Do Mid-Size Trucks Actually Need a V6?

If you are shopping for a mid-size truck, you may be wondering which engine is best in a pickup. Traditionally, trucks have come outfitted with larger displacement engines, as they are able to generate power with lower RPMs. When it comes to full-size trucks, for years most would not buy a model without a V8. But, as engine technology has advanced, smaller engines can now generate significant horsepower. So, if you are shopping for a mid-size truck, should you get a truck with a V6 engine, or is something like a four-cylinder enough?

Many mid-size trucks still offer a V6

Manufacturers understand that most buyers likely want the perceived reliability and power that comes from a V6 engine. That is why models like the Toyota Tacoma, Chevy Colorado, and GMC Canyon all offer available V6 powerplants. In fact, the 2022 Nissan Frontier now comes standard with a 3.8-liter V6 across the lineup. So, some brands have yet to add small, turbocharged engines to truck models. 

A midsize Toyota Tacoma pickup truck drives along a dirt, mountain road.
2022 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro | Toyota

Another truck that also comes standard with a V6 is the Honda Ridgeline. But, this truck has not always been a top-seller, even though it receives high praise from critics and journalists alike. 

The Ford Ranger marked a change for mid-size trucks

Notably, the Ranger does not offer a V6 engine, yet. In the future that could change, but currently, this pickup only features a turbocharged four-cylinder. This 2.3-liter engine does make legitimate power though. It offers 270 horsepower and 310 pound-foot of torque. In comparison, the V6 in the Frontier makes 310 hp. 

A yellow 2022 Ford Maverick small pickup truck is driving on the road.
The 2022 Ford Maverick | Ford

The powertrain options for the 2023 Ranger could change though. Rumors have been circulating that Ford will give its mid-size truck a turbodiesel V6 engine, but that engine option may not be available to the American market. And that is a slight disappointment for sure.

Which mid-size truck is best?

According to Consumer Reports, the 2022 Honda Ridgeline is one of the best new trucks on the market. That may come as a bit of a shock because the Ridgeline typically trails behind other trucks in terms of sales. The Ridgeline is notable because while it is a unibody truck, it still features a standard V6 engine and a number of other conveniences. 

One of the most exciting features of the Ridgeline might be its in-bed audio system. This does not have to do with the powertrain, but the system quite literally turns the bed of this truck into a giant speaker. And that is ideal for things like tailgating or camping.

White Honda Ridgeline, a truck that's loved and hated, parked in front of a sand dune
2022 Honda Ridgeline | Honda

That said, if you are shopping for a body-on-frame truck, something like the new Frontier or Tacoma may be a better option if you want a pickup with a V6. Both of these trucks have long been popular with the general public, and the 2022 Frontier has been making some notable improvements in terms of sales. The Frontier does not offer a four-cylinder engine but the Tacoma does. So it is possible to get things like better fuel efficiency through the Toyota.

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