With all the crossovers, sport-activity coupes, and just about every other category that stretches the definition of "truck," there are still those of us that want and need brute-force capability in our rigs, in the form of payload and towing capacity. And there are still plenty of offerings that fill that need. Here are the 5 heaviest-duty rigs we tested in 2011.
Strongest: (By Payload/Towing Capacity)
1) Ram 3500 Laramie Longhorn - Payload: 4330, Towing: 22,700
It's a seemingly perpetual three-way horse race among the Detroit Three for top bragging rights in this area, but in terms of the vehicles we tested this year, the big dually Ram 3500 took the prize. With a burly Cummins turbodiesel cranking out 800 lb-ft of torque, this beast is rated for a stout 22,700 pounds for towing, and enough payload capacity for the weight of a Chrysler 300 C.
2) Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD - Payload: 4212, Towing: 17,800
Although not quite at the same level as the Ram, the Silverado HD came in a close second with 17,800 pounds, and an over two-ton payload. The smooth and quiet (for a big diesel) 6.6-liter Duramax has plenty of fans on staff, and this capable hauler got plenty of use during its stay with us.
3) Ford F-150 - Payload: 1920, Towing: 11,300
We tested several variations of the F-150 this year. Not all of them have the five-figure towing capacity, but those equipped with either the 6.2-liter V-8 or the 3.5 EcoBoost V-6 are class-leading in the half-ton segment. Payload is not quite as impressive as the HD models represented here, but still plenty hefty for weekend landscaping projects.
4) Nissan NV 3500 - Payload: 3582, Towing: 9500
Nissan's long-nosed newcomer to the commercial van segment was designed from the ground-up with no-nonsense blue-collar duty in mind, and the NV, especially in tall-roof guise, is probably roomier than many urban studio apartments. Its substantial pack-mule capabilities were frequently used throughout the course of the year by the MT staff.
5) Porsche Cayenne Turbo – Payload: 1565, Towing: 7716
Before we crunched the numbers, we didn't think there would be a vehicle that would be on both our fastest and most capable list, but here it is. Sure, they Cayenne can't compete with dually Ram or Silverado, but it's capabilities are nearly unmatched in the midsize SUV segment. Not only can this SUV haul some serious tail, but it can also haul a good-sized trailer, when needed.