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2006 Pickup Truck Buyers Guide

by Martha Hindes

As long as people have needed to drive things around, there have been pickup trucks to serve them. The idea is as old as the auto itself. Even Henry Ford's fabled early 20th Century Model T came in truck version. So what could be new about an old, old idea that always seems to fill the need it was intended for without much fuss? Well, actually, a lot.

Where pickups used to all be Plain Jane or Plain Joe Tough varieties, they now sport as much diversity as the crossovers and sport utilities they sometimes replace, and as much class and comfort as some luxury autos they emulate. Instead of merely bare bones pickup cabs and an open bed for hauling, some come loaded with high tech electronics, from full color nav systems and satellite radio connectivity to the latest in active braking and suspensions to keep one safe on or off the road.

Bigger pickups have often been the grunt class workhorses of the automotive world. Their smaller siblings can serve quite nicely as car replacements -- with the added boost of double duty ability built in. Many sport room for four, even in downsized, more fuel efficient version, proving diminutive size doesn't need to be restrictive. So with gas prices continuing to rise with no end in sight, we offer some smaller, less gas hungry versions in our Pickup Truck Buyer's Guide (plus a couple of large luxury models simply for the sake of pampering.)