4 Important Factors Consumer Reports Recommends Considering When Choosing Your Pickup Truck

Trucks have evolved from single-cab work-only vehicles to some of the most useful family vehicles. If you’re unsure what you should look for in the pickup trucks available, Consumer Reports has some items you should consider before driving away in a pickup truck.

Consumer Reports tells us that size matters

Four different size classes of pickup trucks are available to you. These are Heavy-Duty, Full-Size, Midsize, and Compact. Often, midsize and compact trucks are put together in one class. Before moving forward to the right new or used trucks, you’ve got to define which pickup truck is the right size for you.

Compact and Midsize Trucks

A blue 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz small pickup truck is parked outdoors.
The 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz | Hyundai

These trucks are the smallest and offer several options for consumers that want to drive a truck every day but do not desire the low fuel economy and higher prices of full-size or heavy-duty trucks.

The pickups in this category include:

  • Chevrolet Colorado
  • GMC Canyon
  • Ford Ranger
  • Honda Ridgeline
  • Jeep Gladiator
  • Toyota Tacoma
  • Nissan Frontier
  • Ford Maverick
  • Hyundai Santa Cruz

The Ridgeline, Maverick, and Santa Cruz are all unibody trucks, sharing platforms with familiar crossover SUVs. The other trucks on the list are more traditional models.

Full-Size Trucks

2022 GMC Sierra 1500 vs. 2022 Toyota Tundra
2022 GMC Sierra 1500 | Allison Barfield, MotorBiscuit

Full-size trucks are the most familiar names in the class and some of the most popular models recommended by Consumer Reports. These pickup trucks are the workhorses of this class and offer models that start as work trucks that range up to high-class luxury models.

The trucks in this class include:

  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500
  • GMC Sierra 1500
  • Ford F-150
  • Nissan Titan
  • Ram 150
  • Toyota Tundra

The half-ton, full-size class continues to expand with new electric pickups entering the market. These new electric models include the Ford F-150 Lightning, GMC Hummer EV, and Rivian R1T. Other new models are entering the market in 2023 to expand this class.

Heavy-Duty Trucks

Red 2023 Ford Super Duty F-350 Dually on the Road
2023 Ford Super Duty F-350 Dually | Ford

The heavy-duty trucks offer massive towing and payload options and give you some of the biggest and brawniest pickups in the market. These trucks are well-known for hauling fifth-wheel trailers and use their bulk to pull heavy loads.

Trucks in the heavy-duty class include:

All heavy-duty trucks offer an available diesel-powered engine, adding more low-end torque to make these trucks more capable of pulling heavy loads.

Once you select the right-sized pickup truck, consider these factors that Consumer Reports says are important in your decision.

1. Which engine is right for the pickup truck you drive?

2023 Ram 2500 diesel engine
2023 Ram 2500 6.7-liter Cummins Turbo Diesel I6 engine | Ram

Some trucks are now only offered with one engine, while others have several options. This should be the starting point when finding the right truck. Do you want a truck with an electric powertrain? Are you searching for a hybrid truck? Will you choose a diesel engine? The answers to these questions will guide your search.

2. How often will you tow a trailer with your truck?

Publicity photo of a 2023 Toyota Tundra pulling an Airstream travel trailer up a highway, a green hillside visible in the background.
2023 Toyota Tundra Platinum | Toyota

If you’re replacing a truck with a newer model, you might already have a boat or trailer you love to take out on the road. On the other hand, when selecting your first pickup truck, you might have never experienced the pleasure of towing a trailer. Either way, towing can be an important factor that Consumer Reports says you need to consider.

3. Consider the ride and handling of the pickup trucks in your chosen class

Front angle view of red 2023 Honda Ridgeline, only Consumer Reports recommended midsize pickup truck due to reliability
2023 Honda Ridgeline | Honda

Are you looking for a truck that doesn’t drive like a traditional pickup? If so, the midsize class offers a few unibody models that ride more like crossover SUVs. On the other hand, if you’re familiar with a truck-like ride and need more capability, the heavy-duty truck class might be right for you. Of course, the full-size category brings a compromise between these two. This is where a test drive comes in and makes a difference in which truck you take home.

4. Consumer Reports suggests you consider the safety and driver assistance features

Chevy Dashboard with Super Cruise
Chevy Dashboard with Super Cruise | Chevrolet

Most new pickup trucks include modern electronics with the desired active safety and driver assistance features. As you move up to higher trims, you’ll find more features made to keep you safe. If you’re looking for the benefits of the Ford Blue Cruise or GM Super Cruise, you’ll find these features at the top trim levels. Review the safety features before making your final decision.

Use these four factors to help you select a highly-rated pickup truck by Consumer Reports and the right one for you to drive and enjoy.

Next, check out some great trucks for car camping, or learn more about some of the top pickup trucks offered by watching this video below:

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