The best full-sized pick-ups of the year.
By Trent Jonas
If you’re looking to upgrade your full-sized pickup for this year’s outdoor adventures, you’re in for some good news: The 2021 crop is an impressive bunch. They’re packed with plenty of modern bells and whistles while staying true to their rugged, utilitarian roots. After researching what’s out there, we’ve put together our picks for the top trucks to buy in 2021.
Lately, Ram’s full-size pickup trucks have been generating a lot of buzz, including a few nods for “best in class” over the last couple years. The good news is, there’s more to Ram trucks than just good looks. Off-road enthusiasts will particularly appreciate the Ram 1500 TRX, which can dress up for a night on the town but is ready to leave the pavement in a snap. With one of the most powerful production engines out there, the TRX boasts almost a foot of ground clearance and tremendous travel on both the front and rear suspensions. The pickup boasts eight drive modes, including sport, snow, mud/sand, rock, and Baja modes. Between the suspension and the well-appointed interior, you may not even notice that you’re climbing over boulders.
There’s a reason the ford F Series vehicles are the best-selling pickups in the world. The F-150 XLT is a solid model with plenty of interior perks that come standard, including a four-inch productivity screen and a lane-sensing system. Plenty of options and packages are available, as well, like a 360-degree camera package and forward sensing system. But this is merely the cockpit for operating the truck’s rugged outdoor capabilities. Once you add the FX4 package, the Ford F-150 XLT becomes an off-roading machine that boasts three skid plates, an electronic-ocking rear differential, stiffer, off-road tuned shocks, and Hill Descent Control, and a Terrain Management system. In the F-150 XLT FX4, wherever you’re going, you won’t need roads.
The Sierra AT4, from GMC, is another awesome, full-sized pickup option for off-road adventure seekers—one that you can use to get around town, as well. The Sierra comes standard with a 277-horsepower, inline 6 engine, boasting 460-pound feet of torque, but it can be upgraded to a Duramax 3.0-liter turbo-diesel engine for better fuel efficiency or a 6.2-liter EcoTec 3 V8 engine for more power. The standard 18-inch which wheels are fitted with Goodyear’s Mud-Terrain DuraTrac tires, which, along with the factory-installed two-inch suspension lift, gives the Sierra AT4 plenty of ground clearance. Option 20-inch wheels will get you even more. The well-appointed interior will keep you comfortable, while the Rancho will take care of you on any terrain you encounter.
The Nissan Titan XD is already a formidable machine on the road and around town. But pair it with Nissan’s Pro-4X package, and the Titan XD becomes an off-road monster. The Titan XD is powered by a 5.6-liter, 400 horsepower V8 engine that boasts 413 pound-feet of torque to get you out of sticky situations. The Pro-4X package adds hill start assist and descent control, a front skid plate, and electronic locking rear differential. The interior is more reminiscent of a luxury sedan than a rugged, dirt-eating pickup, and exclusive Bilsten-developed shocks may belie the terrain you’re traversing. No worries, though: A look out the window will remind you just where you are.
Toyota pickups have long been favorites among both off-road enthusiasts and folks who enjoy overland adventuring. The Tundra TRD Sport is the manufacturer’s full-size pickup entry in the line, and like its brethren is renowned for its mechanical and off-road reliability. Designed to withstand decades of driving abuse, this Tundra will keep you smiling in the cab while its 381-horsepower, 5.7-liter aluminum i-Force V-8 does all the work. The Tundra powers over terrain with more than 400 pound-feet of torque, on 20-inch, six-spoke wheels. But you’ll hardly even notice, thanks to sport-tuned Bilsten shocks, as well as front and rear anti-sway bars. Optional packages include upgraded audio entertainment and terrain-sensing systems.