Pickup trucks come in all sizes and cater to all kinds of consumer needs, so it should come as no surprise that the best pickup trucks – 2011 pretty much run the gamut from compact to full-size trucks.

Compact Pickups

For small jobs or when light loads and passenger usage is minimal, compact pickups often suffice.

  • 2011 Toyota TacomaWith numerous powertrain and body configurations, the 2011 Toyota Tacoma offers consumers utility at a budget price, with startingmanufacturers suggested retail price (MSRP) of just $16,365. Of course, by the time you option up and put on all the goodies, the prices can climb quickly. Double cab has comfortable rear seat, but all Tacomas have a slightly rough on-road ride. PickupTrucks.com has this to say: “The Toyota Tacoma is the king of compact and midsize trucks, with about 40 percent share of the segment in the U.S.”
  • 2011 Nissan FrontierNext to Toyota Tacoma, the only credible competitor price-wise is the 2011 Nissan Frontier (and its cousin, the Suzuki Equator).Highlights of Frontier include excellent off-roading capability, powerful optional V6 engine, and a lengthy options list for the class. Starting MSRP is $17,770 (up to $31,650 for highest trim starting price). Consumer Guide observes: “Frontier carves out a nice niche for itself in the compact-pickup market with a powerful V6 engine, middle-of-the-pack size, and options that appeal to off-road enthusiasts…the Recommended Frontier merits consideration from those who don’t need or want the bulk of a large pickup.”
  • 2011 Dodge DakotaNot really a small pickup, but more like a midsize, the 2011 Dodge Dakota carries a starting MSRP of $23,110. Dakota can tow more weight than other compact pickups, and when properly configured can seat six. The V6 may be a bit underpowered, but there’s always the powerful, optional V8. Automobile.com comments: “Although a little clunky for a daily commute, the V8 versions are great for hauling big loads, especially if you don’t want the bulk of a full-size pickup truck.”

Full-Size Pickups

When needs call for hauling or towing a bit heavier loads, there’s the choice of full-size or heavy-duty pickups.

  • 2011 (Dodge) Ram 1500 – Now called simply Ram 1500, the full-size pickup from Dodge is updated a bit for 2011. With its luxurious interior, excellent handling,powerful engines and innovative storage solutions, Ram 1500 is very nearly best-in-class. The only downside may be its underpowered V6 engines. Still, Edmunds says: “The available V8s are impressive performers, the chassis is well suited to heavy work and the Ram’s cabin is a class leader in terms of design, ergonomics and materials.” Starting MSRP for the 2011 Ram 1500 is $20,810. Also check out available rebates. For Ram 2500 and 3500, MSRP starts at $27,845 and $35,420, respectively.
  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500With a dizzying array of powertrain and cab and bed configurations, the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 offers consumers a rugged and capable truck that is comfortable and convenient. Car and Driver remarks that the Silverado (and its corporate cousin GMC Sierra 1500) “continue to be a class-act in this highly competitive arena,” mostly because “they still offer outstanding engine choices and features galore.” Consumers often cross-shop Chevy Silverado with GMC Sierra, Ford F-150 and Ram 1500. Starting MSRP for the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is $20,850. There are Chevy Silverado 2500HD and 3500HD pickups available for heavier loads and towing, with MSRP beginning at $28,315 (2500HD), $28,808 (3500HD) and a Silverado Hybrid that starts at $38,340.
  • Ford F-150With a range of all-new engines for 2011, it’s no wonder that the Ford F-150, which has been America’s best-selling pickup for more than three decades. For 2011, the F-150 is available in 11 models, with MSRP starting from $22,415. Ford also builds the tough Super Duty, available in 12 models, with MSRP from $28,505 up to $62,860. Kelley Blue Book comments: “If you want a truck with serious towing and payload capabilities, yet as quiet and comfortable as many luxury sedans, then the F-150 should surely be on your shopping list.”

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