Pickup trucks are about as American as apple pie and for some people they serve as excellent daily drivers. In Top Gear USA’s Big Bad Trucks, the cast set out to find which light-duty pickup truck best combined toughness, reliability and luxury to be crowned the most versatile. In the San Gabriel Mountains outside of Los Angeles, California they arrived with their choices. Tanner Foust drove a Ford F-150 King Ranch® SuperCrew® edition. Talk about a ride or die Ford guy! Adam Ferrara also went American in a Ram 1500 Sport Cab 4×4. Rutledge Wood chose the 2014 Toyota Tundra CrewMax 1794, which was made in the USA for the Japanese manufacturer. The guys took time to go over each other’s vehicles and then played around in the dirty puddles before heading towards the road. There was a race to see who could get there first that had long-lasting consequences besides bruised egos.
“I’m not tall per se…” – Tanner Foust
Adam finally caught up with the guys at SpeedZone in the City of Industry, but his arm was in a sling. He suffered a third-degree shoulder separation and to my knowledge, he’s still in the recovery process. The race was for them to complete the kart course in their trucks. They cheat so much in this show, it isn’t even funny. No wait, actually it’s very funny. Since Adam was incapacitated, The Stig was brought in to do the driving for him. However, even this did not guarantee victory in each challenge, especially the next one.
“Remember when we came out of the stream, you guys made a left. I made a right and there was a slight…cliff.” – Adam Ferrara
In order to prove which truck was a good family vehicle, the guys went to The Pike at Rainbow Harbor in Long Beach, a seven-story parking garage where they were provided with a family. Their task was to find parks between two cars, where they would change drivers. The finish line was on the roof but only after each “family member” had a chance to drive. Speaking of which each family comprised of a parent, grandparent, teenager and TV guy, except for Adam’s which included The Stig. Top Gear has put innocent people at the mercy of their presenters with varying degrees of success. This was one of those very successful times. It was brilliant, from the cantankerous granny who couldn’t even see over the console, to the lady who said, “I think I just had a baby.” Brilliant.
“I am not that short!” – Tanner Foust
In a wonderful hat tip @_McMike_, a superfan and regular poster on Jalopnik , there were cardboard cutouts of the cast with exaggerated proportions. To test their trucks safety, the cutouts were set up at the point of the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s zero to sixty to zero stopping distance. Whoever stopped furthest away from their “selves” would win. As entertaining as that bit was, I really want to know what became of the cutouts. It was now time for the final segment which set the bar pretty darned high for this show, and kudos to BBC Worldwide for making it happen at all.
“If you’re going to cheat at least have someone else drive and cheat the way Adam did.” – Rutledge Wood
When a Top Gear segment begins with the disclaimer: “The following airport scene was filmed within a controlled area under the supervision of the authorities,” you know it’s going to be good. The trio drove to the LA/Ontario International Airport in the Inland Empire, where they enjoyed the thrill of driving to a closed-off gate. Their final challenge was an obstacle course to be completed while towing a heavy load that hadn’t arrived as yet. This should have been our first clue, but they were too busy horsing around with the airport’s service vehicles. When you think about it, all these guys spend a lot of time in airports, but how often do they get to play in them? I hope that wasn’t people’s actual luggage getting tossed around and run over by those three four dudes (Don’t forget The Stig!). However, I imagine that travelers in the departure lounge couldn’t see the mayhem going on. I for one, would have been scanning the bags to make sure my suitcase wasn’t being used for target practice. Then the payload arrived, just in time.
“.- -.. .- — / .–. .-. — — .. … . -.. / .. / .– — ..- .-.. -.. / –. . – / – — / — . . – / -.. . -. .. … / .-.. . .- .-. -.– .-.-.-” – The Stig saying “Adam promised I would get to meet Denis Leary.”
It was a 727 passenger plane that would be towed around a quarter-mile obstacle course. The airport vehicles they were just playing with would be the obstacles, and it was on like Donkey Kong. This was craziness. They’ve done some cool stuff with vehicles before. Towing farm equipment (and livestock) in The Tractor Challenge immediately comes to mind. Then there was driving Big Rigs with containers attached. Ok neither of those ended well since both a barn and car were destroyed respectively. So we would pretty much have to hold our breaths until the very end. Adam surely had the right idea of getting a pilot’s eye view of the race from the plane’s cockpit. Honestly, who wouldn’t want to do that?
Every season of Top Gear USA has had a truck episode and this one carried the torch well. There was some chatter on social media as to why Chevrolet wasn’t represented, but I’m glad the Toyota was thrown into the mix. As important as it is to highlight US manufacturers, foreign vehicles cannot be ignored. Toyota’s trucks are not only tough but popular. It was also good to see The Stig maintain a presence in the episode. It’s unfortunate that it only happened because of Adam’s injury, but still, we miss seeing The Stig on a weekly basis. Live tweeting with the cast was fun as always as we looked forward to the online party that would accompany the season finale, Fountain of Youth.