Pickup Truck Buyer's Guide
Business or pleasure? Yes.
For building a country or towing a boat, nothing beats a full-size truck. Even as they grow increasingly capable in all their roles, trucks are also getting more comfortable, more efficient and more enjoyable to drive.
And while the 2018 model year brought its share of upgrades, the 2019 model year is going to be a big one. The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado and 2019 Ram 1500 were recently revealed to the world at the Detroit Auto Show, each of them significantly and impressively redesigned. (The 2019 Ford Ranger also debuted in Detroit, marking Ford's return to the midsize truck segment.)
As for all the trucks you can buy today, we've driven every one of them. So which ones do we recommend? That depends on your individual needs, wants and preferences, but everything required to make the right decision is here at your fingertips.
Here are your six light-duty full-size truck options today, followed by a comprehensive guide to the segment overall.
In alphabetical order:
The 2018 Ford F-150 is the first to offer a diesel engine, in the form of a 3.0-liter Power Stroke that puts out a whopping 440 lb-ft of torque. The all-new 2019 GMC Sierra will also be available with a turbodiesel.
The V8 is still king when it comes to full-size pickups, but Ford has had tremendous success with its turbocharged V6 engines and both Ford and Ram now offer diesels in their light-duty trucks.
Towing and Hauling
The Ford F-150 is the current towing and hauling champion both by the numbers and by our own experience. The 2018 Ford F-150 combines a maximum tow rating of 13,200 pounds with a top hauling figure of 3,270 pounds, and proved the most confidence-inspiring in our most recent in-depth truck testing.
Full-size truck sticker prices start in the neighborhood of $28,000, but the average price paid has risen to right around $40,000. Still, it's possible to get an attractively equipped full-size truck in the lower $30,000 range.
If you don't need all the available power or all the room of a full-size truck, you have five midsize trucks to choose from. And come next year, you'll have six. The Toyota Tacoma is the best-selling truck in the segment, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon cousins are the only two to offer diesel power, and the Nissan Frontier just keeps going and going, now in its 14th model year. The unibody Honda Ridgeline is the segment's clever, comfortable outlier, and the 2019 Ford Ranger will be the freshest face when it goes on sale early in 2019.
From Half-Ton to Heavy-Duty
The Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado 1500, GMC Sierra 1500 and Ram 1500 are often called half-ton or light-duty pickup trucks, and represent the bulk of pickup truck sales. Each of these truck makers also offers three-quarter-ton and one-ton trucks, denoted by 2500 and 3500 (or 250 and 350) monikers. (The actual numbers and "ton" references have little connection to the trucks' specs or capabilities today.)
The 2500 and 3500 trucks are also referred to as heavy-duty or HD trucks, and offer greater towing and hauling limits. If you need to tow more than 10,000 pounds, you might want or need to step up to a heavy-duty truck, offering maximum towing capacities beyond 20,000 pounds. Be aware that the powertrain and suspension differences that increase the trucks' capabilities also force compromises in ride comfort and fuel economy.
First Look: All-new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500