Here at Four Wheeler magazine we think a new pickup truck should have a functional bed or it's not worth looking at. After all if you're looking to buy a truck, you probably need to haul things around, and what good is a truck bed if it can't haul stuff? So I decided to start my evaluation off by comparing each bed of the four pickups we're testing for Pickup Truck of the Year.
Chrysler corporation hit a home run in terms of bed configuration. Not only does the cargo space feature very usable tie-downs but it's also available with the class-exclusive Ram Boxes that sit across the top portion of each bed rail. The system offers plenty of lockable storage for items you want quick access to on the go. Also there is a robust anchoring system that is comprised of extruded aluminum track and quick-adjustable tie-downs running along each side of the cargo box. We like this arrangement but fear that Dodge forgot to include the track across the back of the cab where many of us would most want to secure bulky items. A plastic bed divider is also optional with this package, this came in very handy for us today.
Ford stepped up to the cargo management plate with a super robust cargo management system that is also comprised of aluminum track with adjustable anchor points. However Ford's setup looks a bit unsightly in my opinion. I mean the product is stout for sure, but I fear criminal types might target this system for a quick buck at local recycling yards, the aluminum is track is huge and commands way too much attention from on-lookers. I think this particular system could have sufficed with smaller tracking. Ford also offers a bed divider setup that slides via the aforementioned track, however it seems awkward to use and cheap looking due to plastic at each intersection.
Basically the Equator is the mirror image of the Nissan Frontier, so the bed cargo management setup or "Utilitrack" system is already familiar to us and well-proven in our eyes. I'm happy to see that Suzuki included this arrangement rather than trying to re-engineer something from scratch. The cast aluminum tie-down cleats are robust and provide more than enough confidence to hold valuables in place. The factory spray-in bed liner also makes us smile.
GM also got with the program and added a fully functional cargo anchoring set up to the bed of the H3T. This system is simple and effective. Comprised of two extruded aluminum rails with cast aluminum cleats, the system offers solid anchoring with easy to use stainless steel pull-pins to adjust cleat location. We especially like the fact that each cleat is powder coated black for corrosive environments found near the coast. The setup is just as effective at the others in our group yet offers the best appearance in my opinion. The H3T also offers stealthy compartments in each side of the bed wall to stash smaller items such as flares, jumper cables and tie down straps.