How We Score 'Em
The scoring parameters for Pickup Truck of the Year is based off of a 100-percent scale and divided into five categories. As you would expect, Trail Performance absorbs the largest chunk at 30 percent. Next on the list is Empirical (price, payload, mpg, ground clearance, etc.), which takes a 25 percent share. Since we know that the pavement is where a large majority will spend their time, the On Pavement portion grabs 20 percent. The Interior section sees 15 percent, and the final 10 percent goes to judging the sometimes very subjective exterior.
John Cappa, Editor
I really enjoyed the sporty feel, nimble handling, and high-speed off-road capability of the Toyota Tacoma Baja, but at the end of the day I need a work truck more than I need a toy. The Ram 1500 fills those needs much better with more cargo area and towing capacity. Plus, the Ram interior is a nicer place to call home for those long, cross-country drives.
Ken Brubaker, Senior Editor
I thought the Tacoma was a blast. Its smaller overall size helped to make it nimble and fun on the trail. The beauty is that it also has decent cargo and towing capacities so it can still be used as a real truck. From a styling perspective, I think Toyota hit a homerun due to the lack of nose-down rake, eye-catching graphics, and cool wheels.
Ali Mansour, Technical Editor
The Tacoma had my attention from the second it rolled up. Minus the graphics on the side, the exterior of the truck simply looks great. If the Tacoma only carried that same wow factor to the inside, it would be my number one pick. I still believe the Tacoma's a solid truck, but the Ram simply offered more in the way of comfort, power, and function. Sure, the Tacoma was more fun and nimble off-road, but the Ram felt sure-footed just about everywhere it was. The Ram's air suspension is one gimmick that I am not a huge fan of, but I could see it being especially useful for towing and eking out those precious fuel economy numbers. The 16-year-old me still wants the Tacoma, but the grown-up me say's take the Ram home.
Jason Gonderman, Web Editor
Both of the trucks on this year's test were excellent vehicles, but if I had to choose one of them to put in my driveway it would have to be the Ram 1500. The Tacoma Baja is a blast in desert washes, but for my needs the payload, towing capacity, seating, and overall versatility of the Ram make it the truck that I would choose.
Steve VonSeggern, Publisher
I can appreciate the effort that Toyota and Bilstein went to in order to create this niche version of the Tacoma, and I think they did an admirable job. But the development of half-ton pickups has gone so far as to eclipse the performance, economy, and livability of its smaller cousins. The Taco is lots of fun, but is getting very long in the tooth. It feels exactly like it is, which is a very old truck by today's standards. By contrast, the Ram feels fresh, new, high tech, super high quality, and tightly screwed together. For that reason I'd happily drive the Ram home.