CHICAGO — Looking back on what one editor, in particular, called "the decade of the pickup truck," the enthusiast Web site PickupTrucks.com and AutoPacific, an automotive research firm, unveiled this week what they consider to be the most significant trucks of the past 10 years.
While offerings from a slew of OEMs were highlighted, topping the list of what they believe are the most significant trucks of the past decade is the 2009 Ford F-150.
In defending their choice, officials said it was "clear" that the Ford truck mainstay from last year clearly was "most significant."
"On balance, we thought the 2009 Ford F-150 was the most significant pickup of the last decade," explained Jim Hossack, vice president of consulting for AutoPacific.
"It sells in high volume, owners like it and its body, chassis and powertrain are all first rate," he went on to note.
"Features abound, and there are more models, series and options than can be counted. It's a good looking truck and suitable for the widest possible range of tasks and uses," he added.
When revealing the rest of the highlighted units, officials stipulated that the trucks chosen had introduced cutting-edge technologies and pushed the segment into new territory.
The rest of the units mentioned were a mix of both foreign and domestic nameplates. They included the 2000 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab; the 2001 Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra Heavy Duty with 6.6-Liter Duramax Diesel; the 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche, the 2004 Nissan Titan; the 2005 Toyota Tacoma; the 2006 Honda Ridgeline; the 2007 Toyota Tundra; the 2009 Dodge Ram 1500; and the 2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor.
"Despite the economic challenges of the past two years, it's hard not to look back at the last 10 years without calling it the decade of the pickup truck," stressed Mike Levine, editor of PickupTrucks.com.
"Sales of full-size pickups hit 2.56 million units in 2004 and Ford's F-Series trucks remain the nation's best-selling vehicles, 33 years in a row," Levine continued.
Officials from PickupTrucks.com and AutoPacific shared their assessment of each unit they chose:
2000 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab
"First pickup truck to offer four full-sized doors and a configuration that prioritized passenger space over cargo capacity.
"Crew cab pickups were popular in overseas markets long before they finally arrived in the U.S. Nissan was the first to offer its buyers another choice beyond a regular or extended cab. Buyers loved the idea because entire families could now travel comfortably in pickup trucks on long trips or around town. The idea quickly gained traction with every manufacturer and soon crew cabs made up almost 50 percent of the mix of all trucks sold."
2001 Chevrolet Silverado / GMC Sierra Heavy Duty with 6.6-Liter Duramax Diesel
"Made GM a serious player in heavy duty pickups and raised the bar for diesel engines.
"In 2000, GM held less than 10 percent market share in the three-quarter-ton and one-ton truck segments. Its 6.2-liter and 6.5-liter diesel engines weren't competitive with the mills in Ford's and Dodge's trucks. But GM's joint venture engineering and manufacturing agreement with Isuzu Motors of Japan changed all of that. With Isuzu's help, the 2001 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 2500 and 3500 pickup trucks debuted with the all-new 6.6-liter V-8 turbodiesel. It broke new ground in horsepower, torque and fuel economy and helped GM jump to more than 30 percent market share by 2002."
2002 Chevrolet Avalanche
"Combined the best attributes of a full-size SUV and pickup truck in a single vehicle.
"The wild looking Chevrolet Avalanche debuted as a lightly disguised concept at the 2000 NAIAS. GM intended to build it to fill the gap between the Suburban and Silverado full-size trucks. Its convert-a-cab system made it versatile for carrying passengers or cargo by offering pass-through access between the cabin and bed and a removable rear window. Unibody exterior styling was unique, as well as its use of a multi-link rear suspension and composite bed — traits that would be reused later in the decade by the Honda Ridgeline."
2004 Nissan Titan
"The first true full-size half-ton pickup truck from a Japanese automaker.
"Japanese car companies had successfully entered almost every segment of the U.S. car and truck markets except the unique domain of the North American full-size pickup truck when Nissan unveiled the 2004 Titan. Sure, Toyota marginally stuck its toes in the segment with its T100 pickup in 1993 but the T100 was too small and underpowered to ever be a serious contender.
"The Titan met about 80 percent of half-ton buyers' needs with its 300-horsepower, 5.6-liter V-8, an advanced five-speed automatic transmission and a choice of extended cab or crew cab configurations. It quickly gained a loyal following, but later years' sales were hampered by reliability issues with early trucks."
2005 Toyota Tacoma
"The best-selling small truck in the U.S.
"Small truck sales have dwindled throughout the decade but Toyota has managed to keep sales of the Tacoma relatively strong and take market share in this neglected segment. Just before the turn of the century, the Ford Ranger outsold Tacoma by more than 2-to-1, today it's the exact opposite.
"The Tacoma offers a broad lineup of cab, body, wheelbase and engine choices with strong capabilities and excellent performance and refinement. What more could a small truck buyer want if they're not going to buy a full-size pickup?"
2006 Honda Ridgeline
"Created a class of one with its unique unibody construction and a trunk in the bed.
"Love it or hate it (there's no in-between), the Honda Ridgeline did what Japanese pickups have consistently done over the years: break new ground in terms of form and functionality. The Ridgeline came to market in 2005 with controversial slab-sided lunar-lander looks and all-wheel drive.
"It did away with conventional leaf springs in favor of an independent rear suspension that gave it great ride comfort and enough room for an in-bed lockable trunk — the first in a pickup. The Ridgeline also featured a dual-action tailgate that folded down or off to the side, like a door, to allow unimpeded access to the cargo box."
2007 Toyota Tundra
"Toyota's no-holds-barred attempt to gain ground in full-size trucks.
"When the 2007 Toyota Tundra debuted it was notable for being two things: big and powerful. But just being big and powerful doesn't automatically sell trucks. Several mechanical issues that garnered high visibility online with truck buyers and a lack of a large loyal buyer base contributed to a huge falloff in Tundra sales after it almost met its first year sales goal of 200,000 units. Today, the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra and Ram 1500 all offer more powerful V-8 engines than the Tundra, and Ford is about to join that group, pushing the Tundra to fourth place for bragging rights. Tundra sales have shrunk to well under 100,000 units per year. It's proof that the domestics still know how to build a superior vehicle."
2009 Dodge Ram 1500
"Ditched conventional leaf springs for a coil spring rear axle and added side saddle storage to the cargo box.
"The 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 could have impressed many simply for its more powerful Hemi V-8, handsome exterior and totally revised interior, but Chrysler carried its half-ton pickup much farther by featuring a coil spring rear axle — resurrecting an idea that GM had tried from 1967 to 1972 in its C10 and C20 pickups — that gave the Ram 1500 unparalleled ride comfort and quality for a half-ton pickup. Towing was limited to only 9,100 pounds but after a year of additional testing and real-world results, Dodge re-rated the Ram 1500 to tow up to 10,450 pounds.
2009 Ford F-150
"Remains the gold standard against which other half-ton pickup trucks are compared.
"Ford gave its F-150 half-ton pickup a major revision for 2009 and gave buyers an astonishing seven different models to choose from before they even considered engine choice or cab type. Two more models have been added for 2010.
"It's not the most powerful truck but the F-150 features an excellent six-speed transmission and innovative features like Ford Work Solutions that make doing jobs with a truck easier. From contractor to urban cowboy, Ford has an F-150 to meet almost anyone's needs."
2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor
"Ford had the guts to build a go-fast pre-runner-style factory pickup for under $40,000.
"There's nothing else like the 2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor and there likely may never be. It features a unique Fox Racing long-travel suspension that has a full 11 inches of travel in the front dampers to absorb the impact from jumps made in the desert at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour.
"Its six-speed transmission is specially tuned with an off-road mode and there's a rear locking differential that works in two-wheel or four-wheel drive at speeds up to 66 mph. When other truck manufacturers mumble to themselves about the truck they wish they had in their lineup, Raptor is usually the first word that falls from their lips."