Reliable, versatile, economical. Easy to handle off road and on. Capable of accommodating people and plants. Roomy enough for equipment, comfortable enough to support those aching muscles. You ask a lot of your vehicles, and today’s trucks are designed to fill all your needs. Check out the selections we’ve found.


Chevy’s new line of Low Cab Forward trucks offers expansive payload, cargo-hauling capabilities and maneuverability. The cab over design provides for optimal visibility and a tight turning radius, facilitating access on narrow nursery roads as well as clients’ challenging properties. Regular cab and extended crew cab body styles are available, providing options for ferrying extra tools as well as extra workers. Easy entry and exit for driver and crew, as well as easy access to the engine, make this an easy choice.

Wheel bases range from 109 inches to 212 inches and can accommodate a wide range of body applications (crew cab models have a wheel base ranging from 150 to 176 inches). They’re prewired for a trailer harness and brakes, making upfitting a quick and economical job. Overall width for all models is 81.3 inches, and heights range from 90 inches to 92.4 inches. Standard axle width is 65.6 inches; gross vehicle weights range from 12,000 pounds to 19,500 pounds.

Chevy’s new line of Low Cab Forward trucks signals the company’s return to the medium duty market.

Photo: Chevrolet

With an overall length running from 241.5 to 267.5 inches, there’s enough space to configure storage, hauling and cargo options to suit your needs. From heavy machinery to hardscape materials and trees, you can fit what you need to get the job done.

Seven models round out the series, including the 3500, 4500, 3500HD, 4500HD, 4500XD, 5500HD and 5500XD, each with an interior designed to make the most of workspace. Fold-down trays hold laptops and paperwork, and several storage areas are located in the dash, doors, an overhead shelf and seatback pockets. There’s even a rear organizer tray.

Want diesel power? An extended range of diesel engine options includes the following:

  • 3500HD, equipped with a DOHC 3.0-liter I-4 4J turbocharged engine; 6-speed transmission with double overdrive, delivering 150 horsepower and 282 foot pounds of torque. Regular cab only.
  • 4500HD and 4500XD, equipped with a 5.2-liter I-4 4H turbocharged engine; 6-speed transmission, delivering 215 horsepower and 452 foot pounds of torque. Regular and crew cab.
  • 5500HD and 5500XD, equipped with a 5.2-liter I-4 4H turbocharged engine, delivering 215 horsepower and 452 foot pounds of torque. The 5500HD is available in regular cab and crew cab configurations; the 5500XD is available in regular cab only.

Prefer a gas-powered vehicle? The gas-powered 3500 and 4500 trucks feature a 6.0-liter V8 engine and a 6-speed transmission with double overdrive that delivers 297 horsepower and 372 foot pounds of torque. Both regular and crew cabs are available.

“Best and the Rest” from Car and Driver

Each year Car and Driver magazine selects its “Editors’ Choice” vehicles, and the picks for 2016-2017 include pickups from Chevy, Ford, GMC and Ram. Those trucks selected for this recognition are considered by the magazine to be among “the best trucks you can buy.”

In the full-size pickup category, Chevy’s Silverado 1500, Ford’s F-150, GMC’s Sierra 1500 and the Ram 1500 got the nod. Also favorably reviewed are the Ford F-150 Raptor (debuting this season), Nissan’s Titan and Toyota’s Tundra.

None of the heavy-duty pickups received the Editor’s Choice designation, but those included for a sort of honorable mention include Chevy’s Silverado 2500HD, Ford’s F-250 Super Duty, GMC’s Sierra 2500HD, Nissan’s Titan XD, the Ram 2500 and the Ram Power Wagon.

Looking for a mid-size pickup? Car and Driver gave two the special Editor’s Choice nod: Chevy’s Colorado and GMC’s Canyon. Runners-up, receiving decent to lukewarm ratings, include Honda’s Ridgeline, Jeep’s Wrangler Pickup, Nissan’s Frontier and Toyota’s Tacoma.

Last, the Ultra Heavy Duty category features four candidates, none of which received the coveted Editor’s Choice tag, but each of which is favorably reviewed. These include Chevy’s Silverado 3500HD, Ford’s F-350 Super Duty, GMC’s Sierra 3500HD and the Ram 3500.

Photo: Ford


Powered by a 6.7-liter Power Stroke V8 turbo diesel engine, Ford’s F-Series Super Duty trucks provide muscle to get the job done — and get to and from the job in comfort. (A 6.2- liter V8 gas engine is also available.) Diesel and torque figures are 440 and 860 foot pounds, respectively.

The series includes the XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum, each equipped with six-speed TorqShift® automatic transmission and AdvanceTrac ® with Roll Stability Control™ (on single-rear-wheel axle only).

According to the company, “When properly equipped, F-450 has a maximum combined weight with its trailer and load capacity of 40,400 pounds. That’s more than half the maximum weight of a semitrailer on most federal interstate highways.” Equipped with commercial grade wheels, tires and brakes, upgraded U-joints and suspension, the F-450 allows up to 31,200-pounds gooseneck towing.

F-Series Super Duty trucks from Ford are equipped with 6.2-liter gasoline V-8 and 6.7-liter Power Stroke V8 turbo diesel engines.

A high-capacity tow package available on the F-350 provides 35,000 pounds gross combined capacity weight and up to 26,500 pounds fifth-wheel gooseneck towing.

Newer safety and comfort options include four-corner LED warning strobe lights and a rapid-heat supplemental cab heater (standard in cold weather states). Also available are a rearview camera and prep kit.


Some of us would buy a Ram truck on the basis of Sam Elliott’s voiceovers: Green industry pros will be interested in its off-road capabilities.

The newly redesigned 2017 Ram Power Wagon features standard front and rear electronic-locking differentials for true four-wheel drive and maximum traction, and comes standard with the Ram “Articulink” front suspension system that incorporates high movement joints and a sway-bar disconnecting system, allowing for additional flexibility and axle articulation. Rear axles are electronically lockable, and the vehicle includes hill descent control.

Ram’s 2017 Power Wagon is built for rugged, off-road performance.

Photo: Ram

A standard 6.4-liter HEMI® V8 with 410 horsepower and 429 foot pounds of torque holds a five years/60,000 miles powertrain warranty. And a convenient, standard Warn 12,000-pound electric winch is mounted behind the front bumper, although little is visible except the single, heavy-gauge steel cable and dozer-sized hook that attaches to one of two front tow hooks.

Extended cab seating allows for crew transport, and the 7-inch center cluster uses “Power Wagon” startup graphics, which complement the 8.4-inch Uconnect backdrop screen featuring an off-road theme.


Described as “brawny,” the Toyota Tundra offers three cab styles: two-door regular cab, four-door double cab and a super-sized, four-door CrewMax, which comes with a 5.5-foot bed (all Tundra beds run 22.2 inches deep). An easy-lower-and-lift gate lowers with no slam; it can be easily removed, if necessary, and includes a lock feature to help prevent theft of valuable tools.

Boasting the largest fuel tank in its class at 38 gallons, the Tundra comes standard with a 4.6-liter i-Force V8 engine that delivers 310 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 327 foot pounds of peak torque at 3,400 rpm. An available 5.7–liter i-Force V8 generates 381 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 401 foot pounds of peak torque at 3,600 rpm.

With the standard tow package, the 5.7-liter V8 Tundra offers a maximum tow capacity of 10,500 pounds (4×2 Regular Cab). So equipped, Tundra uses a one-piece towing receiver integrated into the frame prior to bed installation. The tow package upgrades Tundra’s cooling and electrical systems, as well. Integrated engine and transmission oil coolers help handle the demands of towing under a full load, and a heavy-duty battery and alternator are added. The 7- and 4-pin towing hitch connectors sit above the hitch to help avoid damage during high-departure-angle driving.

The Toyota Tundra takes highway and off-road challenges like a champ.

Photo: Toyota

Trailer Sway Control (a function of vehicle stability control) helps to counteract those unpredictable forces that can cause a trailer to sway. An integrated trailer brake controller is included. Bed length runs up to 8.1 feet, and trailer towing capacity is 10,500 pounds.

The cabin boasts ample room at 42.3 inches of rear seat legroom in the Crew- Max models, providing much-needed space for employees. Other interior features include an upgraded Entune multimedia system; the SR5 model includes Entune Audio Plus with Connected Navigation App (Scout GPS Link App), which uses the operator’s smartphone to provide navigation functionality.

Going off-road? The Tundra TRD Pro offers a complete TRD suspension upgrade that raises the front of the vehicle two inches for a level ride height, and extends wheel travel at all four corners. The package also includes large diameter TRD-tuned Bilstein High-Performance shocks.