Sport Truck of the Year Score
To determine the Sport Truck of the Year we performed a series of objective performance tests in addition to evaluating the vehicles subjectively. In other words, some tests we can measure - for example, 0-60 mph, 1/4-mile e.t., 60-0-mph braking, and speed through the 600-foot slalom course. Other tests are more a matter of putting a value on an educated opinion, such as styling, choice of materials, powertrain integration and refinement, and so on.
We organized our test results to judge the truck in three basic categories: Objective performance is worth 40 percent of the score; subjective performance is worth 30 percent of the score; and subjective judgments on style, ergonomics, and other conveniences are also worth 30 percent of the score. An example of a perfect score in the objective portion of the test would be a vehicle that had the quickest acceleration, shortest stopping distances, and was rated to tow the most weight. That would give it 60 points, which is then scaled by multiplying it by 40 percent to get 24 points. Sixty points are also up for grabs in the other two categories, but these are scaled to 30 percent of the score, or a maximum of 18 points each.
Weighting the scoring in this manner rewards powerful trucks that accelerate quickly, brake forcefully, handle well, and produce good ride quality. A vehicle that's mostly style and comfort with very little performance will score poorly.
Apples and OrangesIt was apparent from the beginning that we would be testing two distinctively different types of trucks in our annual Truck of the Year competition: four-door pickups for the masses, because that's the fastest growing segment in the light pickup market; and limited-production performance pickups. Sure, it was an apples and oranges situation, but, hey, we're simply reporting on the types of new trucks being manufactured.
As the testing continued, it became obvious that the performance pickups cleaned house on the track and through the mountains, while living with them on a daily basis revealed some drawbacks not found in the other testers. By the end of the test, the Dodge SRT-10 was ahead on points and was well liked by all the staff members. Our group of testers also put things into perspective by indicating the SRT-10 is not for everyone, especially with a limited production and a $40,000-plus price tag.
It rapidly became clear that the Dodge needed to be recognized for what it is: the best damn performance pickup we've driven. It joins the Ford Lightning in that category as the only limited-production, purpose-built performance pickup.
So to honor the accomplishments of Dodge's Performance Vehicle Operations engineers who took a run-of-the-mill, 5,000-pound pickup and gave it the handling characteristics and the power of a Viper, we honored the SRT-10 with Sport Truck's first-ever Performance Pickup of the Year Award.
'04 Chevrolet Colorado
Little Truck With Big Appeal
The '04 Chevy Colorado midsize pickup is the fifth runner-up in this year's competition. Chevy's first entry into the midsize truck segment replaces the long-running and highly successful S-10 compact. The Colorado we tested was a slickly styled four-door pickup with a front end that mimics its fullsize brother, the Silverado. The body is a clean design with smooth lines and excellent form; that is, until you get to the front where the lower plastic valance throws off the look. Chevrolet molded the lower valance out of color-matched plastic (for durability we assume) that doesn't quite match, but it's nothing a little paint can't cure.