We may be in the beginning stages of 2014, but several organizations are just now wrapping up the end-of-year awards from 2013. Four Wheeler magazine was one of the latest publications to do just that, and the recreational journal took a look at some of the most popular off-road vehicle options from the past year.
According to the magazine, the Pickup Truck of the Year contest was decided after a week-long testing period. All of the driving took place in Fullerton, Calif., where the models were exposed to a wide range of landscapes. Winding rounds, mountains, desert settings and sandy trails were all included in the tests, providing a comprehensive look at the capabilities of the trucks.
After all of the testing was said and done, the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ Z71 Crew Cab came out on top. It has been dramatically upgraded from past years, with changes made to the frame, suspension and interior. Those alterations have made a big difference, and the end result is a vehicle that is comfortable, capable and fun to drive.
According to Four Wheeler, the overall layout of the interior is solid. A state-of-the-art touchscreen, leather front bucket seats and built-in seat temperature controls all help to customize the inside of the cab, and there were enough storage compartments to get the job done. Although the exterior appearance left a bit to be desired, the LED under-rail lighting, multiple tie-down points and an integrated step in the back bumper were all of use. Add in excellent braking and powerful engine options, and the result is a worthy winner.
That's not to say there weren't any areas where the Silverado could stand to improve. Judges cited the low frame and box-shaped appearance as two of the places where Chevy can make adjustments, but overall the fun driving experience and great power won out.
While the Chevy Silverado 1500 was the winner, the other contenders involved in the contest are certainly worthy of a second look. The Toyota Tundra SR5 CrewMax and Ram 2500 Outdoorsman Crew Cab wound up in second and third place, respectively. That may come as a surprise to some drivers, as these models beat out top sellers like the Ford F-150 and Ram 1500.
Ultimately, the Silverado edged out its competitors, but it was one of the closer contests in recent years, the magazine reported. What may be most encouraging, however, is the number of pickups that challenged for this title, as well as similar awards. So many different winners in the same model year underscore the impressive selection of trucks on the market today, and make it easier for motorists to choose an investment based on their personal needs and driving desires.
Off-road driving tests
All of the vehicles tested by Four Wheeler magazine were driven on- and off-road. Part of what set the Silverado apart was its impressive off-road power, and additions like the rear Gov-Lok helped to make the machine more adept in certain scenarios. According to the publication, the main drawback was the truck's low stance, but installing a lift kit could be a good way to remedy that problem and increase the truck's capabilities.
The Tundra was also among the top picks for off-roading. Its truck suspension is among the best on the market, and it is more than capable of taking a driver across a variety of terrain. If there was one area where improvements could be made, it's likely rock crawling, as there is a lack of traction that makes this off-road driving more difficult.