity, chassis configuration, reliability, mileage, drive system (4x4 vs. 4x2) and overall cost-of-ownership including depreciation.
Towing and payload capacity are indicators of a truck's overall sturdiness. Pickup trucks designed to tow heavier loads generally have more powerful engines, tougher frames and suspension components and an increased service life over lighter trucks. The rest of the indicators are attributes any pickup truck owner would desire -- reliability, mileage and the overall cost-of-ownership is a factor every truck buyer takes into account.
The only attribute we can't account for is brand loyalty. Pickup trucks enjoy a level of brand loyalty that makes many product marketers green with envy. You will find entire families and fleet buyers that will only purchase a certain brand of pickup truck, no matter what the competitors are offering.
The specifications used to determine our rankings were as published by the original manufacturer for a trim line that was comparable to other trucks in this category. Please consult your pickup truck dealer when making the final decision on a towing vehicle, and always tow within the limits set forth by your owners manual or manufacturers official published documentation.
Our Pickup Truck: The 2008 GMC Sierra 1500
he top four choices on our best pickup trucks list does not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with pickup trucks. The Sierra, Silverado, F-150 and Ram have been mainstays on the pickup truck market for decades. In all practicality, any of these four trucks would serve as a great work truck for just about any buyer. It really came down small details and starting MSRP to determine how the final rankings stacked up. On top is the 2008 GMC Sierra 1500 with a starting MSRP of $17,500. The GMC Sierra is available with three engines, the 195-hp 4.3L V6, the 295-hp 4.8L V8 and GM's gas/ethanol 5.3L V8 producing 315-hp. These engines produce 260, 305, and 338 ft.-lb. of torque, respectively. Nearly all Sierra trucks found on dealer lots will be equipped with at least the 4.8L engine, as the prospect of having a V6 in a full-size pickup truck appeals to a fairly narrow market. The maximum towing capacity when properly equipped for the 2008 GMC Sierra comes in at 8,200 pounds.
Not so many years ago, base model trucks were stripped down affairs that had all the creature comforts of an empty 55-gallon steel drum on wheels. Today, some of the standard features on the entry level GMC Sierra include a four-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with overdrive and tow mode, power steering, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, airbags, tire pressure monitor, illuminated entry and an AM/FM radio with MP3 player and OnStar telematics.