Best 2021 Pickup Trucks To Buy/Lease
Posted on March 8, 2022
Picture this: an Ignition Orange RAM 1500 pulls into the parking space next to you, black racing stripes down the middle and everything - out from the drivers door hops… a middle-aged blond woman, about 5 foot 1 (with heels on). A neighbour comes home with a blacked out, emblems and all, Ford F-150 Raptor - it’s Jerry, the 77 year old retired business owner who occasionally drives to the bank for deposits.
A lot has changed in the world of stereotyping a vehicle owner based on what they drive.
In 2021, almost one out of every 4 vehicles sold in Canada was a pickup truck (even amidst the detrimental effects the chip shortage had on pickup trucks especially).
The popularity of truck ownership was already on the rise and the need for adventure close to home that came out of the Covid pandemic certainly exacerbated it.
With so many truck people now out on the road, there are seemingly an infinite number of new pickup truck configurations available. So how could we ever really know, what is the best pickup truck to buy/lease?
Ultimately, the criteria for what constitutes the best of anything depends on what matters most to you; so for this list of best pick-up trucks from 2021, we are breaking it down by category so you can base your winner on your priority.
Before we rank, it is important to list which pick-up trucks we included for consideration (in order of top sales): Ford F-Series, Ram Pickup, GMC Sierra, Chevrolet Silverado, Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger, Toyota Tundra, Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Jeep Gladiator, Honda Ridgeline, Nissan Frontier, Ford Maverick, Hyundai Santa Cruz, Nissan Titan. For most of the categories we focused on half-ton trucks, but we specified if/when midsize or heavy duty trucks were considered as well. Full disclosure, CarHub is a licensed franchise dealer group for Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, RAM and Fiat vehicles, so we carry a large number of these vehicles. That being said, we maintain an unbiased approach when discussing vehicles.
Best bang for your buck is the RAM 1500 Classic. While the MSRP is not the lowest, RAM offers incredible incentives on new trucks and the reduced price is typically among the lowest prices. When you factor in what you get for your dollar it’s truly the best deal. For instance, the Chevrolet Silverado technically has the lowest MSRP but Consumer Reports put it last on the list of full size trucks that were reviewed (along with the GMC Sierra) and so we cannot place it as the winner unless price is literally your only consideration - but you should still check RAM incentives first at carhub.ca.
Want some icing on the cake: according to motorbiscuit.com, the RAM 1500 also has the best resale value out of any pickup truck in its class (as of a study completed in April 2021) - not that you are going to want to sell it any time soon!
While this is excellent news for the new truck buyer, this means as a used pickup truck, it may cost more to covet.
Most Powerful Half-Ton (horsepower and torque):
While power may not be everything, especially for your half-ton, it certainly does impact almost everything: fun, drivability, fuel efficiency, off-road ability, towing capacity and more.
With 702 hp and 650 lb-ft torque the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX - 6.2L Supercharged V-8 is the most powerful half-ton gas powered truck in both categories. Not to mention it won 2021 MotorTrend’s Truck of the Year - so it's more than just a powerhouse.
The 2021 GMC Sierra - 3.0L Duramax I-6 Diesel has 277 hp, which is the highest of any half-ton diesel. However with 480 lb-ft the diesel 2021 Ram 1500 - 3.0L EcoDiesel V-6 is the most powerful in terms of torque.
Horsepower and torque numbers aside, you might still be asking the more simple question: what pickup truck can tow the most weight? For 2021, the 3.5L EcoBoost V-6-equipped Ford F-150 can tow a maximum of 6350kg (14,000 lbs) - the highest in its class.
What pickup truck has the best mileage? For the purpose of this article we are going to outline a few of the most fuel efficient trucks based on their combined highway/city rating for the size and engine type categories. The numbers provided are based on the official ratings by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan).
Best Full-Size Gas: 10.8L/100km – Ford F-150 w/turbo 2.7L V6
Best Full-Size Diesel: 8.8L/100km – Chevrolet Silverado w/3.0L I6
Best Mid-Size Gas: 10.9L/100km – TIE: Ford Ranger and Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon
Best Mid-Size Diesel: 9.8L/100km – Jeep Gladiator w/3.0L V6
It is important to note that weight affects fuel consumption and automakers therefore test their lightest truck offered with that engine size. Although, each company does not offer the same cab/engine configurations. For instance, Ford and GM make full-size, regular-cab trucks but the smallest Ram 1500 and Toyota Tundra models are extended-cab - meaning the stats above are not necessarily considering apples to apples.
Further still, real-world drivers almost never achieve fuel economy ratings listed by NRCan.
Your best bet if fuel efficiency is very important to you is to do your research based on the configured vehicles of your choice and search for some real-life reviews and numbers.
While vehicles, including trucks just seem to be getting bigger, for the pickup truck owner who needs the ruggedness of a truck but the convenience of taking up a smaller space, the best small pickup truck according to the JD Power study is the Ford Ranger. Owners liked the fuel economy, maneuverability and power of the compact pickup truck and although the rear seat area was noted as a negative. This doesn’t overly come as a surprise as choosing a small truck means sacrificing cargo and passenger space.
Best for the Weekend Warrior:
The weekend warrior needs a truck comfortable and practical enough for the weekly commute and fun and powerful enough for the weekend. While this may be one of the most subjective categories, we’ll be looking at the balance of off-roading capability and on-road comfort as well as interior quality, size and comfort. For the weekend warrior it is important to have a great infotainment system as well as excellent payload. This wasn’t an easy task seeing as typically speaking, the best vehicle for off-roading fun is not usually the most enjoyable on the daily drive to the office. So we did a top 3:
- 2021 Ram 2500 Power Wagon
- 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor
- 2021 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon
Best for Work:
Heavy duty or Super duty; whatever you call them, when you need a reliable work truck you’re looking for a three-quarter ton or one ton truck. For this category, we are deferring to MotorTrend for our answer so you don’t just take our word for it.
For the last three years in a row, RAM has won the MotorTrend Truck of the Year - in 2020 it was specifically the 2500 HD that won (for 2021 it was the supercharged 1500 TRX as mentioned above and 2019 it was the RAM 1500). The RAM 2500 HD was picked for its fantastic tow rating, well-appointed cabin and ability to maneuver on and off road.
While the RAM 2500 HD is a clear front runner, the Ford F-250 Super Duty is also a former Truck of the Year winner. However, be prepared to pay near 6 figures if you want an interior beyond basic and the on road ride is known to be bouncy, a common heavy duty truck complaint.
Top 3 Overall:
OK, so maybe you think we are being biased seeing we are a new car dealer of Jeep and RAM trucks. While I can promise you we’ve been as unbiased and transparent as possible we thought the best way for us to prove this is to use the J.D. Power list of most appealing truck to their owners for our overall top 3:
- 2021 Ram 1500
- 2021 Nissan Titan
- GMC Sierra 1500
Interestingly enough, the number 2 truck, the Nissan Titan, was not in the top for any of the other categories we discussed and the number 3 truck, the GMC Sierra, while having the highest horsepower rating for diesel half-ton, was also dead last on the Consumer Report list of full size trucks.
Moral of the story here? Which are the best pickup trucks? What is the best truck in the world? What is the best new truck? Which are the best used pickup trucks on sale?
As we alluded to early on in this article, the best truck comes down to a subjective list of what matters most to you - while we can proudly boast the RAM truck line-up has won a number of accolades and the Jeep Gladiator trucks turns heads and impresses, we know the F-150 is the most sold vehicle in Canada and the Hyundai Santa Cruz bridges the gap between an SUV and work truck - the only way to make sure you get the best pickup truck is to get the one best suited to you.
At CarHub, our Product Advisors are here to assist you in finding the New or Used best pickup trucks from RAM, Jeep, GMC, Chevrolet, Ford, Nissan, Hyundai or Toyota that are the best for you.
Contact us today at carhub.ca/contact and/or check out our New and Used Truck inventory here.
Sharon Pinfold has been in the automotive industry since 2005. She has worked in the Service Department, Leasing Department and as a New/Used Car Sales Person for domestic, foreign and luxury brands. Most recently, she worked for an Agency that provided digital advertising and website solutions to the automotive sector.
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