"Truck" has long had a mystique all its own. At times awesome, it can overshadow the dimensions of an automobile. Go where nothing else dares to try. Parts traffic simply by its presence. Commands respect like few things can. While that's been the traditional personage of anything labeled with the "T" word, it's no longer the only act in town. For a decade or two now, the idea of a truck has been fragmenting into an ever widening spectrum of varieties. As RTM editors check out the best for a Truck of the Year contender each year, they must branch out into an expanding array of different directions, and consider kin such as crossovers, vans or even wagons in the mix. But sometimes, some years, the answer is self evident. The original idea of "truck," that brash, open bed, boundlessly capable bad boy just seems unstoppable. With that idea framing this year's set of nominees, RTM editors made an obvious choice by announcing Chevrolet's full-size, next generation Silverado as winner. There's no confusing this pure pickup with anything of another genre. Looks alone -- with hunky frame, broad chrome face and wideset, double layer headlamps plus pleasantly cushy interior -- would be enough to set it above the pack. Chevy started the redo from the bottom up, on an all-new platform designed to deliver comfort and style without compromising its workhorse capability. Its grunt quotient excels in all versions, including off-road forages in Z71 designation, or with its heftiest 6.0-liter, max torque power. With boom boom 20-inch wheels available, and a choice of seven different powerplants, it chews up almost anything in its path, leaving as many as five riding undisturbed inside in leather-wrapped comfort and surround-sound style. Rear seat riders in crew cab models get much appreciated stretch space. Job needs are met with truckbed alumuminum tie-down rails on three sides. Enhanced stability should get top grades. Active Fuel Management tames its thirst.
When everything new is combined, what's the result? A well thought out, redesigned Silverado, with shoulders broad enough to accommodate its mile-wide smile. Now that's domination.
Despite its Arctic association, the name "Tundra" sounds hauntingly similar to thunder. That's undoubtedly an impression Toyota wouldn't dis when designing this second generation workhorse as a "True Trucker's" pickup capable of use and abuse. That's how truckers view them, says Toyota. To back that claim, it starts with a bigger platform all around, adds a 5.7-liter V-8 to its three engine lineup, puts on a heavy duty six speed automatic and adds heavy duty front disc brakes. Three cabs and other variations bring available models to 30. An extended version is on the horizon. A not-so-tough-guy touch: An easy lift, liftgate solution that makes it capable of opening or closing with a mere two fingers. ICOTY 2007 judges, impressed by its new digs, give the Toyota Tundra a well-earned honorable mention in the Truck of the Year competition.
While true pickups dominated the Truck of the Year category, judges weren't about to let a sure-fire winner of another ilk get by without notice. The all-new GL seven-passenger sport utility from Mercedes-Benz, another honorable mention, brings the polish and panache of a sophisticated G class variant to the U.S. for the first time. Heading up hill or down, GL brings a talent for taming uncharted on- or off-road treachery, while supplying a luxurrious world inside. Height adjustable springs and adaptive damping keep a load towed behind under control. Real burl walnut and wide sunroof vistas soothe the soul. We call it big, beefy and boundless -- in elegant disguise.