Most pickup truck evaluations take place in diners over cups of coffee.
Owners trade stories about their trucks with one another – and are always quick to offer advice to the guy in the market for a new pickup. These tales cover the good and bad features of their trucks – stories that are undoubtedly coloured by their experiences and loyalties. But, they are real-world experiences and as such are considered carefully by those on the receiving end. Frankly, where else can they to go for unbiased advice on a new purchase?
Testing by most automotive publications lacks the depth needed to test pickup trucks fully. Instead, year after year they drive empty trucks on paved roads, without towing anything and call that a test. Is that really a fair real-life evaluation?
These are just some of the compelling reasons for holding the Canadian Truck King Challenge; a head to head competition among the six pickup truck manufacturers held in the same place, at the same time, and tested by a group of automotive journalists with no set loyalties.
Trucks were divided in seven categories: midsize under V6; midsize V6 and over; ½-ton V6, ½-ton under 5L, ½-ton over 5L. ¾-ton and 1-ton. These categories provided a framework for the panel of judges to test within. Trucks in each group were then driven back to back, over a three-day period, and judges scored each using preset criteria during five separate tests designed to evaluate the performance of the truck inside and out. It’s these tests that are at the heart of the Canadian Truck King Challenge, because it’s only through true head-to-head testing, by the same people, on the same day that you can arrive at the most honest of evaluations.
Amazingly, when approached, the manufacturers were excited about participating; despite the fact that they knew this competition would produce winners and losers. Still, they each showed faith in their product and a willingness to put their vehicles through this Challenge because, frankly, the stakes (for sales) in Canada are high.
Just look at the numbers.
- 1,583,291 – number of light vehicles (includes SUVs) sold in Canada in 2005
- 738,061 – the number of light trucks in that total
- 75,669 – total number of trucks sold by GM
- 69,549 – number of F-series Ford trucks sold
- 1 – the sales position the F-series holds in Canada
- 40 – number of years the F-series has been the best selling vehicle
- 68% – number of Canadian truck owners who tow
- 27% – number of trucks used strictly for recreational hauling
- 12% – number of female truck buyers (this number grows annually)
The series of tests that were created attempted to replicate as closely as possible the multitude of uses that every day owners find for their trucks. Trucks were tested on-road and off–road. They were loaded and unloaded – and they towed trailers. There were of course subjective evaluations of ride and handling, but there was also stopwatch measurements used and finally there was a static test. This last test (as far as I know) is completely unique in the testing of trucks. It consisted of judges simply poking around inside the trucks, getting in and out, stowing equipment, power tools and various gear just to see where everything fits, how well the seat conversions worked, how many power plug-ins there were and finally looking for a secure storage spot for a laptop computer; all things that any truck owner might do on any given day. They then did the same thing with the bed; evaluating the tie downs, the liners (or lack of), lighting, tailgate weight and height, hitch platforms and electrical connections for trailer lights and brakes. They loaded ATVs and fishing gear, chainsaws and barrels – they tied them down and then did it all in reverse – all to see where each brand worked or failed at offering the pickup owner the best cargo solutions.