Based in the Lone Star State, home to the top truck market in the country, the Latino Traffic Report (LTR) team appreciates a nice pickup. A voting member of the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA), LTR’s editor also helps choose the Truck of Texas each year—the Ford F-150 is the current winner. Each year we offer an overview of the trucks we test. Here’s the list for 2018.
GMC Canyon Denali
Denali doesn’t just refer to a mountain in Alaska. It’s also the name of GMC’s top-of-the-line trim and as such, expectations can be high.
GMC returned to the midsize truck market with the 2015 Canyon. It added a diesel engine in 2016 and the Denali trim for 2017. LTR recently tested the 2018 Canyon Denali Crew Cab.
On the outside, a unique chrome grille and 20-inch aluminum wheels distinguish the Canyon Denali. Though they were a nice idea, the standard chrome running boards were unnecessary considering that the Canyon sits lower than a half-ton. All Canyon’s include convenience features like a sidestep in the bumper and a locking tailgate.
Fancy features inside the test model included leather seating with heated and cooled front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a Bose stereo system, a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot, the GMC Intellilink infotainment system with navigation, and an eight-inch touchscreen.
Capability on the truck came from the 2.8-liter Duramax turbo diesel engine with 181 horsepower and 369 lb.–ft. of torque, matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. This powertrain has a maximum tow rating of 7,700 lbs. and during the test; the 5.2-foot bed proved to be the right size to carry a lawnmower that needed repair. A 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder is the base engine and a 3.6-liter V6 and six-speed manual transmission are also available.
Few trucks can claim bragging rights for fuel economy but the Canyon’s diesel powertrain helps enhance its performance. The two-wheel-drive (2WD) model offers a segment best fuel economy of 31 miles per gallon (mpg) on the highway, while the four-wheel-drive (4WD) has an EPA estimated city/highway rating of 20/29 mpg. The 4WD test model achieved a city/highway average fuel economy of 21/25.5 mpg.
GM safety features included signature tech like the rear seat reminder—it chimes when the ignition’s turned off to remind the driver to check the rear seat—Onstar, and Teen Driver. But the lack of a blind spot warning system was a noticeable exclusion, particularly on a Denali.
Pricing for the 2018 Canyon starts at $22,095. The as-tested price of $48,190 included options like the engine and transmission that cost more than $4,000.
Toyota Tundra TRD Pro*
Hecho en San Antonio, Texas, the Toyota Tundra comes in more than four-dozen possible configurations. LTR tested the Tundra Limited with the TRD Pro 4×4 package built for the off-road enthusiast. For 2018, the TRD Sport Package gets new distinctive exterior design cues including a body-color surround for the honeycomb-style grille, 20-inch silver-painted aluminum alloy wheels with black accents, and the TRD Pro bedside graphic.
When it comes to functionality, the test Tundra had a towing capacity of up to 9,800 pounds and payload capacity of up to 1,560 pounds. During the weeklong test, the TRD Pro exhibited that capacity by helping out Cine Las Americas during the nonprofit’s annual film festival, and delivering a truckload of donated Dos Equis. Maximum towing and payload on the Tundra when properly equipped can reach 10,200 and 1,730 pounds, respectively.
All Tundra’s are powered by either of two V8 engines. The test model came with the 5.7-liter i-Force V8 engine, with 381 horsepower and 401 lb.–ft. of torque matched to a six speed automatic transmission. It had an EPA estimated fuel rating of 13 mpg in the city and 17 mpg on the highway. It averaged 14.7 mpg during the weeklong test.
While most Tundras come with three cab styles and three bed sizes, the TRD Pro is available only in Double Cab and Crew Max models. LTR tested the latter matched to the shorter 5.5-foot bed.
The test drive remained on road, but the TRD Pro did demonstrate its off-road capability at last year’s TAWA Truck Rodeo. Tundra 4X4 models use the electronically controlled 4WDemand part-time 4WD system with 4×2, 4×4 Hi, and 4×4 Lo ranges.
For added climbing ability, the TRD Pro sits two-inches higher than its siblings and lacks running boards. While that enhances ground clearance, it can be hard to climb onboard, especially for the vertically challenged.
All Tundra models come standard with a backup camera, essential equipment on a truck, and Toyota Star Safety is now standard for 2018. The test model added a blind spot monitor and parking sensor as part of the Entune Premium package ($785).
Pricing for the 2018 Tundra starts at $35,395. The as-tested pricing came to $51,589.
RAM 1500 Lone Star
Recognizing the top position that Texas holds in national truck sales, Ram created the Lone Star package in 2002, specifically for the Texas market. Not surprisingly, it’s become the top-selling Ram model in Texas and the Ram 1500 earned the Truck of Texas title for 2013 and 2014 from TAWA.
With eleven possible models, the Lone Star sits in the middle of the lineup along with the Big Horn, so that it includes additional features beyond its distinctive badging, like dual-zone climate control, a front and rear parking sensor, a 60/40-split folding rear bench seat with underseat storage, and fold-flat load floor storage.
The test model, Ram 1500 SLT 4×2, also included welcome features like a rearview camera (standard on all 2018 Rams), and Uconnect infotainment and GPS navigation with an 8.4-inch touchscreen ($795).
Powered by the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 engine, with 395 horsepower and 410 lb.–ft. of torque, the Ram has an estimated EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy of 15/22 mpg. It achieved an average fuel economy of 20.3 mpg during the weeklong test drive. The Hemi and eight-speed transmission on the test model added around $2,000 to the price. A 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 and 3.6-liter V6 are also available.
Some folks prefer an open bed on a truck, others like a lid. The test model came with the latter, specifically a three-fold tonneau cover ($595) to shield the 5.7-foot bed. It proved useful while moving my nephew to San Antonio for the summer. The load included cargo that presented a flight risk, even if strapped down, so while the tonneau may limit cargo height, it was perfect for our needs and easy to maneuver. The bed also included the innovative Ram Box Cargo Management System ($1,295).
Towing and payload capacity for the test model topped out at 10,330 and 1,700 lbs., respectively.
While leather seats may reflect a premium status, cloth seats can make more sense on a truck, plus the standard cloth seats on the Lone Star showed some attention to detail.
With a Ram redesign on the horizon for 2019, there’s still time to grab a Ram with the current look, particularly for fans of the crosshair grille.
Pricing for the 2018 Ram starts at $27,990. The as-tested pricing came to $45,760.
Nissan Titan XD Single Cab**
Blazing a new trail in the truck market, Nissan positioned its Titan XD (all-new for 2016) between a half-ton and super duty. It did so by giving it more capability by virtue of its 5.0-liter V8 Cummins turbo diesel engine that produces 310 horsepower and 555 lb.-ft. of torque. The move so impressed TAWA members that it named it the 2016 Truck of Texas. For 2018, a factory-authorized suspension lift kit will be offered on select models of the TITAN and TITAN XD.
The Cummins is matched to a six-speed automatic transmission but a seven-speed automatic is available on the 5.6-liter V8. The unique position the XD holds also excludes it from fuel economy ratings by the EPA but on the test drive, it averaged 14.3 mpg.
Available in three cab configurations, Single, Crew, or King, the Single is the newest and was featured on the test model, as well as an eight-foot bed, one of two available bed sizes on the Titan. Built to appeal to entrepreneurs, the Single Cab earned the TAWA 2017 Commercial Truck of Texas title in 2016. It has a payload capacity of 2,910 lbs., a maximum towing capacity of 12,640 lbs. (when properly equipped), and a super dampened tailgate that practically lifts with one finger.
The understated interior on the test model included cloth seats, a tiny display for the AM/FM/CD stereo. As a single cab, interior storage was limited but there was seat back and underseat storage in the rear.
The test model, Titan XD SV, was also equipped with 4WD, remote keyless entry with push button start, plus the SV Comfort and Convenience Package ($1,360) that added a rear view monitor and parking sensors, dual air conditioning, a blind spot warning system with rear cross traffic alert, running boards, and 20-inch alloy wheels.
All Titan XDs are covered by Nissan’s “America’s Best Truck Warranty” featuring bumper-to-bumper coverage for five-years/100,000-miles, whichever comes first.
Pricing for the 2018 Titan XD Single Cab starts at $33,335. The as-tested pricing came to $46,625.
With redesigns on the way for the Ram, Chevrolet Silverado, and GMC Sierra, 2019 will be a model year for trucks. A new Truck of Texas could be in the mix.
Note: All prices include destination fees.
*Toyota recently announced separate safety recalls in the United States of approximately 8,800 Model Year 2017 Tundra and approximately 65,000 Model Year 2018 Sequoia and Tundra vehicles. For more information, go to toyota.com/recall and enter the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Safety Recall inquiry by individual VIN is also available at the NHTSA site: nhtsa.gov/recalls.
**Nissan North America, Inc. (Nissan) is recalling certain 2016-2018 Nissan Titan, 2016 and 2018 Nissan Titan XD vehicles. The recall is expected to begin on June 16, 2018. Owners may contact Nissan customer service at 1-800-867-7669 or NHTSA at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.
Click here to find past recall notices posted by LTR.