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I need a heavy-duty pickup truck. What’s my best option?

what car should I buy?

A four-way tie for the perfect pickup

There's no wrong answer when comparing the Ford F-250, Ram 2500, Silverado 2500 and Titan XD

I want to buy a heavy-duty pickup truck for my business, but can't decide between Ford F-250, Ram 2500, Silverado 2500 and the Titan XD. Which do you recommend? – Michael

Richardson: Well, this is the question for the ages. The first three are the biggest selling vehicles in North America and usually, the choice comes down to brand loyalty.

Lightstone: With models that – at least from the Big Three – are so close in amenities and performance, you're absolutely right. The odd man out there is the Nissan Titan XD, and that's got nothing to do with its capabilities and more to do with Nissan's "newness" to the modern truck game.

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2017 Nissan Titan.

Richardson: Michael hasn't narrowed down his choice here – these are the only heavy-duty trucks on the market. But if he's truly undecided, he's an auto maker's dream. Sell him a quality truck and make sure he stays happy and he'll end up tattooing its name on his chest.

Lightstone: So the question comes down to reliability in the long run, as well as cost of maintenance, servicing and possible replacement parts down the line.

Richardson: It also comes down to whether the nearest dealership is convenient and what Michael actually needs to do with his truck. How big a box does he need? Will he be carrying passengers? Is he in the city, or bashing through the woods?

Lightstone: Do you think there's one clear leader?

2018 Silverado 2500.

Richardson: Simple answer? No. Both the Silverado and the Ram are being redesigned with their debuts at this month's Detroit auto show, so I'd wait a while before considering them. But I lean toward the Ford myself. It was first to figure out the fuel-saving advantages of using aluminum in its construction – which doesn't dent and damage as easily as the steel makers insist – and it has so many handy little features. There's the video assistance in lining up the tow hitch, and tailgate steps, and the much-improved Ford Sync connectivity.

Lightstone: I'm more of a Ram girl myself, and mostly due to available suspension options. One of the more notable truck features us non-truck people often complain about is ride quality and "bounciness." Ram's auto-leveling rear suspension honestly makes it drive more like a car than any other truck I've been in to date. Plus it does all those other trucky things super well, too (read: tow things, carry lots of heavy stuff, go off-road).

2018 Ram 2500.

Richardson: Miranda, all of them do those trucky things super well. Can't believe I just wrote that. Harumph.

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Lightstone: You'll thank me for learning a term the manufacturers will pick up in no time, you just watch! But yes, they all have the equipment and guts to get the job done. The best advice I'd give Michael would be to read the manufacturer websites and pick his top three, then book test drives back-to-back on the same day so he can make a proper decision about which brand he prefers the most. Could be something as simple as seat comfort or button placement/design that really sells him, since they really are all so close in their trucky capabilities.

Richardson: If he's truly undecided, it'll probably come down to which salesperson he likes the most and, of course, which has the better deals. They all change the incentives every month, and every dealership can also cut its own deals. Right now, the best deals are on the Nissan, which has an incentive of more than $9,000 for paying cash. Ford is offering up to $8,000 off, with an extra $1,000 for Costco card holders.

Ford F-250.

Lightstone: It also depends how strong Michael wants his truck to be and what features he wants.

Richardson: Sure – both the Ford and the Nissan are offered as the most stripped-down models, if Michael just wants a very basic truck. They have entry MSRPs around $30,000. If he wants the engines that make more than 900 lbs.-ft of torque and can tow an aircraft carrier, and the big boxes and roomy cabins, he'll need to spend a lot more.

Lightstone: I feel like we're making the decision more complicated for Michael! He needs to really narrow down his truck needs and wants, figure out a budget cap, then sit down with a sales rep at each of his top three choices and find the very best fit that way. There's no glaringly wrong choice here, which is in Michael's favour.

What car should you buy? Write to Mark and Miranda at globedrive@globeandmail.com.

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