The midsize pickup truck segment is getting hotter by the day. Models like the Ford Ranger, Hyundai Santa Cruz, and the Honda Ridgeline show that the diversity in this segment is exciting and vast. However, it does make ranking or comparing these pickup trucks pretty tough. I guess that’s how you get Edmund’s confusing picks for the top three midsize pickup trucks. Can you see a throughline between the Honda Ridgeline, Toyota Tacoma, and Jeep Gladiator?
What do the Honda Ridgeline, Toyota Tacoma, and Jeep Gladiator have in common?
These three pickup trucks don’t have much in common besides four wheels and a bed. Despite the vast differences between these three pickup trucks, Edmunds ranked them as the three best midsize pickup trucks in the following order: the Honda Ridgeline in first, the Jeep Gladiator in second, and the Toyota Tacoma in third.
This list isn’t confusing because we think these trucks aren’t good choices; it’s just that they are so different that it calls into question what criteria Edmunds used to pick them.
What is the best small pickup truck?
Edmunds, like Consumer Reports, picked the sneaky-good 2022 Honda Ridgeline. The Honda might seem like a weird choice at first because of how unpopular they are with truck customers. However, they are objectively the most friendly pickup truck on the market. The ethos of this truck is “everything you need. Nothing more. Nothing less.”
The Honda Ridgeline is safe, practical, reliable, and fuel-efficient, and while it isn’t the strongest truck on the lot, it can still pull 5,000 lbs. They also don’t have a proper 4WD system, but Honda’s AWD is on point.
How does the 2022 Jeep Gladiator fit in here?
The Jeep Gladiator is not the most common choice for a critically acclaimed pickup truck list, yet here it is. Why?
The Jeep Gladiator occupies a similar space in the automotive world as the Jeep Wrangler; people buy them because they want one, not because they are the best option. I’m not hating; I drove a Wrangler for 11 years. I get it. But the point still stands. Aside from it being the only convertible pickup truck on the market, it isn’t really better at anything than any other truck.
The argument could be made that it is one of the strongest off-roaders, but that is getting less special by the day. Every truck has special off-road packages now. It also has below-average fuel economy and one hell of a stiff ride.
However, I’m not saying the Jeep Gladiator isn’t cool. Hell, I’d drive one. Like a Mini Cooper, the Jeep-Wrangler-based vehicles are unique, stylish icons of automotive design. We love them. We know they are one of the least practical vehicles around, but the world keeps buying them by the hundreds of thousands. This isn’t a bad choice for one of the best midsize pickup trucks, but it is weird considering the Honda Ridgeline came in first. The Gladiator is the opposite of the Honda in every way.
Bow down before the steadfast Toyota Tacoma
Toyota has made a name as one of the world’s best pickup truck makers. For years the Toyota Tundra and Tacoma swept lists of the best pickup trucks. However, before this year, the Toyota 4x4s went nearly 15 years without a significant update. This hurt the brand for the mainstream but not for the real truck folks. Many buyers didn’t care about the lack of amenities or the stiff, noisy ride because the engine was bulletproof and the 4×4 was unrelenting.
This is a strange collection of pickup trucks
Again, these aren’t bad choices. In fact, they are all very cool and exciting choices. These are three very different pickup trucks for three very different customers. Instead of pushing the same stuff that every other publication is pedaling, Edmunds seems to have picked the top three midsize pickups that they actually most enjoyed driving.
This list is confusing until you look at it from outside the critical lens and instead through a lens of different trucks should do different things. These three perfectly highlight the most important traits of a pickup truck: practicality, strength, and reliability.