1. home
  2. news
  3. features
  4. Pickup Truck of the Year 2020 Master Post

Pickup Truck of the Year 2020 Master Post

Ram vs. GMC vs. Jeep vs. Chevy in the ultimate pickup truck shootout!

We tested the Chevy Silverado 1500 LTZ, Ram 1500 Rebel, GMC Sierra 1500 AT4, Jeep Gladiator Rubicon, GMC Sierra 2500 AT4, Chevy Silverado 2500 LTZ, GMC Sierra 3500 dualie, and the Chevy Silverado 2500 Custom during Four Wheeler's 2020 Pickup Truck of the Year. Each truck was put through grueling on- and off-road tests for a week and only one was crowned victorious!

2020 Trucks Tested—Read More!

Four Wheeler's Pickup Truck of the Year is the hardcore, week-long shootout where we determine the best pickup truck for 2020 by driving in sand and snow, up hills and across dunes, over jagged rocks, through water, and more. We drove each truck roughly 1,000 miles, mixing highway and track data in with our off-road testing. By the end of one week, our hand-picked panel of judges—a crop of seasoned experts in everything 4x4 and off-road—had selected a winner. Here's how it all went down.

Invitations were sent out to all brand-new or substantially revised four-wheel-drive pickup trucks with a two-speed transfer case (or equivalent) that produce low-range-type gearing. Vehicles were also required to have a production run of at least 1,500 vehicles in the United States and had to be available on dealer lots by March 15, 2020. Eight trucks accepted the invitation—the GMC Sierra 1500 AT4 3.0L Duramax, the GMC Sierra 2500 HD AT4 6.6L Duramax, the GMC Sierra 3500 HD Denali 6.6L Duramax, the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon, the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ 3.0L Duramax, the Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD LTZ 6.6L Duramax, the Chevy Silverado 2500 HD Custom 6.6L gas, and the Ram 1500 Rebel turbodiesel. Between the eight vehicles, six packed some sort of diesel power under the hood, one truck had dual-rear wheels, and all were built to be incredibly capable on- and off-road.

For five full days, and often into the night, our panel of judges examined every intricacy of the trucks and recorded their findings in official logbooks. We checked for skidplates, adjusted seats, shifted in and out of driving modes and four-wheel drive systems, counted cargo hooks and power outlets, and much more. Judges rotated in and out of each vehicle at regular frequent intervals, giving each person ample time to experience the trucks in all scenarios. Our goal was to figure out what worked, what didn't, and relay the results you. Whether you're looking for a new wheeling rig or keeping tabs on what's new in the truck space, we've done the dirty work. Which pickup will win in this eight-truck on- and off-road melee? Read on to find out.

8th Place

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD Custom 6.6L Gas

What's New
We received two flavors of Chevy Silverado 2500 HD in this year's test, with the Custom coming to us wearing 20-inch wheels, body color exterior trim, and fit with the 6.6L V-8 gasser and six-speed automatic. The engine is said to give the HD an 11 percent increase in horsepower, 22 percent more torque output, and an 18 percent increase in towing capacity over the previous powerplant. The 6.6L features a forged steel crankshaft, forged powder-metal connecting rods, and a suite of high-strength components, along with an increased compression ratio (10.8:1) and a longer stroke (3.86 inches) compared to its 6.0L relative. The six-speed 6L90 automatic gearbox comes with Tow/Haul mode and dual alternators can be found under the hood to support snowplowing, trailer pulling, and other high-draw tasks.

Ramp and Track
The Custom put up the least-impressive score on the 22-degree RTI ramp and garnered the quote 'Hold on, the dualie flexes more than this truck?' as it ascended to a mark of 333. Only the Gladiator was slower than the Custom in the 0-60 category with a time of 8.5 seconds. The four-wheel disc brakes got the truck back down from 60 to a stop in 129.7 feet after blowing through the quarter mile in 16.6 seconds and reaching a speed of 87.4 mph.

Exterior/Interior
The Silverado 2500 HD Custom certainly wasn't winning any fashion contests; however, its bold exterior made it "look like it meant business" with the scooped hood and color-matched trim in the body, to name a few things. Steps molded into the bumper and the rear fenders also didn't win us over aesthetically, but judges with larger shoe sizes were pleased with their existence when it came time to retrieve cargo from the bed area. As they crawled around the truck's exterior, judges could be seen rapping their knuckles on the Custom's front exclaiming "it has an honest-to-goodness steel front bumper!"

Judges described the cloth interior as having "as much attitude as a mechanic's jumpsuit" but also "one of the few trucks I wouldn't feel guilty plopping down into after wallowing in the mud." Another interior nugget noted by the judges was the 40/20/40 folding bench seat up, for when extra company up front necessitates relieving the center console of its storage duties. One judge even expressed their gratitude toward the knob-controlled HVAC system, citing "real knobs do what you tell them, rather than pecking at a touch screen to nail an exact temperature."

On-Road
While watching the truck's speed and RPMs rise and fall on an analog needle display, judges were happy to put the Chevy Silverado 2500 HD Custom's 401 horses and 464 pounds of torque to work on the test's highway pushes. However, when they found the inspiration to stomp the gas, they wondered if the truck was tuned more for longevity of the drivetrain rather than delivering power to the ground. We observed the least-efficient fuel economy score of the week in the Silverado Custom, which by our measurements squeezed an average of 13.7 miles out of each gallon.

Off-Road
With enough ground clearance to keep the underbelly far enough away from obstacles and a steel front bumper to repel oncoming trail traumas, the Silverado 2500 HD Custom is, as one judge underlined in the judging book "adequate." Judges thought a manual transfer case shift lever (not an option, here) would certainly fit the truck's feng shui and seemed to agree that the tires lacked a bit in the trail-gripping department. However, the package got the job done. Judges described the truck's performance on most off-highway surfaces as "baseline," as it bounced through whoops, vibrated "mercilessly" on washboards, and required careful line choice through larger rocks. We were fans of the brawny recovery points, would have liked to see a few more skidplates, and we felt the roar of the V-8 gasser was not commensurate with the distance traveled up our snotty, muddy, snowy, hillclimb.

Bottom Line
You're not buying this HD for leather seats and chrome so relish in twisting the actual keyed ignition, swing your muddy boots inside, and have your partner slide on over for one heckuva gas-powered ride.

What's Hot
Lots of truck for the price, room up front for two friends.

What's Not
Harsh ride
Fuel-thirsty

Our Take
A work truck with attitude

Logbook Quotes
"It just looks like it has a manual t-case shift lever—but doesn't have one. "
"Only six gears behind this gasser?"

Vehicle/model: 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 Custom Crew
Base price: $43,600
Price as tested: $48,420

Options as tested: Custom Value Package ($1,880), Gooseneck/Fifth Wheel Package ($1,090), Black Work Step ($450), LED Roof Marker Lamps ($55), Destination Charge ($1,595)

ENGINE
Type: 16-valve OHV V-8
Displacement (ci/liter): 403/6.6
Bore x stroke (in): 4.06x3.86
Compression ratio (:1): 10.8:1
Intake/FI: Direct fuel injection
Mfg. 's power rating @ rpm (hp): 401 @ 5,200
Mfg. 's torque rating @ rpm (lb-ft): 464 @ 4,000
Mfg. 's suggested fuel type: Regular unleaded

DRIVETRAIN
Transmission: Hydra-Matic 6L90 6-speed
Ratios (:1):
First: 4.03
Second: 2.36
Third: 1.53
Fourth: 1.15
Fifth: 0.85
Sixth: 0.67
Reverse: 3.06
Axle ratio (:1): 3.73
Transfer case: Autotrac
Low-range ratio (:1): 2.72
Crawl ratio (:1): 40.9

FRAME/BODY
Frame: Steel, ladder-type
Body: Steel and aluminum

SUSPENSION/AXLES
Front: SLA independent w/ torsion bars/AAM 8.25-in
Rear: Semielliptic three-stage multileaf spring/AAM 9.25-in/Eaton G80 automatic locking differential

STEERING
Type: Hydraulic power-assisted rack-and-pinion
Turns (lock-to-lock): 3.6
Ratio (:1): 18

BRAKES
Front: 14x1.6-in vented disc, four-piston caliper
Rear: 14.1x1.3-in vented disc, single-piston caliper
ABS: Four-wheel

WHEELS/TIRES
Wheels (in): 20x8.5 aluminum
Tires: LT275/65R20 Goodyear Wrangler TrailRunner AT

FUEL ECONOMY
EPA city/highway: N/A
Observed city/highway/trail: 13.7

DIMENSIONS/CAPACITIES
Weight (lb): 6,824
Wheelbase (in): 158.94
Overall length (in): 249.95
Overall width (in): 81.85
Height (in): 79.82
Track f/r (in): 68.1/68.3
Minimum ground clearance (in): 10.1
Turning diameter, curb-to-curb (ft): 52.8
Approach/departure angles (deg): 24.1/21.9
Breakover angle (deg): 18.7
GVWR (lb): 10,650
Payload (lb): 3,760
Maximum towing capacity (lb): 14,500 (w/ gooseneck it's 16,650)
Seating: 6
Fuel capacity (gal): 36

PERFORMANCE

0-60 mph (sec): 8.5

Quarter-mile (sec @ mph): 16.6 @ 87.4

Braking 60-0 mph (ft): 129.7

Ramp travel index (20-deg, points): 333

 

7th Place

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 LTZ Crew 6.6L Duramax

What's New
General Motors matched its Duramax L5P 6.6L V-8 to a clean-sheet, GM-built, Allison-branded 10-speed gearbox. The 10L1000 comes with a list of features designed to get all of the Silverado 2500 LTZ's 910 lb-ft of torque straight to the ground including: a variable-rate pump; high-performance clutch packs and solenoids; a factory-installed PTO pump option; and a stiffer, one-piece housing that bolts directly to the transfer case instead of having to use an adapter like the previous Allison six-speed. Keeping the big Duramax V-8 cool was of utmost concern to GM engineers. For us, that meant not only higher towing numbers, but also features including a hood scoop, active aero shutters, and an attention-grabbing upper grille area opened up to maximize airflow. Out back, the bed has been redesigned, separating it from the beds of the lighter-duty models. Repositioning of the multi-piece inner panels gained the Silverado 2500 LTZ more than 8 cubic feet of cargo volume over the outgoing model, and with its increased length (three inches), made space for longer loads.

Ramp and Track
We heard the words " stupid fast!" trailing off through the smoke as one judge ripped down the strip, getting the Silverado 2500 LTZ up to 60 mph in a best-of-the-test 6.9 seconds and covering the quarter mile in 16 seconds at 91.6 mph. Braking told a different story as the four-wheel ABS system got the 7,721-pound rig to a halt in 149.4 feet, the longest stopping distance of the lineup. The Silverado 2500 LTZ was out-flexed by five of the trucks with a score of 340 on the 22-degree RTI ramp.

Interior/Exterior
Getting face-to-face with the Silverado 2500 LTZ's front end garnered as many shrugs of approval as it did raised lips of distaste. However, when judges got off their fashion designer high horses, the mix of Cajun Red Tintcoat, reimagined airflow schematics, and chrome, as penned by one tester, "looked cohesive and fit the part." Judges counted the BedSteps and CornerSteps and postulated that four size 12-footed individuals could, at one time, step or reach into the 2500 LTZ's cargo area. While in the Silverado's Durabed, we also enjoyed the 12 fixed tiedown points, including 500-pound-rated rings in the corners. When the sun went down, the LED marker lamps also gained positive marks in the scoring books under the "visibility and just-because-they're-cool categories."

"Familiar" was a common description of the Silverado 2500 LTZ's interior. Judges who held GM's choice of materials, placement of knobs, and infotainment arrangement near and dear to their hearts weren't disappointed. Judges harboring gripes when they stepped inside, however, weren't given much reason to switch sides. We enjoyed the ample USB charging ports and the 120V outlet built into the center stack, and the Bluetooth connectivity between wireless devices and the truck's infotainment system was said to be "spot-on."

On Road
"This truck is finely crafted for the passing lane" said one judge, referencing the turn-signal-actuated blind spot cameras appearing on the infotainment screen, as well as the "wicked power at the ready" when it came time to get around that jalopy blocking the climb. A handful of comments revolved around the new Allison-branded 10-speed and its "I can't even feel the shifts!" smoothness. We liked the head-up display for keeping tabs on the truck's vitals while driving and found ourselves adjusting its position and dimness at stoplights to suit our respective likings. Judges who frequently travel with humans or cargo stacked in the rear seats accepted the ocular learning curve required by the Rear Camera Mirror, which shows an enhanced digital view of what's happening behind the truck. Those who preferred the traditional reflective surface could flip a tab and disable the digital screen.

Off-Road
In trail situations where pedal-to-the-floor power makes up for low-speed precision, the Silverado 2500 LTZ showed off. "Tons of power in the sand" and "point and squirt" were comments we found after our session in the dunes, but other off-road situations tested the big Bow Tie. Navigating rocks was "made palatable" by the camera views and the "somewhat biggish" tires, but judges were left asking "are we there yet?" after driving the craggy canyon sections of our test. Fit with mild all-terrain tires, judges showed some concern over the risk of sidewall damage (though none was sustained). Raw power from the V-8 was an "absolute hoot" in the snow, at least until the traction control tried to get between our feet and the horsepower. After sections of trail strewn with washboards and whoops, judges "felt battered" by the suspension response and as a whole were concerned for the integrity of the side view mirrors, which rattled violently at their mounts to the body.

Bottom Line
Checks the boxes of Bow Tie enthusiasts who need power and payload but want to take the heavy-duty a bit further into the rough stuff.

What's Hot
Steps for cargo access and 6.6 liters of growling power.

What's Not
Hard-to-digest grille design, handling over the bumps will keep the chiropractor in business.

Our Take
Pure power and proficiency in the pulling department smooths out the bumps you'll feel if you hit the dirt too hard in this heavy-duty.

Logbook Quotes
"Looks and drives heavy. "
"I want a big bow tie, not big letters on the grille."

Vehicle/model: 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 LTZ Crew

Base price: $53,300

Price as tested: $73,265

Options as tested: Duramax 6.6L Turbodiesel ($9,890), LTZ Premium Package ($7,805), Z71 Off-Road and Protection Package ($1,080), Gooseneck/Fifth Wheel Package ($545), Cajun Red Tintcoat ($495), LED Roof Marker Lamps ($55), Destination Charge ($1,595)

ENGINE

Type: 32-valve OHV V-8 turbodiesel

Displacement (ci/liter): 403/6.6

Bore x stroke (in): 4.05x3.89

Compression ratio (:1): 16.0:1

Intake/FI: Common-rail direct injection

Mfg. 's power rating @ rpm (hp): 445 @ 2,800

Mfg. 's torque rating @ rpm (lb-ft): 910 @ 1,600

Mfg. 's suggested fuel type: Ultra-low sulfur diesel

 

DRIVETRAIN

Transmission: Allison 10L1000 10-speed

Ratios (:1):

First: 4.54

Second: 2.87

Third: 2.06

Fourth: 1.72

Fifth: 1.48

Sixth: 1.26

Seventh: 1.00

Eighth: 0.85

Ninth: 0.69
Tenth: 0.63

Reverse: 4.54

Axle ratio (:1): 3.42

Transfer case: Autotrac

Low-range ratio (:1): 2.72

Crawl ratio (:1): 42.2

 

FRAME/BODY

Frame: Steel, ladder-type

Body: Steel and aluminum

 

SUSPENSION/AXLES

Front: SLA independent w/ torsion bars/AAM 8.25-in

Rear: Semielliptic three-stage multileaf spring/AAM 9.25-in/Eaton G80 automatic locking differential

 

STEERING

Type: Hydraulic power-assisted recirculating ball w/ Digital Variable Steering Assist

Turns (lock-to-lock): 3.6

Ratio (:1): 18

 

BRAKES

Front: 14x1.6-in vented disc, four-piston caliper

Rear: 14.1x1.3-in vented disc, single-piston caliper

ABS: Four-wheel

 

WHEELS/TIRES

Wheels (in): 20x8.5 aluminum

Tires: LT275/65R20 Goodyear Wrangler TrailRunner A/T

 

FUEL ECONOMY

EPA city/highway: N/A

Observed city/highway/trail: 16.8

 

DIMENSIONS/CAPACITIES

Weight (lb): 7,721

Wheelbase (in): 158.94

Overall length (in): 249.95

Overall width (in): 81.85

Height (in): 79.82

Track f/r (in): 67.9/68.1

Minimum ground clearance (in): 10.1

Turning diameter, curb-to-curb (ft): 52.8

Approach/departure angles (deg): 24.1/21.9

Breakover angle (deg): 18.7

GVWR (lb): 11,350

Payload (lb): 3,563

Maximum towing capacity (lb): 18,500

Seating: 5

Fuel capacity (gal): 36

 

PERFORMANCE

0-60 mph (sec): 6.9

Quarter-mile (sec @ mph): 16.0 @ 91.6

Braking 60-0 mph (ft): 149.4

Ramp travel index (20-deg, points): 340

 

6th Place

2020 GMC Sierra 3500 HD Denali Dualie 6.6L Duramax

What's New
With a payload of 5,607 pounds and the ability to pull north of 30,000 when equipped with a gooseneck, the GMC Sierra 3500 HD Denali is a land-dwelling tugboat moonlighting as an off-roader. Our tester came with the familiar LP5 Duramax powerhouse, good for 445 horses and 910 ft-lbs of torque, and bolted to a freshly revamped and Allison-badged 10L1000 10-speed automatic transmission. Engineers tackled issues of heat generation and power loss in the transmission by bypassing the torque converter and, when Tow/Haul mode is selected, locking the trans in First gear to get every foot-pound of the truck's torque to the ground in demanding towing situations. Power is then routed through the MP3025 transfer case and its Autotrac system, an "industry first" for the heavy-duty segment. Brawnier driveshafts move the power into the rear differential and its gargantuan 12-inch ring gear before the dual rear wheels deliver it to the ground.

Ramp and Track
With an extra pair of tires on the rearend, the 8,355-pound Sierra 3500 HD Denali made its way up the 22-degree RTI ramp earning it a score of 334. The 6.6L turbodiesel got its 445 ponies and 910 lb-ft of torque to the ground making the dualie the third-fastest truck of the lineup with a 0-60 time of 7.3 seconds. We covered the quarter mile in 15.7 seconds and hit 89 mph in the process. After mashing the brakes, we got the rig back down to a stop in 136.6 feet.

Exterior/Interior
"Only way it could look better is with my fifth-wheel behind it!" said a judge while examining the Sierra 3500 HD Denali before testing began. Some judges nitpicked the exterior, asking for "a little less chrome," while one judge wrote "more exterior lights than my girlfriend puts up for Christmas!" We were fans of the CarbonPro bed and how the truck came ready to accept a gooseneck and/or fifth-wheel towing setup. Also favored by the judges was the six-function MultiPro tailgate, the 12 corner tiedowns, and 120-volt power; all came in the "thank God it's a long" bed. We also witnessed judges poking around the grille and hood scoop, uttering phrases like "this hood looks trick," and "I'm glad the scoop is functional."

GMC dressed the Sierra 3500 HD's interior in Walnut and Dark Ash Grey hues with bits of open-pore wood trim, meant to remind us of hand-planed furniture. Although we cringed at the thought of soiling the immaculate upholstery, many were otherwise content spending time in the rig's cabin penning comments like "it's roomy and warm" and "reminds me of some squire's study—it needs a fireplace and I need a monocle." We were fans of the head-up display and the layout of digital gauges though some judges noted their wishes for a bit of help stepping up and into the Sierra 3500.

On-Road
From the initial pulls while testing acceleration and braking to the final all-day push back to civilization on the interstate, judges were constantly in awe of the Sierra 3500 HD's comfort. "Sure rides smooth for a truck with 75 psi in all six tires," is how one judge described their experience after a lengthy pavement session. Steering and braking were "better than expected," considering the size and one judge wrote "it drives straight like a missile," while another said, "definitely not plush but planted and stable." Power from the 6.6L Duramax mixed with the imperceptible shifts through the Allison's 10 cogs inspired comments such as "pulls like a freight train" and "the power band is right where I want it." Peering over the hood reminded us of the blindspot lying in front of the grille; however, with a peek at the forward-facing camera, fears of bumping into hidden objects out front melted away. After a week on the roads and trails, we found that the dualie logged a combined fuel economy of 14.4, not too shabby for a 1-ton.

Off-Road
Anyone with questions of "how will the dualie do off-road?" got an answer in a big way. "She's a bit wide in the hips," wrote a judge after maneuvering the 1-ton truck through a craggy canyon and over a jagged ledge climb. But with that said, the Sierra 3500 HD went everywhere its single-rear wheel compatriots went, with some extra attention to the width of the extra wheels. Although its 172-inch wheelbase, lack of complete skidplate coverage, and all-season tires did little to help the truck off-road, judges noted that having two extra wheels on the ground seemed to help push the truck along when going got rough, albeit after massaging the throttle to engage the "often-more-than-fashionably-late-to-the-party G80 mechanical locker" in the rear differential.

In the sand, we gave the dualie higher marks on ride and comfort than some of its competitors with dedicated off-road packages. "Sliced isn't the word; steamrolled, perhaps?" is how one judge described the 3500's performance in the dunes. When ascending a gravel two-track with a slathering of slush, snow, and mud, the truck climbed appreciably well before we even needed four-wheel drive; however, the slippery surfaces brought to light the limitations of traction control. Traversing rolling dips and sharper drop-offs was "deceptively smooth" and "far better than expected" while washboards were the Achilles' heel of the Sierra 3500.

Bottom Line
If your definition of work or play involves 15 tons on the gooseneck and a rutted forest road, the Sierra 3500 HD Denali is your well-dressed workhorse with four-wheel-drive chops in its back pocket.

What's Hot
More than 30,000 pounds of towing capacity.
Well-composed ride on a 1-ton platform.

What's Not
High-class interior but could use an update.

Logbook Quotes
"Taj-Mahauler!"
"Interior like a walk-in closet."

 

Vehicle/model: 2020 GMC Sierra Denali 3500 DRW Crew

Base price: $66,300

Price as tested: $81,105

Options as tested: Duramax 6.6L Turbodiesel ($9,750), Denali Ultimate Package ($2,870), Gooseneck/Fifth Wheel Package ($545), Carbon Black Metallic ($495), Trailer Tire Pressure ($50), Destination Charge ($1,595)

 

ENGINE

Type: 32-valve OHV V-8 turbodiesel

Displacement (ci/liter): 403/6.6

Bore x stroke (in): 4.05x3.89

Compression ratio (:1): 16.0:1

Intake/FI: Common-rail direct injection

Mfg. 's power rating @ rpm (hp): 445 @ 2,800

Mfg. 's torque rating @ rpm (lb-ft): 910 @ 1,600

Mfg. 's suggested fuel type: Ultra-low sulfur diesel

 

DRIVETRAIN

Transmission: Allison 10L1000 10-speed

Ratios (:1):

First: 4.54

Second: 2.87

Third: 2.06

Fourth: 1.72

Fifth: 1.48

Sixth: 1.26

Seventh: 1.00

Eighth: 0.85

Ninth: 0.69

Tenth: 0.63

Reverse: 4.54

Axle ratio (:1): 3.42

Transfer case: Autotrac

Low-range ratio (:1): 2.72

Crawl ratio (:1): 42.2

 

FRAME/BODY

Frame: Steel, ladder-type

Body: Steel and aluminum

 

SUSPENSION/AXLES

Front: SLA independent w/ torsion bars/AAM 8.25-in

Rear: Semielliptic three-stage multileaf spring/AAM 9.25-in/Eaton G80 automatic locking differential

 

STEERING

Type: Hydraulic power-assisted recirculating ball w/ digital steer assist

Turns (lock-to-lock): 3.6

Ratio (:1): 18.1

 

BRAKES

Front: 14x1.6-in disc, four-piston caliper

Rear: 14.1x1.6-in disc, four-piston caliper

ABS: Four-wheel

 

WHEELS/TIRES

Wheels (in): 17x6.5 aluminum

Tires: 235/80R17 Michelin Energy Saver

 

FUEL ECONOMY

EPA city/highway: N/A

Observed city/highway/trail: 14.4

 

DIMENSIONS/CAPACITIES

Weight (lb): 8,355

Wheelbase (in): 172

Overall length (in): 266

Overall width (in): 96.75

Height (in): 80.67

Track f/r (in): 68.1/75

Minimum ground clearance (in): 10.1

Turning diameter, curb-to-curb (ft): 56.8

Approach/departure angles (deg): 24.9/21.9

Breakover angle (deg): 18.7

GVWR (lb): 14,000

Payload (lb): 5,607

Maximum towing capacity (lb): 20,000 (w/ gooseneck it's 31,180)

Seating: 5

Fuel capacity (gal): 36

 

PERFORMANCE

0-60 mph (sec): 7.3

Quarter-mile (sec @ mph): 15.7 @ 89.0

Braking 60-0 mph (ft): 136.6

Ramp travel index (20-deg, points): 334

5th Place

2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 LTZ 3.0L Duramax

What's New
Packing its 460 lb-ft torquey punch right at 1,500 rpm, the 3.0L Duramax inline-six engine is only half of the secret sauce qualifying the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ for this year's test. The oil-burner sends its torque and 277 horsepower to the Hydro-Matic 10-speed transmission, bringing an entirely new on- and off-road experience to the half-ton Chevy. Our Silverado came with the LTZ trim level affording it chrome on the bumpers, front grille, mirror caps, door handles, and side windows; along with tech goodies like adaptive cruise control, a rearview camera mirror, and a head-up display projected to the inside of the windshield.

Ramp and Track
The Silverado scored 398 on the 22-degree RTI ramp, giving it the third-best score of the lineup. With its Duramax 3.0L I-6 turbodiesel under the hood, the Silverado 1500 pulled off the line and reached 60 mph in 7.6 seconds, the fastest time of the half-ton trucks in the group. When it came to stopping the 4,940-pound Chevy, the 13.5-inch front discs with four-piston calipers and the 14.1-inch rear discs with single-piston calipers got the job done in 120 feet flat, the best score of the week. How fast did the half-ton Silverado cover the quarter mile? The answer is 15.8 seconds with a top speed of 87.8 mph.

Exterior/Interior
Judges were not shy about their collective disdain for the chrome package on the exterior; however, they appreciated the looks of the rounded wheelwells. Although the Silverado's mild all-terrain tires and 20-inch aluminum wheels were benefits on the track and highway, we wished for something a bit more aggressive with more sidewall rubber rather than multi-spoke bling. Perhaps more polarizing than the design of the front grille were the steps molded into the rear bumper. Some judges couldn't pass an opportunity to wedge their boots inside, but others folded their arms and demanded that the steps, instead, fold down and remain out of sight when not in use.

"Something about the tan and brown inside doesn't mesh with the blue paint," wrote a judge on the Silverado's interior color scheme. We found the fit and finish to be familiar for the brand and "intuitive but also not exciting." Making up for that was a hearty dose of spaciousness both up front and in the passenger quarters, making prospects of hauling the family down the road or trail that much more appealing.

On-Road
With the combination of the 3.0L Duramax's grist mill of torque with the 10-speed transmission known for handing the power of the ZL1 Camaro, judges had all the ingredients they needed for spirited dirt road driving and zippy pulls in the passing lane. "It's just a flat-out fun combo," wrote one judge about the Silverado's powertrain, "I almost wish it was louder!" We found the diesel to be well-behaved in regard to noise and harshness on the freeway stretches. Wind and tire noise were at a distinct minimum, and the truck delivered a combined fuel economy of 26 mpg during the course of our week-long test.

Off-Road
The engine and transmission did their job at routing power to all four corners without a hitch, and it was the tires that held the Silverado 1500 back off the pavement. When recalling our time traversing the rocky canyons one judge left the comment "I have sidewall paranoia" referring to the mild all-terrain rubbers. When the terrain became softer than it was jagged, the Autotrac transfer case did its job of directing power to the front and rear differentials such that we almost always had the traction we needed. We attacked the hillclimb section of the test in both 4-Lo and 4-Hi and, despite the tires, blazed our way higher on the hill than some arguably better-equipped vehicles. Judges noted, however, that the truck's air dam and plastic fenders hindered travel in the deeper mud and snow. Judges carefully observed how the Silverado performed over washboards and whooped-out terrain, noting that the suspension's response was "just a bit more unrefined and unpredictable than the other half-tons." We also marked down our desire for skidplates and rocker protection as well as front recovery points that could be used without risking damage to the front fascia.

Bottom Line
Duramax diesel power and ten gears keep the Silverado exciting no matter what's beneath the tires, but off-roaders with more than gravel tracks or snowy roads in their plans need more than the LTZ has to offer.

What's Hot
600-plus miles of range, plenty of passing power even at full payload.

What's Not
Meager ground clearance and lackluster suspension performance over quicker bumps.

Our Take
The new Duramax mill is tantalizing, but it doesn't quite pick up the slack of the off-road package.

Logbook Quotes
"The dualie flexes more than this. "
"How many states can I cover on one tank?"

Vehicle/model: 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ Crew

Base price: $49,000

Price as tested: $62,020

Options as tested: Duramax 3.0L Turbodiesel ($2,495), LTZ Premium Package ($6,700), Technology Package ($2,125), Z71 Off-Road and Protection Package ($1,605), Destination Charge ($1,595)

 

ENGINE

Type: 24-valve DOHC I-6 turbodiesel

Displacement (ci/liter): 183/3.0

Bore x stroke (in): 3.30x3.54

Compression ratio (:1): 15.0

Intake/FI: Common-rail direct injection

Mfg. 's power rating @ rpm (hp): 277 @ 3,750

Mfg. 's torque rating @ rpm (lb-ft): 460 @ 1,500

Mfg. 's suggested fuel type: Ultra-low sulfur diesel

 

DRIVETRAIN

Transmission: Hydro-Matic 10L80 10-speed

Ratios (:1):

First: 4.70

Second: 2.99

Third: 2.15

Fourth: 1.77

Fifth: 1.52

Sixth: 1.28

Seventh: 1.00

Eighth: 0.85

Ninth: 0.69

Tenth: 0.64

Reverse: 4.87

Axle ratio (:1): 3.23

Transfer case: Autotrac

Low-range ratio (:1): 2.72

Crawl ratio (:1): 41.2

 

FRAME/BODY

Frame: Steel, ladder-type

Body: Steel and aluminum

 

SUSPENSION/AXLES

Front: Independent, coilovers, Rancho shocks/AAM 8.25-in

Rear: Semielliptic, variable-rate, two-stage multileaf springs, Rancho shocks/AAM 9.25-in/Eaton G80 automatic locking differential

STEERING

Type: Electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion

Turns (lock-to-lock): 3.1

Ratio (:1): 15.7:1

BRAKES

Front: 13.5-in vented disc, four-piston caliper

Rear: 14.1-in vented disc, single-piston caliper

ABS: Four-wheel

 

WHEELS/TIRES

Wheels (in): 20x9 aluminum

Tires: 265/60R20 Bridgestone Dueler A/T

 

FUEL ECONOMY

EPA city/highway: 23/39

Observed city/highway/trail: 26

 

DIMENSIONS/CAPACITIES

Weight (lb): 4,940

Wheelbase (in): 147.4

Overall length (in): 231.7

Overall width (in): 81.2

Height (in): 75.5

Track f/r (in): 69.9/68.3

Minimum ground clearance (in): 8.1

Turning diameter, curb-to-curb (ft): 50.2

Approach/departure angles (deg): 19.1/23.5

Breakover angle (deg): 19.3

GVWR (lb): 7,200

Payload (lb): 2,060

Maximum towing capacity (lb): 9,300

Seating: 5

Fuel capacity (gal): 24

 

PERFORMANCE

0-60 mph (sec): 7.6

Quarter-mile (sec @ mph): 15.8 @ 87.8

Braking 60-0 mph (ft): 120.0

Ramp travel index (20-deg, points): 398

 

4th Place

2020 GMC Sierra 2500 HD AT4 6.6L Duramax

What's New
Although similar to its LTZ-badged cousin, the GMC Sierra 2500 HD AT4 brings a unique off-road package to the heavy-duty segment. There's nothing new about the 6.6L Duramax LP5 turbodiesel and its output of 445 horses and 910 lb-ft of torque. The news comes downstream of the engine with the Allison-branded 10L1000 10-speed automatic transmission. As described by the engineers, the new gearbox is built to withstand more power and torque than the engine in front of it can produce, and get it all to the ground effectively. Also new for the heavy-duty segment is the Autotrac transfer case, which allows the driver to, at the push of a button, select between 2WD, 4-Hi, 4-Lo, or Auto. While in Auto, the MP3025 transfer case will automatically transfer between 0 and 50 percent of torque to the front differential, which is said to be ideal for many low-traction driving conditions. Along with bigger driveshafts and axle ratios limited to 3.42:1, the HD AT4 comes outfitted with a quartet of custom-tuned Rancho monotube gas shocks and a set of progressive-rate rear springs to better handle off-road terrain.

Ramp and Track
The GMC Sierra 2500 HD AT4 led the heavy-duty trucks on the 22-degree RTI ramp with a score of 374. Only a fraction of a second behind its LTZ-badged competitor, the Sierra 2500 AT4 sailed down the strip gaining 60 mph from a standstill in 7 seconds flat. It took the Sierra 2500 AT4 only 15.4 seconds to cover the quarter mile while reaching 91.7 mph, a time and speed combo that led the entire lineup of pickup trucks. Although the brakes and curb weights were identical between the two, the HD AT4 ground to a halt from 60 mph in 146.4 feet, exactly 36 inches sooner than the Silverado 2500 LTZ.

Exterior/Interior
"It has that Stormtrooper look" is what one judge penned referring to the GMC Sierra 2500 HD AT4's body-color front bumper and blacked-out grille, and there were many more positive remarks to the overall appearance of the truck. We liked the improvements in stance given by the 4.8-inch-longer wheelbase and the extra inch of track width in the rear, though the tires left a bit to be desired, as they were milder for the all-terrain category.

Having heard of its resistance to baseball bat impacts, judges were seen poring over the CarbonPro bed, wondering how it would hold up to loads of fill dirt, campfire logs, and antiquated 4x4 parts. One judge questioned the MultiPro tailgate: "How'll all these pivot points do after a few summers of loading gravel and mulch?"

When inside the HD AT4, judges commended the low level of noise in the cabin and praised the dual-zone HVAC controls with their respective "finger-friendly" knobs. One judge wrote, "I guess this is necessary now" when addressing the newfound utility of the head-up display. Comments on the interior in general ranged from "Geez, this needs a refresh" to "It's clean, smooth, and has everything I want, where I want it." We certainly appreciated the wealth of camera angles available on the 8-inch IntelliLink infotainment system which, though we didn't test this specific feature, can "see through" trailers in tow behind the vehicle.

On Road
"This has an irresponsible amount of power!" came out of one judge's lips after completing the acceleration test in the HD AT4, and we can assume they were amazed by how the 6.6L Duramax and Allison 10-speed funneled the 445 horsepower and 910 lb-ft of torque straight to the tarmac. When testing the truck's response to unexpected lane departure, judges were alerted of their wandering through a vibrating seat, which some found a bit intrusive. We were never sad to sit in the cabin for extended highway pushes, and when we discussed road trips in the HD AT4 judges either nodded in approval, "I'd haul cross-country with it" or griped, "That seat is a bit too stiff for my liking."

Off-Road
"Most fun I've had in a 3/4-ton!" scrawled a judge after a few laps around our sand dune test track. Judges felt the HD AT4 "handled itself with composure" when hitting dips and bumps in the road at higher speed, without uncontrolled bouncing or excessive head toss.

In fact, over smaller, washboard-sized irregularities, judges described the ride as "jarring," "rough," and said, "I wish paying for an off-road package made this kind of terrain feel better." Regarding the AT4 package, some judges were left wanting more citing a lack of skidplates and a tire with more off-road attitude. When we aimed the HD AT4 up our snowed-over muddy hillclimb, we were left disappointed by how much the traction control intervened when we dug into the throttle. Attacking the hill at slower speeds also had us questioning the G80 automatic locker, which, as described by a judge, "required too much wheel speed to even be functional."

Another judge quipped, "I'd vote leather seats off the island if I could have a pair of selectable lockers." The camera system in the truck worked just as well off-road as it did in tight parking lots and as one judge wrote, "This should save my passengers from spotting duties!" We were also fans of the accessible towhooks, which were coated in red and ready to yank less-fortunate vehicles out of a sticky situation.

Bottom Line
If a boost in rough-road confidence is just as important to you as sleek looks and monster power on the highway, the GMC Sierra 2500 HD AT4 is your truck.

What's Hot
Screamin' power on tap and a snazzy new gearbox to back it up.
Enough off-road tuning to take the edges off the rough stuff.

What's Not
Say it with us: Selectable Locker.
Less-than-aggressive all-terrain tires.

Our Take
This is the truck your HD wishes it was.

Logbook Quotes
"A 3/4-ton of fun in the sand!"
"Dear traction control fairies: please leave me alone."

Vehicle/model: 2020 GMC Sierra 2500 Crew Cab AT4

Base price: $57,700

Price as tested: $76,960

Options as tested: Duramax 6.6L Turbodiesel ($9,890), AT4 Premium Package ($4,215), Technology Package ($2,125), Power Sunroof ($995), Driver Alert Package II ($645), Gooseneck/Fifth Wheel Package ($545), Destination Charge ($1,595)

 

ENGINE

Type: 32-valve OHV V-8 turbodiesel

Displacement (ci/liter): 403/6.6

Bore x stroke (in): 4.05x3.89

Compression ratio (:1): 16.0:1

Intake/FI: Common-rail direct injection

Mfg. 's power rating @ rpm (hp): 445 @ 2,800

Mfg. 's torque rating @ rpm (lb-ft): 910 @ 1,600

Mfg. 's suggested fuel type: Ultra-low sulfur diesel

 

DRIVETRAIN

Transmission: Allison 10L1000 10-speed

Ratios (:1):

First: 4.54

Second: 2.87

Third: 2.06

Fourth: 1.72

Fifth: 1.48

Sixth: 1.26

Seventh: 1.00

Eighth: 0.85

Ninth: 0.69

Tenth: 0.63

Reverse: 4.54

Axle ratio (:1): 3.42

Transfer case: Autotrac

Low-range ratio (:1): 2.72

Crawl ratio (:1): 42.2

 

FRAME/BODY

Frame: Steel, ladder-type

Body: Steel and aluminum

 

SUSPENSION/AXLES

Front: SLA independent w/ torsion bars/AAM 8.25-in

Rear: Semielliptic three-stage multileaf spring/AAM 9.25-in/Eaton G80 automatic locking differential

 

STEERING

Type: Hydraulic power recirculating ball w/ digital steer assist

Turns (lock-to-lock): 3.6

Ratio (:1): 18

 

BRAKES

Front: 14x1.6-in vented disc, twin-piston pin-slider caliper

Rear: 14.1x1.3-in vented disc, twin-piston pin-slider caliper

ABS: Four-wheel

 

WHEELS/TIRES

Wheels (in): 20x8 aluminum

Tires: LT275/65R20 Goodyear Wrangler TrailRunner AT

 

FUEL ECONOMY

EPA city/highway: N/A

Observed city/highway/trail: 18.3

 

DIMENSIONS/CAPACITIES

Weight (lb): 7,721

Wheelbase (in): 158.94

Overall length (in): 250

Overall width (in): 81.85

Height (in): 79.82

Track f/r (in): 68.1/68.3

Minimum ground clearance (in): 10.1

Turning diameter, curb-to-curb (ft): 52.8

Approach/departure angles (deg): 24.9/21.9

Breakover angle (deg): 18.7

GVWR (lb): 11,350

Payload (lb): 3,563

Maximum towing capacity (lb): 18,500

Seating: 5

Fuel capacity (gal): 36

 

PERFORMANCE

0-60 mph (sec): 7.0

Quarter-mile (sec @ mph): 15.4 @ 91.7

Braking 60-0 mph (ft): 146.4

Ramp travel index (20-deg, points): 374

 

3rd Place

2020 Ram Rebel 1500 3.0L EcoDiesel

What's New
With a revamped 3.0L EcoDiesel closely related to the one found in the '20 Jeep Wrangler, the Ram Rebel 1500 secured itself a place on this year's Pickup Truck of the Year test. The diesel sends 480 lb-ft of torque and 260 horsepower through the familiar TorqueFlite 8HP75 eight-speed automatic transmission giving an entirely new on- and off-road experience compared to that of the previous year's Hemi-powered Rebel.

The Rebel's compacted graphite iron block and aluminum heads shaved 15 pounds from the previous generation, while the aluminum alloy pistons have a connecting pin offset by 0.3 mm to quiet any piston slap. The compression ratio dropped from 16.5:1 to 16.0:1 in the name of increased efficiency, made possible by redesigning the ports and combustion chambers for better intake swirl, fuel burn, and exhaust flow. VM Motori also added upgraded eight-hole servovalve injectors and a water-cooled, variable-geometry turbine from Garrett Advancing Motion for gains in turbo boost, horsepower, and torque. Fuel is delivered by a Bosch CP4-series injection pump, which fills the rails to the tune of 29,000 psi. To keep the EcoDiesel cool, the charge-air cooler was moved behind an opening in the bumper where computer-controlled shutters modulate airflow to balance cooling with aerodynamic drag. Also new for the EcoDiesel is dual-loop exhaust gas recirculation system which contributes to improvements in fuel economy and lowers harmful gas emissions. New shift patterns and a fresh torque converter give the TorqueFlite 8HP75 eight-speed trans what it needs to handle the low-rpm goodness of the EcoDiesel. Downstream of the gearbox, the drivetrain remains unchanged from that found in the Hemi-powered Rebel.

Ramp and Track
When we shifted into 4-Lo and engaged the selectable rear locker, we crawled up the 22-degree RTI ramp to a score of 393, the least-flexy mark out of the half-ton trucks. The Rebel got off the line and up to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds and covered the quarter mile in 17 seconds while reaching 83.4 mph in the process. With no change in brake dimensions from the previous year's Hemi-powered Rebel, the diesel-powered Ram slowed from 60 to 0 in 126.9 feet.

Interior/Exterior
We observed judges standing at a distance, looking at the Rebel's grille and making comparisons between it and the pursed-lip visage of the Star Wars character, Nien Nunb. We were befuddled to find that the $595 option of spray-in bedliner was not included in our test vehicle. Judges also commented "slim pickings" as they counted the number of available cargo hooks in the bed on a single hand. We were fans of the "angry and artistic" styling around the truck from the front skidplate to the dual exhaust tips out back. However, we heard a judge ask, "Do we need to be told it's a Ram in license-plate-sized font on the tailgate?"

"This is my throne," commented a judge after hopping down from inside the Rebel, and many others agreed. We felt far more comforted by the Rebel's seats than other vehicles on the test, and the array of controls within reach of the driver was impressive. In terms of four-wheel-drive engagement, a few judges brandished indignant fists over the selector knob in place of a traditional transfer case lever—or even buttons, for that matter. However, this feature did create a "pirate's treasure chest of space" in the console spacious enough for a common laptop computer. We were also impressed by the soft-to-the-touch materials in the dash and the seamless transition between panels. One incredibly observant judge even pointed out the trigonometric ratios, metric conversion tables, and other mathematical goodies found under the console lid, as well as rulers (15 inches and 26 centimeters) molded into the floor storage inserts. "So, I can measure fish and help my kid with homework?"

On-Road
When judges compared the 3.0L EcoDiesel to the previous year's 5.7L Hemi, we found comments to the tune of "it's a more relaxing driving experience," and "I didn't think I'd like the engine/trans combo, but I did." VM Motori's efforts to make the EcoDiesel quieter and smoother were also reflected in the comments as judges praised the noise level in the cabin, with one judge even wishing for "more of that diesel growl I love." Throughout our test, the Rebel delivered an average fuel economy of just over 20 mpg, the least efficient of the half-ton diesels, but the third most efficient truck. (Calculations are based on our actual fuel consumed and miles driven).

Off-Road
One keystone of the Rebel's off-road performance was the selectable rear locker. Judges drew stars next to their notes and used exclamation marks with reckless abandon when conveying their support for this "must-have" feature. Sand performance was aided by the locking rear diff, but dunes also reminded judges of the truck's low-rpm powerplant and its inherent limitations. We had fun in 4-Lo "chugging through the rocks," during our gnarlier trips through the canyons, but the 8.2 inches of ground clearance left a little to be desired as the geology neared the truck's undercarriage. We found ourselves either craning our necks to see over the hood or barking at our passengers to spot in front of the truck due to a lack of forward-facing camera, a feature we've come to appreciate in similar trucks. The Rebel's response to trail irregularities at quicker speeds was "one of the most composed" of the entire lineup with the IFS up front and five-link rear suspension working in concert to make whoops and washboards alike feel next to nonexistent. After engaging the rear locker and selecting 4-Lo, we dug the Goodyear DuraTracs deep into the pudding mud and slushy snow making a solid attempt at the hillclimb, still limited in our forward progress by the lower rpms of the EcoDiesel.

Bottom Line
In and out, top to bottom, the Rebel goes the distance whether that's value, fuel economy, or how surprisingly far down that gnarly trail you can actually drive it.

What's Hot
Selectable rear locker and EcoDiesel power.

What's Not
Tight second-row seating.
Needs more cargo hooks in the bed.

Logbook Quotes
"I don't like the macho mustache grille. "
"This is the amount of truck I want for my money. "
"Dials are for the radio, not the t-case."

Vehicle/model: 2020 Ram 1500 Rebel Quad Cab

Base price: $45,190

Price as tested: $58,605

Options as tested: Luxury Leather-Trimmed Bucket Seats ($1,545), Safety and Convenience Group ($895), Rebel Level 2 Equipment Group ($3,000), 3.0L EcoDiesel Turbodiesel ($4,995), Rear Wheelhouse Liners ($195), Uconnect 4C NAV w/ 8.4-inch Display ($795), Trailer Brake Control ($295), Destination Charge ($1,695)

 

ENGINE

Type: 24-valve DOHC I-6 turbodiesel

Displacement (ci/liter): 182/3.0

Bore x stroke (in): 3.27x3.60

Compression ratio (:1): 16.0:1

Intake/FI: Common-rail, solenoid injectors

Mfg. 's power rating @ rpm (hp): 260 @ 3,600

Mfg. 's torque rating @ rpm (lb-ft): 480 @ 1,600

Mfg. 's suggested fuel type: Ultra-low sulfur diesel

 

DRIVETRAIN

Transmission: Torqueflite 8HP75 8-speed

Ratios (:1):

First: 4.71

Second: 3.14

Third: 2.10

Fourth: 1.67

Fifth: 1.29

Sixth: 1.00

Seventh: 0.84

Eighth: 0.67

Reverse: 3.30

Axle ratio (:1): 3.02

Transfer case: BW 48-12

Low-range ratio (:1): 2.64

Crawl ratio (:1): 37.6

 

FRAME/BODY

Frame: Ladder-type steel

Body: Steel and aluminum

 

SUSPENSION/AXLES

Front: Upper and lower A-arms, coil springs, twin-tube shock absorbers and stabilizer bar/ZF 8.5-in

Rear: Five-link w/ track bar, coil springs, stabilizer bar, twin-tube shock absorbers/Chrysler 9.25-in/electronic locking differential

 

STEERING

Type: Electric

Turns (lock-to-lock): 3.4

Ratio (:1): 17.8

 

BRAKES

Front: 14.9x1.2 vented disc, two-piston pin-slider caliper

Rear: 14.8x.87 vented disc, single-piston pin-slider caliper

ABS: Four-wheel

 

WHEELS/TIRES

Wheels (in): 18x8 aluminum

Tires: 275/55R20 Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac (note: That size is according to media specs. Tire size in photo of test vehicle: 275/70R18)

 

FUEL ECONOMY

EPA city/highway: 22/32

Observed city/highway/trail: 20.5

 

DIMENSIONS/CAPACITIES

Weight (lb): 5,072

Wheelbase (in): 140.5

Overall length (in): 228.9

Overall width (in): 82.1

Height (in): 77.7

Track f/r (in): 68.5/68.1

Minimum ground clearance (in): 8.2

Turning diameter, curb-to-curb (ft): 44.8

Approach/departure angles (deg): 18.9/25

Breakover angle (deg): 17.8

GVWR (lb): 7,100

Payload (lb): 1,535

Maximum towing capacity (lb): 10,035

Seating: 6

Fuel capacity (gal): 26

 

PERFORMANCE

0-60 mph (sec): 8.4

Quarter-mile (sec @ mph): 17.0 @ 83.4

Braking 60-0 mph (ft): 126.9

Ramp travel index (20-deg, points): 393

 

 

2nd Place

2020 GMC Sierra 1500 AT4 3.0L Duramax

What's New
With a bit of engineering magic to fit the new powerplant under the hood, GM's inline-six has finally met the Sierra 1500 AT4. The 3.0L Duramax diesel comes with a suite of tech, including a lag-reducing variable-geometry turbocharger, a high- and low-pressure exhaust gas recirculation system to keep parasitic turbo boost losses (and emissions) to a minimum, a variable intake manifold, and active thermal management to keep the I-6 within its optimal temperature range. Next up for the 277 horses and 460 lb-ft of torque is the Hydro-Matic 10L80 10-speed with a habit of keeping the engine within its grunty powerband.

Ramp and Track
With new springs giving the truck a two-inch lift and Rancho shocks damping its motions, the Sierra 1500 AT4 idled up the 22-degree RTI ramp, claiming a score of 416, the highest score of all our independent-front-suspension-clad trucks and the second-highest score overall. The Sierra's 0-60 time of 8 seconds put it right in the middle of the truck lineup, and the same could be said about its 60-0 braking distance of 130.4 feet. Using its 3.0L Duramax diesel powerplant, the Sierra covered the quarter mile in 16.2 seconds hitting 85.9 mph.

Exterior/Interior
We witnessed many of the judges turning their heads and nodding in approval of the Sierra 1500's looks. "It's surprising what a couple inches of lift and mean-lookin' tires can do for a half-ton," noted one judge, referencing the improvements in stance afforded by the AT4 package. Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires on 18-inch wheels were nice on paper, but some of us wished the combo looked bigger in the wheelwells. Around back, sneakers and work boots alike found the bumper's molded steps useful for accessing cargo stored in the box, and one judge happily exclaimed, while surveying the CarbonPro bed and its 14 tie-down points, "It's got more hooks than I have fingers!" We also watched judges explore the six-function MultiPro tailgate and heard reviews of "campfire chair and cooking table all in one," and "I didn't know I needed this."

Stepping inside the Sierra 1500 AT4 garnered responses of "It's sleek and refined" and "Not a lot of frilly doodads," while other judges just couldn't get onboard with the feel of the interior. One judge commented, referencing the Sierra's "spacious" second row of seating, "I could sleep comfortably back here, on the floor!"

On-Road
Pressing the Sierra 1500's accelerator led one judge to comment "Just the right amount of diesel, all the good stuff, not the noise." Another wrote how they "desperately wanted to tow something with it." We found the I-6 and 10-speed to be a fun and sporty combo when we needed it to be, while also logging the very respectable fuel economy numbers of 24.6 mpg. Judges gave a few thumbs in the upward direction to the feel of the brakes, the head-up display, and the cheery natural light afforded by the truck's sunroof.

Off-Road
Judges quickly were quick to comment on the two drastic changes to the Sierra 1500 AT4. First, the Duramax diesel got their attention as one of them wrote "All the torque is right where I want it, especially when in 4-Lo." Goodyear DuraTrac tires got mainly high marks from the judges, especially when testing in the snow and on muddy trails. After putting traction control systems to the test, judges found them to be "present, but not too intrusive in the sand" while another judge, after a stint on a snowy backroad commented "the nannies actually kept me safe!" When traveling at higher speeds over bumps and dealing with cantaloupe-sized rocks at low speed, we noticed changes (for the better) in the shock tuning, which kept the dreaded pogo effect at a minimum. With a suite of available camera views on the infotainment screen, we noticed one judge's comment of "I can now wheel confidently solo with my little digital spotters!" Cresting over hills and inspecting the proximity of rocks to the sidewalls was suddenly a button push away. Although the plastic side steps helped with ingress, some judges wondered "If AT4 is an off-road package, shouldn't these be rocksliders?"

Bottom Line
The GMC Sierra 1500 AT4 sits at the peak of mean looks, trail tech, and roadtrip accommodation with diesel power, 10 gears behind it, and the AT4 off-road package.

What's Hot
Aggressive tires and off-road oriented cameras.

What's Not
18-inch wheels and low-hanging plastic.

Our Take
It's torquey, it's attractive, and the tailgate will impress your friends.

Logbook Quotes
"Six in a row makes me say WHOAH off-road!"
"Side step? You mean plastic rock slider!"

Vehicle/model: 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 Crew Cab AT4

Base price: $53,400

Price as tested: $66,295

Options as tested: Duramax 3.0L Turbodiesel ($2,495), AT4 CarbonPro Edition ($4,415), Technology Package ($2,305), Driver Alert Package II ($1,095), Power Sunroof ($995), Satin Steel Metallic ($495), Destination Charge ($1,595)

 

ENGINE

Type: 24-valve DOHC I-6 turbodiesel

Displacement (ci/liter): 183/3.0

Bore x stroke (in): 3.30x3.54

Compression ratio (:1): 15.0

Intake/FI: High-pressure, common-rail direct injection

Mfg. 's power rating @ rpm (hp): 277 @ 3,750

Mfg. 's torque rating @ rpm (lb-ft): 460 @ 1,500

Mfg. 's suggested fuel type: Ultra-low sulfur diesel

 

DRIVETRAIN

Transmission: Hydro-Matic 10L80 10-speed

Ratios (:1):

First: 4.70

Second: 2.99

Third: 2.15

Fourth: 1.77

Fifth: 1.52

Sixth: 1.28

Seventh: 1.00

Eighth: 0.85

Ninth: 0.69

Tenth: 0.64

Reverse: 4.87

Axle ratio (:1): 3.23

Transfer case: Autotrac

Low-range ratio (:1): 2.72

Crawl ratio (:1): 41.2

 

FRAME/BODY

Frame: Steel, ladder-type

Body: Steel and aluminum

 

SUSPENSION/AXLES

Front: Independent, coilovers, Rancho shocks/AAM 8.25-in

Rear: Semielliptic, variable-rate, two-stage multileaf springs, Rancho shocks/AAM 9.25-in/Eaton G80 automatic locking differential

 

STEERING

Type: Electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion

Turns (lock-to-lock): 3.1

Ratio (:1): 15.7:1

 

BRAKES

Front: 13.5-in vented disc, four-piston caliper

Rear: 14.1-in vented disc, single-piston caliper

ABS: Four-wheel

 

WHEELS/TIRES

Wheels (in): 18x8.5 aluminum

Tires: 275/65R18 Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac A/T

 

FUEL ECONOMY

EPA city/highway: 22/26

Observed city/highway/trail: 24.6

 

DIMENSIONS/CAPACITIES

Weight (lb): 5,410

Wheelbase (in): 147.5

Overall length (in): 231.7

Overall width (in): 81.2

Height (in): 78.4

Track f/r (in): 67.9/68.3

Minimum ground clearance (in): 10.9

Turning diameter, curb-to-curb (ft): 49.5

Approach/departure angles (deg): 28.7/27.2

Breakover angle (deg): 20.4

GVWR (lb): 7,100

Payload (lb): 2,120

Maximum towing capacity (lb): 9,000

Seating: 5

Fuel capacity (gal): 24

 

PERFORMANCE

0-60 mph (sec): 8.0

Quarter-mile (sec @ mph): 16.2 @ 85.9

Braking 60-0 mph (ft): 130.4

Ramp travel index (20-deg, points): 416

 

Winner!

2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

What's New
You wanted it, and now it's here wearing the Rubicon badge. We were told by FCA that the "Gladiator is 100 percent Jeep and 100 percent truck," and it's the first truck we've seen from Jeep since the last Comanche rolled off the line in 1992. Our Rubicon-badged Gladiator came with the familiar 3.6L V-6 and the 850RE eight-speed automatic transmission that we've come to know in the JL Wrangler. With a First gear ratio of 4.71:1, the standard NV241OR 4.0:1 Rock-Trac transfer case reduction ratio, and 4.10:1 gears in both dana 44s, the Gladiator reigned supreme amongst our trucks with a 77.2:1 crawl ratio. Compared to its relative, the JL Unlimited, the Gladiator gained 18.9 inches in wheelbase and 31 inches in the frame, while also sporting a greater distance between the A-pillar and front axle to keep the articulating axle out of the oil pan. Higher payload and towing ratings come from wide-track, third-gen Advantek-based Dana 44 axles, and the rear tubes feature a beefier ring-and-pinion, 10mm axletubes, and 5-percent-larger brakes. The Gladiator's rear suspension borrows from the Ram with a five-link design; the shocks are angled forward for better load control; and dual-rate coils can be found in place of the JL's linear-rate springs.

Ramp and Track
Like we've been trained to do on anything with a Rubicon badge, we pushed the button to disconnect the Gladiator's sway bar, locked the axles, and crawled the Jeep truck to a winning score of 583 on the ramp. The JT, however, was the slowest truck to run down the track, taking 17.2 seconds to complete the quarter mile and breaking 60 mph in 9.5 seconds. With the same front brakes as the JL and 13.6x.86-inch single-piston brakes in the rear, the Gladiator screeched its way to a fifth-place score, going from 60 to stop in 120 feet.

Exterior/Interior
Standing eye-to-eye with the Gladiator's grille, there's not much to signify that it's Jeep's new truck other than the self-cleaning, forward-facing off-road camera (which was lauded by the judges). From afar, judges wrote there was no question about it, the Gladiator is undoubtedly a Jeep with its iconic edges, fenders, windshield, and overall rugged design. Aesthetically, one judge wrote that the Gladiator's bed "looks like an open filing cabinet drawer from behind," and others wished the bed was a bit deeper. However, the more vertically challenged judges noted the lower height made in-bed cargo easily accessible from over the bedsides. We were split on the soft top with some judges applauding the ability to roll back the roof on a truck and others concerned that it "appears flimsy and cheap on the vehicle."

Inside, the trim was "Jeep's standard" with a minimally adjustable driver seat, a red dash "to match the paint color," and the revered shift lever for the transfer case. "I still reach for the door panel to roll down the window," commented a judge, referencing the window controls which still reside on the center stack. We were fans of the forward-facing TrailCam and the rear-facing camera on the 8.4-inch touchscreen, as well as the numerous off-road-centric readouts located directly in front of the driver. While not the most luxurious interior of the test, the tools and dials within our reach each served a distinct function and for that we were grateful.

On-Road
Comments echoed throughout the week to the tune of "feels like the Wrangler, but a bit rougher," and "I can't wait for the road to turn to dirt." Judges heard hints of familiar wind buffeting from the truck's steep windshield angle and a bit of a flap from the soft top but were otherwise impressed with the overall lack of cabin noise, despite the addition of Falken Wildpeak mud-terrain tires. Adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, and blind-spot monitoring all kept judges happy when testing the Gladiator in crowded parking lots and congested freeways, and we were thankful for the backup camera's dynamic gridlines when we selected "R" on the gearshift.

Off-Road
Between the rocks and ruts and from the snow to the sand, the Gladiator earned every syllable of its Rubicon badging. One judge penned it concisely, "Not my first choice for a road trip, but my only choice for the trails!" The manual transfer case lever received universally positive remarks, as did the steel bumpers, skidplating, and rocker protection. Sand gave judges a chance to explore the Gladiator's Off-Road Plus feature, which in higher-speed, low-traction applications, increases throttle responsiveness and decreases the threshold for traction control intervention. (Read: it allows for more wheel slip at speed aka "Party Mode in the sand. ") With its low-range ratio, 33-inch mud-terrain tires, and armor, the Gladiator owned the rocky trails. During the snowy hillclimb, its pair of locking differentials pulled it to the top in 4-Hi, leaving judges hard-pressed for scorning words. With one more live axle than every other truck in the lineup, judges had ample time to examine the Gladiator's responses to surface irregularities in direct comparison to similar IFS-equipped trucks—and the comments were fascinating. While we saw notes stating, "It's no whoop-eater," "I hear some chatter down there," and "Holy wheel hop!", judges also explained in their log books how the Fox shocks' tuning and the suspension geometry combined to give a "better than expected ride" over the rough stuff. One judge remarked "I'll take a few bumps, 'cause the Gladiator crawls rocks and can tow three tons!"

Bottom Line
Let's get real; you're buying the Gladiator because you want to take the doors off your half-ton, fold down the roof, and throw some camp gear into the bed while crawling the Rubicon Trail.

What's Hot
Lever-shifted transfer case, front and rear selectable locking differentials, honest-to-goodness factory rocker protection.

What's Not
Road noise, cramped passenger quarters.

Our Take
Pickup Truck of the Year!

Logbook Quotes
"Still needs a winch. "
"Watch me roll back the soft top on my pickup truck?"
"It'd look a ton better on 40s."

Vehicle/model: 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

Base price: $43,545

Price as tested: $58,370

Options as tested: Leather-Trimmed Bucket Seats ($1,495), Trailer-Tow Package ($350), Cold Weather Group ($995) Premium LED Lighting Group ($1,045), 8.4-inch Radio and Premium Audio Group ($1,695), Active Safety Group ($895), Adaptive Cruise Control/Forward Collision Warning+ ($795), Auxiliary Switch Group ($295), 8-Speed Automatic Transmission ($2,000), Remote Proximity Keyless Entry ($495), Winch-Capable Steel Front Bumper ($795), Body-Color Fender Flares ($495), Wireless Bluetooth Speaker ($295), Premium Black Sunrider Soft Top ($595), Spray-In Bedliner ($495), Forward-Facing TrailCam ($595), Destination Charge ($1,495)

 

ENGINE

Type: 24-valve DOHC V-6 w/ ESS

Displacement (ci/liter): 220/3.6

Bore x stroke (in): 3.78x3.27

Compression ratio (:1): 11.3:1

Intake/FI: Sequential, multiport, electronic, returnless

Mfg. 's power rating @ rpm (hp): 285 @ 6,400

Mfg. 's torque rating @ rpm (lb-ft): 260 @ 4,400

Mfg. 's suggested fuel type: Unleaded, 87

 

DRIVETRAIN

Transmission: 850RE eight-speed

Ratios (:1):

First: 4.71

Second: 3.13

Third: 2.10

Fourth: 1.67

Fifth: 1.28

Sixth: 1.00

Seventh: 0.84

Eighth: 0.67

Reverse: 3.30

Axle ratio (:1): 4.10

Transfer case: NV241OR Rock-Trac

Low-range ratio (:1): 4.00

Crawl ratio (:1): 77.2

 

FRAME/BODY

Frame: Ladder-type steel

Body: Steel and aluminum

 

SUSPENSION/AXLES

Front: Coil springs, leading arms, track bar, electronically controlled sway bar disconnect, Fox monotube shock absorbers w/ hydraulic rebound stop, Dana 44/Tru-Lok electronic locking differential

Rear: Coil springs, leading arms, track bar, stabilizer bar, Fox monotube shock absorbers w/ hydraulic rebound stop/Dana 44/Tru-Lok electronic locking differential

 

STEERING

Type: Electro-hydraulic power

Turns (lock-to-lock): 3.24

Ratio (:1): 13.3

 

BRAKES

Front: 12.9x1.1 vented rotor, twin-piston floating caliper

Rear: 13.6x.86 vented rotor, single-piston floating caliper

ABS: Four-wheel

 

WHEELS/TIRES

Wheels (in): 17x7.5 aluminum

Tires: LT285/70R17C Falken Wildpeak A/T

 

FUEL ECONOMY

EPA city/highway: 17/22

Observed city/highway/trail: 16.0

 

DIMENSIONS/CAPACITIES

Weight (lb): 5,072

Wheelbase (in): 137.3

Overall length (in): 218

Overall width (in): 73.8

Height (in): 74.1

Track f/r (in): 64.4/64.4

Minimum ground clearance (in): 11.1

Turning diameter, curb-to-curb (ft): 44.8

Approach/departure angles (deg): 43.4/26

Breakover angle (deg): 20.3

GVWR (lb): 6,250

Payload (lb): 1,105

Maximum towing capacity (lb): 6,000

Seating: 5

Fuel capacity (gal): 22

 

PERFORMANCE

0-60 mph (sec): 9.5

Quarter-mile (sec @ mph): 17.2 @ 80.8

Braking 60-0 mph (ft): 131.7

Ramp travel index (20-deg, points): 583

How We Test 'Em

We began our weeklong 2020 Pickup Truck of the Year test in Los Angeles by measuring each vehicle's ramp travel index (RTI) to determine suspension articulation. We then traveled to Auto Club Dragway in Fontana, where we used a RaceLogic Performance Box to gather acceleration and braking data. From the track, we convoyed to higher elevations via paved roads, along the way gathering important data including each truck's ride, handling, and fuel efficiency, among other things. For the next three days, we spent time in every type of driving situation you can imagine—from stop-and-go city driving to wide-open highway. Because our focus is on off-road performance, we spent the majority of time in the dirt, water, mud, sand, rocks, and snow. Each day of driving began shortly after sunup and ended after sundown. We traveled to both high and low altitudes, and we drove in the dark to test lighting. On the last day, we made the trek back to the Los Angeles area, which completed the test. In the end, we drove each truck approximately 1,000 miles.

How We Score 'Em

Our scoring procedure utilized five weighted categories. Here's the breakdown: 30 percent Trail Performance (how a vehicle performs in a variety of wheeling environments and off-road-centric features like 4WD system operation, tires, traction aids, and so on); 25 percent Empirical (RTI, acceleration, braking, price, and so on); 20 percent On-Road Performance (handling, ride quality, steering feel, and so on); 15 percent Interior (instrumentation, ingress and egress, seat comfort, bed area storage, and so on); and 10 percent Exterior (appearance, cargo bed functionality, body protection, and so on).

John Cappa, Four Wheeler Contributor

The GMC Sierra 3500 HD Denali Dualie impressed me with its on- and off-road performance and capability. Interestingly enough, it offered a smoother ride than the Chevy and GMC 2500 trucks in the test. I've always wanted a dually, and I kind of like the idea of hauling my slide-in camper while towing a trailer. The GMC Sierra 3500 Dually could easily accomplish this task and let me do it while enjoying a very comfortable interior.

Christian Hazel, 4-Wheel & Off-Road Editor

I really, really wanted to love the Gladiator. But I don't. On the street, it feels underpowered, darty, jarring, and it's obnoxiously loud. If I were never driving it on the road then it's a slam-dunk, but I do drive pickups on the road . a lot. With Gladiator off my list it'd come down to a diesel-powered -ton. While I absolutely love the inline Duramax and 10-speed combo and exterior styling of both GM 1500s, I just don't gel with the interior. I find the seats uncomfortable and the control interfaces convoluted. And while the Ram Rebel exterior styling tasted a bit stale to me by now, the interior is comfortable, the control interface is logical and intuitive, and the ride, performance, and capability of the EcoDiesel/eight-speed/steel spring suspension package would never leave me wanting. Ram 1500 Rebel for one, please. And make it red.

Jason Gonderman, Truck Trend Editor

It may surprise some, but the pickup I'd most like to make mine is the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon. It's like the runt of the litter, not great at everything but so cute you have to love it anyway. It's underpowered, gets terrible fuel economy, is noisy, and not all that attractive. But from behind the wheel it is a trail slayer, and because of that all is forgiven. I loved its competency at all of the different terrains we threw its way, which truly fits my personal go-anywhere-do-anything off-roading style. And the Gladiator gets looks and thumbs-up everywhere you go, unlike the other pickup offerings.

Jered Korfhage, Four Wheeler Feature Editor

I don't need to tow anything enormous or crawl over obstacles worth disengaging a sway bar with my truck, I have a Wrangler for that. Instead, I need fuel economy and comfort on the highway, a spacious interior that's still sleek and tech-rich, and an off-road package that will get me far enough into the snow, mud, and rocks so I can camp away from the Subarus. I'll bring home the GMC Sierra 1500 AT4 and never look back (except through the multitude of cameras).

Harry Wagner, Four Wheeler Contributor

While the Gladiator is clearly the most capable truck this year, I would take home the GMC Sierra 1500 AT4. The 3.0L Duramax and 10-speed combo delivers great mileage and plenty of torque for the towing I need to do. The truck is capable enough to get me to my favorite camping spots and nimble enough for daily driving, making it an all-around great choice.

 

Trent McGee, Four Wheeler Contributor

There's really no question which SUV I would park in my driveway: The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. I'm really excited about all of the diesel options coming to market for mid-size vehicles, and the 3.0L doesn't disappoint. For me the real winner is the eight-speed transmission, which keeps the diesel right in its optimum powerband at all times and makes the Jeep drive more like a gas engine, with only a hint of turbo lag off the line. The only thing that would be better is more towing capacity to fully use the diesel torque on tap."

Verne Simons, 4-Wheel & Off-Road Technical Editor

Dagnabbit, a decade ago I yelled from the rooftops that if Jeep built a Wrangler with a diesel engine I'd push to the front of the line to buy one. Now if that doesn't tell you which SUV I'd take home at the end of our Four Wheeler's SUV Of the Year, I don't know what else does. The EcoDiesel in this bright-yellow Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon is an awesome addition to what is already an incredible vehicle, and I would be happy to take it home with me. Having said that, the price of this particular SUV is way outside of the orbit I would feel comfortable paying for a vehicle (ours came optioned at $68,000, and that didn't even buy you heated seats). Since I'm such a cheap bastard, I'll now say that if Jeep makes a stripped down, bare-bones Sport version with manual everything for way less, I might buy one. I'm also a little bit sad the diesel doesn't come with a manual transmission, and even more sad that the Diesel is only an option in the four-door Wrangler (I'm one of few who see the value in a two-door JL). Either way, the EcoDiesel Wrangler Rubicon is a hands down winner for me.

Brian Sumner, Four Wheeler Contributor

Looking at the Jeep Gladiator, it was easy to see that it would be the king of off-road among the trucks in our test with its mud-terrain tires, lockers, and armor. It was a blast to drive over washboard and gravel roads, but both the bed and interior were too small for my liking in choosing a truck. The GMC Sierra 3500 dually was very surprising off the pavement, completely raising my expectations of four-wheeling dualies from "no way" to "that just might work, but only if we have to." It was a comfortable highway cruiser and would easily be my choice if I routinely hauled cross-country or an RV every weekend—but I don't. My choice would be the GMC Sierra 1500 AT4. It looked great, had a comfortable interior, and the engine and transmission combo worked extremely well. The off-road performance stayed consistent in the sand, snow, rocks, and gravel. It didn't excel in any particular terrain but it did well enough I wouldn't hesitate to take it on mild off-road adventures. It is a great all-around truck I could see myself daily driving, road-tripping, and escaping to the mountains with for the weekend.

Rick P w , Jp Magazine Editor

The Jeep Gladiator Rubicon is a clear winner, as this is the truck of the year awarded by Four Wheeler magazine, not Truck Trend or Automobile. The title says it all as the 4x4 content is what makes the difference on these rigs—and the Gladiator (like the diesel Wrangler) has the best ride, performance, reliability, range, fuel economy, style, comfort, capability, and price compared to the other vehicles. While it can't out-tow some of the others, it does what it can in superb style. Can any of the other trucks cruise through the Rubicon trail as easily as going to the corner market? There is no comparison—the Gladiator easily wins in real-world 4x4 testing.