#2s Keep #1s On Their Toes
And All Others Vying to Catch Up
U.S. manufacturers report more than 90 percent of their sales from what the auto industry calls “light trucks.” While pickups, SUVs, crossovers and minivans are all part of the light truck segment, the top three best-selling vehicles in the U.S., period, are pickups. So, to say the competition among the truck-makers is fierce, is a gross understatement.
The Ford F-Series has been in the number one best-selling vehicle in the U.S. now for 40 straight years in a row and remains at the top so far for 2022. To retain its place at the top, Ford keeps an eye on the Ram brand. It watched Ram edge out the Chevrolet Silverado and continue to hold the number two spot in spite of the fact that its lineup isn’t as extensive as GM’s.
Since splitting from Dodge to become its own brand in 2009, Ram has been remarkable in gaining its edge, setting new standards of strength and utility both on and off-road, while also developing a laundry list of conveniences, ranging from RamBox cargo storage to multifunction tailgates. Beyond capability feats and special feature firsts, Ram also set a new standard of luxury in the pickup segment with leather-dressed real-wood trimmed interiors, special color schemes and unique styling aimed at specific buyer profiles. Refined automatic transmissions, rear coil-spring suspension vaulted Ram trucks to a place its competition still strives for when it comes to uncommonly smooth driving.
We test drove the top shelf Ram 1500 Limited Crew Cab 4×4 with a 5.7-liter V8. Loaded with standard equipment, its base price was $62,460. Options included an eTorque mild hybrid system that replaces the traditional alternators with a 48-volt battery-powered belt-drive motor generator to improve performance and efficiency, as well as bolstering towing and payload. The head-up display and digital display rear-view mirror were part of a Technology Group add-on, while an Equipment Group added more driver assist features. The 10th Anniversary Edition package brought it unique blue paint, “Indigo and Sea Salt” quilted leather seats, 22-inch wheels, a jeweled shifter knob and aluminum Litho bezels a 19-speaker sound system and special badging. These and a few other additions added about $10K.
While midsize pickups are second to full-size pickups on the list of top-sellers, the Toyota Tacoma is holding a firm number one spot among midsizers, outselling its three biggest-selling midsize competitors combined last year and remaining on top of the mid-size truck squabble so far for 2022.
The 3.5-liter V6 engine with six-speed automatic or manual transmission on our top-of-the-line TRD Pro 4×4 won’t win a drag race, but it’s the off-road upgrades that have long been a hallmark of the Tacoma that matter to its buyers. More and more continued to be added as standard, like the 2022 model’s locking rear differential and slight suspension lift. Our extremely capable TRD Pro also got even more lift, a Multi-Terrain Select and Crawl Control, new suspension parts, black TRD wheels with Goodyear Territory all-terrain tires, and special TRD Pro badging. With the interior criticized for being dated, the design team’s focus has been more obviously on the exterior styling. Ours sported the fun 2022 Electric Lime paint, LED fog lights and a useful sheet-molded composite truck bed with a lockable removable tailgate. Toyota Safety Sense™ and Star Safety System™ features were included in the MSRP of $48,640. With so many standards included, options were just a few hundred dollars, putting its price tag at $50,802.
As the rivals are chomping at the bit to catch their momentum, next-gen Ram 1500 and Toyota Tacoma pickups are coming soon