Maybe you own a lawn maintenance company and you’re tired of hauling your equipment in a small, cramped SUV. Maybe you’re a Budweiser-drinkin’, NFL-watchin’, Remington-shootin’, BBQ-lovin’, flag-wavin’ American, and your Japanese Honda Accord is a burr in your saddle.
Or maybe you just enjoy driving around Wal-Mart parking lots revving the engine to 4,000 RPM and startling grandmothers.
Whatever your need, there’s a pickup truck to meet it.
2017 is a red-letter year for the pickup truck world. Old Faithfuls such as the Detroit Big Three – Ford, Chevrolet and Ram – set the standard for towing power and fuel efficiency. Sales – and build quality – of midsize trucks are surging. And hopefully, Jeep will unveil its lustful 2017 Jeep Wrangler Pickup late next year. Want to know more? Keep reading.
Disclaimer: Pickup trucks are the most popular vehicles in America. Ford sells almost 400,00 F-Series trucks annually, and the Ram 1500 alone has three dozen configurations. For these reasons, the following list does not include heavy-duty three-quarter or one-ton trucks, commercial vehicles, dedicated off-road models, or those lowered pickup trucks you laugh at on the highway.
7: 2017 Ram 1500
The Ram is a great truck. Drivers widely agree that its smooth coil spring suspension and V8 powertrains offer the best combination of power and sensuous comfort in the market.
What keeps the Ram from its place on the podium? It has disappointing safety test scores, for one thing, and subpar reliability ratings from J.D. Power, for another.
6: 2017 Toyota Tundra
The Toyota Tundra isn’t a sexy truck. It doesn’t offer innovative mobile office packages. It doesn’t have flashy design. And it’s imported and sold on U.S. soil.
At least, that’s what competitors want you to think. In fact, every Toyota Tundra is assembled in San Antonio, Texas, and testing is performed in the harsh weather of Michigan. That’s why off-roaders love the Tundra TRD Pro, starting at $43,395, which is arguably the best 4WD pickup truck in America.
The big truck is big everywhere: enormous front brakes, two massive V8 engines, a 38-gallon fuel tank, and a spacious cabin. It can tow up to 10,000 pounds. Most importantly, the Tundra can haul up to 2,080 pounds, far more than most competitors. Is it “sexy”? Maybe not. But with its incredible hauling capacity and bulletproof reliability, it’s the best work truck for the money.
5: 2017 Honda Ridgeline (Spotlight: RTS)
When you think Honda, you probably think of roadsters, motorcycles and lawnmowers. Are you surprised to learn, therefore, that the 2017 Honda Ridgeline was a Motor Trend Truck of the Year finalist? And that it won the “2017 Green Truck of the Year Award”?
You will note that the Ridgeline won no awards for towing ability, hauling capacity, or sheer badassittude. That is because the 5-passenger Ridgeline, completely redesigned for the 2017 model year, is a trucklet, a baby pickup, with a hauling capacity of 1,500 pounds and a 280-horsepower V6 engine that can tow up to 3,500 pounds in 2WD or 5,000 pounds in AWD.
“Only 3,500 pounds?” you say. “Fiddlesticks!” Perhaps, dear reader. But most pickup drivers tow nothing heavier. In return, the Ridgeline returns up to 26 mpg. It also has a silky-smooth 6-speed automatic transmission, beautiful ride quality and some of the most innovative features on the market.
For instance, the Honda Ridgeline RTS pickup has a dual-action tailgate, one that can open sideways or fold down. The bed also hides a weather-protected trunk box.
Options are legion. Want a standard review camera? How about optional blind-spot sensing? LaneWatch live video feed? Adaptive cruise control? Collision mitigation? Certainly!
The 2017 Honda Ridgeline RTS starts at $31,515.
4: 2018 Jeep Wrangler Pickup
Details are few. Speculations are many. Jeep hasn’t sold a pickup since 1992, but according to CEO Sergio Marchionne, it’s really happening. Everyone expects the classic 3.8-liter 285-horsepower Pentastar V6 engine, but there’s rumors of a turbocharged four-cylinder. The body-on-frame pickup will be lighter and more economical than current Wranglers, promises Jeep. However, spy shots seem to indicate a lengthy wheelbase and bed. Everyone’s crossing their fingers for both two- and four-door versions.
MSRP is unknown and irrelevant.
3: Chevrolet Silverado 1500/GMC Sierra 1500 (Spotlight: High Country)
If the Ford F-150 is the Michael Phelps of the pickup world, then the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and its cousin, the GMC Sierra 1500, is the Ryan Lochte – because in any other age, the Chevy would be the undisputed king.
After a refresh just this year, the 2017 Chevy Silverado receives several new exterior colors, a capless fuel system, a standard review camera on most trims, and enhanced active safety and infomatic systems.
But, let’s be honest – what matters most is power, and the Silverado is not found wanting. The biggest, baddest engine available is a 6.2-liter Eco-Tec V8 engine with 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. It is paired with a fuel-efficient 8-speed transmission. It is available exclusively with a crew cab in either 2WD or 4WD configurations with a 5’8″ or 6’6″ cargo box.
This powertrain, the strongest in the industry, is available on the range-topping High Country trim. The High Country has a saddle brown interior with heated and ventilated leather front seats, and it offers several active safety features, including lane-keeping assist, a sort of smart cruise control that prevents drifting.
Is the High Country a truck you would drive, er, in the country? No. It’s as nice as a Lexus. But if you must have the best, and you have $49,840, then you can do no better.
And if you’re curious about fuel economy, then no, the High Country isn’t for you.
2: 2017 Chevrolet Colorado (Spotlight: Diesel Duramax)
Is it cheating to have two models from the same automaker on one list? Perhaps. But the Chevy Colorado is too good to ignore. The little-pickup-that-could has single-handedly resurrected the midsize truck market.
Recently, Chevrolet announced that the Colorado will receive an upgraded 3.6-liter V6 engine and 8-speed transmission for the 2017 model year. And the little truck is no weakling. Properly outfitted, gasoline models can tow up to 7,000 pounds. Fuel efficient trims achieve 20/27 city/highway mpg.
The truck is available with everything from a trailer brake controller to heated front seats to the Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system and OnStar telematics system. You can even sync your smartphone to the truck using the 4G LTE internet connection via the OnStar mobile wifi hotspot.
These are all respectable achievements, but the Colorado has yet another trick up its sleeve: a class-exclusive turbocharged diesel engine. Available with on crew cab LT or Z71 trims, the Duramax diesel engine produces 181 horsepower and a whopping 369 pound-feet of torque that peaks at just 2,000 rpm. When equipped with the trailering package, the little Colorado can tow up to 7,700 pounds and, some say, will achieve up to 30 mpg on the highway. For just under $36,000, it’s all yours.
1: 2017 Ford F-150
For 39 consecutive years, the Ford F-Series has been the number one selling truck in America. Why? Because Ford, just like its truck, won’t stand still.
Ford made history a few years ago when it introduced the first ever aluminum-bodied truck, shaving off around 500 pounds. Where most competitors offer gruff V8 engines, Ford relies on turbocharged V8 engines paired with 6, 8 and 10-speed transmissions. The all-new 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine, in fact, can tow up to 12,200 pounds! Ford even introduced its own app, FordPass.
This entire article could not list the litany of features, cabs, powertrains, rear axle ratios, appearance packages and accessories available on the Ford F-150. Prices started at $26,540. If you want to know more, as Ford says, “Go see one yourself.”