It’s hard to judge the performance of any given car by just written specs alone. Trucks like the GMC Sierra Denali may boast the highest payload and towing capacities but falter when it comes to real-world testing. When buying a car based on its power, it’s best to closely examine buyer reviews. Also, look for any awards the car has won from trusted sources like Consumer Reports and J.D. Power. Each year, J.D. Power assigns its Highest Performance award to cars from each category. For 2019, two of Ford’s pickup trucks took home the gold: the Ford F-450 and the Ford Ranger.
The Ford F-450 is the best heavy-duty pickup
The Ford F-450 is the most powerful version of Ford’s flagship pickup truck. It has three different engine options, one of which is a turbocharged diesel packing 1,050 lb-ft of torque. This engine will also allow drivers to get the highest towing capacity of 37,000 pounds.
A 7.3-liter V8 is new for 2020 and gives drivers smooth power delivery accompanied by a satisfying engine growl. The turbodiesel also comes with a 10-speed automatic transmission. Each engine is slightly more efficient than last year, which is always appreciated for heavy pickup trucks.
Inside, the cab of the F-450 is just as ample as you’d expect. However, the base trim doesn’t come with any fun infotainment features. If you’re using the F-450 primarily as a work truck, this might not be a huge concern.
Towing is also quite easy inside the F-450. It can have optional features like adaptive steering and auto-braking that keeps the truck stable while descending hills. You can also add on a surround-view camera and blind-spot monitors to keep the trailer in check.
For 2020, the F-450 also got an optional off-roading Ford Tremor package. Drivers get large all-terrain tires, a lifted suspension, a rock crawl driving mode, a limited-slip differential, and a locking rear differential.
The Ranger won Best Midsize Pickup
While it definitely doesn’t have as much power as the F-450, the Ford Ranger is very capable for its size. Under the hood, it has 2.3-liter turbo-four paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. The engine gets 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. According to critics, the Ranger’s acceleration is smooth, and there’s minimal body roll while rounding turns.
The Ranger also gets great gas mileage for its class. Trucks with rear-wheel drive get the best figures of 21 mpg on city roads and 26 mpg on the highway. It has a towing capacity of 7,500 pounds, which is plenty for moving an average trailer. Some rivals can tow more, but the Ranger has the highest payload at 1,860 pounds.
Like the F-450, the Ranger’s infotainment interface looks a little dated, but it still comes with a standard Wi-Fi hotspot. There’s a good variety of available tech options, and its touchscreen operates smoothly. Higher trims will also have a better variety of safety features, like lane assistance and blind-spot monitoring.
How do Ford trucks compare to other pickups?
The Ford F-150 also won J.D. Power’s award for Best Large Light Duty truck. However, some competitors like the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 have slightly higher towing capacities. One study also indicated that Chevy trucks may outlive Ford trucks by a few thousand miles.
Still, a little difference in power doesn’t offset all the benefits of a Ford pickup. The Ford F-150 has been the best-selling pickup truck in the United States for multiple decades. While each model has a few shortcomings, all of them are excellent choices if you need a simple work truck.