Today’s trucks feature sleek cabins, comfortable seating, and the latest technology and safety equipment. But are they reliable?
Pickup trucks need to do it all: daily driving, off-roading, hauling, and towing (and they need to do it all with ease). Drivers tend to keep them for several years, and high-reliability ratings mean they won’t need to worry about their ride breaking down and racking up repair bills.
U.S. News & World Report has chosen the top 12 pickup trucks based on reliability studies from J.D. Power and ranked them from least to most reliable. Keep reading to see which trucks make the cut.
Keep in mind that the scores you see in this slideshow may change as we get new vehicle information. Because of that, be sure to check out each vehicle’s review for the most up-to-date information.
If you are looking for the most dependable pickup, then we have the data for you. We have compiled the J.D. Power Dependability survey winners into a spreadsheet showing the last 15 years of winners as well as the top truck brand and pickup model per class. The results WILL surprise you and, if you are a loyal fan, probably make you upset.
When it comes to pickups, most buyers really want to know one thing: how dependable will it be. Forecasting future dependability is nearly impossible; however, we can look back at different resources to determine who has historically been dependable.
With this goal in mind and the ready resource of the internet, we looked at the past 15 years of award winners for J.D. Power’s Vehicle Dependability Study.
This study surveys some 80,000 owners and asks questions about problems and if they would purchase the vehicle again.
J.D. Power is a survey company that uses the results to give out awards. It also sells its data, in the form of reports, to automakers and/or other agencies interested. This practice does cause it some criticism with people being upset at selling the data, which seems to make them beholden to the automakers who pay the most for the report.
Trucks are big, bold, and highly capable. They also have a broader appeal as family vehicles, with a softer ride and more safety, convenience, and comfort features.
Still, with so many choices, it’s easy—and tempting—to buy more machine than you’ll use. Start your selection process by completing a realistic assessment of your needs. If you’re not planning to carry large loads or pull a very heavy trailer, there probably is no need for a heavy-duty pickup truck, a lighter-duty full-sized truck, or even a compact or midsized pickup should fit the bill. Don’t need to haul dirty cargo, such as construction debris, mulch, or manure? Consider another vehicle type, such as a minivan or an SUV. If the need for a pickup crops up only once in a while for some specific task, think about renting one for these occasions rather than buying one and living with its inconveniences.
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What to Know
With pickup trucks, it is important to buy what you need, resisting the urge to overdo it. While it may be tempting to have extra cargo and towing capacity, you’ll pay for it both upfront and through compromises (such as ride and fuel economy) over time.
Pickup trucks come in endless permutations: full-sized or compact; long bed or short; regular, extended, or crew cab; two-door or four-door; two- or four-wheel drive; standard or automatic transmission; and so on. Engines range from small four-cylinders and V6s to V8s and big diesel. Base prices range from about $21,000 to well over $60,000.
If your truck serves as both a workhorse and a family transport, consider an extended-cab or crew-cab model with four doors. They’re not hard to find—in fact, that’s probably the most common configuration these days. Drivers who have to deal with snow or deep mud, or who regularly go off-road, should be sure to choose four-wheel drive.
Key factors to consider when choosing a pickup truck
Cab size: Regular cabs are the least expensive (but today are fairly difficult to find). Extended cabs are far more useful. Rear seats in extended-cab trucks can be small and cramped for adults, though they’re acceptable for kids. The real advantage is additional interior storage. Crew-cab trucks have four regular doors and a good-sized rear seating (or cargo) area on a par with full-sized SUVs, but these large cabs usually come at the cost of a smaller cargo bed.
The bed: This is, of course, what sets trucks apart from all other vehicles. The open cargo bed lends itself to accomplishing serious chores, such as moving large appliances, bulky furniture, tools or equipment, motorcycles, snowblowers, and outdoors-only cargo, such as wood chips, manure, and trash. These are tasks most people wouldn’t want to (or couldn’t) do with a minivan or an SUV. Among other considerations, the open bed leaves cargo vulnerable to the weather or theft.
With a full-sized pickup, the standard bed length is 8 feet, but it’s only about 6 feet with an extended cab and 5 feet with a four-door crew cab. Compact pickup beds usually run 5 to 6 feet, depending on cab configuration.
Access: Climbing into a tall cabin can be difficult—buyers who choose four-wheel-drive trucks should seriously consider adding running boards to help their passengers get in. The side rails of full-sized truck beds are so high off the ground that loading and retrieving heavy items over the side can be awkward, tiresome, or inconvenient. (Some models now have integrated steps in the bumper or folding steps on the tailgate to make access easier for shorter owners.)
Buyers should try each seat to see whether it meets their standards. Look for adequate space for passengers and cargo. Pay attention to headroom, legroom, and space for knees in all seating positions. In an extended-cab truck, see whether the rear seats can easily be folded away to make room for cargo.
Towing: Pickup trucks are well-suited to hauling boats, cars, utility trailers, and campers behind them. The owner’s manual will note the maximum weight that can be carried (payload) or towed. Buyers can have the manufacturer or dealer install towing equipment, or they can add it themselves, buying aftermarket parts. Purchasing from the factory is the best choice because installation could involve complex wiring for the trailer brakes and lights, special attachment points for the tow hitch, and accessories such as a heavy-duty alternator and a transmission oil cooler. In addition, the manufacturer-engineered packages come backed by the factory warranty. Most pickups can be ordered with a trailer-brake controller.
There are several factors that dictate a truck’s towing capacity, in addition to engine power. They include cab and bed size, wheelbase length, rear axle ratio, and the presence (or absence) of a factory towing package. The differences can be significant: A properly equipped truck can safely tow more than 12,000 pounds, but some configurations are limited to as little as 5,500 pounds. It’s important to research the truck to determine its safe towing capacity.
A typical compact pickup truck can tow between 3,000 and 7,000 pounds, and most full-sized 1500-class trucks can tow between 5,000 and 10,000 pounds. Heavy-duty pickups can be configured to tow as much as 31,000 pounds.
For heavy hauling or towing, consider getting a diesel engine; Ford, GM, Nissan, and Ram currently offer one in the 1500 class. Chevrolet, Ford, GMC, and Ram all offer diesels in their heavy-duty pickups, at significant cost. These large, loud engines are a wise investment for routinely towing a very heavy trailer and spending many miles on the highway.
Axle ratios: These affect how much torque, or twisting power, is transmitted to a truck’s rear wheels. The choices usually range from three-point something to four-point something. A ratio of 3.5:1 means that the main drive shaft from the transmission revolves three and a half times for every rotation of the rear wheels. Lower numbers maximize fuel economy, and higher numbers enhance towing and hauling capabilities.
For extensive towing, we recommend selecting from the middle of the range. A numerically high ratio makes sense only for driving a lot of time hauling very heavy loads.
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Fuel economy: The base engine for today’s compact pickups tends to be a large four-cylinder engine. Most offer an optional V6 that provides more power along with smoother and quieter operation. Base full-sized trucks are typically fitted with a V6, which provides a good balance between power and fuel economy appropriate for light consumer use, with one or more V8s optional. Some newer V8 engines offer cylinder deactivation, allowing the engine to operate on fewer cylinders under light loads, such as steady-speed cruising, and thereby save fuel. Ford’s F-150 offers turbocharged V6s that promise V8-like power with better fuel economy when power demands are low. Our most recently tested F-150, equipped with the 2.7-litre turbocharged V6, returned an impressive 19 mpg.
Pickups tend to guzzle gas, whether they’re loaded or not. For gasoline-powered full-sized trucks, 14 to 19 mpg overall is par for the course. Half-ton diesel models are also available and can deliver around 20 mpg. For a compact truck such as a Honda Ridgeline or Chevrolet Colorado, figure 18 to 20 mpg. Of course, the mileage only goes down when the vehicles are carrying cargo or pulling a trailer.
Ride: Trucks don’t tend to have the most comfortable ride, though it can smooth out when there’s enough weight in the bed. And the latest-generation trucks have seen the rides improved markedly. “Trucklike” isn’t nearly the insult it once was. A handy extended-cab or spacious crew cab brings a short load bed, typically 5 feet, which limits what can be carried. But a full-length bed, typically 8 feet, makes for a very long, hard-to-park vehicle if that bed is added to an extended-cab truck.
Rear-wheel drive, 4WD, or AWD: Almost all pickups are based on rear-wheel-drive platforms that are well-suited to moving heavy loads. (The Honda Ridgeline is unique in using a front-drive setup similar to that of a car-based SUV.)
Four-wheel drive is recommended for winter traction, off-roading, and other tough conditions. Traditional four-wheel drive, often called 4×4 or 4WD, is a part-time system that is controlled via a lever, button, or rotary switch as needed. A low-range setting can also be selected for severe off-road conditions, but these part-time systems aren’t designed to be engaged on dry pavement.
Full-time 4WD is more versatile, and it’s an option on some pickups. In that mode, the front-wheel-drive portion kicks in as needed for extra traction, and the truck can run in that mode indefinitely without harming the driveline.
Safety features: Just as trucks have picked up more convenience features, they’ve also added a bunch of advanced safety equipment. Many advanced safety features now common on cars are moving to trucks, at least as options on higher trims, notably forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking.
Forward collision warning (FCW) technology provides a visual, audible, and/or tactile alert to warn the driver of an impending collision with a car or an object directly in its path. If a car equipped with automatic emergency braking (AEB) senses a potential collision and the driver doesn’t react in time, it starts braking automatically. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety data shows rear-end collisions are cut by 50 percent on vehicles with AEB and FCW.
Other modern safety advances include telematics systems that alert emergency personnel if an airbag deploys, lane-departure warning systems that sound an alert if drivers change lanes without signalling, lane-keeping assist to center the vehicle in the lane if the car starts to drift, and blind-spot warning systems that indicate vehicles driving in the blind spots to the side and rear.
Thankfully, electronic stability control—a recommended safety feature with a proven track record of reducing fatalities—has been mandatory on light-duty pickups since the 2012 model year. It’s especially useful in slippery conditions or in cases where someone takes a corner too fast. It also reduces the typical axle hop on rough surfaces. If you’re looking at used trucks, this is a must.
Seat belts and LATCH connectors: Most new pickup trucks have lap-and-shoulder belts even in the front center position, and top-tether and lower LATCH attachments in the rear seats. Be aware that heavy-duty pickups might not have LATCH attachments. Chest-level side airbags are common for front-seat passengers, too. Curtain-style side airbags that cover the front and rear side windows are increasingly common, and we recommend them.
For three decades, J.D. Power has conducted the annual Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS). It measures what has gone right and what has gone wrong with 3-year-old vehicles during the 12-month period of time prior to the survey, according to tens of thousands of original owners of those cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans. J.D. Power gathers and analyzes this data and publishes the findings in the VDS.
From this information, J.D. Power also creates Vehicle Dependability scores that help consumers to understand the overall findings contains within the VDS, and to compare vehicles in terms of this important metric. These scores help consumers make the best decision when selecting a vehicle.
It is buying a brand new truck that is sort of like buying an expensive tool. And if you purchase such equipment, you expect it to be of high quality. Not only should it look good and work well, but it should also be built to last. New truck buyers need to find a vehicle that is dependable enough to hold up to all the abuse thrown at it by your life and job. To help narrow down the field, we have come up with a list of the ten most dependable trucks, highlighting some of the things that make them reliable and some of the areas in which they fall short.
Debuting for the 2020 model year, Jeep’s Gladiator pickup truck comes equipped with a 285-horsepower V6 engine and plenty of power for towing and hauling. It’s roomy cabin, comfortable seating, and removable top, doors, and windows maximize its off-road capability.
As a newcomer to the market, the Gladiator is priced higher than rivals but rated lower in predicted reliability. Buyers who want to couple off-road prowess with the utility of a compact pickup truck may find the Gladiator a great option.
Unfortunately, the Gladiator suffers from a low predicted reliability rating. That makes sense, though, as the Wrangler, it’s based on only has a reliability rating of two out of five.
The Jeep Wrangler comes with a three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty. A five-year/60,000-mile warranty covers the powertrain.
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The Toyota Tacoma is a well-built compact pickup truck with a powerful optional V6 engine. Its comfortable cabin comes with new-for-2020 standard Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa.
With strong marks in safety and an average predicted reliability rating, the Tacoma is a good option for a compact truck that performs well off-road.
The Toyota Tacoma comes with a three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty. A five-year/60,000- mile warranty covers the powertrain.
The current version of the Tacoma has been around for a while (though it has been updated several times, including in 2016), and while that means that it isn’t quite as modern or up to date as some of its competitors, it also means that the design has been tried and tested. While the reliability doesn’t seem to have been quite as good since the latest refresh, the 2017 Toyota Tacoma still takes a spot in the top half of our list. If you want a truck that can survive for years in even the harshest weather conditions, consider a Toyota Tacoma.
Nissan’s largest pickup truck features a smooth ride powered by a 390-horsepower V8 engine.
Its roomy cabin feels comfortable but offers fewer standard features than rival full-size trucks. The Titan’s higher starting price and average predicted reliability rating makes competitors a better buy.
A five-year/100,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty covers the Titan.
The Nissan Titan is not one of the fastest-selling full-size pickups. However, its overall quality continues to improve as production increases, and it, therefore, earns a spot on our list. The Titan has some thoughtful features like removable in-bed storage boxes and a highly configurable interior with water-resistant seats and a center console with enough room for a laptop and a lockable storage area under the rear seat. This is assuming you didn’t opt to delete the back seat entirely for some extra storage space in the cab.
Following in the footsteps of the Nissan Frontier’s reliability, the Titan is a truck that we believe will see more sales as owners get behind the wheel and experience the reliability of the truck for themselves.
The Chevrolet Colorado compact pickup provides an impressive fuel economy and three powertrain options. For maximum towing and hauling capability, choose the 2.8-litre turbodiesel engine available in upper trims.
Chevrolet’s smallest truck features an easy-to-use infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. With an average predicted reliability rating, Colorado is a high-performing, dependable choice.
Colorado is covered by a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Chevrolet kept it relatively simple when it came to the 2016 Colorado. You chose between an extended cab and a crew cab; picked Work Truck, LT, or Z71 trim; and selected a 2.5-litre 4-cylinder, a new 2.8-litre turbodiesel 4-cylinder, or a 3.6-litre V6 engine. After that, decisions about the 4-wheel drive and a longer bed for the crew cab version were the only ones to make.
In 2016, in addition to the new turbodiesel engine, which delivered up to 7,700 pounds of towing capacity thanks to its 181 horsepower and 369 lb.-ft. of torque, the Colorado got an improved infotainment system with Apple CarPlay.
Unlike their bigger brothers, the 2017 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon seem to be evenly matched when it comes to dependability. While they don’t quite beat the compact truck options from the Japanese manufacturers when it comes to reliability, we think that most drivers will be able to overlook that slight disadvantage thanks to the Colorado and Canyon’s more modern design, nicer interior and smoother ride. Plus, the Colorado and Canyon have the best in class towing and are the only compact trucks available with a fuel-efficient (and complex) turbodiesel engine. If you’re looking for a comfortable and dependable pickup to drive daily, either the Colorado or Canyon should do the trick for many years to come.
Re-launched in 2019, the Ford Ranger compact pickup truck boasts a standard 2.3-litre four-cylinder Ecoboost engine and can tow up to 7,500 pounds when properly equipped.
The cabin is functional and is available with the brand’s SYNC infotainment system and a 4.2-inch display screen. The Ranger has an average predicted reliability rating and is covered by a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.
The Ford F-150 is a dependable full-size truck boasting six powertrain options. A 290-horsepower 3.3-litre V6 is standard.
Ford’s largest pickup provides supportive seats and plenty of cabin room. The Ford F-150 has average reliability and comes with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. It’s one of the best trucks in its class.
The 2017 Ford F-150 features an aluminum body that will be a blessing for some and a curse for others. Aluminum’s lightweight helps to improve fuel economy and increase payload capacity, and it’s essentially impervious to rust, but on the other hand, it can be slightly easier to perforate and is usually more expensive to repair. Ford’s advanced turbocharged EcoBoost engines have been slightly more troublesome than more traditional designs, but the less complex normally-aspirated V6 and V8 engines are as reliable as the competition. The F-150 earns the sixth spot on our list, but If you live in the rust belt, you may want to bump it up a few more notches.
Ford changed the full-size, light-duty pickup truck game with the redesigned 2015 F-150, which employed an aluminum body to save weight and increase efficiency. Naturally, in 2016, the truck saw few changes, but the ones Ford made were significant.
First, Ford swapped in its much-improved Sync 3 infotainment system. Second, it added a luxurious new Limited trim level. Third, it debuted a new Pro Trailer Backup Assist system lauded by people who actually use their trucks to tow.
The Nissan Frontier compact pickup comes with a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine. Buyers can upgrade to a V6 for greater towing capability.
The cabin is fairly comfortable, but adults in the backseat may feel cramped. The Frontier comes with a 7-inch touch screen, but it lags most of its competitors in technology and driver assistance features.
While the Frontier receives slightly above-average predicted reliability ratings, safety received mixed reviews. The Frontier comes with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile warranty on the powertrain.
Among midsize pickup trucks, the Nissan Frontier took home the dependability award in the 2016 VDS. The reason why is probably as simple as the fact that the 2016 Frontier is the same as the 2005 Frontier. In other words, it’s been around for so long that all of the bugs were resolved long ago.
For example, for 2016, all Nissan did was add a few new paint colours and include a sunroof as standard equipment with SV trim. Otherwise, the Frontier was the same as it’s always been, available in extended- and crew-cab formats, with a 4-cylinder or a V6 engine, and with rear- or 4-wheel-drive.
The 2016 Nissan Frontier receives a Vehicle Dependability score of 8 out of 10, and receives an award in the Midsize Pickup category.
The 2017 Nissan Frontier is another design that hasn’t had a recent refresh (and the oldest on our list,) but it manages to nab a spot near the top of our list, just edging out its main rival. If you’re looking for a compact truck with some fairly off-road severe chops (for a stock truck at least) and don’t care about a smooth ride or all the modern technology, then the Nissan Frontier is the truck for you (especially if you spend lots of time away from civilization where breakdowns can be more than just an annoyance). There’s something to be said for a simple tool that does its job well.
With class-leading towing and hauling capabilities, the GMC Canyon is a sturdy, compact pickup with three powertrain options.
Its cabin is trimmed with quality materials, and a 7-inch touch screen with smartphone integration comes standard. Although the Canyon has a predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five, it lags rivals in safety ratings. The Canyon comes with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.
A midsize pickup with rugged good looks, the 2016 GMC Canyon was sold in base, SLE, and SLT trims with a choice between extended and crew cab configurations and three different engines driving the rear or all four wheels.
The big news for the 2016 model year was a new 2.8-litre turbodiesel 4-cylinder engine making 181 hp and 369 lb.-ft. Of torque, which boosted the Canyon’s towing capacity to 7,700 lbs. Other available engines included a 200-hp 2.5-litre 4-cylinder and a 305-hp 3.6-litre V6.
GMC Sierra 1500
The GMC Sierra 1500 is a full-size pickup truck that delivers a smooth, composed ride with a variety of powertrain options. A 285-horsepower V6 engine is standard.
The Sierra’s cabin is attractive and comfortable, with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a responsive infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen. It comes with the brand’s Teen Driver system, which allows owners to limit speed and audio volume for secondary drivers.
The Sierra is covered by a three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. With decent safety ratings and above-average predicted reliability, the GMC Sierra 1500 is a good choice if you are in the market for a full-size pickup truck.
GMC touts itself as ‘Professional Grade,’ and all the data we found showed the 2017 GMC Sierra to be a bit more dependable than its corporate cousin, the Chevrolet Silverado, thought both the trucks use nearly identical mechanical parts. The Sierra is available with more bells and whistles than the Silverado, which you might expect would lead to lower reliability, but in fact, the opposite seems to be true. Perhaps it’s because you don’t usually go off-roading or haul loads of gravel in a fully-loaded truck with a leather interior. Either way, the GMC Sierra makes it into the top five on our list.
The Honda Ridgeline is our No. 1-ranked compact pickup truck due to its smooth ride, impressive safety features, and attractive cabin.
The Ridgeline boasts comfortable seating, a roomy interior, and plenty of soft-touch materials. It also features a long list of available driver assistance technologies such as blind-spot monitoring, lane keeps assist, and lane departure warning. Pricier than competitors, the truck delivers a strong mix of quality and value.
The Ridgeline has an above-average predicted reliability rating and strong safety ratings from the IIHS and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The 2018 Honda Ridgeline takes a unique approach to the compact pickup, offering a unibody design with a front-wheel drive-based drivetrain layout (with optional all-wheel drive.) Built very much like a modern car, it offers good handling, a great ride, and a comfortable and modern interior, all with legendary Honda reliability. As a work truck, the Ridgeline isn’t necessarily the best choice (and would probably suffer quite badly from the abuse,) but as a daily driver to haul the occasional piece of furniture from the store or load of leaves to the community compost, it makes an excellent choice and earns the runner-up spot on our list.
Ranked atop our list for full-size pickup trucks, the Ram 1500 boasts a muscular 3.6-litre V6 and strong fuel economy. For increased muscle and towing capability, upgrade to one of two V8 engines or the new-for-2020 diesel.
The truck features plush seating and an impressive interior accented with quality materials. All models come with Bluetooth and the brand’s easy-to-use UConnect infotainment system with a 5-inch touch screen. With a long list of available driver assistance features, the Ram 1500 boasts class-leading ratings for safety and predicted reliability.
A three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty covers the Ram 1500. Gasoline engines are covered by a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, with diesel engines covered by a five-year/100,000-mile warranty.
With V6, V8, and turbodiesel engine choices, multiple cab and bed configurations, and a slew of standard trim levels and special edition trim packages, the 2016 Ram 1500 full-size light-duty pickup truck offered variety in addition to dependability.
Ram didn’t change 1500 much for the 2016 model year. New colours, special-edition variants, LED cargo box lighting, and a more useful standard center console summarized the updates. Notably, Ram claimed it was the most fuel-efficient half-ton truck for 2016, thanks to the available EcoDiesel 6-cylinder engine.
The 2016 Ram 1500 receives a Vehicle Dependability score of 8 out of 10.
The 2017 RAM 1500 has many excellent attributes, including features such as an available diesel engine, four-corner air suspension, RamBox Cargo Management System and the Active Air grille shutters, which Ram isn’t afraid of to integrate before other manufacturers. Partially due to that cutting-edge technology (diesel engines, for example, are notoriously complex), the Ram doesn’t beat all its competitors when it comes to dependability. Still, owners absolutely love their trucks, and it the inclusion in this list as a result of that consumer love.
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The Toyota Tundra full-size pickup features an excellent predicted reliability rating and a beefy 5.7-litre V8 engine.
The Tundra comes with Toyota’s Entune infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a 7-inch touch screen. The Toyota Safety Sense suite of driver assistance technologies is standard.
The Tundra is covered by a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Built-in Texas, and in 2016 a decade-old design, the Toyota Tundra was the most dependable full-size, light-duty pickup in the 2019 VDS. Trim levels ranged from basic to luxurious, and buyers chose between two V8 engines, three cab styles, and three-bed lengths.
For 2016, Toyota improved the infotainment system, added a standard trailer braking control system, installed a bigger gas tank as standard equipment for some models, and offered a more off-road-ready version of the luxurious 1794 Edition trim level.
The 2016 Toyota Tundra receives a Vehicle Dependability score of 10 out of 10, and receives an award in the Large Light Duty Pickup category.
The 2018 Toyota Tundra takes the top spot on our list with a fairly resounding victory. The Tundra is actually one of the most reliable vehicles on the road, with an almost spotless record and no obvious trouble spots. If you need a heavy-duty workhorse, there are other more capable options, but for most, the Tundra is more than all the trucks they’ll ever need, and we’re surprised we don’t see even more on the road every day. There’s not much worse than breaking down on a family vacation while pulling the camper, and buying a Toyota Tundra is one of the best ways to help avoid that situation.
New vs. Used
There are certainly benefits to buying a brand-new pickup truck. Most notably, new trucks have the latest safety gear and engineering improvements. Buyers know exactly what they’re getting, with fewer worries about potential maintenance problems. Further, there are tons of choices for colour, trim line, and option levels. And financing rates are typically lower than those for a used truck.
The key drawback of buying a new truck is how quickly it will depreciate. New trucks have been known to shed half their value in the first two to three years. But the depreciation picture can change a lot from year to year, depending on competitive forces, fuel prices, new model introductions, and other factors. Financing a new vehicle with a small down payment can easily make buyers “upside-down” on loan, where they owe more than their truck is worth.
Buyers who take the used routes don’t have limited options, though. The used-truck market is about three times the size of the new-truck market, so there’s plenty of choices. One of the best strategies is to find a pickup truck that’s only a few years old. It has already taken a big depreciation hit but should still have most of its useful life ahead of it. Modern pickup trucks, if soundly maintained, can stay on the road for 200,000 miles or longer.
The key to selecting a good used pickup truck is to focus on reliability, even if its original factory warranty still covers the truck. Check with Consumer Reports to find models that have top-notch reliability scores.
At the same time, every used truck is unique. Have a mechanic inspect any truck you’re seriously considering. Because trucks can often lead hard lives, make sure the mechanic looks for signs of extreme duty, such as off-roading or large-trailer towing. When buying from a private seller, ask how the truck was used and maintained.