The United States of America is a big country, both in terms of land mass and population, and that also means it has plenty of long, wide roads perfect for large vehicles.
As such, the full-size pick-up truck category has blossomed over the years, as the ultimate vehicle that is ready to go off-road and perfect for work, but also large and powerful enough to act as a luxurious family car that can tow anything.
There are a few third-party conversion companies in Australia that will sell you a pickup truck locally converted to right-hand drive, but only Ram and GMSV sell factory-backed local conversions through their showrooms.
That means, for example, you can’t stroll into a Toyota showroom to buy a new Tundra or a Ford dealership to buy a new F-150.
In the General Motors empire, GMC has long been positioned as slightly more luxurious than Chevrolet but below higher-end Cadillac, which acts as GM’s ultimate prestige marque.
The GMC Sierra 1500 reflects this approach. Although MY2020 and 2021 models are available in Australia through aftermarket converters such as Performax, GMC has recently revealed a heavily updated 2022 version.
The latest iteration is available in the US with four engines: a turbocharged 2.7-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, a 3.0-litre inline-six turbo-diesel, and 5.3-litre and 6.2-litre naturally-aspirated petrol V8s. All use a 10-speed automatic transmission except the four-cylinder, which uses an eight-speed unit.
In the flagship 6.2-litre V8, the Sierra is capable of towing 13,000 pounds (almost six tonnes) and offers 313kW of power and 624Nm of torque.
Befitting its status as a more upmarket option compared to its Silverado sibling, the Sierra is available with the latest Super Cruise driver assistance system borrowed from Cadillac, as well as a 13.4 inch infotainment system and an Audi Virtual Cockpit-style 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, plus a 15-inch colour heads-up display.
Full-grain leather seating and open-pore wood trim is also available on top-shelf Denali Ultimate trim levels. Mind you, GMC doesn’t have a monopoly on luxed-up trucks in the GM portfolio: Chevrolet sells a posh Silverado High Country in the US.
GMC sold 248,924 Sierra pickups in 2021, less than half that of its Silverado sibling (at 529,765 units sold). However, the ritzy and profitable Denali models often account for a significant portion of GMC sales.
In Australia, Nissan sells its Navara ute as a direct competitor to the likes of the Ford Ranger, while in the US it offers the Frontier in this segment. There, Nissan also offers the Titan, a full-sized pick-up designed to compete head-on with the likes of the Chevrolet Silverado and Ford F-150.
The current, second-generation model was revealed in 2015. Apart from the usual trim levels, Nissan offers both a standard Titan and a heavier-duty Titan XD. The latter includes commercial-grade components in its chassis to allow it tow a maximum of 11,040 pounds (approximately five tonnes).
Nissan has attempted to differentiate both Titan variants from the competition by including a high level of standard equipment, such as a full suite of active safety technology that includes rear AEB.
There’s just one engine available: a 5.6-litre petrol V8 with 298kW of power and 559Nm of torque. A 5.0-litre Cummins turbo-diesel V8 was available in the Titan XD but it was discontinued a couple of years ago.
Nissan sold just 27,406 Titans in 2021, scarcely more than 10 per cent of the GMC Sierra described above and dead last in the segment.
The Toyota HiLux is Australia’s most popular vehicle but it isn’t sold in the US. Instead, they have the Tacoma to battle the Ford Ranger, while above this sits the full-sized Tundra.
After almost 15 years on the market, a replacement for the second-generation Tundra was finally revealed towards the end of last year. Toyota Australia has said it’s studying the viability of introducing the new Tundra locally but there are no confirmed plans to bring it here.
Arguably most notable about the latest Tundra are its powertrains. The 2022 Tundra eschews the conventional V8 in favour of a pair of twin-turbocharged petrol V6 engines, with the latter, known as the iForce Max, offering a total system output of 325kW and 790Nm of torque by pairing a V6 engine to a nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery pack. Maximum torque is available from just 2,400 RPM.
Unlike several other pick-ups, the Tundra makes use of multi-link, coil-spring rear suspension, rather than leaf springs, for a more comfortable ride for rear passengers.
Additionally, the Tundra debuts an all-new infotainment system for the Japanese brand. Developed in-house by its Texas-based Connected Technologies team, the Tundra features a large 14-inch central infotainment display with integrated Google point-of-interest data. There’s also a 12-inch digital driver’s display.
Toyota sold 81,959 Tundras in the US last year, down on previous years where sales exceeded the 100,000-unit mark. However, it was the last year of the long-running second-generation model.
Hummer is perhaps best known in Australia as the stereotypical limousine, with stretched versions ferrying around partygoers as well as transporting school students to formals.
In the US, GM has resurrected the Hummer nameplate as a GMC sub-brand, with the GMC Hummer EV representing a clean-sheet EV designed to directly compete with future models such as the Tesla Cybertruck and Rivian R1T. Initial production began late in 2021.
Making use of GM’s new Ultium platform, the Hummer pickup uses an 800V electrical architecture to support fast charging at up to 350kW when connected to DC charging stations.
It offers a range of more than 350 miles (560 km) and acceleration from 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) in just three seconds in Edition 1 guise. Like the Sierra, the Hummer will also be available with GM’s Super Cruise driver assistance system.
GMC officially sold just one Hummer EV pickup in 2021, but expects to quickly ramp up production.
The Ford F-150 is not only the most popular pickup truck sold in the US, it’s also been the best-selling vehicle, period, for 40 years. This is set to continue with the introduction of the F-150 Lightning, an all-electric variant.
The Blue Oval is targeting an EPA range (often more rigorous than the WLTP cycle) of up to 300 miles (482 km) with the extended range battery, and estimated performance figures of 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) in the mid-4 second range.
Perhaps just as interesting is that the Lightning will not only offer a frunk, but also onboard vehicle-to-load (V2L) power-generation capability, with the vehicle being able to deliver up to 9.6kW of power through 11 outlets located around the vehicle. The Lightning will also be equipped with Ford’s latest Sync 4 infotainment system, as featured on the upcoming Ford Ranger.
Combustion-engined alternatives are imported and converted in Australia by a variety of aftermarket suppliers, and Ford offers one of the widest spread of engines available.
This includes a 3.3-litre naturally-aspirated V6, 2.7-litre and 3.5-litre ‘EcoBoost’ twin-turbo V6s (the latter used in the wild Raptor), a 3.5-litre ‘PowerBoost’ hybrid V6 and a 5.0-litre naturally-aspirated V8.
Interestingly, the PowerBoost engine matches the V8 for power and exceeds it for torque, with outputs of 300kW and 770Nm.
As with the trucks from Ram and General Motors, there are heavier-duty models available. These are sold under the Super Duty name, and offer a choice of petrol or turbo-diesel V8 engines.
Ford sold 726,003 F-Series trucks in the US last year, comfortably above Ram’s pickup truck range (569,388) and the Chevrolet Silverado range (519,774).