Last year, we introduced our Annual Physical concept on PickupTrucks.com in order to test and track as many new pickup trucks as possible. The 2014 Annual Physical focused on V-6 engines from the half-ton (GM's 4.3-liter EcoTec3 and Ram's 3.0-liter EcoDiesel) and midsize (Toyota's 4.0-liter, Nissan's 4.0-liter and Honda's 3.5-liter) segments.
This year we conducted our 2015 Annual Physical at the same time as our recent 2015 Light-Duty V-8 Challenge; as a consequence we opted to focus our test segment on half-tons — with one exception. To make it interesting and meaningful, we asked for pickups with V-6 engines in middle-cab configurations (typically meaning extended cabs) with 4x2 running gears with a price ceiling of $34,000. The six 2015 test trucks for the 2015 Annual Physical were the Chevrolet Colorado 3.6-liter (the aforementioned exception), the Chevy Silverado 1500 4.3-liter, the Ford F-150 2.7-liter EcoBoost, the Ford F-150 3.5-liter EcoBoost, the Ram 1500 3.6-liter and the Ram 1500 3.0-liter EcoDiesel. We should note the two new F-150s were technically preproduction trucks — we conducted the test several weeks before the start of production for the all-new half-ton.
Only two of our six trucks this year met all four of our criteria, yet the remaining four offered so much interesting data and information we decided to include all in this year's report. Astute readers will note that none of our photos include all six trucks at the same time because we had one late arrival (the Ford 2.7-liter V-6), and the Chevy Colorado did not make it to our Davis Dam test because we lost one of our test drivers for those testing days. Also, due to varying gross vehicle weight ratings and payload capacities between the V-6 Annual Physical and V-8 Light-Duty Challenge pickups, we created a two-tier towing and hauling test system. That meant our V-6 test trucks had less payload and lighter trailers for our acceleration, braking, fuel economy and Davis Dam runs than did our V-8s.
Similar in process to our 2015 Light-Duty V-8 Challenge, our 2015 Annual Physical offers many of the same data points with our acceleration and braking tests (both loaded and unloaded) conducted at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Ariz. If you'd like to compare test runs of V-6s with V-8s, or an EcoDiesel with a Hemi, you have that opportunity now that both of these comparisons are published. Additionally, our Phoenix-area fuel-economy loops were run identically to the Light-Duty V-8 Challenge, and our final piece of testing was conducted on the Davis Dam grade outside of Laughlin, Nev., where we did the V-8 Challenge testing as well.
Unlike our 2015 Light-Duty V-8 Challenge, this Annual Physical does not have a judging component with experts scoring each V-6 player. The Annual Physical is meant to be an event in which we collect pickup-centered test data and present it to readers with as few subjective filters as possible.
Finally, in the name of full disclosure, due to a complicated set of timing circumstances, the F-150 2.7-liter EcoBoost loaded acceleration and braking data was collected with 1,240 pounds of payload in the bed, whereas the F-150 3.5-liter EcoBoost was track-tested (loaded numbers only) with 1,080 pounds of payload — the same amount of weight all the other V-6s carried during testing. Also, during our Davis Dam testing, the F-150 2.7-liter EcoBoost pulled the lighter 4,200-pound Logan horse trailer, whereas the F-150 3.5-liter EcoBoost was tested with the heavier 6,800-pound horse trailer, just like the V-8s in our Light-Duty Challenge pulled.
And in case you are wondering why Toyota, Nissan or GMC are not represented, the first two do not offer V-6 engines in their half-tons, and GMC declined because it would have sent us a truck similarly equipped to the one that we tested last year.
In alphabetical order, here are the vehicles we tested in our 2015 Annual Physical with their options and costs, and some of our collected test data.
Clearly not a half-ton, the Colorado was included to give you a chance to see how the newest midsize pickup compares to the half-ton players and to see what kind of value you get for the money. This 4x2 Z71 Colorado, with a starting price of $30,425 (all starting prices include a destination charge), was well-equipped with the 3.6-liter V-6 ($950), a spray-in bedliner ($475), a trailer hitch ($250), MyLink navigation with 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot ($495), and heavy-duty floormats and a GearOn bed bar with the added bed divider ($1,050). The Colorado totaled out at $33,645. To see the Colorado's price sheet, click here.
The Silverado 1500 just met our price ceiling due to the fact it had a starting price of $33,135, meaning it was able to offer only one significant option — a $770 trailer hitch and wiring harness that (thankfully) also included the locking rear differential. Unfortunately, that meant it did not come with a trailer brake controller, backup camera or spray-in bedliner (which would have added less than $1,000). It totaled out at $33,905. To see the Silverado 1500's price sheet, click here.
The 2015 F-150 with the all-new twin-turbo 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 was a late arrival to our Annual Physical but made it in time for our full track-testing regimen. Our well-equipped SuperCab came in the XLT trim, which means it had a starting price of $34,775. Our test truck included the 301A ordering package that offers Sirius XM radio, rearview camera and rear window defroster ($2,150); the smaller EcoBoost engine ($795); a rear axle e-lock ($420); power sliding rear window ($350); running boards ($250); bed side steps ($325); a new-style tailgate step ($375); and several other features for a total of $39,735. To see the 2.7-liter F-150's Monroney, click here, and to see the price sheet, click here.
This 2015 Platinum F-150 had just about every option imaginable and only qualified for this event because the twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost does use a V-6 block, but some readers will want to compare this truck's test results against the Light-Duty V-8 Challenge competitors. The results will give Ford — and Ram and GM — fans plenty to talk about. This Platinum SuperCrew had a starting price of $55,580 and ramped up quickly when you added the twin-panel moonroof ($1,295), max tow package ($795), bed steps ($325), bed extender ($250), larger fuel tank ($195) and other features for a total of $60,880. To see this high-lux F-150's Monroney, click here, and to see the price sheet, click here.
This pickup, along with the Silverado 1500, was the only truck that met all four of our original criteria: V-6, midcab, 4x2 and less than $34,000. With that said, the 1500 Express was a standout in our test because of how much style and value was packed into it. With a starting price of $30,840, this quad cab (technically Ram doesn't offer an extended cab) had the stylish Express Package 22C ($1,295) that includes aluminum 20-inch wheels, fog lamps, body-colored front and rear bumpers, and a spray-in bedliner. Also included on this test truck was the Black Ram 1500 Express Group ($1,595) that smokes the rims, headlamps and taillights, packs the truck with technology, and offers a unique grille and tailgate badge. The total came to $33,980. To see the Ram 1500 Express' Monroney, click here.
Also falling just outside our criteria for this 2015 Annual Physical test was the Ram 1500 Tradesman EcoDiesel. For those who remember, we had a fully loaded Laramie Longhorn EcoDiesel with the air suspension during the 2014 Annual Physical, and it performed quite well. But we thought it might be interesting to see how the other end of the EcoDiesel price spectrum would match up. To make the $34,000 limit, Ram sent us a regular-cab Tradesman ST 4x2. With a base price of $26,390, we were able to get folding tow mirrors ($330), the ZF eight-speed transmission ($500), the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel ($4,000), rear sliding window ($140) and the Uconnect system ($660) for a grand total of $32,020. To see the Ram 1500 Tradesman's Monroney, click here.
To see our What You Get specification chart, click here.
Cars.com photos by Evan Sears