One of the most popular styles of vehicles in the USA, pickup trucks come in more shapes and sizes than you may think. This is not only to cater to those who like the look of these brutish machines, but also as these types of vehicles serve a variety of purposes. In order to find out which of the current pickups listed here are the best trucks on the market to meet your specific needs, perusing comprehensive reviews is the way to go. Whether you need a reliable worker, a capable off-roader, or a practical commuter or family hauler, there is certainly something for everyone, if you just take the time.
What’s all the hubbub, bub?
There is definitely a reason why trucks are among the best sellers on the American market, and more than a few local manufacturers have honed their offerings over the years to meet demand. Purchased both for practicality and status in the US, owning a pickup has it’s merits. Here are just some of the strengths of these configurations, as well as some of the weaknesses you can expect from the average offering.
- Powerful and dependable engines
- Impressive safety ratings
- Genuine off-roading capabilities
- Highly rated towing capacities
- Plenty of cargo space if you use the bed
- More customization options than you can imagine
- Seldom spacious or luxurious inside
- Getting the most out of the model ranges costs a lot
- Ride quality and handling dynamics are secondary concerns
- Terrible fuel economy
Deadlift like a pro
Perhaps the most traditional configuration when it comes to these kinds of automobiles, the workhorses in the pickup truck stable are designed to be rugged and reliable. While all trucks are designed to do some duty, the heaviest lifters come from American automakers like Ford, Chevrolet, and Ram.
From the F-150, all the way through to the F-450 Super Duty, Blue Oval pickups generally lead the pack. The runt of the litter, if you can even call it that, gets a choice of multiple engines, with maximum power outputs totaling 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque. However, due to the smaller dimensions and less sturdy frame, the F-150 can only tow up to 13,200 lbs. This is still a lot more than its direct rivals, but it pales in comparison to its big brother. It’s an ideal buy for those who need to regularly haul about an ATV or watercraft.
For much more grunt, there are the Heavy and Super Duty variants. When properly specced, the Ford F-450 develops 475 hp and a whopping 1,050 lb-ft. If you stick with the rear-wheel drivetrain, the Super Duty can pull loads of up to 37,000 lbs, handily trouncing the competition. It’s pretty pricey though, with a starting MSRP of around $50,000, and its gas mileage figures are abysmal.
Moving people rather than cargo
Where you would normally opt for a two-seater cabin and a larger cargo bed on the utilitarian truck models, many manufacturers offer a more domestic beast. A four-seater cabin is available on most modern models, although it sacrifices storage space and towing capacity. Still, these large machines make for pretty decent family cars since they are remarkably safe.
Aside from the introduction of more and more advanced driver-assistance features, and ever-improving passive and active safety system, body-on-frame construction makes most trucks extremely resilient. Add to this impressive riding height and good visibility, and it’s easy to see why so many shoppers are happy to look at trucks, even when they have a growing family.
Once again, models from Ford and Chevrolet dominate the market, but there are several capable options from Toyota and Nissan, too, such as the Tundra and Frontier, respectively.
With the larger cabins, and perhaps a few other interior upgrades, each of these vehicles offer more than enough passenger space, both upfront and in the back seat, though many are waiting for updates to implement more modern features. Still, don’t expect the family-friendly interior of a crossover, nor the performance capabilities of a sedan or coupe.
Playing in the mud
There is no shortage of choice when it comes to off-roaders in this segment. The majority of the available machines offer 4×4 drivetrains. In some cases, this is just to counteract bad road conditions caused by poor weather. But, with options like the Jeep Gladiator or Ford Raptor, venturing off the beaten path has never been easier. High angles of approach and departure, as well as tall wheel arches and 4WD gearing, mean that these trucks can go where few others dare to.
Add-on equipment like snorkels and fog lamps can further help shoppers build the safest and most capable trucks out there. It’s also only at these slower speeds that the trucks deliver more bearable ride quality and steering wheel feedback.
Choosing the right truck for you
As you can tell, there is a pickup to suit just about any need out there, and the competition is fierce. Thus, you need to carefully research your options by reading reviews and taking your top picks for a test drive. Asking yourself important questions like what, specifically, you need a new truck for, as well as factoring in your budget are extremely important boxes to tick before you come to a conclusion.
Still, despite the popularity of these rugged and flexible machines, their market share may fade in the coming years unless automakers embrace more modern technologies like hybrid components or even fully electric powertrains. While it may look a little odd, the upcoming Tesla Cybertruck will be experimenting with these systems, as well as equipping the interior of the cabin with more luxurious materials and a wider array of features.
So, rather than going extinct as market priorities shift, these gas-guzzlers will likely pivot to maintain their dominance in the States. We can only speculate and look forward to future offerings in this segment as automakers continue to push the boundaries of towing and hauling capabilities while integrating new technologies and design philosophies to remain relevant in a constantly evolving global climate.