Realistically, Motor Trend had two choices when it came time to pick its Truck of the Year for 2009. On one hand, Ford's redesigned F-150 has been the best seller in America for, well... decades, and offers tireless capabilities and hundreds of possible configurations at an affordable price. It's never been better. On the other hand, the latest Dodge Ram, also redesigned for 2009, features that truck's characteristically macho styling turned up to 11 and gets the segment's first-ever set of coil-overs propping up the rear axle. It too has never been better.
The other two contenders were the Suzuki Equator, which is really nothing more than a rebadged Nissan Frontier (not that it's a bad truck, mind you) and the HUMMER H3T, which is a perfectly fine vehicle that's cursed with a currently-hated nameplate and a reputation for a major thirst for fuel. As you can tell from the headline, the Blue Oval's truck emerged the winner after a process that Motor Trend describes as the closest vote in history.
[Source: Motor Trend]
MOTOR TREND NAMES FORD F-150 2009 TRUCK OF THE YEAR
- Editors call 2009 the closest vote in Truck of the Year history -
LOS ANGELES, CA (December 18, 2008) - Motor Trend (www.motortrend.com), the leading automotive authority and part of Source Interlink Media, LLC, a subsidiary of media and marketing services company Source Interlink Companies, Inc (NASDAQ: SORC), today announced the selection of the all-new Ford F-150 as its 2009 Truck of the Year™. The complete report on Motor Trend's 2009 Truck of the Year is available online and will be published in the magazine's February issue, available on newsstands January 6, 2009.
"The stakes were high and the field of contenders was among the best yet for this year's voting," said Angus MacKenzie, editor in chief of Motor Trend. "Despite the downturn in the economy, the pickup truck remains the automotive backbone of America, providing a tough, durable workhorse for business and recreational users alike. No matter what shape the American auto industry emerges from the current crisis, the pickup truck will remain a key part of the American automotive landscape.
"It was a tough call, but ultimately the F-150 prevailed for the third time in its production history," said MacKenzie. During judging, editors praised the low noise levels and interior materials quality. Handy features like the Tailgate Step, Box Side Step, a stowable bed-extender, and rear seats that fold up with one hand to reveal a broad, flat load floor helped tally a strong superiority score.
To achieve high payload and towing numbers, Ford retained traditional leaf-springs on the rear axle but made them longer to smooth the ride and wider with new mounting hardware to improve lateral rigidity and roll control. The chassis engineers tuned the steering for pleasing heft and remarkable accuracy that had many judges lauding the F-150 for feeling smaller and nimbler than the competition.
Ford claims it sells more of its half-ton pickups to work and commercial customers than its competitors, and the company predicts this segment will grow to 45 percent of F-150 sales. To that end, the truck's fully boxed chassis is further fortified to provide best-in-class rigidity, payload capacity (up to 3030 pounds), and tow ratings (up to 11,300 pounds). As such, the new F-150 is well positioned to capture contractors migrating down-market out of Super-Dutys to save money and gas with a new six-speed automatic, a lighter, more aerodynamic cab, and other tweaks to boost fuel economy by 12 percent with the 5.4-liter engine.
MacKenzie continued, "In the end, we do believe work trucks will come to dominate this segment and we happily give the golden calipers to the highly capable, broad-reaching Ford in the closest vote in Truck of the Year history."
The 2009 Field of Contenders
The Ford F-150 was one of four trucks eligible for the Truck of the Year title. The other contenders were the Dodge Ram 1500, Suzuki Equator and the Hummer H3T.
To be eligible for Truck of the Year, a vehicle must be totally new or redesigned, and released in the 12 months prior to January 1, 2009 (cars with modifications such as new engines or that are variants of existing models are not eligible).
About the Testing and Evaluation Process
Motor Trend subjected all Truck of the Year contenders to a series of rigorous on- and off-road testing at the Yucca, Arizona proving grounds. Editors tested two versions of each contender, with different engines, transmissions and body configurations to better evaluate the breadth of capabilities in such diverse areas as towing power, dirt and gravel road handling and stop and go traffic.
Each year, the editorial staff of Motor Trend has evaluated eligible vehicles for its "Truck of the Year" based on three key categories: Significance, Superiority and Value. Significance refers to innovation in engineering, technology, design, safety and packaging. Superiority levels the playing field and looks for class-leading levels of vehicle dynamics and performance, build quality and execution, and how well the vehicle performs its intended function. Finally, the all-important Value question asks, "What does this vehicle deliver in relation to what the consumer has to pay to purchase and own it?"
High-resolution images of the winner are available upon request and at www.motortrend.com/media. Multimedia coverage of the testing and selection process will be broadcast on Motor Trend Radio, hosted by Bob Long.
About MOTOR TREND
MOTOR TREND, part of Source Interlink Media, LLC was founded in 1949 and has a circulation of 1.1 million and a total readership of 7.1 million. Internationally recognized as one of the leading brands in automotive publishing, MOTOR TREND comprises Motor Trend Magazine; the award-winning website motortrend.com; Motor Trend Radio; Truck Trend; Motor Trend International Auto Shows; Motor Trend en Espanol; and the renowned Motor Trend Car, Sport/Utility and Truck of the Year Awards program.