Discussing trucks without mentioning the Ford F-150 is like talking about football without mentioning the Green Bay Packers or Chicago Bears. The F-150 has been the country’s best-selling truck for the past 34 years. For 24 of those years it was the best-selling vehicle of any kind, period.
Part of that success is in the way trucks have evolved. These days, a truck cabin can be larger and more luxurious than a sedan. For example, an F-150 SuperCrew has almost 30% more interior space that Ford’s own Fusion, and the same goes for Ram Crew Cab vs. Dodge Dart.
Add in leather trim, navigation, Internet-enabled infotainment and more, and a truck can be a luxury sedan that also hauls the better part of a ton of cargo. Plus, nothing beats a truck for serious towing. Even a bare-bones model will tow over 6,000 pounds, and a properly equipped Ram 1500 is rated for 10,000 pounds. Even with all that capability, fuel economy has been improving. Ram 1500 cracked the 20-mpg combined threshold, so the truck economy penalty is much lower than it’s been. To help navigate through the truck field, we've compiled a list of the Top 5 trucks currently available.
With a little coordination, you and 50 of your closest friends could each order a 2013 F-150 and none of you would end up with the same basic configuration. That’s variety! Ford gave F-150 an extensive list of standard safety features and novel options like tailgate and box-side steps that make access easier. A standout amongst the four engines on tap, the EcoBoost twin-turbo V6 has more low-rpm torque than the 6.2-liter V8 engine while delivering the best rated fuel economy of the bunch. All that, plus the truck’s reputation for durability, make it easy to see why F-150 has been a 30-year best seller.
EPA-rated fuel economy: Up to 17 city/23 highway/19 combined (3.7-liter RWD).
When it comes to doing the things expected of a pickup truck, the Silverado doesn’t put a foot wrong. All the usual wheelbase, drivetrain and cab options are available to mix-and-match one’s perfect truck. Power and fuel economy ratings are competitive. Silverado then goes beyond by being the only full-size truck with a hybrid powertrain option for about 25% better rated fuel economy. Also, extended cab models feature rear doors that open a whopping 170 degrees and windows that lower completely into the doors. For covering all the bases and yet standing out, the Silverado makes a solid choice.
EPA-rated non-hybrid fuel economy: Up to 15 city/22 highway/18 combined (XFE).
Of all the trucks here, Titan has gone the longest since a significant refresh. It’s a testament to Titan’s basic “rightness” that it is still competitive. All Titans are powered by a 317-horsepower, 5.6-liter V8 with a 5-speed automatic transmission. King and Crew Cab models are available (no standard cabs from Nissan), along with short or long beds and rear- or four-wheel drive. The rear leaf-spring suspension can hop under an empty bed, but the responsive powertrain and controlled ride make for pleasant journeys. The interior and exterior styling won’t turn heads, but the rubberized bed liner and optional tie-down rails and cleats are welcomed touches.
EPA-rated fuel economy: Up to 13 city/18 highway/15 combined (RWD)
The refreshed 2013 Ram 1500 won the Motor Trend Truck of the Year award, and for good reasons. Class-exclusive features like 5-level air suspension and lockable sidewall storage compartments add capability. The interior quality is above class norms, while the available UConnect system could school competitive systems about usability. For the powertrain, there are a couple of grunty V8s available, but the excellent base combination of a 305-horsepower, 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 mated to a ZF-design 8-speed automatic transmission should work surprisingly well for most owners not doing heavy towing. Lastly, body styling is clearly Ram, yet more evolved. Overall, Ram 1500 is a winning choice.
EPA-rated fuel economy: Up to 17 city/25 highway/20 combined (3.6-liter RWD).
If Tundra played baseball, the Toyota would be a reliable base hitter. It boasts major-league towing, payload and horsepower ratings, even if it doesn’t hit anything out of the park. It has typical Toyota virtues like a reputation for top-notch quality and reliability, and the variety of cabs and drivetrains leaves little to be desired. The CrewMax is especially roomy, and the available Entune infotainment system has many useful apps. The hydraulically damped tailgate is a minor feature but an unexpected delight. Tundra’s interior isn’t as plush and its ride is more, uh, truck-like than some competitors, but this truck has earned its first-round draft status.
EPA-rated fuel economy: Up to 16 city/20 highway/17 combined (4.0-liter).