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We Americans love our trucks, with pickup models consistently leading sales nationwide annually. Yet as utilitarian as a pickup can be, sometimes drivers need alternatives with similar towing and payload capabilities but more interior space. Fortunately, the best pickup truck alternatives mimic the rugged utility of the industry’s best models.  

Can an SUV really be the best pickup truck alternative?

Several new SUV models effectively emulate the towing, cargo, and off-road capabilities of pickup trucks with added benefits of a more spacious cabin.

It’s hard to deny – pickup trucks are cool. Their brutish utility signifies to many drivers the American ideal of rugged individualism. But they aren’t always the most practical for hauling people. 

Many drivers face a conundrum. They need a vehicle that can tow significant weight, handle all-terrain abuse, haul cargo, and provide a commanding view of the road – but they also realistically need three rows of seats. That rules out a pickup. 

Luckily, the industry still has a selection of rugged, truck-based SUVs with family-sized cabins and impressive capabilities.  These truck alternatives have plenty of utility with family-friendly features.

1. The 2023 Chevy Tahoe/Suburban is a full-size SUV staple 

The 2023 Chevy Tahoe, a pickup truck alternative, drives down a city street.
2023 Chevy Tahoe | Chevrolet

The 2023 Chevy Tahoe and Suburban siblings have been mainstay pickup truck alternatives for decades, and the newest models continue the role. The two vehicles share a platform and components with the Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck line. 

Two available V8 engines and an additional turbo-diesel six-cylinder offer plenty of power, with properly equipped models delivering a towing capacity of 8,300 pounds. Plus, the Z71 package has all the off-road features you would need. Both the Tahoe and Suburban have large cabins with three rows of seats and massive cargo capacity. 

2. The 2023 Ford Expedition is your F-150 alternative 

A new Ford Expedition tows a boat a tight corner with blue ocean in the background. The Expedition is an SUV alternative to Ford's pickup trucks.
2023 Ford Expedition | Ford Motor Company

If you want an SUV version of the 2023 Ford F-150, the Ford Expedition is your option. This full-size SUV rides on the same platform as Ford’s best-selling pickup and has competitive capabilities. 

The Expedition doesn’t have a V8 engine, but its twin-turbo V6 more than does the job. In fact, according to Car and Driver, properly equipped models can tow more than 9,000 pounds. That’s thanks to the powertrain’s 440 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. 

The Expedition Timberline is the optimal choice for those who crave off-road capability. Its high ground clearance, four-wheel drive, all-terrain tires, and other features make it a sturdy 4×4. 

3. The 2023 Toyota 4Runner is a Tacoma alternative

The 2023 Toyota 4Runner is a Tacoma pickup truck alternative with old-school durability and timeless capabilities. 

The 4Runner is the smallest pickup alternative on this list – but its reputation is strong for a reason. They’re known for running hundreds of thousands of miles without major issues, and their simple ladder-frame architecture is the perfect platform for off-roading. 

It may not have a pickup bed, but the 4Runner has some advantages over the Tacoma. It has a far more comfortable seating position and a five-speed automatic transmission that’s more pleasant to use than the Tacoma’s six-speed. Plus, the 4Runner can seat up to seven in its available three-row configuration. 

4. The 2023 Toyota Sequoia is a covered Tundra 

The 2023 Toyota Sequoia is a seven-passenger truck alternative with one of the best powertrains on the market. 

Toyota finally entirely redesigned its Tundra and Sequoia siblings after well over a decade of only light updates. The all-new Sequoia arrived last year and has since wowed critics with its impressive twin-turbo hybrid V6 powertrain that makes 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque. It’s ready to tow up to 9,520 pounds when fully equipped and offers outstanding off-road capabilities in its TRD Pro trim. 

Drivers may find one drawback in the Sequoia – its third-row seats don’t fold flat. That’s a pretty severe oversight for a full-sized SUV billed as a more practical pickup truck alternative. 

Can a full-size SUV compete with a pickup truck?

These full-size SUVs are excellent alternatives to pickup trucks when cabin space and passenger capacity are high priorities. While pickup trucks tend to offer slightly higher towing and payload capacities, their SUV counterparts can still get the job done. 


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