The Best Full-Size Pickup Trucks to Buy in 2021
The U.S. pickup truck market is dominated by the Ford F-150, Ram 1500, and Chevy Silverado, with smaller contributions from GMC, Toyota, Nissan, and Honda. Jeep joined the fray last year, as the Jeep Gladiator arrived in the marketplace. Things are about to change, though, with a raft of new competitors poised to enter the market. Some will come from familiar brands, such as Hummer and Hyundai. Others will arrive from companies you may never have heard from, including Rivian, Bollinger, and Lordstown Motors.
As they have been for years, the Chevy Silverado and the next truck on our list, the GMC Sierra, are largely mechanically identical. The most recent versions diverged aesthetically more than ever before when they were introduced for 2019, however, which largely explains why the more handsome GMC sits higher on this list. Even so, Chevy buyers enjoy an embarrassment of choices in terms of engines—five in all, including a diesel—trims, features, and technology, as well as the ability to spec a basic workhorse (a version of which finished second in a MotorTrend comparison test), a luxury-lined commuter, or anything in between. Big towing capacity and agile (for a pickup truck) handling are standout traits of the Chevy Silverado 1500. For 2021, Chevy even managed to snag the multi-function tailgate that previously had been restricted to the fancier GMC Sierra.
The 2021 GMC Sierra may cost a little more than its mechanical sibling, the Chevrolet Silverado, but we’d say the coin is worth it just for its cleaner looks alone. Beyond that, though, go GMC and you unlock exclusive options such as a cutting-edge carbon-fiber bed and the trick—and actually useful, though no longer GMC-exclusive for 2021—MultiPro multifunction tailgate. Otherwise, the same strong engines and capable chassis are here, as are the same demerits, which center largely on dated-feeling interior tech and design and a slightly disjointed driving experience. If you pick a Sierra, you won’t get a bad truck, you just won’t get one of the top trucks.
The Ford F-150 is new for 2021, with a subtly redesigned body and interior though many of the same engines that were offered last year. A hybrid joins the range, dubbed PowerBoost, that not only brings 430 horsepower and 570 lb-ft by way of a twin-turbo V-6 engine and an electric motor, but also the ability to power several tools at once and even a welder. The Ford F-150 pickup also boasts several new and nifty features, including a sort of bed setup from folding down the front seats to a hideaway shifter. While it doesn’t take a huge leap forward—outside of the hybrid, at least—the 2021 F-150 is at least as competent as its predecessor, and thus retains its number-two position in our rankings behind the still-excellent Ram 1500.
Okay, you’ve read this far, so there’ll be no mucking around: The best full-size truck you can buy is Ram’s 1500. That should be no surprise, of course, given we tapped it as our 2019 Truck of the Year following a full overhaul that saw it become more refined, more luxurious, more well-rounded, and more technologically savvy than any other half-ton on the market. Oh, and the heavy-duty model received our nod for 2020. And, heck, the new 702-hp Ram 1500 TRX stole the Truck of the Year award for 2021, marking a stunning three-peat for Ram. The powertrain lineup includes gasoline V-6 and V-8 options, a diesel V-6 that offers up to 30 mpg on the highway, and eTorque hybrid technology standard with the gas V-6 and optional on the Hemi V-8. Whether you choose the work-grade Tradesman or opt to load up the Limited with every bell and whistle, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better (or, in the case of the TRX, a quicker or more powerful) truck than the Ram 1500.