When it comes to being rugged, dependable, and unafraid of anything the world can throw at you, a pickup truck is really the only choice when it comes to modes of transportation. That is, until tanks become road legal. These hardy automobiles have long had a place in the hearts of US shoppers, as shown by Ford topping the sales charts with it’s F-Series pickups – and the new Ford F-150 is the most popular of the lot. Sure it’s not the biggest or baddest of the bunch, but it’s definitely the most versatile, and when it comes to roughing it, adaptation is key to survival. So, what makes these vehicles so darn capable? Let’s take a look at some of the top choices to find out.
You can’t talk about pickups without thinking of Ford, and the lightweight F-150 is its hottest commodity. Redesigned for 2021, it is set to take on its competitors with updated styling and access to a hybrid powertrain. An all-electric version will be hitting the markets soon, too, and the excessive torque provided by such motors is bound to have an interesting impact on towing capacities.
As it stands, the standard model gets access to six different engines, starting at 290 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque, and climbing up to 430 hp and 570 lb-ft on the hybrid engine. In its most capable guise, the F-150 is empowered with a tow rating of 12,700 lbs and a hauling capacity of 3,250 lbs. But hard work isn’t all the pickup is about; with the available four-wheel drivetrain, it is more than happy to go off-road.
A ground clearance of 9.4 inches and a heavy-duty skid plate means that rough terrain won’t stand in its way. However, the Ford F-150 Raptor is a spinoff of the base model that is specifically designed to rough it. It does cost quite a bit more, but since it has no direct competitors in its specific niche, it is worth the investment.
Much like the Ford and Ram pickup trucks, the Silverado is presented in a variety of configurations. The lightest of which is the 1500, boasting a towing capacity of
13,300 lbs and the ability to haul 2,280 lbs of cargo. Once again, you get a choice of multiple engines, none of which deliver particularly impressive fuel economy .The diesel is the least thirsty, returning EPA-estimated mileage figures of 23/33/27 mpg.
Inside, the Chevy is not as comfy as the more modern F-150, but it’s well-built and laid-out. Passenger space is dependent on the cabin you opt for, as only the Double and Crew Cabs supply rear seats. The latter gives you the most legroom, so you’ll want that if you’re taking all your buddies on a camping trip.
The sturdy frame of the pickup helps it to ace crash tests, but there are limited advanced safety features on the base model. A few upgrades see automatic emergency braking and forward collision alert added, if you’re willing to pony up the extra dough. Overall, the Silverado is functional and hardy, and it can go off-road when needed, but it isn’t the excellent all-rounder the F-150 is, and it doesn’t deliver the same levels of comfort and luxury as the Ram 1500.
If you have the cash to spare, then Ram has just the truck to entice you. As is common for the segment, you get a choice of multiple powertrains, but even the starter setup is plenty powerful. However, if you want to put this handsome bad boy to work, the V6 EcoDiesel is the way to go. Properly equipped, the truck manages to keep up with the competition in terms of towing and hauling, but it doesn’t win any awards in this area.
Where it does take the cake, though, is pure style and comfort. No other truck begs you to go for the full Crew Cab experience like this one does. There is loads of room available in both rows of seating, and you can upgrade the standard vinyl to luxurious leather, which includes genuine wood trim finishes. If it weren’t for the roar of the engine and the enormous trailer you’ll probably be towing, you may be forgiven for thinking you’re inside a luxury SUV or crossover.
Naturally, luxury and amenities go hand-in-hand, so the Ram 1500 gets a full complement of modern tech gadgets. This includes dual-zone climate control, a large infotainment display with smartphone integration and navigation, wireless charging, and advanced driver-assist features such as blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. You will have to opt for the top trim level to get everything, but as with anything, this requires deep pockets.