Some car buyers want a vehicle that is a workhorse. These vehicles can tow, haul and hit all the rougher roads and tough terrain. Vehicles that are designed for work might be referred to as utilitarian vehicles.
What are the best utilitarian vehicles? While SUVs and crossovers could lean utilitarian, the body type that’s most utilitarian in design is the pickup truck. While there are a number of different pickup models on the market, not all of them are capable of pulling heavy loads.
The best utilitarian vehicles include:
- Ford F-Series
- Dodge RAM
- Chevrolet Silverado / GMC Sierra
- Nissan Titan
- Toyota Tundra
This Model Has Been the Most Popular Vehicle for Decades
The Ford F-Series holds a unique record in American automotive history; it has remained the best-selling vehicle in the country for the past four decades. The F-Series offers numerous models, including the popular F-150 half-ton pickup, the F-250, F-350, and F-450.
The F-Series also offers the best towing capacity; both the F-250 and the F-350 can tow more than 24,000 pounds. The F-150 can tow 14,000 pounds and starts at $30,870.
Pickup truck owners also know that the utilitarian design of the F-Series also means that it can carry heavy cargo, too. Payload capacity refers to how much weight can be included within the vehicle; Kelley Blue Book explains the payload capacity also includes about 10 to 15 percent of the weight being towed.
The F-150 has a payload capacity of 1,310 to 2,238 pounds. The F-250 has a payload capacity of 2,462 to 4,323 pounds, while the F-350 has a payload capacity of 3,893 to 4,663 pounds.
The Ram and the Silverado by the Numbers
Car and Driver reported that the Silverado 2500 and 3500 can tow up to 20,000 pounds, while the RAM 2500 and 3500 can pull 23,000 pounds. In addition, the GMC Sierra 2500 and 3500 matches it’s Chevrolet counterpart in towing power.
The half-ton Silverado 1500 starts at $34,600 and offers a payload capacity of 1,480 to 2,300 pounds. The Chevrolet Silverado 2500 starts at $38,500 and has a payload capacity of 3,614 to 3,900 pounds. The 3500 starts at $39,700 and offers a payload of 4,353 to 4,572 pounds.
The GMC Sierra typically mirrors the Silverado; the Sierra was the 13th best-selling vehicle of 2021. The GMC Sierra 1500 starts at $35,400 and has a payload capacity of 1,360 to 2,270 pounds. The Sierra 2500 starts at $40,200 and has a payload capacity of 3,614 to 3,900 pounds. The Sierra 3500 has a starting price of $43,195 and offers a payload capacity of 4,353 to 4,572 pounds.
The Dodge Ram 1500 starts at $36,500 and has a payload capacity of 1,225 to 2,325 pounds. The Ram 2500 starts at $42,774 and has a payload of 1,564 to 4,012 pounds. The Ram 3500 starts at $44,520 and offers a payload capacity of 3,745 to 4,644 pounds.
The Nissan Titan and Toyota Tundra Pickups
Nissan and Toyota also make larger pickup trucks. While neither the Tundra nor the Titan made the list of 25 best-selling vehicles of 2021, the smaller Toyota Tacoma was the 11th most popular vehicle.
The Nissan Titan starts at $38,810 and can tow up to 9,320 pounds. It has a payload capacity of up to 1,500 pounds. However, the larger Nissan Titan XD starts at $46,380; it offers a towing capacity of 10,920 pounds and a maximum payload of 2,430 pounds.
The Toyota Tundra starts at $35,950. It can tow up to 12,000 pounds and offers a payload capacity of 1,575 to 1,940 pounds. In addition, the Tundra also is offered in a hybrid model, which starts at $53,000.
Customizing the Pickup
Every major brand—Chevrolet, Dodge, Toyota, Nissan, GMC and Ford—offers many different trim options for each model. Each trim also typically allows buyers to upgrade their engine, too. Those who want to maximize their towing or hauling power probably will prefer a diesel engine.
Each model also might offer buyers the option to select their cab size. Different brands might have a unique name for similar cab styles. There are crew cabs, extended cabs, king cabs, etc.
Some cab styles offer only a small door to the other passenger side that can only be opened from the inside. Others offer a larger—or crew—cab that offers full-sized doors that open like the front doors. Most trucks provide space for five to six passengers. However, legroom and other specs can vary per model or trim.
Special upgrade packages for towing or other needs also are often an extra charge. Those who want to tow heavy loads or trailers might need to investigate their package options.
Heading Off the Beaten Paths
Many pickup trucks provide the capabilities to venture off the paved roads and into the wild. However, buyers who desire to take their truck onto rocky terrain might need to invest in an off-road package.
Buyers should research their options to understand what capabilities the base model includes and what it simply cannot tackle. Towing packages and off-road packages might be a necessary add-on, depending on a buyer’s needs.
Why is a Pickup Truck the Ideal Utilitarian Vehicle?
Buyers might wonder why pickup trucks dominate over SUVs like a Jeep in terms of utilitarian offerings. While Jeeps are often equated with off-road adventures, they don’t offer the towing capacity of a larger truck.
In addition, the bed of a truck offers plenty of space for work cargo, equipment and other needs. Pickup trucks were designed for work and rougher needs.
SUVs can offer a decent towing capacity and might have space for cargo with the seats folded down, but the bed of a truck provides options that simply are not available via an SUV. In addition, the towing power of the best and largest trucks on the market cannot be matched by an SUV.
What is the Best Pickup?
Buyers might want to know which pickup is the best model. In terms of towing capacity, the F-Series reigns supreme. This vehicle also has remained the country’s best-selling vehicle for decades; it probably isn’t going to be overthrown anytime soon.
However, some buyers might have another brand preference. Maybe they simply prefer driving a Toyota; their ideal model might be a Tundra or even the smaller Tacoma.
Car purchases could be heavily influenced by the buyer’s budget, too. Some might want the least expensive pickup on the list. The F-150 is actually one of the lower-priced options among the half-ton models. The F-150 starts at $30,870.
Ford, however, has stopped taking orders for several of its best-selling vehicles. The Ford F-250 and F-350 models are no longer available. These specific models are considered the Super Duty options. Some dealerships could still have models in stock; availability will vary. Ford recommends that buyers contact their local dealership.
Ford also stopped taking orders for its electric truck, the F-150 Lightning. Those who didn’t place their order are out of luck for a new Lightning.
Electric Pickups are Utilitarian and Eco-Friendly Models
Buyers also have several electric pickup options. While the Lightning is no longer available for orders, buyers might think about ordering a Rivian R1T pickup truck or a Tesla Cybertruck.
The Rivian R1T starts at $67,500. It offers a towing capacity of up to 11,000 pounds. The R1T offers an estimated range of 260 to 314 miles. It has a payload capacity of 1,760 pounds.
The Tesla Cyber truck starts at $39,900 but can soar to $69,900 for a tri-motor all-wheel drive option. It has a payload capacity of 3,500 pounds and can tow more than 14,000 pounds and has an estimated range of 500 miles.
Electric pickup options could be an eco-friendly option for consumers, but some might find their towing capacity to be too limited. In addition, the range of electric trucks can vary. While the Cybertruck will offer an estimated range of 500 miles, Tesla has pushed back delivery dates for its Cybertruck orders.
Those who order a Cybertruck now could have years to wait. For a buyer who needs a new truck for their job or for projects at home, the truck might not be worth the wait.
What About Smaller Pickup Models?
For buyers who are on a tighter budget, there are several smaller pickup trucks that could be an ideal choice. For example, the GMC Canyon starts at $26,800 and can tow up to 7,700 pounds.
The Chevrolet Colorado is priced similarly at $25,200. It can tow up to 7,000 pounds.
The Toyota Tacoma also is a smaller pickup; again, it also made the list of best-selling vehicles for 2021. The Tacoma starts at $27,150. It offers a towing capacity of 3,500 to 6,800 pounds.
There are other smaller pickup models on the market that also could be a good choice for budget- conscious consumers. For example, the Ford Ranger is a smaller alternative to the F-Series; the Ranger starts at $25,930.
Ford also offers a small hybrid pickup truck called the Maverick. Unfortunately, the model proved to be so popular that Ford stopped taking orders for that pickup model, too.
The Best Used Pickup Truck
Another option for buyers is to shop used or pre-owned models. Prices may vary based on factors like mileage, age, condition and the make/model.
Buyers who are searching for the best utilitarian vehicle, though, can find either a new or used pickup truck that meets their towing, hauling or budget needs. The best pickup truck should check off all the buyer’s requirements while also fitting comfortably within their budget.