A Closer Look-Four Full-size Pickup Trucks

2010 Ford F-150The best-selling model in North America isn't a car-it's a full-size pickup. In fact, the Ford F-150, which sells more units than any other model in the U.S., sold 39,308 units (combined total for light- and heavy-duty models) in April 2010, easily surpassing the 27,899 units sold by the best-selling passenger car, the Toyota Camry.

Full-size pickup trucks offer cargo utility and towing capabilities that appeal to businesses and private owners alike. Unlike passenger cars, which are often limited to a few manufacturer-selected configurations, full-size pickup trucks can be ordered nearly bare to the frame-or heavily optioned to the point where it closely resembles a luxury vehicle.

The full-size pickup truck segment in North America is comprised of 11 models, including the GMC Sierra, Ford F-Series Super Duty, Chevrolet Silverado HD, Ram 2500/3500HD Pickups, Nissan Titan, GMC Sierra HD, and the Chevrolet Avalanche. The group also includes two models that sold in excess of 13,000 units in April 2010: the Ford F-Series (light duty) and the Chevrolet Silverado (light duty). In addition, the Ram 1500 Pickup and the Toyota Tundra each sold nearly 9,000 units during April. These models generated total retail sales volume of 80,423 units in April 2010-a major portion of the 104,214 units sold for the entire segment during that month.

Let's take a closer look at these four models. Since pickup trucks are available with a variety of cab choices, bed choices, engine choices and powertrain options, for this discussion, we've decided to stick with the popular rear-wheel-drive (4x2) models with 6-passenger crew cabs and standard beds.

2010 Ford F-150Dimensions and interior room
These full-size pickup trucks are long-several feet longer than a typical average sedan. However, this added length means more utility to the pickup buyer. These four competitors vary in length by no more than 3 inches. The longest is the Ford F-150 SuperCrew 4x2 (231.7 inches), followed by the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew Cab 4x2 (230.2) and Toyota Tundra CrewMax 4x2 (228.7). The shortest is the Ram 1500 Crew Cab 4x2 (227.5 inches).

Wheelbase is defined as the distance between the front and rear wheels. While it is often associated with improved ride quality (which is one reason why limousines have very long wheelbases), it may hinder maneuverability in larger vehicles as it increases the turning radius.

The longest wheelbase of this group is found on the Toyota Tundra (145.7 inches), followed by the Ford F-150 (144.4). The Chevrolet Silverado (143.5 inches) is slightly shorter, as is the Ram (140.0). Turning circles vary by a couple of feet, with the Toyota Tundra turning in the shortest distance (44.0 feet) followed by the Dodge (45.1), Ford (47.0), and Chevrolet (47.2). When it comes to ground clearance, the Toyota Tundra offers the most (10.0 inches). The Chevrolet Silverado (9.0 inches) follows, as does the Ford F-150 (8.6) and Ram 1500 (7.7).

While the widths of the cargo boxes are all about 51 inches across, the Chevrolet (69.3 inches) is the longest. The Ram 1500 (67.4 inches) and Ford F-150 (67.0) are only marginally shorter, but the Toyota Tundra (66.7) is the shortest. The Chevrolet can accommodate the most weight in its cargo box (1,990 pounds) followed by the Dodge (1,710), Ford (1,670) and Toyota (1,665 pounds).

Full-size pickup trucks offer generous interior space, thanks to their upright cab design. All four of these models are nearly equal in head room, with the Silverado (41.2 inches) barely edging out the F-150 and Ram (both at 41.0). At 40.2 inches, the Toyota Tundra offers the least amount of head room. Front leg room is about 41 inches in all four models.

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