5 Popular Pickup Trucks To Avoid in 2024 and What To Buy Instead (2024)

When it comes to the automotive industry, few icons loom as large and ruggedly as the pickup truck, with its imposing grille, bulging fenders and a bed capable of hauling everything from lumber to studio equipment.

Pickup trucks have entrenched themselves deep within the fabric of American culture. But what makes these four-wheeled behemoths so darn irresistible?

First and foremost, let’s talk about utility. A pickup is the automotive equivalent of a Swiss Army knife – versatile, reliable, and ready for anything. Need to move a mountain of "whatever" for your meticulously manicured garden? No problem, just toss it in the bed and hit the gas. Hosting a tailgate party before the big game? Pop down the tailgate and crank up the tunes.

But it’s not just about practicality/utility. There’s a certain rugged charm to pickup trucks that sets them apart from their sedan and SUV brethren.

Of course, it would be remiss to ignore the cultural significance of pickup trucks in American society. From Hollywood blockbusters to country music anthems, these babies have been immortalized in the annals of pop culture. They represent freedom, independence, and a rugged individualism that is quintessentially American. After all, what other vehicle can so effortlessly transition from the job site to the barbecue pit without missing a beat?

But perhaps the most compelling reason why people love pickup trucks is the sense of driving something that’s built to last. It makes you feel resilient, and to some extent, proud to be an American

We’re now a little over two months into 2024 and most pickup truck segments look rather different than they did just a few years back. You’re now faced with more diversity and more choices than ever, and if you’re not careful, you could easily wind up with a truck that’s not necessarily bad, but inferior to some of the options that were probably never even presented to you. Well, allow me to help, because there’s nothing I hate more than hearing about an uninformed customer. That and carrots.

Ford F-150 Lightning

Photo: Ford/Tesla

I respect the F-150 Lightning for getting the ball rolling as far as being the first mainstream battery-electric pickup truck from one of the major manufacturers. It’s not the first EV truck period, because that honor belongs to the Rivian R1T.

Still, Ford announced the Lightning variant of the F-150 back in 2019 in Detroit, and then went on to test multiple electric prototypes on existing F-150 chassis. They even went out of their way to demonstrate that this thing could tow 1,250,000 lbs on rails. Fast-forward to 2021 and the F-150 Lightning would break cover to... not a great deal of acclaim, simply because its appearance was and is still a bit lackluster.

It went into production in 2022 and at the end of last year, 24,165 units were sold. If that sounds disappointing, that’s because it is. Due to poor sales, the Blue Oval was forced to cut its 2024 production in half.

On paper, the F-150 Lightning is a fine truck, but due to the fact that it was first on the scene (ahead of direct rivals from Chevy and Ram), it’s not going to match the latter two with regards to specs. There’s one other truck it can’t match though, and that’s Tesla’s frigging Cybertruck.

The best you can do with the F-150 Lightning is put down 580 horsepower with the extended battery, and a maximum of 320 miles (510 km) of range. A decent spec is going to set you back at least $55,995, but anything nicer than that is already a $70,000 affair.

For that kind of money, you might as well do something spectacular and buy a Cybertruck, which on paper is a superior product. It’s got more range, more power, better performance (including towing), it’s bulletproof, looks like it’s from the future – the advantages of owning the Tesla are painfully obvious.

The one I’d recommend would be the $79,990 AWD variant (over the F-150 Lightning Lariat), and of course the $99,990 Cyberbeast spec over the F-150 Lightning Platinum, which costs upwards of $91,995.

Buy instead: Tesla Cybertruck

Chevrolet Silverado EV

Photo: Chevrolet/Stellantis

Sometimes I hate being a stickler for numbers, especially when they favor the less visually attractive product, but it is what it is. The Chevy Silverado EV is arguably the best looking electric pickup truck as far as the Big Three are concerned, and yet that’s not going to save it in a direct matchup against the Ram 1500 REV.

In terms of design, GM clearly took the biggest chance out of all of its legacy rivals. Ford played it super safe with the F-150 Lightning, and the Ram 1500 REV looks equally conventional, except for its fancy new light units at the front.

The Silverado EV on the other hand has a much sleeker design, thanks in part to that sloped rear pillar. Its front-end design is also ultra-modern, if not futuristic, and overall, this truck looks like it properly belongs to the EV era we now live in. On a different note, the Silverado EV kind of looks like the spiritual successor to the Avalanche, but that’s neither here nor there.

Chevy has been building the battery-electric Silverado since last summer, and they’ve only sold about 500 units or so, which isn’t exactly groundbreaking. It also doesn’t look like it might match the F-150 Lightning in terms of sales any time soon.

Pricing starts from just under $75,000 and can take you all the way through $106,895 for the RST First Edition. In terms of performance, we’re looking at a dual-motor setup with either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, and outputs of either 510 hp and 615 lb-ft of torque or 664 hp and 780 lb-ft of torque. As for the range, GM says 450 miles on a single charge, but that’s likely never going to happen in the real world.

So then, why would I encourage you to put a pin in your Silverado EV plans and wait for the Ram 1500 REV? Like I said, it’s all about the numbers, which is where the Ram shines.

Stellantis promises a maximum output of 654 horsepower and a total range of 500 miles if you opt for the larger battery (otherwise it’s 350 miles). We’re not sure about pricing just yet, because it hasn’t been announced, but we expect the Ram 1500 Rev to stay competitive within its own segment.

Having said that, if you don’t care that much about an extra 50 miles of range, then the Silverado EV probably makes more sense, because it offers more variety. It also makes more sense if you’re in a hurry to buy an EV truck, because the Ram won’t be available until later this year.

Buy instead: Ram 1500 REV

Nissan Titan

Photo: Nissan/Ford

The Titan is currently still in its second-generation, having been introduced all the way back in 2015. Yes, this is nearly a decade old truck, architecturally speaking. The mid-cycle refresh from 2020 didn’t do much to boost sales, and that fact that Nissan went as far as to discontinue the Titan in Canada after the 2021 model year wasn’t a good sign either.

Speaking of bad signs, the Titan is getting properly discontinued after the 2024 model year, so if you really want one, you might want to hurry up to some extent (until inventory runs out) – pricing starts from $46,040.

On paper, this isn’t a bad truck. It’s just a bit long in the tooth, and its model range isn’t as diverse as that of the Ford F-150, or pretty much any other direct rival. The Titan was even featured in our 10 Cars, Trucks and SUVs You Should Avoid Buying in 2023 piece, and it then went on to score poorly in a separate article where we looked at resale value.

It just wouldn’t make for a particularly clever purchase, and at this point, it’s too easy to simply point at something like that Ford F-150 and explain why you should buy that instead.

The F-150 offers more engine options, has better towing capacity, gets better mileage, and is more spacious inside (especially when it comes to passenger leg room).

Now, supposing you’re in the mood to drive something that’s ‘Built Ford Tough’, you can get your brand-new F-150 from just $34,585. Unlike with the Nissan, where you need to look through inventory, you can configure your ideal F-150 in either Regular Cab, Super Cab or Supercrew form, with various bed sizes and a total of eight different specifications.

Kind of a no-brainer, isn’t it?

Buy instead: Ford F-150

Ford Ranger

Photo: Ford/Chevrolet

I think that if you ask ten people what they would get between a Ranger and Colorado, 8/10 would go with the Ford. I mean, it’s the all-new 2024 Ranger, right? It’s more rugged and more capable than ever, and it’s ‘Built Ford Tough’.

This latest Ranger was engineered for the American market from the get-go. It’s one heck of a mid-size pickup truck. You can get yours today from $32,670, which is actually not all that cheap compared to certain rivals, but more on that in a minute.

Thankfully there’s a lot of variety here. We’re talking four specs, a choice between 4x2 and 4x4 configurations, and plenty of optional extras. A decent spec will run you about $40,000, in my humble opinion – meaning the XLT 4x4.

Now, the truck I’m suggesting you consider over the Ranger is the Chevy Colorado, and while the two are quite similar, I think the Chevy might just make a tiny bit more sense for most people. It’s the Colorado that packs sharper styling, a more affordable starting MSRP (from $29,200), a higher maximum towing capacity and a more reasonably priced off-road focused specification.

The 2024 Ranger can take more in terms of payload, offers more rear legroom and you get different cab and bed configurations, and that will appeal to certain buyers, but definitely not all. I’m still calling this one in favor of the Chevy – if you need specific bed configurations and your needs are generally more utilitarian, you should get an F-150 anyway, instead of a Ranger.

Buy instead: Chevrolet Colorado

Nissan Frontier

Photo: Nissan/Toyota

I know some of you might disagree with my take on the Colorado vs. Ranger debate, but I don’t think you’ll have any trouble accepting that Toyota’s latest Tacoma is a superior product to the Nissan Frontier.

The latter is a very strong truck, and it’s the first dedicated Frontier model for the North American market. It was unveiled back in 2021, and you can get yours from $29,570. There are a total of 29 configurations available, either 4x2 or 4x4, so finding the right truck for you should come fairly easily.

I actually like the Frontier. I think it’s a great product. It’s got the Tacoma beat in some departments, including dependability (shocker, I know), but the Toyota is no slouch. The 2024 Tacoma is just as “configurable” as the Frontier (maybe even more so), but it’s a little better when going off-road, and just looks so much better.

Get the right spec and you’ll end up with one of the best-looking pickup trucks period, regardless of segment. I’d recommend either the TRD Sport or the TRD Off-Road. But if you’re just interested in the most basic spec (SR), you can get that one from $28,600.

Basically, the Tacoma is slightly newer, cheaper to buy, much better looking, and better at going off-road. I think it’s enough to make this a relatively easy choice.

Buy instead: Toyota Tacoma

Now that we’ve sorted all this stuff out, let’s take an overview and see if there’s anything worth reconsidering. I’ll stick to my guns with regards to the Tacoma, Colorado and the F-150. Regarding the Ram 1500 REV, it’s hard to say whether it would make for a better choice than the Silverado EV. On paper it should, just from a range estimate standpoint. But if we’re being fair, this is a really tough one to call.

I’m surprised to find myself going back and forth between the Cybertruck and the F-150 Lightning. Yes, the Tesla is the more interesting truck, and much better at so many different things. But not all pickup truck buyers will agree, and I can understand why. The F-150 Lightning is pretty amazing, actually. It’s much better to drive than any gasoline-powered F-150, it’s more than quick enough, and it’s crazy good from a utilitarian standpoint (even more so than the Cybertruck).

I’m not going to take it over the Cybertruck, but we need to acknowledge what a solid effort this was from Ford.

5 Popular Pickup Trucks To Avoid in 2024 and What To Buy Instead (2024)
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