Best Buys: Tough trucks

(National) June 21, 2004 - At Consumer Reports Auto Test five pick-up trucks recently underwent a tough set of challenges to find the best. The trucks went avoidance maneuver courses to see how they'd react in an emergency.

Testers drove them down bumpy roads to assess the smoothness of the ride. And, they climbed a rock hill to test off-road capabilities.

Director of Auto Tests David Champion says pick-ups have a lot more to offer, "Pick-up trucks have improved so much recently in terms of a family vehicle. They have much bigger interiors. These four-door cabs actually have a usable rear seat for humans."

But, some trucks, like the Dodge Ram, still have room for improvement. The heavy suspension makes for a rough ride, and it had trouble on the rock hill, spinning its wheels.

Testers also assessed the Ford F-150, the top-selling pick-up, "They've just redesigned it for this year. It's got a much quieter interior, much nicer fit and finish, rides better."

But, the Toyota Tundra performed even better, rising to the top of the ratings, "It's sill a very quiet, very comfortable, very easy-to-drive truck." And, it climbed the rock hill with ease.

Consumer Reports says that as pick-ups become a more popular family vehicle there is an important safety concern. Because of their size, pick-ups have large blind spots that can make it impossible to see small children behind the vehicle. If you have a pick-up truck, you may want to consider an getting an aftermarket back-up camera to prevent backover accidents.

by Judi Gatson

posted 6:00pm by Chris Rees

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright @ 2004 Consumers Union of U. S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED