Pickups offer some of the most confusing trim choices in the industry. These trucks are intended as Swiss Army knives, tools that can be adapted to any situation or need on the jobsite, out on the road or when crawling down an off-road trail. As such, there are so many trim levels, special editions and other options available with modern pickups that it can be hard know which model best suits your needs.
We’ve put together a quick guide to eight different modern pickup flavors, aimed at a broad cross-section of the truck-buying public. Read on and see if one of these models is a good fit for your particular lifestyle.
The 2011 Ram Tradesman represents the lifeblood of the pickup truck business – the single cab, low-option, affordable machine that works hard for a living with little pomp or circumstance. The Ram Tradesman can be had either a six-foot, four-inch box or an eight-foot cargo area, and it also features 17-inch wheels, a chrome grille, air conditioning and a CD player. This gives it a few more features than a barebones entry-level pickup, but at a price that doesn’t break the bank.
The standard power plant for the 2011 Ram Tradesman is a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8. This engine puts out 390 horsepower and 407 lb-ft of torque, and is shifted through a five-speed automatic transmission. The Tradesman is available in both rear-wheel and four-wheel drive editions.
The 2011 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor provides off-road racing performance direct from the factory. The full-size, extended-cab Ford F-150 SVT Raptor features long-travel shock absorbers, spring rates that are set for dune-hopping and a wider track in order to enhance stability on the trail. The Raptor also gains a unique exterior look when compared against other Ford trucks, making it one of the flashiest models in the company’s stable.
The 2011 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor is only available with a single drivetrain, which consists of a 6.2-liter V-8 engine matched with a four-wheel drive system. This eight-cylinder unit generates 411 horsepower and 434 lb-ft of torque, placing it at the top of the F-150’s list of engines when it comes to output. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard with the SVT Raptor.
The 2011 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid proves that a full-size truck can maintain its edge in terms of utility while still improving on the traditionally unimpressive fuel economy associated with the segment. The Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid comes in a four-door Crew Cab body style, and offers a five-foot, eight-inch cargo bed along with 6,100 lbs of towing capacity, which is more than enough for the average pickup owner.
The 2011 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid makes use of a 6.0-liter V-8 engine that works together with two electric motors in order to provide 379 horsepower. A four-speed automatic transmission sends that output to either the rear or all four wheels should optional four-wheel drive be selected, and fuel mileage for the truck is rated at a very frugal 20-mpg city and 23-mpg highway.
The 2011 Ram Dakota Crew Cab Laramie makes the case that sometimes, you don’t need a plus-size truck to get the job done. The mid-size Ram Dakota is a plush and powerful pickup that comes with heated leather seats, a bedliner and 18-inch wheels. It also offers four-door convenience, a five-foot, three-inch cargo bed and the ability to tow as much as 7,250 lbs.
Under the hood, the 2011 Ram Dakota Crew Cab Laramie starts out with a 3.7-liter V-6 engine that is good for 210 horsepower and 235 lb-ft of torque. The Laramie allows for buyers to move up to a 302 horsepower, 4.7-liter V-8 that also develops 329 lb-ft of torque. The smaller motor comes with a four-speed automatic, while the V-8 features a five-speed auto. Four-wheel drive can be installed on the Dakota in order to enhance on and off-road traction.
The 2011 GMC Sierra Denali presents an interesting take on the concept of a high-end luxury pickup. The GMC Sierra Denali is four-door only and offers some seriously lavish equipment, including a heated steering wheel, heated leather seats, navigation, 20-inch alloy wheels and an exterior appearance package that sets it apart from other GMC pickups.
The 2011 GMC Sierra Denali also delivers big in the engine compartment, as it has been gifted with a 6.2-liter V-8 that provides a big 403 horsepower and 417 lb-ft of torque. Rear-wheel drive is standard, but the Denali also comes with the option of a unique all-wheel drive system to help drivers better handle inclement weather conditions. A six-speed automatic transmission is the only gearbox offered with the GMC Sierra Denali.
The 2011 Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson is perhaps the most personalized of Ford’s top-of-the-line pickups. The four-door Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson not only includes a range of luxury-oriented features, such as dual automatic climate control, adjustable pedals and heated first and second row leather seats, but it also features body-colored bumpers and trim, a billet grille and special Harley-Davidson badging.
The 2011 Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson comes with the biggest V-8 in the Blue Oval stable, the same 6.2-liter mill that is found with the Raptor. 411 horses and 434 lb-ft of torque give the F-150 Harley-Davidson 11,300 lbs of towing power to go with its outlaw good looks, and the truck also features a six-speed automatic transmission and the availability of four-wheel drive.
The 2011 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X is an excellent example of how a smaller truck can be a very effective off-road weapon. Available in both King (extended) and Crew cab body styles, the Nissan Frontier PRO-4X comes with knobby all-terrain tires, a raised suspension, Bilstein shock absorbers and skid plates to protect the underside of the truck. Exterior trim changes and the addition of fog lights also help to identify the PRO-4X when it is mixed in with other editions of the Frontier.
The 2011 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X defaults to the top of the line V-6 engine as its only drivetrain choice. The 4.0-liter unit churns out a healthy 261 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque, and buyers can select either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic gearbox if ordering four-wheel drive. Two-wheel drive models come only with the auto tranny.
The 2011 Ram Outdoorsman is a full-size truck that is targeted at pickup fans who love to hit the fishing hole, duck blind or camping spot for the weekend. The Ram Outdoorsman can be had in three different body styles (Regular, Quad and Crew Cab), as well as both two and four-wheel drive editions. What exactly does it bring to the table versus a standard Ram? The Outdoorsman trim includes a two-tone paint job, scratch-resistant bumpers, a limited-slip differential, a tow hitch and tow hooks, fog lights and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The truck also comes with “Outdoorsman” badging as well as the availability of the RamBox protected storage compartment.
The 2011 Ram Outdoorsman is initially outfitted with a 4.7-liter V-8 engine that offers up 310 ponies and 330 lb-ft of torque. A 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 is also available as an option, and this motor ups the power ante to 390 horsepower and 407 lb-ft of torque. Each of these eight-cylinder engines comes with a five-speed automatic transmission.