Best Trucks By Size [Ranked for 2021]
John Goreham is a life-long car nut and recovering engineer. John’s focus areas are technology, safety, and green vehicles. In the 1990s, he was part of an academic team that built a solar-electric vehicle from scratch. His was the role of the battery thermal control designer. After earning his engineering degree, John also completed a marketing program at Northeastern University. For 20 years, he applied his engineering and sales talents in the worlds of semiconductor manufacturing, biopharmaceutical production, and automotive electronics supply chain. Always a writer, John has published numerous articles in technical journals such as Chemical Processing Magazine. In 2008 he retired from that career and dedicated himself to chasing his dream of being an auto writer. In addition to online publications such as Car Talk, John’s work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers, and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites.
Whether a pickup is your family’s daily driver, the backbone of your business, or your utility vehicle when it comes time to tow the boat, no other vehicle is as capable as pickup trucks.
Which truck is the “best” is up to you as the consumer. If you prioritize value and reliability, we can offer objective measurements to help you in your selection. On the other hand, determining which truck is best is highly subjective if you prioritize personality, off-road capability, or maximum utility.
Here is our list of the best trucks in each of the three main size categories.
Check out our full list of the best trucks here >>
Table of Contents
Best Trucks By Size
|Model||Consumer Reports Reliability Score|
5 Is Best
|J.D. Power Brand Ranking (VDS)|
Lower Is Better
|FTBCP Driving Satisfaction Score|
Best Midsize Trucks
Midsize trucks can tow, go off-road, and handle the daily needs of many owers. This is a fast-growing segment recently rejoined by Jeep, Ford, and GM. The midsize truck category doesn’t have a loser.
However, the Toyota Tacoma still reigns in this segment. The Tacoma is by far the top seller, offered in a trim for almost every lifestyle, and was the modern benchmark for off-road adventure trucks.
Couple that with the best reliability scores, and we have ourselves an easy pick as the winner.
Then we tested the new Nissan Frontier Pro 4X. The new Frontier has recalibrated what we consider to be the best in the segment. The seating position is better by far than that offered in the Tacoma, and we suspect that the Pro 4X trim’s off-road capabilities make it 90% as capable as the most extreme trucks in its segment.
We offer readers a choice; The long-running safe bet, or the up and comer that will surprise you with its abilities.
See all our picks for the best midsize trucks »
Best Full-Size Trucks
Full-size pickup trucks, often containing the model designator “1500” or “150,” make up the second-largest vehicle segment in America. Only two-row crossovers outsell this type of truck. The capabilities of full-size trucks are amazing, and most businesses opt for these for general-purpose commercial trucks.
Two trucks earn the top spots from our point of view. The first is the Ram 1500. This truck is not only one of the most extreme off-road racers in its sub-segment, but the Ram 1500, in general, is known for its superior ride comfort.
Ram is also rising quickly in reliability rankings. In our testing, the infotainment stood out for its ease of use and overall design.
The Ford F-150 does not score well for reliability but makes up for it in almost every other way. Ford has the best green truck on the market, one that can power a home or a job site with ease and also offer amazing torque.
Ford also takes great care to ensure that every aspect of its truck makes sense to contractors and workers who will spend a third of their day in and out of the vehicle.
See all our picks for the best full-size trucks »
Best Heavy Duty Trucks
Heavy-duty trucks are the most powerful out of the bunch; they are best for hauling and towing due to their more powerful engines and overall size. However, heavy-duty trucks do have some downsides, like poor fuel economy and a high cost.
We chose the Ram 2500 as the best heavy-duty truck in this overview for its reliability score. All of the trucks in this segment offer excellent capabilities, and the Ram 2500 is no exception in that regard. However, with the best score on the new J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey, a respectable score on the Vehicle Dependability Study, and a perfect 5/5 for predicted reliability from Consumer Reports, the Ram 2500 is quickly becoming a standout for reliability.
From our perspective, reliability is king in commercial vehicles. If you need to hear some impressive numbers to feel good about this pick, here they are. Up to 850 lb-ft of torque and a 20,000-pound towing capacity.
See all our picks for the best heavy-duty trucks »
Frequently Asked Questions
Which brand makes the most reliable trucks?
Toyota makes the most reliable trucks, but…Toyota’s truck offerings are limited to midsize and part of the full-size segment. Look beyond those segments, and both Jeep and Ram also offer impressive reliability scores.
Which brand makes the best work trucks?
Based on an objective review of the reliability scores and capabilities of the trucks in the full-size and HD segments, Ram and Ford are the leaders in work trucks. Each has its own niche, and Ford is very close to claiming the lead in the electric work truck segment.
Which truck brand is the most extreme off-road?
There is no one answer for who makes the most extreme off-road truck. Partly because “off-road” is not just one type of driving environment. The Jeep Gladiator Rubicon is our pick for the most extreme midsize off-roader. The Ram TRX and Ford Raptor both make a fair claim to the most impressive off-road truck in the full-size segment. If you are going off-road in an HD truck, it is likely related to accessing a worksite, and every manufacturer offers a well-built HD truck in this regard.
What is the overall best truck?
If we had to pick one overall best truck, it would likely be the Ram TRX. This truck has insane capabilities where the pavement ends, but it also provides a nice vehicle on-road. No truck we have ever tested drew more fans than the TRX. Plus, 702 hp. Ask us again in three years when the electric trucks have arrived, and our answer will likely be different - Unless Ram makes an electric TRX!