20 Best Trucks to Buy
The pick-up truck is practically part of the American landscape. Pick-up trucks even hand a hand in helping to build the American landscape. They are also the best-selling vehicles every year in the United States. That's right; the best-selling overall vehicle in the country isn't a cheap compact car or the family-mover SUV. It's the American built Ford F-150 followed by the Chevrolet Silverado and the Ram Pickup from Dodge. In fact, the F-Series has been the #1 leader for the past 41 years!
Lots of people pick their truck based on their gut because their granddad worked at Ford or because their dad drove a Ram. But for people who want to sit a spell and think things through, there are a lot of options out there. Different trucks have different strengths, and they're changing more often than we realize. As all vehicles have grown bigger and bigger, there has been a recent sales surge in mid-size truck models, as well as new interest from manufacturers in offering smaller truck sizes.
It can be beyond confusing to pick out a truck to purchase. After all, there's a lot to consider. With all the different model sizes to choose from, each featuring their own unique cab and bed size combinations, there's a dizzying array of offerings to compare. Trucks can also get quite expensive, so it pays to be a smart shopper and really consider all your options! Here are some of the best according to buyer reviews and automotive reviewers to help you make sense of everything.
2019 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 HD (Heavy Duty)
The be-all and end-all of Chevy pickups can tow up to 20,000 pounds (the dual rear wheel diesel version) and carry a 6,112-pound payload (the dual-rear-wheel non-diesel version). Depending on all of the features you add on, these bad boys will run you about $35,000. You have a choice of 6.0-liter V-8s or a 6.6-liter turbodiesel V8. Single rear wheel configurations are offered in addition to a dual-rear-wheel model.
2020 Ford F-350 (Heavy Duty)
Ford's Super Duty trucks come in all shapes and sizes, but under the hood, you've got your choice of V-8: Either a 385-hp 6.2-liter gas with 405 lb-ft of torque, or a 440-hp 6.7-liter turbodiesel with 880 lb-ft of torque. With the option to double up on dual wheels or tack on all-wheel drive, you can set this thing up to haul anything anywhere, up to 26,500 pounds. The worst part about these trucks is the price. On average, you'll be spending about $60,000 on an F-350.
2019 Dodge Ram 3500 (Heavy Duty)
The Dodge Ram 3500 features an awe-inspiring 900 lb-ft of torque and a maximum tow rating of 31,210 pounds when you upgrade to the Aisin transmission. Engines range from a 6.7-liter turbodiesel inline 6 to a 410-hp, 6.4-liter V-8. With all of that, the heavy-duty Rams don't have that sluggish feel a lot of heavy-duty pickups have. Just based on the sheer power of driving this beast, you can't go wrong, especially for $35,000.
2019 GMC Sierra (Full-size)
Just because the Silverado gets slightly higher praise doesn't mean that the Sierra is a slouch. The cabin is quiet and comfortable, and if you can shell out for the Denali, you're rolling along in luxury on top of a 6.2-liter V8. The differences are primarily cosmetic. You're paying for the luxury (prices start at $35,600), but you can rest assured that this truck's carrying the same hardworking guts as the Silverado.
2019 GMC Canyon (Mid-size/Compact)
The GMC Canyon is great for a compact/mid-size pickup, but it suffers a little from comparison to its Chevrolet “twin,” the Colorado. The performance is similar, and the nicer options get expensive but the cost starts at $22,000, so you should keep that in mind. Still, the truck is decked with tech, from a USB port and 4.2-inch display screen to Bluetooth, Siri Eyes Free, Apple CarPlay, an 8-inch touch screen with GMC IntelliLink, and OnStar 4G LTE with built-in Wi-Fi hotspot, and more, depending on the package you choose.
2020 Chevrolet Colorado (Mid-size/Compact)
The Colorado was one of U.S. News and World Report's favorite compact pickups, and it's not hard to see why. The truck manages a great blend of towing ability and fuel economy, especially with the 2.8-liter turbodiesel 4-cylinder, which provides 369 pounds per foot of torque. Power like that out of a truck this size is impressive, as is its 7,700-lb towing capacity. The turbodiesel is only one choice of several, but it's a pretty clear front-runner in terms of fuel efficiency and torque. The Colorado is also reasonably priced, starting out at $21,300.
2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 (Full-size)
The Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra are cousins but the Silverado tends to edge out its GMC cousin for reviewers. The standard V-6 is plenty powerful, but there are two V-8 options if you want even more. Reviewers like to talk about it being a straightforward, traditional truck, and while it's true the body and engine are tried-and-true rather than cutting-edge, the tech amenities in the cabin are anything but conservative, with options like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Onstar. It's also not too pricey, with the MSRP for the 2020 model being $28,300.
2016 Toyota Tacoma (Mid-size/Compact)
The Toyota Tacoma, heir of the Toyota Pickup. The 2016 model has gotten flak for its small interior and middling fuel economy, but its efficient V6 can tow 6,800 pounds, and you're not going to get a better off-road truck in this class than the TRD. If you want more cabin space while keeping the off-road capabilities, look for any model older than the 2016 redesign. Plus, you'll get the better pricing options of pre-owned vehicles since the 2016 models are around $30,000.
2020 Ford F-150 (Full-size)
The classic American workhorse returns. Three turbocharged V-6 engine options offer all the power you could possibly need for hauling and towing in a truck this size. It's like having a small V-8. And the change from steel to aluminum has been kind to the classic truck, which is now up to 700 pounds lighter, with better handling. Tech includes several cameras to help you see what you're doing from inside the massive thing and the cost starts at $25,000, which is fairly reasonable.
2019 Dodge Ram 1500 (Full-size)
The Ram is an American icon, and it's not hard to see why it's so popular. The MSRP is $33,440 for basic models, so it's a great full-size truck at a mid-size price. The standard engine's a 305-hp, 3.6-liter V-6, but a Hemi V-8 and a turbo-diesel V-6 are also available. Its aerodynamic profile (for a giant pickup truck) makes it a good choice for fuel economy, and its suspension can adjust the truck for better aerodynamics, load balance, or even to help load and unload it.
2020 Ford F-250 (Full-size)
If you’re looking for a reliable truck with a cheaper price, consider the 2013 and 2016 For F-250 models. This super-duty truck performed better more consistently than any other year in the same brand. With an impressive 3.2-liter V8 gas engine or a 6.7-liter V8 Turbo Diesel engine, you get a maximum towing capacity of 21,000 pounds, 385-hp, and a 6-speed automatic transmission for an average of $35,000. You can also add a 5th-wheel towing package to get more power, a camping package, or choose from a variety of off-road upgrades.
2013 Chevrolet Avalanche (Full-size)
If you’re looking for a brand new truck then this isn’t the one for you. Chevrolet stopped producing the Avalanche after 2013, but that doesn’t make it any less of a great vehicle (especially for the cost of about $25,000). Consumers rated this truck above-average for the last few years of the vehicle’s production. You can choose from the base LS model with 17-inch wheels, keyless entry, and OnStar, the LT model with those features plus XM satellite radio and Bluetooth, or the LTZ edition with additional Bose speakers, 20-inch wheels, and self-leveling suspension.
2019 Nissan Frontier (Full-size)
The Nissan Frontier is a great option for those who don’t want the traditional truck body style. The starting price is $19,090 and you just can’t beat that. You have options for larger beds or bodies and either a 4×2 or a 4×4 drivetrain. Key features include a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, a rearview monitor, a 7” touchscreen display, and a multi-leaf suspension with a solid axle. The 152-hp, 3,800-pound towing capacity, and an average of 21 mpg also make this a great buy.
2019 Honda Ridgeline (Full-size)
The Honda Ridgeline is a fan favorite, and everyone who owns one loves it. The MSRP is a respectable $29,990 and you get an average of 22 mpg. With this truck, each trim level builds on the previous one so you’re getting new features and upgrades with each version. The top-of-the-line model has all-wheel drive, blind spot indicators, Apple CarPlay, and a leather-trimmed interior. You get 280-hp, 262 lb-ft of torque, and a V6 engine in every model, so you have a lot to choose from.
2020 Toyota Tundra (Full-size)
The Toyota Tundra has been highly rated for many years in a row, and the Texas-built truck is a champion in reliability. The fuel economy isn’t as great as other options, and the starting price of $33,425 might be more than you want to spend, but this truck will last you for many years to come. You can choose from the SR5, which is great for you if you want to use it as a work truck, the Limited edition for family comfort, or the Platinum for luxury. They all come with a 4×2 CrewMax 5.7-liter V8 engine and a 5.5-ft bed, so the differences are safety upgrades, trims, and extra technology.
1979 Nissan Datsun 620 (Compact)
The Datsun is the first compact truck to hit the American market and the '70s models are beautiful, have long beds, and helped fuel the sport-compact truck era. You’d have to buy a used one because they went out of production in 1997, but it would be worth it. Your options are regular and long beds, a variety of trim packages including luxury and sports options, and either 2WD or 4WD. The best part is it would only cost you about $10,000 to bring home a Datsun that’s been well-loved and cared for.
1978 Dodge Lil’ Red Express (Compact/Sports Truck)
Here’s another cult classic that you’d be lucky to take home. The Lil’ Red Express was the fastest pickup on the road during the ‘70s and could reach 100 mph easily. The modified V8 engine put out a nice 225-hp, so you would love speeding around in this fun truck. The transmission is automatic and it comes with a standard bench seat so it’ll be a proper blast from the past that anyone would be happy to call their daily driver. One of these in good condition will run you about $20,000, so it has a nice mid-range price tag, too.
2004 Nissan Hardbody 4×4 (Compact)
This was originally called the D21 pickup but earned the “hardbody” title for its strength and tough appearance. The Sports package is a 4×4 model with 31-inch tires, a V6 engine, brush and light bars, and fender flairs. You can choose from either 2WD or 4WD, a 2.5-liter or 2.7-liter diesel a 2.4-liter KA24E, or a 3.0-liter VG30E V6 engine, as well as four different transmission options. Overall, this is a classic, reliable truck that you can enjoy off the road, around town, or for work.
1989 Dodge Shelby Dakota (Compact/Sports Truck)
The Dodge Shelby Dakota was meant to fill a gap in the market for a truck that was able to haul heavy loads and go super fast. This truck has a 5.2-liter V8 engine with 175-hp and a 4-speed automatic transmission. Along with throttle-body injection, 270 lb-ft of torque, and special wheels and trim, this high-performance truck would make anyone a happy camper. The price also can’t be beaten since a model in near-mint condition would only run you about $20,000.
2006 Dodge Ram SRT-10 (Mid-size/Sports Truck)
The Dodge Ram SRT-10 made it onto this list for being incredibly fast, which means you get a 500-hp pickup that can reach 60 mph in just over five seconds, with a top speed of 155 mph. These models have an 8.3-liter V10 engine with either a 6-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission, a decent 7,500 lb towing capacity, and a whopping 252 lb-ft of torque. The average $30,000 might seem like a lot for a used truck, but this bad boy will get you where you need to go in a flash.