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Best Full Size Pickup Trucks

Earlier this year during a full week of testing a 2010 Toyota Tundra we also drove it back to back with the all-new 2010 Dodge Ram. We tested two 4-wheel drive equipped variants both with four doors and hugely powerful 5.7 liter V8 engines. Their full names were (take a breath now) the 2010 Toyota Tundra Limited Crewmax 4×4 and the 2010 Dodge Ram 1500 SLT Crewcab 4×4.

To be quite frank this was one of the hardest comparison tests we have ever had to do. Both of these trucks had individual strengths that help give them immense amounts of real life appeal. They were luxuriously equipped yet from behind the wheel they made us feel just a little bit manly. Not that there is any aspect of these high utility monster trucks that precludes them from female ownership.

In this test we had to add a few categories just to give you the most detailed explanation of which truck might suit your needs best. So, while our choice wound up being the ones you would make, our choice was the one we always wanted to take on a pleasure drive given the choice.

Exterior Styling

Both of these full size pickup trucks take very different approaches to exterior design. The Dodge Ram is more traditionally styled and just a little bit brash with its long hood and huge grille. The Toyota has a shorter hood (which some truck owners we spoke to didn’t like) and more elegant detailing like the chrome door handles and side mirrors (Limited model only).

Quite frankly, we felt the Toyota was more stylish because it looked like a truck you could take anywhere. The Tundra was more understated and therefore would fit in just as easily on a construction site as it would the parking lot of your favorite fancy restaurant. (Advantage: Toyota Tundra)

Interior

The 2010 Dodge Ram’s interior really is a revelation if you ever spent time in the interior of the last generation model. Where there was once brittle plastic and switchgear from the generations old Dodge Neon, there is now soft touch plastic, chrome ringed dials and elegant switchgear. There are also plenty of storage cubbies and the rear seat is now easy to access thanks to larger rear doors on the Crewcab variant.

But the Toyota has it trumped thanks to its sumptuous leather upholstery (the Dodge had cloth seats), expansive rear legroom, reclining rear seatbacks and the fact that it came equipped with a back-up camera (the Dodge had no back-up camera and instead uses a rear parking sensor).

 The Toyota’s Bluetooth connectivity is also easier to set-up than Chrysler’s UConnect system. And when all was said and done it was the Toyota’s interior we just felt more comfortable sitting in. The Dodge had a pleasant interior but the Toyota’s felt luxurious. (Advantage: Toyota Tundra)

Utility, Clever Features and Hauling/Payload Capacities

The Tundra we tested had a towing capacity of 10,100 pounds and a payload capacity of 1,555 pounds. The Ram we tested had it trumped, however, with a towing Capacity of 10,450 pounds and a payload capacity of 1,900 pounds. Our Ram also came equipped with the clever RamBox system which allows you to store valuable in lock boxes built into the sides of the truck bed. (Advantage: Dodge Ram)

Fuel Economy

Alright, this may be a very small difference but it gives the Dodge Ram the win. The Tundra’s iForce V8 returned 14.3 miles per gallon during our test while the Ram returned 15 miles per gallon. Rack up the difference to the fact that the Ram comes equipped with a cylinder deactivation that allows the engine to run on 4 cylinders when cruising. (Advantage: Dodge Ram)

Fun to Drive

Although the 5.7 liter Hemi V8 (390 horsepower/407 lb. feet of torque) has the Tundra’s 5.7 liter V8 (381 horsepower/401 lb. feet of torque) beaten in the numbers game, the Toyota pickup felt much stronger at all speeds. That is all down to the perfect calibration between its motor and the divine six-speed automatic. The Ram makes do with a five speeder that sometimes shifted harshly and didn’t feel like it was getting the most from the engine.

The Dodge does have one ace up its sleeve and that is with ride quality. Thanks to an independent rear suspension (the Tundra has traditional leaf springs) the Ram absorbed bumps and road imperfections more easily. But unfortunately having a magic carpet ride doesn’t equal fun to drive in our minds. Call us suckers for off the line power but we preferred driving the Tundra. (Advantage: Toyota Tundra)

Safety

The Dodge Ram got a perfect five star rating from the NHTSA in front end impacts yet it hasn’t been tested yet for side impact protection. Less impressive is its three star rollover rating. The 2010 Tundra, however, passed the more stringent IIHS front and side impact tests with a top score of Good. It also managed four stars in the NHTSA rollover test.

Also, the Dodge Ram we tested had brakes that felt far less powerful than the stoppers in our test Tundra. The difference was so noticeable that it was actually scary to try and stop the Ram just during around town driving. This may have just been our tester but before buying a Ram make sure you can live with the weak braking. (Advantage: Toyota)

Value

The Tundra Limited we tested had a sticker price a little over $45,000 whereas the Ram cost a little over $42,000. So while the Ram might seem like a better value it didn’t have the Toyota’s navigation system, back-up camera, leather upholstery or more luxurious overall feel. So while the Dodge Ram may be cheaper, it felt cheaper. But in honor of fairness, this is a tie. (Advantage: Tie)

The Winner

This may have been a difficult call to make but it was the 2010 Toyota Tundra Limited 4×4 that made us truly feel at home and was the most difficult to part with. But as you can see from this test both of these full size pickup trucks are very worthy in very individual ways.

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