While Asian countries are making do with golf cart-sized flatbeds and Europeans are hiring lorries, whatever they are, to take anything bigger than a woman’s purse across town, Americans have been hitting the road in what they consider mid-sized trucks for years. The question that begs an answer is, with behemoths like the 100K Ford F-450 on the road, what qualifies as mid-sized and how do you know a good one from a bad one. These are the questions we try to answer.
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Pretty much every truck will haul a load or tow your boat but what if your idea of getting away from it all means more than visiting a state park with nice paved roads. If that's the case then you need a Jeep Gladiator. More than your common 4-wheel drive, the Gladiator is basically a jeep wrangler stretched out and equipped with a bed to haul anything and everything you might ever need to damn near anyplace you can imagine.
Having first come out in 2005 the Nissan Frontier is the granddaddy of bad mid-sized Japanese pickups. Underpowered with a standard 152-hp four-cylinder and an optional 261-hp V-6 it also lacks many of the creature comforts that most of its competition now consider standard. The best that can be said for the Frontier is that the brand has navigated some rough terrain in its time because the truck itself would have trouble pulling a tooth or climbing a molehill carrying more than its own weight.
Not to beat a dead horse but Nissan needs a wakeup call in the worst possible way. Taking a standard piece of junk and adding bigger tires and stiffer shocks along with a few grand to the price tag does not a quality truck make. Both the Desert Runner and Pro-4X are the same dog as the Frontier, and it is a dog that is best left on the porch if you plan on going anywhere rougher than a Wal-Mart parking lot.
In its standard garb, the Toyota Tacoma is not the best truck for any one particular job you might be able to think of. What it is, however, is a hell of a truck that will accomplish any mission you might have for it without making a fuss or giving you too many headaches. Being a jack of all trades but master of none, you could think of it as the renaissance man of pickups.
The GMC Canyon is for all practical purposes a 7/10th scale Sierra both in size and power. While it is a good solid truck, there isn’t enough difference in this ride and its cousin the Chevrolet Colorado to justify the extra coin that it will cost you buy it. The two trucks share the same power train and engine options so, it would be best to opt for the poorer relation and buy yourself a new pair of boots with the change.
With trim and features more at home in a luxury sedan than a pickup truck, the GMC Canyon in the Denali trim stands alone in its class as well as head and shoulders above its poorer brothers. If you are a curbside cowboy who wants to look the part but aren't willing to give up your Cadillac comforts in the process, this is the truck for you. Its heated seats and sound system alone make it deserving of its own listing.
The standard Tacoma is a great all around truck, but for serious use, the TRD Pro model leaves it in the dust, literally. It comes standard with a 278-hp 3.5-liter V-6 engine, offroad tuned suspension, tuned exhaust, oversized tires and is available with snorkels for both the air intake and exhaust. The TRD Pro is a tank of a ride that will take you, and your stuff, about anywhere you could want to go and have you looking brotastic while getting there.
Coming in a wide variety of cab and bed configurations you can get almost as much utility out of a standard Chevrolet Colorado as a full-size truck without the fuel costs and parking headaches. It comes with a 2.5-liter inline-four with 200 horsepower and 191 lb-ft of torque as a baseline engine, but a beefier 6-cylinder and even a turbo diesel are available as options. If Chevy was shooting for a design to fit the "everyman" they hit the nail on the head with this ride.
If you’re a bowtie fan and want to do some serious offroading, then you are going to want to step up to the Colorado ZR2 - or if your pocket can stand the damage, the Bison model. Both come standard with either a 3.6-liter V6 or a 2.8-liter Duramax diesel, specially designed long-throw suspension courtesy of Chevy Performance and many other sweet upgrades. What sets the Bison apart specifically is heavy-duty steel bumpers, armored grill works, and full underbody skid plate protection.
It’s nice to see Ford finally trying its hand at smaller trucks once again, but just how successful they'll be is yet to be seen. The new Ranger lineup will come factory direct with some very nice bells and whistles like a 10-speed automatic transmission and a 300 hp engine package along with some sweet creature comforts. The question is, will this translate into sales in a market dominated by the Tacoma and Colorado.
Some vehicles are more than capable of speaking for themselves by adding a lot of hipe and wordplay to their resumes, just check this out. A 5000-pound maximum towing capacity, a five-star NHTSA safety rating, the Honda 3.5-liter V-6 putting out 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft with a six-speed automatic transmission, front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, handling and ride to rival Honda’s cars. If that isn’t enough to make you fall in love with the Honda Ridgeline, then you need to get a pulse, or have your head examined.
The Dodge Dakota is now in its fourth generation, and one has to ask what the hell happened to that famed MOPAR POWER. Seriously, the Dakotas are cute as a button but a 3.7-liter V6 that delivers 210 horsepower and 239 pound-feet of torque or an optional 4.7-liter V8 that hits about 265 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque these aren’t exactly earthshattering numbers. Other trucks on this list smoke their ass with 4-6 cylinders and much better fuel economy.
Not widely recognized on North American shores, the Fiat Fullback has been one of the Italian company's biggest export success in South America. Now the company is hoping to crack the already crowded U.S. market. They may have some success due to low entry-level pricing, but with horsepower numbers equaled by many lawnmowers, they are going to need a hell of a marketing campaign to convince the average Joe on the street that he can replace his old horse with a horsefly.
Underpowered, overpriced, and seeming more like a vehicle that was devised more by a group of interior designers than farmers and outdoorsman, the Mitsubishi L200 is a truck you will love to hate. It comes in a wide variety of colors with coordinated interiors that will absolutely delight the senses. In case you didn’t realize it, that was sarcasm; just don’t send your wife to an auto boutique or you might end up with one of these dogs.
I wouldn't be surprised if most people reading this haven’t seen one of the new Ford Ranger Raptors. You probably won't be seeing one in the near future, either. These hot little offroaders are all the rage down under, that’s Australia by the way, but the boys at the blue oval have no current plans to bring it to American shores. Apparently, they think U.S. truck buyers just aren’t ready to have that much fun yet.