Best Trucks Of 2021: Ranked By Activity And Size
Hanna Kielar8-Minute Read
October 31, 2022
New technology, improved fuel economy and intense competition have made the 2021 pickup truck market one of the most exciting ever.
The right vehicle for each person depends on factors that include cost of ownership, primary use and the ability to upgrade with a large variety of features and accessories. This guide reviews the best trucks in 2021.
Table Of Contents
What Matters Most For Truck Buyers
Pickup trucks are workhorses used for towing and transport. A reliable pickup truck is able to pull or carry large loads, endure rough terrain and operate efficiently. Capability, durability, longevity and value for the cost of the vehicle lead the reasons why people choose a truck model. Safety, cab size and type and relevant optional equipment packages are also considerations when deciding which truck to purchase.
Below is our list of the best trucks to consider in 2021. Below is our list of the best trucks to consider in 2021. We referenced industry-leading sources like IIHS Safety, NHTSA, U.S. News and World Report, Kelley Blue Book, and manufacturer sites to determine ratings and features that make each truck the best in its category.
Best In Value: Toyota Tundra
Best For: High Resale Value
MPG: 13 city | 17 highway
Payload: 1,560 lbs
Seating: 6 seats
The 2021 Toyota Tundra maintains its resale value with available towing capacity of up to 10,200 pounds, enhanced safety features and an impressive suite of technology compatible with Amazon Alexa, Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto. Other notable features include:
- Active traction control
- Integrated navigation system
- Fold-up rear seats
The combined no-cost maintenance plan, Star Safety System™, available backup camera and blind spot detection system all help reduce the cost of ownership, add value and elevate its future resale value.
Best In Luxury: Ram 2500
Best For: Comfortable And Spacious Ride
MPG: 12 city | 8 highway
Towing Capacity: 10,520 – 15,040 lbs
Payload: 3,160 – 4,010 lbs
Seating: 5 seats
The 2021 Ram 2500 offers a wide range of options to choose from, a smooth ride and plenty of interior space, giving the truck a reputation as a luxury brand. Numerous trim levels allow you to choose from upgraded materials such as leather, wood or gold trim. The suspension delivers a smooth ride, and the acoustic improvements for 2021 block out road noise to make the cabin extra-quiet.
Available technology features include:
- A digital rearview mirror
- Uconnect® command center
- Onboard entertainment center
Three engine models allow you to choose from 10,520 pounds of towing capacity to over 15,000 pounds, and the Cummins Diesel is capable of producing 850 ft-lb of torque. This makes the Ram 2500 a capable workhorse as well.
Best Hybrid Truck: Ford F-150
Best For: Towing, Payload And Fuel Economy
MPG: 25 city | 26 highway
Towing Capacity: 12,700 lbs
Payload: 2,120 lbs
Seating: 2 – 6 seats
The 2021 Ford F-150 hybrid pickup truck stands out as the only truly hybrid truck from 2021 and boasts improved fuel economy without any loss in functionality. The hybrid engine is still capable of towing up to 12,700 pounds while offering improved MPG in the city and on the highway. The hybrid engine effectively reduces fuel consumption by about 20% and reduces the cost of ownership over the life of the vehicle.
The F-150 is notorious for its customizability. The interior is designed to be a remote office, with three cab configurations to choose from and an extensive range of technology add-ons such as:
- Tow technology package
- Reverse sensing and guiding system
- 2kW external generator
- SYNC 4 cloud-connected infotainment system
- Zoned exterior lighting
The 2021 model comes with added upgrades to the interior materials to provide extra comfort and luxury, including a fully reclinable sleeper seat that is similar to business class airline seating.
Best Truck For Families: Chevrolet Silverado 1500
Best For: Safety System
MPG: 23 city | 33 highway
Towing Capacity: 7,200 – 9,700 lbs
Payload: 1,750-2,280 lbs
Seating: 3-6 seats
The 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 offers upgrades to its interior that provide more shoulder and leg room, plus added storage compartments in the rear seats and floor. The additional safety technologies make it easier to maneuver when you're towing, making it one of the best family trucks out there. The heads-up display shows the vehicle speed, GPS information and safety alerts the driver can read without taking their eyes off the road.
Available safety features include:
- Automatic emergency braking
- Forward collision alert
- Adaptive cruise control
- Pedestrian braking
- Rear cross-traffic alert
The Advanced Trailering System helps you monitor what you’re pulling and assists during backing maneuvers to avoid collisions. Its highway fuel economy makes the Silverado 1500 ideal for long hauls and vacations.
Best Super-Duty Truck: Ram 3500
Best For: Heavy Payload And Spacious Interior
MPG: Not available
Towing Capacity: 13,490 – 37,100 lbs
Payload: 3,745 to 4,644 lbs
Seating: 3-5 seats
J.D. Power awarded the Ram 3500 with Best in New Vehicle Quality in the super duty truck category. With up to 37,100 pounds of towing capacity and adaptive cruise control, the 2021 Ram 3500 is a solid work truck that boasts over 1,075 ft-lb of torque. Its tow rating is best in class, and you can choose from three configurations to meet your specific needs. The Ram 3500 also offers numerous trim levels that allow you to choose from premium interiors that provide comfort and reduce road noise.
Its safety features include:
- An adaptive forward lighting system
- Forward collision warning
- LaneSense® and parking assist technology
The interior cabin offers a technology package with onboard navigation, smartphone connectivity and an entertainment system.
Best Truck For Off-Roading: Jeep Gladiator
Best For: Stabilization And Suspension Technology
MPG: 17 city | 22 highway
Towing Capacity: 4,000 – 7,650 lbs
Payload: 1,080 - 1,200 lbs
The 2021 Jeep Gladiator earned the J.D. Power Award for Initial Quality in the midsize pickup category and delivers all the off-road functionality of other Jeep models. With up to 1,700 pounds of payload capacity, it’s an ideal truck for carrying an ATV, and with a max towing capacity of 7,650 pounds, the truck is capable of pulling a boat or trailer with ease. Multiple storage configurations, a 400-watt power outlet and updated stabilization technology allow the truck to deliver a smooth ride on and off-road.
The Jeep Gladiator can double as a home away from home with Apple CarPlay®, Android Auto™, Wi-Fi connectivity and the Uconnect® infotainment system. It also connects with Amazon Alexa to allow you to use navigation, check fuel levels and start your vehicle from inside your house.
Best Midsize Truck: Toyota Tacoma
Best For: City Living And Resale Value
MPG: 19 city | 22 highway
Towing Capacity: 3,500 – 6,800 lbs
Payload: 1,050 – 1,685 lbs
The Toyota Tacoma is one of the best trucks of 2021 due to its affordability, ability to maintain value and low cost of ownership. It’s an ideal truck for city dwellers with its high city fuel economy and adequate towing capacity to hitch a travel trailer and head out to the country. It comes with a standard locking rear differential and optional four-wheel drive so performance isn’t a concern no matter the weather conditions.
The 2021 Tacoma received upgrades such as skid plates and 9.4 inches of ground clearance to help it perform better off road. The Tacoma continues to reign over other midsize trucks and has been a best-seller for 16 years. It received the award for Lowest 5-Year Cost to Own from Kelley Blue Book.
Best Crew Cab Truck: Ram 1500
Best For: Cab Capacity And Access
MPG: 15 city | 22 highway
Towing Capacity: 6,150 – 8,290 lbs
Payload: 1,242 – 2,322 lbs
Seating: 5 – 6 seats
The 2021 Ram 1500 delivers best-in-class leg room with 45.2 inches in the rear. It also offers a reclining rear seat, making it the only truck in its class to do so. The rear seats fold up to reveal extra storage compartments in the floor. The center console can even be reconfigured and offers five phone charging ports.
An additional glove box and Ram Bins with removable liners offer even more storage solutions while still providing ample seating arrangements for up to six people. The Ram 1500 is fully customizable with some models loaded with numerous luxury features that include:
- Connective technology
- Acoustic dampening
- Genuine leather/suede upholstery and accents
J.D. Power ranked the 2021 model first in New Vehicle Quality, earning its spot as the best crew cab truck on our radar.
Best Pickup With An Extended Cab: Ford F-150 SuperCab
Best For: Configuration Options And Comfortable Seating
MPG: 20 city | 27 highway
Towing Capacity: 5,100 – 11,300 lbs
Payload: 3,325 pounds
Seating: 3 – 6 seats
The 2021 Ford F-150 offers eight models, six engines and single and double cab options, making it one of the most customizable pickup trucks available. It’s the highest-selling pickup truck of all time, and the 2021 model has received numerous awards, including Green Truck of the Year by Green Car Journal, Truck of the Year by the Detroit Free Press and additional accolades from Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds.com. The F-150 is one of the best selling vehicles in America, holding the title of the best-selling full-size truck for 44 years.
Advanced safety features include:
- AdvanceTrac® with Roll Stability Control™
- Curve Control
- Post-Collision Braking
- Reverse sensing
- Active restraint system
- Dynamic hitch assist
New Trucks Worth Waiting For In 2022
1. Ford F-150 Lightning
Best For: Fuel Economy
MPG: Electric Truck
Electric Range: 300 miles
Seating: 5 seats
The Ford F-150 is already the best pickup truck of 2021 in our books. The upcoming Ford F-150 Lightning is even more exciting. It’s a fully electric truck that has a range of up to 300 miles on a single charge. It also boasts the ability when properly equipped to serve as a backup power generator for your home in the event of a power outage.
GMC Sierra 1500
Best For: Off-Road Capability
MPG: 16 city | 22 highway
Payload: 1,570 - 2,310 lbs
Seating: 3-6 seats
The 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 is receiving a makeover and multiple new trim levels. The Limited AT4 is expected to offer superior off-road capabilities and increased towing and hauling capabilities. The inclusion of skid plates, a 2-inch suspension and hill descent control make this a luxury off-roading truck to consider.
Chevrolet Silverado 1500
Best For: Safety Improvements And Off-Roading
MPG: 20 city | 23 highway
Payload: 1,761 – 2,310 lbs
Seating: 3 – 6
The new Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is upping the game with stunning new visuals and a comprehensive safety package. The new Chevy Safety Assist package comes with front pedestrian braking, a following distance indicator, lane-keep assist, forward collision alert and automatic emergency braking. The High Country trim option comes with Super Cruise, which allows hands-free driving on the highway.
Chevrolet improved the off-road capabilities for the 2022 Silverado 1500 with a better suspension, skid plates and a higher ground clearance.
The Bottom Line
When considering which pickup truck is the best for you, first consider what you’re planning to use it for and what features are most important. It’s now possible to purchase pickup trucks that are more efficient and less expensive to own without sacrificing comfort, utility and safety.
Choices for this article were based on Edmunds.com, Kelley Blue Book, U.S. News and World Report, IIHS safety awards, and J.D Power.
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