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Heavy-Duty: The Best Full-Size Pickup Trucks of 2023

Best Full Size Pickup Trucks 0 Hero
Photo: Chevrolet Silverado 1500

Cafe racer motorcycles, super-quick hypercars, and sporty drop-tops aren’t for everyone. Especially not if you’re a working man who needs a vehicle to help you get the job done. You’ll be hard-pressed to even fit a toolbox inside of a Porsche 911, let alone get it to a job site successfully. Thankfully, there are plenty of other options out there. Perhaps the king of all work vehicles, however, is the full-sized pickup truck.

These beasts aren’t going to break any speed records, but they’ve got big numbers in the categories that workmen care about – like payload, torque, and towing capacity. These bedded trucks are like a whole team of trusty steeds rolled into one creature… if those ponies could also haul trailers with all your off-road motorcycles, waterborne leisure vehicles, and more. They’re as tough as they come and they’ll always help you get your job done. So, if you’re the kind of person that needs a beefy and capable motor vehicle, these are the best full-sized pickup trucks available today.

The Best Full-Size Pickup Trucks

What Exactly Is A Full-Size Pickup Truck?

A full-size pickup is a large type of truck that’s bigger than its compact and mid-size counterparts. In addition to being able to haul over 10,000 pounds, full-size pickups can typically carry 2,000 or more pounds — versus most mid size truck’s roughly 1,500-pound payload rating. And, while they do vary in weight and size, most full-size pickup models span between 210” and 250” in length, roughly 80” to 90” in width, and 75” to 80” in height — though there are at times outliers and exceptions. Full-size models are also sometimes referred to as a “1500” or “half-ton” — monickers that reference these vehicles’ payload and not their curb weight (though these figures are quite dated, as modern full-size trucks almost always feature substantially greater payload capacities). 

What Factors Should I Consider When Buying A Full-Size Pickup Truck?

Considering the class’ bevy of uses and how much each truck can vary from model to model, there are admittedly dozens of areas that can be taken into account when shopping around for a full-size pickup. With that said, the most pivotal aspects can be broken down into just a dozen key areas — all of which we’ll briefly touch on below in this mini-buyer’s guide to the most important factors to consider when buying a full-size pickup truck. 

Towing & Hauling Capabilities: One of the main reasons full-size trucks are often purchased is for their immense towing and hauling capabilities. As a result, this is a crucial area to review when looking at trucks within this segment. 

Tech & Connectivity: Just like with any other new vehicle — especially of the pricier variety — modern full-size pickup trucks almost always come loaded with an impressive suite of technological bells and whistles. This includes everything from state-of-the-art Bluetooth-connected infotainment displays, 360° camera systems, blindspot monitoring and lane-departure assist, Head-Up displays, and onboard wifi hotspots, just to name a few. 

Cabin & Creature Comforts: Though one largely spartan and utilitarian in nature, the interior of full-size pickup trucks have grown increasingly plush over the last decade or so, with some models even boasting cabins that can rival that of bonafide luxury vehicles. On top of the available upholstery options, elements to keep an eye out for in this area include heated, cooled, and massaging seats, passenger display screens, and audio systems. 

Fuel Economy: Traditionally, full-size pickup trucks haven’t managed to deliver very impressive fuel economy numbers, though in more recent years this is changing as powertrains not only become more efficient, but an increasing number of marques have also began utilizing hybrid drive units to bolster performance and mileage. Because regularly filling up a full-size truck’s tank can quickly add up, this is another pivotal area to factor into your decision when shopping. 

Trim Level: Pretty much every pickup truck on the market is offered in multiple trim levels, each of which boasts its own factory-installed components, features and upgrades. A great many trim levels are also designed with certain uses in mind — such as work-focused trim levels or factory-lifted hardcore off-road-specs. Trim level can also massively affect a full-size pickup’s price. 

Off-Road Readiness: Most full-size pickup trucks will offer some very basic off-roading abilities even in their lowest-specced base model form. As off-roading has grown in popularity, a growing number of manufacturers have started producing dedicated turnkey off-road models that typically come outfitted with factory lift kits, flared fenders, off-road wheels and tires, and a bevy of other go-anywhere bits such as steel bumpers, skid plates, winches, snorkels, and headache racks. 

Powertrain: As the heart of the pickup truck, one can argue that the powertrain is one of, if not the single most important area to review when shopping as it determines more performance characteristics than any other element. When looking at a full-size truck’s powertrain there are numerous factors to review. First off, you’ll want to see if the pickup uses a regular gas engine or a diesel mill. Next, you’ll want to look into a powertrain’s number of cylinders, layout, displacement, aspiration, and whether or not it uses any type of electric motor(s) or hybrid drive system(s). Additionally, you’ll also want to review the type of transmission that’s been mated to the engine. 

Power: No matter what type of vehicle you’re shopping for, you’ll pretty much always want to look into the amount of horsepower and torque that its engine generates, as these figures will play a direct role in the vehicle’s acceleration and speed, as well as its towing and payload capabilities. 

Cab & Seating: Pickup trucks come in one of several different cab configurations. While there are only four main types, different manufacturers use different names for different cab setups. The main types, however, are standard or regular cabs, extended cabs (also known as access cabs, King cabs, SuperCabs, or Quad cabs), and crew cabs (also known as CrewMax cabs or Mega Cabs). 

Bed: A pickup truck’s utility mainly stems from two areas; its powertrain; and its bed — as this latter element will directly determine some of its hauling capabilities. When checking out a pickup’s bed, you’ll want to explore the available length options, overall dimensions, the actual bed’s construction (and any fortifying coatings or liners),  and available tie-down and attachment points. In more recent years, a growing number of marques have started delivering beds with unique, modular, multi-functional tailgates — making this just one more area that needs to be considered when shopping. 

Driving Characteristics: While hauling and towing capacities tend to get most of the attention when looking at full-size trucks, one should be careful not to overlook one of the most important factors to consider when buying any car, truck, or SUV; the vehicle’s driving characteristics. A full-size pickup’s ride and handling will play monumental roles in the overall day-to-day user experience — making this another area that’s instrumental to review when shopping. 

Generation: There are both benefits and drawbacks to purchasing a brand new generation of truck — or really any car for that matter. The latest gen trucks will always be the sleekest-looking and feature the latest most advanced technology and powertrains. Not only does purchasing the latest generation of any truck come at a financial premium, but newer generations also tend to be more prone to small issues (and even factory recalls) compared to older models that have had several years for the manufacturer to iron out any kinks). Generations of trucks that have been on the market for a longer time will also usually have a much wider range of available upgrades and aftermarket parts. There’s also markedly more information available on wrenching or maintaining a truck if it’s been around for longer. 

Ford F-150

Ford F150
Photo: Ford
  • America’s most popular pickup by a huge margin
  • Has towing capacity of up to 14,000lbs
  • Features optional onboard generator for powering tools, tech, & gear
  • Uses Ford’s modular new Pro Access tailgate
  • Also offered in fully-electric F-150 Lightning variant & off-road-ready Raptor-spec
  • Raptor-spec pricing has yet to be revealed (as of time of writing)

Best Overall Pick: As folks who trust widespread user opinions perhaps more than the word of “experts,” we can safely say that it means a lot to us that the Ford F-150 is the hands-down most popular pickup truck in the United States. In fact, the numbers aren’t even close. And that should mean a lot to you. If that still doesn’t strike your fancy, the Blue Oval has just recently rolled out a heavily updated take on America’s favorite pickup for the 2024 model year.

The laundry list of feature highlights on the latest F-150 include several available onboard generators, Pro Trailer Backup and Hitch Assists, Ford BlueCruise autonomous driving, a 360° camera, the first-ever Head-Up Display to be offered on an F-150, SYNC4 paired with a 12” central capacitive touchscreen display and a separate 12” cluster, and a seriously robust suite of standard driver-assist systems like the latest versions of Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Keeping System and Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert. Boasting best-in-class towing figures, the new F-150 is also offered across eight different trim levels with the XL, STX, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum, Tremor, and Raptor — the latter of which is now offered with the choice of either a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 or the supercharged 5.2-liter Voodoo V8 currently found in the Mustang GT500. 

Engine: Twin-Turbo 2.7L V6, 5.0L V8, Twin-Turbo 3.5L V6, or Twin-Turbo 3.5L V6 Hybrid
Power: 325HP & 400FT-LBs, 400HP & 500FT-LBs, 450HP & 510FT-LBs
Towing Capacity: 5,000LBs (2023 model year) to 14,000LBs
Base Model MSRP: $36,570

Chevrolet Silverado 1500

Chevrolet Silverado 1500
Photo: Chevrolet
  • Sold w/ four powertrain options across 9 trim levels
  • Sleek, attractive, & commanding appearance
  • Lower-specced trim levels offer great value
  • Produced in ZR2 off-road variant
  • All 9 trims offered w/ host of available off-road upgrades from AEV
  • Stiff & bumpy ride on trim levels w/ lower spec suspension

Best Value Pick: The Chevrolet Silverado is the most dependable, longest-lasting full-sized pickup truck on the market, according to almost three-and-a-half decades of vehicle registration information. And that in itself ranks this offering amongst the best value-propositions on this list.

Of course, if that’s not good enough for you, it also offers fuel economy at the higher end of the spectrum, has one of the highest towing capacities of any truck on this list, and comes with the option to turn your truck into a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot through OnStar to suit all your high-tech gear. On top of that, Chevrolet offers several limited editions of the Silverado which only build on the excellence of the base model. Having said that, with a total of nine model variants to chose from, there really is a Silverado 1500 for just about everyone, whether it’s the sporty RST-spec, the workhorse LTZ trim level, of the ZR2 off-roader. Like its GMC-made sibling (the Sierra 1500), Chevy’s full-size pickup is offered with four different powertrain options in the form of the 3.0-liter Duramax turbo diesel mill, the 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V8, the 6.2-liter EcoTec3 V8, and the turbocharged 2.7-liter TurboMax inline-four.

Engine: Turbo 2.7L Inline-Four, 3.0L Turbo-Diesel, 5.3L V8, or 6.2L V8
Power: 310HP & 430FT-LBs, 355HP & 383FT-LBs, 305HP & 495FT-LBs, or 420HP & 460FT-LBs
Towing Capacity: 9,500LBs to 13,300LBs
Base Model MSRP: $36,800

RAM 1500

RAM 1500
Photo: RAM Trucks
  • Super plush & well-appointed interior
  • Base model has 8.2” of clearance
  • Offered in incredibly-capable TRX-spec
  • TRX is most powerful road-legal production pickup in its class
  • No regular cab option
  • Lacks in towing power compared to other full-size trucks

Best Off-Road Pick: While there aren’t as many of them on the road as some of the other brand’s offerings on this list, that’s quickly changing as RAM does have the benefit of having the highest owner loyalty rating of any other truck on this list. That means, if someone buys a RAM pickup truck and then drive it until it dies, they are far more likely to head down to the dealership and buy another RAM pickup to replace it. And that says a lot about the quality of these pickup trucks.

This particular model also boasts the a super plush interior, an 8,100lb towing capacity, and up to 23 miles-per-gallon, allowing for around 600 miles of autonomy between trips to the pump. Taking aim squarely at Ford’s F-150 Raptor, the RAM 1500 is offered in a super high-end TRX-spec that features flared fenders, a lifted Bilstein and Blackhawk suspension package, and 18” bead-lock-capable aluminum wheels shod in 35” all terrain tires. Powering the 1500 TRX is a supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V8 that cranks out 702hp and 650ft-lbs of torque and allows for a 5-second 0-60mph time. The TRX-spec’s cabin has also been bestowed with a carbon fiber interior package, paddle shifters, and a Head Up display, plus the entire truck can be further upgraded via a host of available accessories from Mopar. 

Engine: 3.6L V6, 5.7L V8 or Supercharged 6.2L V8
Power: 305HP & 268.4FT-LBs, 395HP & 410FT-LBs, or 702HP & 650FT-LBS
Towing Capacity: 6,340LBs to 12,750LBs
Base Model MSRP: $38,555

Toyota Tundra

Toyota Tundra
Photo: Toyota
  • Features twin-turbocharged V6 as standard
  • Has stellar reliability
  • Great-looking & super sleek updated styling
  • Tows up to 12,000lbs
  • Hybrid unit only available w/ i-FORCE MAX engine

Best Hybrid Pick: The Toyota Tundra has long been one of the most popular full-sized pickups since debuting at the turn of the millennium, though the flagship truck has recently been treated to a complete overhaul for its latest generation. On top of an enormous suite of tech, the latest Tundra jettisons its predecessor’s V8 in favor of the buyer’s choice of either Toyota’s i-FORCE or i-FORCE MAX powertrains, both of which are twin-turbocharged 3.4-liter V6 mills — though the more powerful MAX-spec also benefits from a hybrid drive unit that increases horsepower and torque from 358hp and 406ft-lbs of torque up to 437hp and 583ft-lbs.

As per usual, Toyota is offering its new flagship pick up in a range-topping go-anywhere TRD Pro trim level that offers some seriously impressive off-roading chops straight off the showroom floor. Boasting a towing capacity of up to 11,050lbs and the Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 suite as standard, this full-size body-on-frame model also does away with the previous gen’s leaf spring suspension setup in favor of a more advanced coil-spring rear suspension. 

Engine: Twin-Turbo 3.4L V6 or Twin-Turbo 3.4L V6 Hybrid
Power: 389HP & 479FT-LBs or 437HP & 583FT-LBS
Towing Capacity: 8,300LBs to 11,050LBs
Base Model MSRP: $39,965

Nissan Titan

Nissan Titan
Photo: Nissan
  • Outstanding 5-year/100K mile warranty
  • Very easy to drive for its size
  • Offers pretty great value
  • Extremely versatile
  • Poor fuel economy/mileage
  • Only one engine option across entire lineup

Most Versatile Pick: Based on an award winning platform, the Nissan Titan is a competent all-arounder that lends itself to a wide range of uses. It also doesn’t hurt that it boasts the best warranty of any other truck on this list, with bumper-to-bumper coverage over five years and/or 100,000 miles. Thats two full years and more than 60,000 miles more than the nearest competitor. If that doesn’t give you a sense of this truck’s reliability, we don’t know what does.

And while you don’t have triple the bed-length options like the GMC Sierra, the Titan does come with a removable bed extender so you can customize your bed to the size of your load from job to job – rather than settling on a set unchangeable bed length. Which is great for transporting things like an adventure motorcycle to and from your locale of choice. Pieced together around a fully-boxed ladder chassis with a body-on-frame construction, the latest Nissan Titan boasts a 5.7-liter V8 offering an 11,050-pound towing capacity, 8.4” of ground clearance, and approach, break-over, and departure angles of 16.5°, 20.6°, and 24.7° respectively — elements that, when combined, make for an incredibly versatile truck that lends itself just as well to hauling and workhorse duties as it does playing in the sand, mud, and dirt. 

Engine: 5.6L V8
Power: 400HP & 413FT-LBs
Towing Capacity: 9,290LBs to 11,050LBs
Base Model MSRP: $45,770

GMC Sierra 1500

GMC Sierra 1500
Photo: GMC
  • Sold w/ four powertrain options
  • Denali-specs offer comfort & refinement of high-dollar luxury cars
  • Solid towing capacity at over 13,000lbs
  • Loaded w/ cutting-edge tech including available Super Cruise hands-free driver assistance tech
  • Poor ride quality & handling

Best Luxury Truck: Though it seems to stand in the shadow of Ford and Chevy’s full-size offerings, don’t count out the GMC Sierra as a viable option. In fact, this dark horse is more than enough for most people – even when that means hauling thousands of pounds of gear, machinery, tool kits, or otherwise to and from the work site. The Sierra also has the added benefit of three optional bed styles – short, standard, and long – to accommodate your specific payload needs. It also comes with the option for the brand’s IntelliBeam lighting technology, which changes between high- and low-beam headlights automatically according to surrounding traffic conditions.

Produced with four engine options, the Sierra 1500 is absolutely brimming with noteworthy features such as an available CarbonPro composite bed, a 12-speaker Bose surround sound system, Multimatic DSSV dampers, available Super Cruise hands-free driver assistance tech, a plethora of available off-road accessories and add-ons from AEV, continuous damping adaptive ride control, front and rear electronic locking differentials and a 2” factory lift, just to name a few. And, alongside the go-anywhere AT4 and AT4X trim levels, the Sierra 1500 also comes in super plush Denali and Denali Ultimate versions that offer the same level of luxury and refinement as GMC’s Yukon and Yukon XL. While you’re not going to find a game changer in the full-size pickup category, the little details (like those offered by GMC) can make all the difference.

Engine: Turbo 2.7L Inline-Four, 3.0L Turbo-Diesel, 5.3L V8, or 6.2L V8
Power: 310HP & 430FT-LBs, 355HP & 383FT-LBs, 305HP & 495FT-LBs, or 420HP & 460FT-LBs
Towing Capacity: 8,900LBs to 13,200LBs
Base Model MSRP: $47,195

The Best High-Performance Pickup Trucks You Can Buy Off The Lot

Photo: Ford F-150 Raptor

Want to check out some seriously capable turnkey off-road trucks that aren’t limited to full-size models? Then be sure to head over to our guide to the best high-performance pickup trucks for a handpicked list of hardcore off-roaders currently available on showroom floors.