Best Pickup Trucks
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Thanks to their continued popularity, increased safety features and comfort, pickup trucks are catching on beyond their traditionally male buyers.
According to auto marketing and research agency Hedges & Co., 16% of new buyers of the Ford F-150, considered the most popular vehicle sold in the U.S., were women, as were 19% of new buyers of the Ram 1500 and 17% for the Toyota Tundra. There is also a trend developing of the “lifestyle truck,” a smaller, more compact model — with a November 2018 Autolist poll even claiming that 62% of respondents had expressed interest in this newer presentation of the pickup.
The truck just might be on its way to becoming the new family car. Families — and drivers of all stripes — will have to decide whether a midsize or a full-size pickup truck is the best. You may see trucks advertised as “compacts,” but most of those smaller trucks are considered midsize pickups. Then there are heavy-duty models typically used for especially heavy lifting at work or towing large recreational vehicles which we didn’t include here.
For purposes of this list, we focus on midsize and full-size trucks. The main difference between the two is going to be towing capability, as even the best midsize pickup on our list tops out at 7,700-pound towing capacity. Most pickup truck owners would do fine with a midsize truck (and the smaller price tag) if they don’t need to tow more than 6,500 pounds — but if you are looking for a lot more power in your pickup, then a full-size option is your best bet.
Our picks also took into consideration safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), as well as ratings from Kelley Blue Book (KBB) experts and consumers on Edmunds. You may notice a few popular models are missing from this list — that’s because several trucks, including the all-new Chevy Silverado 1500 and Ram 1500, are so new they have yet to be reviewed by the groups we mentioned above.
Best midsize pickup trucks
- MSRP $24,800
- KBB experts score not yet available; 4.8 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (5 reviews)
- 4 stars NHTSA
Beyond technology, the 2019 Chevrolet Colorado really shines against the Tacoma and Ridgeline, above, in its diesel model, which the others lack. A diesel is commonly found in larger trucks, but is rare among midsize offerings — the midsize GMC Canyon has one, too, but didn’t make this list because it lacked consumer reviews, as of this writing. The turbodiesel engine does add to the Colorado’s cost, especially if you add it to a 4×4 version, but consider the turbodiesel on a two-wheel drive. Not only is it one of the most fuel-efficient trucks on this list with up to 30 MPG on the highway (23 MPG combined), it has a 7,700-pound towing capacity.
- MSRP $25,700
- 4.3 out of 5 by KBB experts; 4.8 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (13 reviews)
- 4 stars NHTSA
Thanks to its wide array of configurations (more than 30!), this popular pickup can be built for just about every need. The base model comes with a frugal 4-cylinder engine that makes this an affordable truck while still handling up to a 3,500-pound towing capacity — upgrade to the higher trim levels and the Tacoma is ready for more than 6,000 pounds. There are plenty of options for those who can afford to climb the Tacoma’s extensive trim ladder, such as the TDR Off-Road (starting at $33,650) and the TDR Pro (starting at $42,810). The Tacoma offers legendary durability, reliability and stellar resale numbers, but tech lovers may find more perks with the Colorado, which can be equipped with Chevrolet’s Infotainment 3 package with Wi-Fi hotspot, Android Auto or Apple CarPlay connectivity, rear camera and more.
- MSRP $29,900
- 4.3 out of 5 by KBB experts; 4.8 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (44 reviews)
- 5 stars NHTSA
It’s fair to say that the Honda Ridgeline is the safest pickup truck on our list — it’s the only one that’s earned a 5-star rating from the NHTSA. But the 2019 Ridgeline has a lot more to offer customers who are looking for the ride and handling of a midsize SUV coupled with the versatility of an open-bed pickup truck. One of the key features that sets the Ridgeline from its competitors is the fact that its bed has a hidden compartment beneath the bed floor, perfect for storing items that you want to be safe from view. The base Ridgeline has a 3,500-pound tow capacity, but if you upgrade to the all-wheel drive Sport ($35,290), it goes up to 5,000 pounds. Those who also want plenty of safety features will be glad to know that it comes with Honda’s collision mitigation braking, adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist (which is available or standard on the RTL-E and Black Edition trims). The Ridgeline is perfect for those looking for some of the comforts of an SUV with more hauling ability, though it can’t tow quite as much as the Chevy Colorado or Toyota Tacoma, below.
Best full-size pickup trucks
- MSRP $27,395
- 4.4 out of 5 by KBB experts; 5.0 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (2 reviews)
- 4 stars NHTSA
The 2019 Ram 1500 Classic is not to be confused with its similarly-named, all-new 2019 Ram 1500, which has not yet been rated by KBB experts. The 1500 Classic, however, is a continuation of the beloved Ram light-duty full-size pickup that’s perfect for entry-level buyers looking for a larger truck. But don’t let the “classic” name fool you — the truck comes with available upgraded features such as LED bed lights, a rearview camera, an 8.4-inch touch screen, onboard Wi-Fi and Apple CarPlay/Android Audio connectivity. The base Tradesman also has a coil-spring rear suspension, so the 1500 Classic has a smoother ride and weighs less than its Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado competitors. However, when it comes to heavier towing, it doesn’t quite measure up to the F-150 or Silverado, coming in at a still impressive 10,620-pound towing capacity.
- MSRP $28,155
- 4.4 out of 5 by KBB experts; 3.0 out of 5 by Edmunds consumers (2 reviews)
If you’re a fan of pickup trucks, then you probably already know that the Ford F-150 is the best-selling full-size pickup truck in the U.S., offering best-in-class towing at 13,200 pounds on the 4X2 SuperCrew with the 3.5L EcoBoost engine and maximum trailer tow package, upping the cost by about $10,000. With a variety of bed lengths, cab sizes, engines and plenty of other customization options amongst seven different models, the cost continues to climb — a fully-loaded Limited F-150 starts at $67,135. If you need the biggest towing you can get, then the 2019 Ford F-150 is for you. However, those that need to pull a boat or a modest payload might be better off with a smaller pickup truck instead.
Financing the best pickup trucks
Before shopping for a new truck, shop for an auto loan. Potential lenders include credit unions, banks or online lenders. Apply to a few in order to compare offers and see which one is best for you before stepping foot onto the car lot. Dealers are often able to raise your APR and make a profit off your loan, not just your vehicle — the best way to avoid this is to go in with a preapproved auto loan in hand, so you know what APR you deserve and can ask the dealer to beat it. On LendingTree, you could fill out an online form and receive up to five potential auto loan offers from lenders at once, instead of filling out five different lender applications.
To rate the best pickup trucks of 2019, we looked at vehicles which scored at least a 4 from both Kelley Blue Book experts as well as Edmunds consumers. We also factored in trucks that had at least a 4-star safety rating from NHTSA or were a top pick by the IIHS. However, not all of the trucks on our list had been rated for 2019 at the time of publication and none qualified as an IIHS Top Safety Pick for 2019, though many had received good ratings from the agency. The MSRP noted here is for the base trim of each vehicle at time of publication.