2011-2012 pickup roundup: Beauty in the Beast

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Whether you’re looking for that bruiser of a pickup truck to get the job done at work or a sharp, stylish model that can give you and the family a comfortable ride around town, Car Deal Expert is excited to inform you that you have options. There is no such thing here as “too much of a good thing,” as these beautiful beasts have the versatility to go wherever you do. Even with standard engine options, power and fuel efficiency are well within reach.

2012 Dodge Dakota

A 2012 Dodge Dakota cuts a striking figure in crimson.

A 2012 Dodge Dakota: a striking figure in crimson. (Photo Credit: CC BY-ND/AutoTodays)

The 2012 Dodge Dakota’s E85-capable 4.7-liter V8 puts out 329 foot pounds of torque for the toughest jobs, while its roomy interior makes for a comfortable ride. The six-seat crew cab boasts more than 37 cubic feet of interior space, as well as Crate ‘n Go collapsible storage systems that make trips home from the grocery story a snap. Combine this with a five-year, 100,000-mile power train limited warranty, and you have the peace of mind to go anywhere and do anything with your 2012 Dodge Dakota.

2012 Toyota Tacoma

A leaked “spy” photo of a white 2012 Toyota Tacoma.

Unlike some trucks with cheap interior parts, the 2012 Toyota Tacoma's interior will reportedly be constructed of sturdy materials. (Photo Credit: CC BY-ND/2012 Toyota Leaked Info)

The entire line of Toyota Tacomas – ranging from the $16,365 base-priced regular cab to the $25,735 base-priced X-Runner with X-brace-tuned suspension – is built to suit the needs of  even the most demanding pickup enthusiast. Edmunds praises the Tacoma engine’s balance of power and fuel efficiency, as well as an impressive build quality that will stand up to most anything road and driver can throw at it.

The top-ranked 2012 Toyota Tacoma mid-sized pickup comes standard with a V6 but is also available with a 4-cylinder model engine for those who are simply looking to drive around town. The Tacoma has been the best selling compact pickup five years in a row, says MotorIntelligence.com.

2011 GMC Sierra

A dark chocolate-colored 2011 GMC Sierra pickup.

There's a lot of power behind the rugged good looks of the 2011 GMC Sierra. (Photo Credit: CC BY-ND/Automover)

Comparable to the Chevy Silverado on numerous levels, 2011 GMC Sierra trucks outshine most trucks in their class with the sheer speed its Duramax turbo-diesel V8 6.6-liter engine can provide. Eye-popping numbers like 397 horsepower and a staggering 765 lb.-ft. of torque make the 2011 GMC Sierra a mean machine.

According to Car and Driver, the 7,560-pound GMC Sierra Heavy Duty is faster than the first Chevy Camaro the publication ever tested, but a Camaro could never approach the 21,000-plus-pound towing capacity of the largest GMC Sierra model. Considering that the 2011 GMC Sierra provides a smooth ride around town, and its substance might just beat the Camaro’s style any day.

2012 Ford F-150

A white 2012 Ford F-150 Raptor model used by U.S. Border Patrol.

The 2012 Ford F-150 Raptor will be standard issue for the U.S. Border Patrol. (Photo Credit: CC BY-ND/Dwrek427/Flickr)

The 2011 Ford F-150 was rated best among full-sized pickups less than 8,500 pounds gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) when it comes to trailer towing. The 2012 F-series should prove no different. The towing capacity and strongest-in-class fully boxed frame makes the Ford F-150 a tough, dependable truck that can handle serious punishment.

A full array of airbags, row-fold technology canopy and rear-view camera (all of which come standard) make the new F-150 among the safest trucks ever.

2011 Chevy Silverado

A red 2011 Chevy Silverado pickup.

The new Chevy Silverado delivers a luxury ride and the power to haul it all. (Photo Credit: CC BY-ND/2012chevroletsilverado1500.com)

The 2011 Chevy Silverado 1500, Chevrolet’s base full-sized model truck, was named a Cars.com “Best Bet” in 2010. Considering the Silverado’s versatility, that isn’t surprising. Traction control and smooth suspension provide a smooth ride, while the 300-plus horsepower Vortec V8 engine that generates 300 foot pounds of torque (or 403 horses and 417 lb.-ft. with the upgraded 6.2-liter V8) has the power to tow up to 11,600 pounds. Tote up to 1,980 pounds of cargo in the bed while running on mostly renewable E85 ethanol gas. The Chevy Silverado can do it all.

2011 Honda Ridgeline

A grey 2011 Honda Ridgeline.

The 2011 Honda Ridgeline, complete with its distinctive bed shape. (Photo Credit: Public Domain/IFCAR/Wikipedia)

Advertised as “muscle meets backbone,” the 2011 Honda Ridgeline is a 5-passenger crew cab pickup 4-wheel drive that can tow 5,000 pounds or tote 1,546 pounds in the cargo bed. The Ridgeline also has closed-box, unit-body construction that provides ideal crumple zones that help keep the driver safe in the event of an accident.

But rugged muscle and backbone don’t mean the 2011 Honda Ridgeline isn’t a treat for passengers. Full Bluetooth and satellite-linked GPS technology fulfill a high-tech junkie’s needs – and there’s even 115-volt power outlet to plug in all the devices.

2011 Nissan Frontier

A tan 2011 Nissan Frontier climbing a rock pile.

The 2011 Nissan Frontier's build quality and safety are top-notch. (Photo Credit: CC BY-ND/Directory M)

The 2011 Nissan Frontier is a consistent award-winner. In 2010, the stalwart pickup merited “Highest Ranked Midsize Pickup in Initial Quality” in 2010 by J.D. Power and Associates, while the 2011 Nissan Frontier earned plaudits as the highest-rated truck in its class for front, side and roof strength evaluations by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The pickup’s off-road capabilities are also stellar, thanks to a two-speed transfer case that enables a quick shift into 4WD on-the-fly. Handling on- or off-road is exemplary with the 2011 Nissan Frontier.

Auto industry keeps on truckin’

If there were any doubt as to whether pickups would continue to blaze a trail out of the recession for the auto industry, the 2011 Detroit Auto Show answered resoundingly in the affirmative. Monster machines that can handle any job or excursion with style are just what the doctor ordered for strong sales throughout 2011.

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