Is the 1986 Toyota Pickup the Best Truck Ever Made?

The 1986 Toyota Pickup predates both the Toyota Tundra and Toyota Tacoma. The Toyota SR5 or Toyota Pickup is championed as one of the best pickup trucks ever made. Learn why this old pickup is a historic model here.

Before Tundra and Tacoma there was…pickup?

A white Toyota Pickup truck.
The Toyota Pickup | Thierry Falise/LightRocket via Getty Images

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So, Toyota wasn’t as great with names as it is today back in the 80s. Instead of a name that added some mystique or class, the pickup was simply called the Toyota Pickup. Ironically, this pickup turned out to be one of the best trucks of all time despite its lackluster name.

According to MotorTrend, the first Toyota pickup truck was called the Toyota Stout. The Toyota Stout lasted for five short years from 1964-1969. The Toyota Pickup emerged to replace the Stout in 1968. After four generations, the Toyota Pickup finally got it right in 1986.

The 1986 Toyota Pickup was the first of its kind with an optional factory V6 engine. It was also the first Toyota Pickup model to include an Xtracab (more cab space). Its specs aren’t extraordinary. The ’86 Toyota Pickup’s real charm is its reliability.

The 1986 Toyota Pickup is one of the most reliable trucks ever made

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The Toyota Pickup truck is known for its reliability. The 1986 model year is especially revered for its ability to last for hundreds of thousands of miles. The Toyota Pickup truck’s reliability is due to its body and engine.

The 1986 Toyota Pickup body is simple, almost to a fault. Some models didn’t have airbags or air conditioning. Some 1986 Toyota Pickup models didn’t even have windows. This pickup was all business and frankly not very safe.

Its fully boxed frame is part of the reason this pickup is so tough. Boxed frames are more expensive than the alternative C-channel frames. Fully boxed frames are inflexible and put more work on a vehicle’s suspension but ultimately are more resistant to wear and tear. Truck frames tend to rust after many years but this isn’t as big of an issue for the 1986 Toyota Pickup because of its unique design.

The 1986 Toyota Pickup used a 2.4-liter four-cylinder RE engine. Toyota used the RE engine in plenty of vehicles because it was simple to repair and maintain and had unbelievable reliability. Vehicles with Toyota RE engines can last well over 300,000 miles, which is amazing by today’s standards. Some have even reached 500,000 miles with proper maintenance and care.

How does the 1986 Toyota Pickup compare to today’s most popular pickup?

A blue 2016 Ford F-150 at an auto show
The Ford F-150 | (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images

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The 1986 Toyota Pickup is in a class of its own. The Ford F-150 is one of the most popular trucks in America today. The 2001 Ford F-150 is one of the most reliable F-150 models created but it doesn’t come near the Toyota Pickup’s reliability.

The Ram 1500 is also a very popular truck in America today. The 2018 Ram 1500 is an amazing model year, but chances are after 300,000 miles it won’t hold up so well. The 1986 Toyota Pickup is potentially the best truck ever made because it keeps on going no matter what happens to it. They just don’t make ’em like they used to anymore.

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