When it comes to combining commercial load-lugging capability with practicality for five passengers, these are the top pickup trucks available in the USA this year.
Fueled by company car tax rules that make them cost-effective compared to similarly sized passenger cars, the growing popularity of pickup trucks in the USA market might puzzle those unfamiliar with the benefit-in-kind loophole that has contributed to their success.
It’s easy to understand why trucks sell well in countries with wider, quieter roads, cheaper raw materials, and more affordable fuel. However, it’s less clear why one would choose to drive a pickup truck on the busier, tighter roads of the USA or in multi-story car parks.
However, running a pickup truck instead of a mid-sized family SUV could save fleet drivers a significant amount on their annual tax bills due to the lower liability associated with commercial vehicles. Whether you require the load-carrying and off-road capabilities traditionally provided by a flatbed pickup or not, it’s worth exploring the better-performing, better-mannered, and more car-like double-cab options in this class, which includes both well-established and new players.
Similarly, if you need a dependable workhorse to transport gear for an active, adventurous, outdoorsy lifestyle during your leisure time, a pickup truck might be a preferable choice over a sports car or classic car for weekend entertainment.
While many car brands are adding more premium features to their pickup truck models, it’s worth noting that the best pickups are often the least ostentatious. The Toyota Hilux has been part of the Toyota commercial vehicle lineup since the late 1960s and has built a reputation for its versatility and reliability. The Hilux is comfortable, well-equipped, and offers a more refined driving experience compared to its competitors. It also handles well on tighter roads, avoiding the feeling of being cumbersome. Toyota offers various options, including a 2.8-liter four-cylinder diesel engine with 148 hp or a 2.4-liter engine with 201 hp. Although it may not be as exciting as some multi-cylinder options, it delivers good real-world performance and refinement. The Hilux also boasts a higher carrying capacity than most of its competitors, making it an excellent choice for those needing to transport heavier payloads.
When Volkswagen entered the light-pickup market in 2010, it leveraged the appeal of its brand to attract customers who had not previously considered a flatbed truck. The Amarok succeeded in offering perceived quality, onboard technology, and true utility with its 4Motion four-wheel drive capability. While the Amarok’s cabin may not match the luxurious appeal of some rivals, it still offers a comfortable and refined driving experience. The interior is more consistent and richer than the class average, and the handling is well-tuned for road conditions. The Amarok initially featured overpowered 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel engines, but in 2017, Volkswagen replaced them with a 3.0-liter TDI V-6, resulting in improved performance and drivability. Although the current generation of Amarok has reached the end of its production cycle, a new generation is expected to be released in 2022, based on the same mechanical platform as the Ford Ranger.
It’s no surprise that one of the best one-ton flatbed pickup trucks currently available is a Ford. The Ford Ranger, Blue Oval’s global light truck, has been on the market since 2010. Engineered in Australia, one of the largest Ford pickup markets outside the USA, it is built in multiple locations worldwide. The Ranger offers various options, including single cab, super cab, and double cab configurations. The turbocharged four-cylinder, 2.0-liter engines with up to 210 horsepower provide ample power, and customers can choose between manual or automatic transmissions. While the Ranger may not have the most visually appealing cabin, it offers a comfortable driving position, good mechanical refinement, and a stable, road-friendly ride. Its well-tuned and ergonomic controls make it impressively intuitive to drive. For those seeking a performance-oriented option, the Raptor version offers aggressive off-road suspension and distinctive body design, although it comes at a higher price and isn’t rated as a commercial vehicle due to its load area capacity limitations.
Nissan has a rich history in the compact pickup truck segment, and the modern Nissan Navara continues to build on that legacy. The Navara is available in different configurations, including engine choices between 161 or 187 hp turbocharged 2.3-liter engines, rear-wheel drive or full-time four-wheel drive, and manual or automatic transmissions. In its 2019 facelift, the Navara received significant upgrades to suspension, brakes, gearbox, and interior equipment. The cheaper versions of the Navara now feature a multi-link, coil-over rear axle, improving the ride quality and providing a more practical and comfortable interior. The Navara offers competitive towing, carrying, and four-wheel drive capabilities. While it may not stand out in any particular area, it delivers respectable performance and a casual yet practical interior.
Isuzu specializes in the pickup truck segment, and the D-Max stands out as a no-nonsense, durable option. The D-Max features a simple, uncluttered cabin with oversized handles, switches, and levers, making it easy to operate, even with work gloves. Although the cabin may not prioritize perceived quality, it appeals to those looking for a reliable and rugged workhorse. The D-Max offers various configurations, including single cab options that start at a competitive price. The 1.9-liter diesel engine provides sufficient power, although it may not deliver the most refined performance. However, if you prioritize a vehicle that can withstand tough conditions and heavy use, the D-Max is a great choice.