Tough Trucks (aired 9/5/04)

Higher gas prices haven't dampened sales of pick up trucks. In fact, sales of full size pick ups are at an all time high with nearly a million sold already this year.

Consumer Reports just tested five pick ups.

At Consumer Reports auto test, five pick up trucks recently underwent a tough set of challenges to find the best. The trucks go through avoidance maneuver courses to see how they'll react in an emergency.

Testers drive them down bumpy roads to assess the smoothness of the ride. And they climb a rock hill to test off road capabilities.

Director of Auto Test, David Champion, says pick ups have a lot more to offer. “Pick up trucks have improved so much recently in terms of a family vehicle. They have much bigger interiors. These four door cabs actually have a usable rear seat for humans."

But some trucks, like the Dodge Ram, still have room for improvement. The heavy suspension makes for a rough ride. And it had trouble on the rock hill, spinning its wheels.

Testers also assessed the Ford F-150 the top selling pick up. “They've just redesigned it for this year. It's got a much quieter interior, much nicer fit and finish, rides better.”

But the Toyota Tundra performed even better, rising to the top of the ratings. "It's still a very quiet, very comfortable, very easy to drive truck.” And it climbs the rock hill with ease.

Consumer Reports cautions, trucks have a large blind spot that can make it impossible to see small children behind the vehicle. You may want to consider getting an after market back up camera to prevent back over accidents.

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