Every product is carefully selected by our editors. If you buy from a link, we may earn a commission.

The Complete Full-Size Pickup Truck Buying Guide: Every Model, Explained

Much like country music, the full-size truck has redefined itself, broadened its appeal and defied entrenched stereotypes over the past couple of decades.

2021 ford f 150 raptor
Ford

Full-size trucks are the quintessential American vehicles. Americans build them; they buy them far more than any other type of car; and perhaps most importantly of all, they have the landscape to make use of them. Profits from full-size trucks provide the American automotive industry’s lifeblood. Ford, GM and Stellantis may call themselves mobility companies committed to a zero-emissions future, but it’s selling full-size trucks that will pay to develop that future.

Much like country music, the full-size truck has redefined itself, broadened its appeal and defied entrenched stereotypes over the past couple of decades. Vital competition in this segment has made full-size trucks some of the most sophisticated, capable, practical and luxurious vehicles on the market. Ford, Ram and Chevy can’t afford for their full-size trucks to be anything less.

Pickup Truck Terminology

AFM: Active fuel management. A technology that allows the engine to reduce the number of cylinders being used under light loads.
Crew Cab: Term used by most manufacturers for a double cab with four full-size doors.
DFM: Dynamic fuel management. A General Motors technology that allows the engine to choose from between 17 different cylinder firing combinations as needed, for greater efficiency.
Eco: Prefix that indicates some effort has been made to make this engine more efficient…or that the manufacturer wishes to market it as such.
eTorque: Mild hybrid system for Fiat Chrysler engines that adds low-end torque.
Half-ton: Another name for the full-size segment. It used to correlate to payload capacity. It no longer does.
Hemi: Chrysler engine with a hemispherical induction chamber. These are large-displacement, high-output engines used on trucks and muscle cars.
Light-Duty: Another name for the full-size truck segment. Distinguishes these trucks from the “heavy-duty” vehicles optimized for hauling and towing, such as the F-Series Super Duty and Ram 2500.
Long Bed: A truck bed with a length of around eight feet. This length appears most commonly on work trucks. Most buyers opt for a shorter bed for easier handling.
Payload: The amount of weight a vehicle can carry, including passengers and cargo.
Towing Capacity: The amount of weight a vehicle can tow.

Buying Guide

Ford F-150

ford f 150 best cars to buy 2021 f150
Ford

The Ford F-150 is America's most popular vehicle. It has topped the U.S. sales charts perennially for more than 30 years. And, most often, second place is not even close. The F-Series alone generates more revenue per year than companies like McDonald's, Nike and Starbucks. Why is the F-150 so popular? Well, it may be the best-engineered American vehicle. And there's an F-150 to suit just about everyone, whether you're looking for a badass Baja 1000 rig, a plush road-going yacht or a basic work truck.

Ford just debuted the new 14th generation F-Series for the 2021 model year. The major change was the addition of a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 Powerboost hybrid to the lineup. It delivers 430 horsepower, 570 lb-ft of torque and earns an EPA-estimated 24 mpg. The new F-150 Raptor now has a coil-sprung rear suspension and stock 37-inch tires. Ford also discontinued the diesel engine option for the 2022 model year. Ford also has an all-electric F-150 Lightning arriving in 2022.

Body Styles:

  • Regular
  • Supercab
  • Supercrew

    Box Length:

    • 5.5 feet
    • 6.5 feet
    • 8 feet

      Trims:

      • XL
      • XLT
      • Lariat
      • Tremor
      • King Ranch
      • Platinum
      • Limited

        Engines:

        • 3.3-liter V6 (290 hp, 265 lb-ft)
        • Twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter V6 (325 hp, 400 lb-ft)
        • 5.0-liter V8 (400 hp, 410 lb-ft)
        • Twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 (400-450 hp, 500-510 lb-ft)
        • Twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 hybrid (430 hp, 570 lb-ft)

          Max Payload: 3,325 (5.0-liter V8)

          Max Towing Capacity: 14,000 lbs (3.5-liter V6)

          Base MSRP: $29,640

          LEARN MORE READ THE REVIEW SHOP PRE-OWNED

          Chevrolet Silverado 1500

          the first ever 2022 chevrolet silverado zr2
          Chevrolet

          Chevy redesigned the fourth-generation Silverado for the 2019 model year. The lineup relies heavily on GM's 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter V8 engines, though Chevy also offers a diesel option and has a "2.7-liter engine," which is the segment's only four-cylinder.

          The Silverado receives a significant mid-cycle facelift for 2022. Upgrades include a new off-road-focused ZR2 trim, a revamped grille, upgraded interior materials, available hands-free driving technology and an upgrade to the four-cylinder engine, which now delivers better mid-range torque.

          Body Styles:

          • Regular Cab
          • Double Cab
          • Crew Cab

            Box Length:

            • Short (5 feet 10 inches)
            • Standard (6 feet 7 inches)
            • Long (8 feet 2 inches)

              Models:

              • Work Truck
              • Custom
              • Custom Trail Boss
              • LT
              • LT Trail Boss
              • RST
              • ZR2
              • LTZ
              • High Country

                Engines:

                • 3.0-liter inline-six diesel (277 hp, 460 lb-ft)
                • Turbocharged 2.7-liter inline-four (310 hp, 420 lb-ft)
                • 5.3-liter V8 (355 hp, 383 lb-ft)
                • 6.2-liter V8 (420 hp, 460 lb-ft)

                  Max Payload: TBA

                  Max Towing Capacity: 13,300 lbs (3.0-liter inline-six diesel)

                  Base MSRP: $29,300 (2021 model; 2022 model pricing TBA)

                  LEARN MORE READ THE REVIEW SHOP PRE-OWNED

                  GMC Sierra 1500

                  2022 gmc sierra 1500 denali
                  GMC

                  The GMC Sierra is a twin of the Chevy Silverado; the pair are so close mechanically they share a Wikipedia page. But GMC has positioned the Sierra as the more premium truck to fight the higher-end trims in the F-150 lineup, with many buyers opting for super-lux Denali and off-road-capable AT4 trims. The Sierra also gets the first crack at innovative features like the MultiPro six-function tailgate and the CarbonPro carbon fiber bed.

                  GMC facelifted the Sierra for 2022. The truck now has two new, $70,000-plus trims, the Denali Ultimate with a Vadar Chrome grille and open-pore Paldao wood and the AT4X with Multimatic DSSV dampers. Like the Silverado, the Sierra Denali will have Super Cruise available for 2022.

                  Body Style:

                  • Regular Cab
                  • Double Cab
                  • Crew Cab

                    Box Length:

                    • Short (5 feet 10 inches)
                    • Standard (6 feet 7 inches)
                    • Long (8 feet 2 inches)

                      Models:

                      • Pro
                      • SLE
                      • Elevation
                      • SLT
                      • AT4
                      • AT4X
                      • Denali
                      • Denali Ultimate

                        Engines:

                        • 3.0-liter inline-six diesel (277 hp, 460 lb-ft)
                        • Turbocharged 2.7-liter inline-four (310 hp, 420 lb-ft)
                        • 5.3-liter V8 (355 hp, 383 lb-ft)
                        • 6.2-liter V8 (420 hp, 460 lb-ft)

                          Max Payload: TBA

                          Max Towing Capacity: 13,200 (3.0-liter inline-six diesel)

                          Base MSRP: $32,495

                          LEARN MORE READ THE REVIEW SHOP PRE-OWNED

                          Ram 1500

                          ram rebel trx
                          Ram

                          Ram became an independent brand from Dodge for 2021 after the Fiat Chrysler merger. And the fifth-generation Ram 1500 pickup debuted for the 2019 model year. Ram focused on offering a premium experience with interior styling and ride quality. That focus has earned the Ram 1500 rave reviews, and the pickup won multiple “truck of the year” awards. If you’re into multifunction tailgates, the Ram 1500 has one that splits 60-40.

                          The Ram 1500 has a simplified engine lineup compared to its main competitors, leaning heavily on the tried-and-true 5.7-liter Hemi V8. The Ram 1500 TRX debuted for the 2021 model year, packing a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 that puts out more than 700 horsepower.

                          Body Styles:

                          • Quad Cab
                          • Crew Cab

                            Box Length:

                            • 5 feet 7 inches
                            • 6 feet 4 inches

                              Models:

                              • Tradesman
                              • Tradesman HFE
                              • Lone Star
                              • Laramie
                              • Rebel
                              • Limited Longhorn
                              • Limited
                              • TRX

                                Engines:

                                • 3.0-liter inline-six diesel (260 hp, 480 lb-ft)
                                • 3.6-liter V6 w/ eTorque (305 hp, 269 lb-ft)
                                • 5.7-liter Hemi V8 (395 hp, 410 lb-ft)
                                • 5.7-liter Hemi V8 w/ eTorque (395 hp, 410 lb-ft)
                                • Supercharged 6.2-liter V8 (702 hp, 650 lb-ft)

                                  Max Payload: 2,322 lbs (Tradesman, 3.6-liter V6)

                                  Max Towing Capacity: 12,750 lbs (5.7-liter V8)

                                  Base MSRP: $32,795

                                  LEARN MORE READ THE REVIEW SHOP PRE-OWNED

                                  Ram 1500 Classic

                                  ram 1500 classic
                                  Ram

                                  Did you like the fourth-generation Ram 1500? Well, Ram will still sell you one branded as a Ram 1500 classic. The 1500 classic has a pared down trim lineup and targets the basic work truck audience, with a Tradesman trim that starts under $30,000, while the new Ram 1500 has moved upmarket. The strategy has been successful and Ram has no plans to phase out the old truck.

                                  Body Styles:

                                  • Regular Cab
                                  • Quad Cab
                                  • Crew Cab

                                    Box Length:

                                    • 5 feet 7 inches
                                    • 6 feet 4 inches
                                    • 8 feet

                                      Models:

                                      • Tradesman
                                      • Express
                                      • Warlock

                                        Engines:

                                        • 3.6-liter V6 (305 hp, 269 lb-ft)
                                        • 5.7-liter V8 (395 hp, 410 lb-ft)

                                          Max Payload: 1,880 lbs (3.6-liter V6)

                                          Max Towing Capacity: 10,610 lbs (5.7-liter V8)

                                          Base MSRP: $29,490

                                          LEARN MORE SHOP PRE-OWNED

                                          Toyota Tundra

                                          2022 toyota tundra
                                          Toyota

                                          The Tundra has been a byword for build quality and formidable off-road capability. But the second-generation — which entered production in 2006 — had grown stale, seriously outdated and notoriously inefficient. Fortunately, there's an all-new Tundra for 2022, which arrives in December.

                                          The new third-generation Tundra brings the truck into the 2020s. Toyota abandoned the V8 engine for two V6 powerplants, a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 it shares with the new Lexus LX and Toyota Land Cruiser and a high-performance hybrid version of that V6. It also upgraded to a fully boxed frame and a coil-sprung rear suspension leading to far better ride quality.

                                          Body Style:

                                          • Double Cab
                                          • Crewmax

                                            Box Length:

                                            • 5.5 feet
                                            • 6.5 feet
                                            • 8.1 feet

                                              Models:

                                              • SR
                                              • SR5
                                              • Limited
                                              • Platinum
                                              • 1794 Edition
                                              • TRD Pro

                                                Engines:

                                                • Twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 (389 hp, 479 lb-ft)
                                                • Twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 hybrid (437 hp, 583 lb-ft)

                                                  Max Payload: 1,900 lbs

                                                  Max Towing Capacity: 12,000 lbs

                                                  Base MSRP: TBA

                                                  LEARN MORE READ THE REVIEW SHOP PRE-OWNED

                                                  Nissan Titan

                                                  nissan titan
                                                  Nissan

                                                  Nissan launched the second-generation Titan for 2016, with a mid-cycle refresh that debuted for 2020, switching the truck to a nine-speed automatic transmission and abandoning the regular cab version.

                                                  The Titan is a solid truck. It offers a robust 400 hp from its 5.6-liter V8. But the Titan struggles to match the fit, finish, capability and range of options offered by its main competitors. And consequently, it struggles to keep up with its competitors on sales.

                                                  Body Style:

                                                  • King Cab (6.5-foot box)
                                                  • Crew Cab (5.5-foot box)

                                                    Models:

                                                    • S
                                                    • SV
                                                    • PRO-4X
                                                    • Platinum Reserve

                                                      Engines:

                                                      • 5.6-liter V8 (400 hp, 413 lb-ft)

                                                        Max Payload: 1,690 lbs

                                                        Max Towing Capacity: 9,310 lbs

                                                        Base MSRP:$36,950

                                                        LEARN MORE READ THE REVIEW SHOP PRE-OWNED

                                                        This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io
                                                        Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
                                                        More From Buying Guides