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The 25th Anniversary Of Pickup Truck Of The Year! - Trail's End

Posted in News on February 13, 2014
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In this issue of Four Wheeler you read the details about this year’s amazing Pickup Truck of the Year competition. Now you know what vehicle won and you know the fascinating details of how it all went down. What you may not know is that 2014 marked the 25th anniversary of the Pickup Truck of the Year competition and the 41th anniversary of Four Wheeler of the Year.

“PTOTY has always favored off-road capability as a marker of a good pickup truck.”

Pickup Truck of the Year, commonly referred to as PTOTY, began in 1989. Prior to that, pickup trucks and SUVs were lumped together into Four Wheeler of the Year, which began in 1974. From 1974 to 1988, pickup trucks took the win exactly half the time. For those of you keeping score, the pickups that won during that time period were the ’77 Dodge Macho Power Wagon, ’79 Chevy LUV, ’81Toyota SR5, ’82 Dodge Power Ram 50, ’85 Toyota SR5, ’86 Jeep Comanche, and the ’88 Chevrolet K1500.

With the creation of PTOTY as a stand-alone competition, we were able to tweak the event to better judge and score the pickups. We’ve continued to tweak the competition through the years with enhanced scoring and a variety of driving challenges. One thing that has remained the same is that we insist that each trucks capability be allowed to speak for itself. Some of the scoring is subjective, because we value our judge’s opinions on things like interior and exterior styling, especially how it relates to function. PTOTY has always favored off-road capability as a marker of a good pickup truck. After all, we’re Four Wheeler magazine, not Pavement Pounder magazine, and we know that pickups spend a large percentage of their life off the paved road, being asked to do things that most vehicles aren’t.

Pickup Truck of the Year 1991 pitted the ¾-ton GMC Sierra HD against the Dodge Dakota. The GMC won by a slight margin.

Sometimes the outcome of PTOTY isn’t as cut and dried as it appears, and through the years there have been some surprising winners. For example, in 1994, the year of the Dodge Ram 1500 redesign, the Chevy S-10 ZR2 took home the PTOTY crown. In 1999, the year of the redesigned Super Duty, the Chevy Silverado Z71 took top honors. In 2010, the first year of the Ford SVT Raptor, the Ram Power Wagon took the trophy. Since PTOTY’s inception, Dodge/Ram has claimed the top prize nine times, General Motors six times, Ford and Toyota four times each, and Mitsubishi, Nissan, and Hummer one time each.

Many of the PTOTY winners have gone on to be desirable, sought-after pickups. The ’95 Ford F-250 with the Power Stroke diesel, the ’98 Toyota Tacoma TRD, and the ’05 Dodge Power Wagon are three examples. Some of our winners were killed by the manufacturer. The Quadrasteer-equipped GMC Sierra and the Hummer H3T are two examples of great trucks that are no longer available new.

Now, we’re looking forward to bringing you the 2015 PTOTY competition. The buying public’s desire for light trucks is showing no signs of slowing and the manufacturers are responding with incredible pickups that are more powerful, economical, and feature-laden than ever before. We’re looking forward to continuing PTOTY for a long time to come.

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