Ask TFLTruck: What’s the Best Truck to Buy to Haul the Family & for the Commute to Work?

2015, ford, f-150, ecoboost, ram, 1500, ecodiesel, 0-60, mph, acceleration
2015 Ford F-150 EcoBoost vs. 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel

 

As you know by now, everyday we receive lots of emails asking for our truck buying advice. Most of the emails are very specific about towing or MPG, but often TFLtruck readers just want to know what’s the best truck to buy.

For instance please take a look at this email from Michael (below) who is basically asking what’s the best all around pickup.  

Hello,

My name is Michael.  I live in west Georgia.  I have a wife, two small kids and one on the way.  I am looking to get a pickup truck sometime this year (2016).  I have watched your videos to try to see which would fit our needs best.  The trouble is most all reviews focus on towing.  My situation is a little different.  My primary purpose is to haul the family and commute to work daily (hilly route, but nothing extreme, and only about 40 miles a day round trip).  The truck aspect is for the occasional trash haul, or helping someone move, or getting plywood at Home Depot for some project.  Also, since I plan to keep it for over a decade, I want to be able to haul any future items like a camper or trailer, etc..

With all that being said, I want the most comfortable room, best fuel economy, reliability, safety and price.  What is your recommendation?

Thank you and I appreciate your work.

Best Regards,

Michael

FullSizeRender 2

Before I try to answer this question let’s take a big step back and talk about the five segments of trucks that you can choose from today. Here’s a brief list from smallest to largest trucks available in the U.S.

  1. Crossover Pickups: The Honda Ridgeline is a pickup truck based on the company’s  Odyssey Minivan platform. As it is built on a unibody platform and does not tow or haul very much, many truck buyers do not consider it a true truck.
  2. Mid-sized Trucks: These include the Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, GMC Canyon and Chevy Colorado.
  3. Half-ton Trucks: (otherwise known as light duty pickups) and these include the Ford F-150, Toyota Tundra, Chevy Silverado, GMC Sierra, Ram 1500 and the new and old Nissan Titan.
  4. Tweener Trucks: The new Nissan Titan XD. It falls somewhere inbetween a half-ton truck and three-quarter-ton truck as it has a diesel engine but doesn’t tow or haul enough to make it a heavy duty truck.
  5. Three-quarter-ton Trucks (otherwise known as heavy duty trucks) and these include the Ford F-250 and above, the Ram 2500 and above, and the GM HD Trucks.
Nissan-Titan-XD-PRO-4X
2016 Nissan Titan XD PRO-4X

From your email it sounds like you don’t need a work truck so I would immediately eliminate the tweener and three-quarter-ton trucks from your list. I would also eliminate the Honda Ridgeline as this truck is long in the tooth.There’s a new Ridgeline on the way that will debut at the Detroit  Auto Show in about a week.

In your email you mentioned that you have growing family of  five people. For this reason I would also eliminate the mid-sized trucks. While you can fit 5 people into mid-sized truck, it will be tight, and you’ll have no room for anything else inside the truck.

Now that leaves you with the best selling truck category in the U.S.: half-ton trucks. For now you can eliminate the Nissan Titan as it is not yet on the market. This means you are left with the Ford F-150 (the best selling truck in America as Ford likes to point out), the Toyota Tundra, Ram 1500 and the GM twins. All of these trucks are very solid picks.

Here’s my recommendations, but I’m sure our readers will have their own.

If you value fuel economy above all, I’d go for the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. This is the only half-ton with a diesel engine. The 3.0L diesel in this truck sips fuel, especially on the highway.

2016 Chevy Silverado Real World Towing Test
2016 Chevy Silverado Real World Towing Test

If you value traditional American V8 power go for one of the GM twins. The 6.2L GM V8 is hard to beat as it currently has the most power in this very competitive truck class. However it can also be very expensive.

If you want the newest tech go for the Ford F-150. The F-150 is the only half-ton truck built with aluminum and the only gas truck that offers (not one but two) turbo-charged engines. Keep in mind that reports suggest that repair cost of the aluminum are more expensive.

Finally, if you value Toyota’s reputation for reliability go for the newish Toyota Tundra. This truck’s 5.7L V8i s rock solid, dead reliable but thirsty.

Truth be told, you’d be hard pressed to make a bad buying choice in this segment of trucks.  Why? Because all of the truck maker’s bring their A game when it comes to building half-ton trucks as these pickup are very profitable and thus very competative.

I’m sure TFLtruck readers will have more advice for you in the comments, but here’s our best half-ton recommendations from last year’s Gold Hitch Awards.

Good luck in finding the perfect truck, and let us know which one you picked.

Roman Mica is a columnist, journalist, and author, who spent his early years driving fast on the German autobahn. When he’s not reviewing cars or producing videos, you can find him training for triathlons and writing about endurance sports for EverymanTri.com as our sister blog’s publisher. Mica is a former broadcast reporter with his Master’s Degree in journalism from Northwestern University.