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Buying a midsize truck is common in 2023. Many people buy these small pickups because they’re versatile, capable, and drivable. For many, a full-size truck is too much, taking up tons of space and offering horrid fuel economy. Midsize models are the perfect solution, as owners get truck capability, like towing and hauling, while maintaining a large SUV’s smooth drive and luxury. First-time pickup buyers, however, might struggle to find the perfect model. Three midsize trucks are perfect if you’re considering a pickup for the first time, the 2023 Honda Ridgeline RTL-E, Toyota Tacoma SR5, and Ford Ranger XLT.

2023 Honda Ridgeline RTL-E

A red 2023 Honda Ridgeline and Ford Ranger midsize trucks are perfect for first-time pickup buyers.
The 2023 Honda Ridgeline | Honda

The first midsize truck perfect for first-time pickup buyers is the 2023 Honda Ridgeline RTL-E. As the most popular trim in the Ridgeline lineup, it’s got a lot going for it. All Ridgelines are powered using a 3.5-liter V6 engine, capable of producing 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. Additionally, its payload capacity is 1,583 pounds, and its towing capability maxes out at 5,000 pounds. The Ridgeline can do enough for the vast majority of buyers, like tow a small trailer.

In particular, the $46,025 RTL-E trim is the one to buy. According to Edmunds, it’s a big step up from lower models, like the RTL. Although the lower trim has a sunroof, heated mirrors, and leather upholstery, the RTL-E receives many more upgrades. For example, wireless smartphone charging, front/rear parking sensors, a heated steering wheel, truck-bed audio with six in-bed drivers to use as bed speakers, LED truck bed lights, outlets in the bed, and more.

The Ridgeline RTL-E trim perfectly combines innovative features, quality, and truck capability, excellent for first-time pickup buyers.

2023 Toyota Tacoma SR5

2023 Toyota Trail Edition
2023 Toyota Trail Edition | Toyota

Next, America’s most popular midsize truck is the 2023 Toyota Tacoma. As a result, it’s no surprise that one of its trims is perfect for first-time pickup buyers. Although the most basic Tacoma models use an underpowered 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine good for 159 hp and 180 lb-ft, an optional engine is available. Buyers can get a 3.5-liter V6, capable of producing up to 278 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque. We’d recommend getting the more potent unit. With it, Tacoma owners can tow 6,800 pounds.

Choosing the SR5 trim over the base model or more costly options is easy for a few reasons. First, it costs $31,265, which is only about $2,000 more than the base model. However, it gains an eight-inch touchscreen and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, among other things. However, the real highlight comes from the optional packages, three of which unlock with the SR5 trim.

With a Tacoma SR5 V6 Double Cab, owners gain access to the Dynamic Navigation, Technology, and Trail Edition packages. These offer excellent features like navigation, rear parking sensors (great for first-time pickup buyers), blind-spot monitor, and unique styling cues.

2023 Ford Ranger XLT

Lastly, the 2023 Ford Ranger is one of the most popular midsize trucks for a reason. All versions use the same turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder producing 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. Moreover, it can tow up to 7,500 pounds and haul 1,905 in the cargo bed. It’s the perfect option for first-time pickup buyers looking to get a little more out of their new truck.

Furthermore, the XLT trim is the best option in the Ranger lineup. For $33,915, the most popular Ford Ranger trim adds to the feature list, similar to the Tacoma SR5. Over the XL trim, it only gains 17-inch alloy wheels, an eight-inch touchscreen, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. However, only the XLT trim can get the following optional packages: 301A, 302A, and Technology.

Within these packages are valuable amenities. For example, rear parking sensors, remote ignition, power/heated mirrors, heated front seats, front parking sensors, navigation, and adaptive cruise control.

Midsize trucks perfect for first-time pickup buyers

In conclusion, the 2023 lineup of midsize trucks are competitive. Many options are available, but a few are better for first-time pickup buyers. If you’re driving a larger vehicle for the first time, features like parking sensors and blind-spot monitors are essential. However, truck buyers might miss luxurious amenities, which is why things like heated seats, wireless smartphone charging, and navigation are crucial too. Buyers can get everything with the 2023 Honda Ridgeline RTL-E, Toyota Tacoma SR5, and Ford Ranger XLT. That includes the ability to tow and haul, a likely reason to move into a new pickup.


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