Most Reliable Trucks
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32 Most Reliable Trucks of All Time

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Most Reliable Trucks
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Keep on Truckin'

A truck can become the coolest on the road simply by outlasting the competition. But reliability is only one of the elements essential to the consummate "cool" truck. It should turn heads, or at least get a nod from the person in the other lane waiting for the light, but has to back up its looks with payload, towing capacity, or just the ability to take a beating. Above all, it has to be so beloved by truck buyers that people either miss it when it's gone, or buy a lot of it while it's around. We took a spin through truck history and found a few examples of the coolest, most reliable trucks of all time. Looking for something a bit more flashy? Take a look at these 12 Ferocious Monster Trucks.

Ford Ranger
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Ford Ranger

From 1983 to 2011, Ford made a tough little compact pickup truck that could take a beating. It eventually became the Bronco II SUV, which led to the iconic Ford Explorer, but the Ford Ranger was discontinued when the market for small pickups shrank and was dominated by Toyota trucks. It's making a comeback soon, and Road & Track has updates on the latest expectations. But the just under 7 million sold during its original run indicate there will be a market for this historically reliable truck.

Rally Edition 1
Rally Edition 1 by Rjluna2 (CC BY-SA)

Chevrolet Silverado

Until its recent upset, the Chevrolet Silverado had been the No. 2-selling vehicle in the country for several years, at least in part because it's a pickup truck that can carry more than 7,000 pounds of payload and tow more than 23,000 pounds. Also, they last forever, with Kelley Blue Book giving the Chevrolet Silverado one of the top resale values among full-sized trucks, and iSeeCars noting that truck buyers hang onto them longer than the average car (incidentally, iSeeCars also gave high reliability marks to the Silverado's mechanically identical cousin, the GMC Sierra 2500HD). However, apparently not all Chevy Silverados can be relied upon — earlier this year, Consumer Reports ranked the Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD among the year’s worst-scoring vehicles for reliability. 

Related: The Chevrolet Silverado and 19 Other Cars You Can Keep for More Than a Decade

1993 Ford F-150, with dual fuel tanks
1993 Ford F-150, with dual fuel tanks by Henry.hilliard (CC BY-SA)

Ford F-Series

This has been the best-selling vehicle in the United States for nearly four decades. Since its launch in 1948, Ford has sold more than 40 million F-Series trucks to date — including the the Ford F350, and, of course, the popular F150 among them — and shows no sign of letting up. Drivers like a pickup, but love the F-Series, and so do the critics. Auto blog iSeeCars puts the Ford F150 on its list of cars that owners keep forever (10 years or more, anyway), while Consumer Reports notes that it is an incredibly reliable used truck, and one of the only reliable used pickups to consistently get to 200,000 miles and beyond.

Pickup 4WD Wide Extra cab Sports 2.7 L (RZN174H), Japan
Pickup 4WD Wide Extra cab Sports 2.7 L (RZN174H), Japan by Tennen-Gas (CC BY-SA)

Toyota HiLux

This Toyota pickup truck debuted in 1968 and, despite getting dumped for the Tacoma in North America, is still sold around the world. With sales estimated at 18 million worldwide, the HiLux has gained a reputation for durability and versatility that's made it a favorite among rebel factions and other militant groups.

Toyota Tacoma
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Toyota Tacoma

Don't cry too many tears for the HiLux. The Tacoma has been doing a fine job in this market serving as a durable work truck with numerous configurations, or as an off-road beast that can carry dirt bikes in the bed. The folks at iSeeCars, Kelley Blue Book, and Edmunds all consider the Toyota Tacoma one of the most durable, value-retaining trucks on the road. And a bonus: Used versions also have decent fuel economy — Instamotor named the 2013 Tacoma as being the No. 1 used truck with the best gas mileage

U.S. sales of Volkswagen vans in pickup and commercial configurations were curtailed by the Chicken tax
U.S. sales of Volkswagen vans in pickup and commercial configurations were curtailed by the Chicken tax by Rafael Ruivo (CC BY-SA)

Volkswagen Type 2 Pickup

Most folks know this vehicle, sold here from 1950 to 1979, as the Volkswagen Bus. It was the hippie wagon built for the Summer of Love, but it was also an ambulance, work van, and camper. Oh, and it could be either a flatbed or single-cab pickup as well. But a trade war between European countries and the U.S. brought about the 1963 "Chicken Tax" that put a 25% tariff on light trucks, killing the Type 2 here and, to this day, making it difficult to import one to this country.

Related: The Coolest VW Vans Through the Decades

Power Wagon WM-300. This model was sold into the mid-1960s
Power Wagon WM-300. This model was sold into the mid-1960s by dave_7 (CC BY-SA)

Dodge Power Wagon

The Jeep Wrangler gets all the World War II credibility, but the Ram family of trucks has some relatives who served as well. When predecessors to the Dodge Power Wagon came home in 1945, they were introduced as the first civilian vehicle with four-wheel drive. Its 8-foot cargo bed, 3,000-pounds of payload capacity and flathead inline six-cylinder engine made it a workhorse from the start, and it still had a place in the Armed Forces as a cargo vehicle and, at times, an ambulance. Though the last traces of the original faded with the final Power Ram model in 1993, the Ram Power Wagon carries the banner.

Related: The flip side of reliable used pickups? Check out the 43 Most Over-the-Top Trucks You Can Buy

F-150 SVT Raptor
F-150 SVT Raptor by NaBUru38 (CC BY-SA)

Ford Raptor

This off-road package debuted in 2010 but recently got a facelift. The F-150's new aluminum body sits on the Raptor's steel frame, but "torque-on-demand" locking differential, 3-inch Fox Racing Shox with variable dampening, a new 3.5-liter, 450-horsepower EcoBoost engine, a terrain selection system with rock, mud, and sand, and "Baja" modes are all new additions. Perhaps the best feature? An available Torsen front differential that increases climbing grip by transferring torque to stable front wheels while pulling up steep slopes or over obstacles.

Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro
Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro by Alexander Migl (CC BY-SA)

Toyota TRD Pro

All of those Super Bowl ads that featured the Tacoma TRD Pro flying over dunes emphasize the fact that, for a long time, Toyota's made the only truck this size capable of doing such things. When Ford abandoned the Ranger and the Chevy Colorado briefly disappeared, the Tacoma got this segment all to itself. Newcomers are going to have to wrest the crown from the Tacoma if they want to unseat Toyota midsized pickups as perhaps the best utility vehicles on earth.

Toyota Tundra
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Toyota Tundra

Even with Toyota's small percentage of the U.S. truck market compared with Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler, the Tundra has its fans. Kelley Blue Book notes that it ranks only behind the Chevy and GMC pickups for best resale value, while more than 20% of Toyota Tundra owners keep their vehicle for 10 years or more.

Related: Cars, Trucks, and SUVs With the Best Resale Value

Dodge Ram
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Dodge Ram

The former Dodge Ram was completely redesigned for the 2019 model year, but buyers are still taken with the previous model — including its waterproof and drainable RamBoxes in the sidewalls of the bed. While the more recreational drivers like how they "fit up to 240 cans of your favorite beverage in a 5'7 bed or 280 cans in a 6'4 bed configuration," contractors tend to like the 74.7 cubic feet of cargo capacity, around 3,000 pounds of payload capacity, and nearly 14,000 pounds of towing for different reasons. The Dodge Ram doesn't show any signs of slowing down: Motor Trend magazine named the Ram 1500 "Truck of the Year" in 2019, marking the sixth time a Ram truck has taken the honor. And that wasn't the only honor the Ram 1500 took in 2019 — it also was named the No. 1 full-size pickup truck by U.S. News & World Report. And don't discount an older Ram if fuel economy is important to you — the 2013 Dodge RAM 1500 HFE also landed a spot on Instamotor's list of used trucks with great gas mileage. 

GMC Canyon crew cab
GMC Canyon crew cab by Sfoskett~commonswiki (CC BY-SA)

GMC Canyon/Chevrolet Colorado

In its original incarnation, the Colorado/Canyon was an Isuzu in General Motors clothing. Designed jointly by the two automakers, the Canyon/Colorado is still sold as the Isuzu D-Max abroad and once sold in the hundreds of thousands in the U.S. But after Ford dropped its Ranger line of small pickups, General Motors began to rethink the little pickup truck and gave it a more fuel-efficient engine with a combined 21 miles per gallon, and a look a bit more like the Silverado and Sierra for the sake of continuity. Assembled in Wentzville, Missouri, the GMC Canyon and Chevy Colorado are aimed at the U.S. truck buyer who long ago switched to smaller trucks from Japanese automakers, and comes second only to the Tacoma when it comes to retaining value. 

Honda Ridgeline
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Honda Ridgeline

The Ridgeline disappeared between 2015 and 2016, only to return with its its funky bed configuration sanded down to look like every other pickup on the market. The truck's payload and towing capacity isn't exactly heavy duty, but its 3.5-liter V6 engine and 280 horsepower give it just enough power to feel like it. With a four-seat cab that's like an SUV attached to a truck bed, the Honda Ridgeline is far more suited to recreational users — built for a day at the stadium, but able to make hardware store runs and vacation treks when needed. Kelley Blue Book considers it the second-best midsize pickup in the country for resale values, and 22% of Ridgeline owners keep it for 10 years or more.

Jeep Gladiator
Jeep Gladiator by IG-2000 (CC BY-SA)

Jeep Gladiator and J-Series Trucks

From 1963 through 1987, these trucks replaced the Willys pickup and FC trucks and brought Jeep pickups from a World War II design into the modern age. While it never received a complete overhaul, its body evolved to include the disco-era "Honcho" package that included a version with a stepside bed. A new Gladiator has arrived for 2020, but it has a lot to live up to.

1986 Jeep Grand Wagoneer
1986 Jeep Grand Wagoneer by CZmarlin (CC BY-SA)

Jeep Wagoneer

Along with the Chevy Suburban, this was the basis for the modern SUV. It makes this list by using the same chassis as the Jeep Gladiator pickup and seeing very few changes from 1974 through the early '90s. Some people remember the Cherokee two-door, others remember the Super Wagoneer with the V8 engine, but everyone who loves this vehicle recalls the wood-grain paneling on the side. A new version will be reintroduced in 2022.

Volkswagen Caddy
Volkswagen Caddy by Jeremy (CC BY-SA)

Volkswagen Rabbit/Caddy

By 1978, Volkswagen had started building this truck at its Westmoreland Assembly Plant in Pennsylvania. First known as the Rabbit pickup, it came with tiny 1.5- to 1.8-liter diesel or gas engines and managed scarcely 50 horsepower. But they were cool little grocery getters that still show up in the occasional parking lot or Craigslist ad.

1976 Chevy Blazer Chalet
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Chevrolet Blazer Chalet

The Chevy Blazer was an early predecessor to the modern 4X4 SUV, but this one looks even more like a modified pickup. There's a reason for that: The Chalet was a pop-up camper body made by Chinook that slid into the cargo area of a Blazer. You could rumble into rugged terrain and have a place to sleep two of you for the night, all for less than $10,000. Despite the Chalet debuting at the height of a camping craze, fewer than 2,000 were made during its run in 1976 and 1977.

Related: 25 Affordable Camper Alternatives to an RV

A 1958 Chevrolet Apache pickup truck with the NAPCO Power-Pak conversion
A 1958 Chevrolet Apache pickup truck with the NAPCO Power-Pak conversion by Mr.choppers (CC BY-SA)

Napco Chevy and GMC Trucks

There was a time four-wheel drive wasn't just some option you checked off of an automaker's features list. From 1942 to 1959, if you wanted four-wheel drive in a Chevy or GMC truck, you had to order a conversion kit from Northwest Auto Parts, an engineering and fabrication firm in Minnesota. Today, Napco trucks are collectors' items, and known to sell at auction for more than $51,000.

1958 Jeep Forward Control (FC-150) front view - picture taken at the 2007 show in Rockville, Maryland
1958 Jeep Forward Control (FC-150) front view - picture taken at the 2007 show in Rockville, Maryland by Christopher Ziemnowicz (CC BY-SA)

1957-1965 Jeep FC-150

It's absolutely adorable, but it also managed to turn a pure Jeep into a pickup truck. How? By putting the cab over the engine and eliminating the need for a longer chassis. That made this truck as maneuverable as the Jeep CJ-5 it was built on and gave it the same four-wheel drive capability. But that center of gravity and positioning of the cab made it a nightmare at high speeds, so it was limited to 70 horsepower and roughly 65 miles per hour. Besides, with a high-perched view like that, drivers should slow down and enjoy it.

Ein International CXT (Commercial Extreme Truck) Pickup Truck.
Ein International CXT (Commercial Extreme Truck) Pickup Truck. by Thilo Parg (CC BY-SA)

International CXT

From 2004 to 2008, commercial truck maker International opted to give the hardcore truck folks what they wanted: A semi rig with a Ford Super Duty pickup bed in the back. If truck owners are going to customize their vehicles with semi-style exhaust pipes and horns anyway, why not just give them a 14,500-pound medium-duty commercial truck, equip it with four-wheel drive and give it a whopping 12,000 pounds of payload capacity? If you were willing to pay the $93,000 to $115,000 to own it, you'd find a use for its 20 tons (!) of towing capability.

1968 Kaiser Jeep M715
1968 Kaiser Jeep M715 by R450rr2004 (CC BY-SA)

Kaiser Jeep M715

Anyone who doubted the muscle of a Jeep pickup was quieted by this one. From 1967 to 1969, the Kaiser M715 delivered 1.25 tons of payload capacity. Basically a Jeep Gladiator with brawnier axles, lower gears, and a sturdier transmission, these trucks saw action in Vietnam and along the Korean Demilitarized Zone, but became available for civilian use.

Jeep Scrambler
Jeep Scrambler by CZmarlin (CC BY)

Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler

Why were the gearheads so excited about a Wrangler-based new pickup truck for 2019? Because they remember what it was like to have one from 1981 through 1985. Though fewer than 30,000 were made, the Scrambler simply stretched the wheelbase of the Wrangler-esque CJ-7 and put a longer pickup body on it (with wooden rails on the beds, no less). Considering that these more than 30-year-old Scramblers cost the same as a modern Wrangler, we can't blame people for looking forward to the update.

1970 GMC Pickup
1970 GMC Pickup by Bull-Doser (CC BY)

The 1967-1972 Chevy and GMC Pickups

Before this, General Motors pickups were built strictly for work: The cabs were high, the frames were bulky, and the lack of coil-spring suspension made them a rough ride. From 1967 to 1972, however, the pickup transitioned into the form better known to drivers today. They still had big-block V8 engines, but they were also equipped with well-designed interiors, more padding and insulation, carpet, chrome trim, AM/FM radios, and disc brakes instead of drums for less wear. As a result, these trucks would serve as the foundation for the Blazer SUV.

Datsun 620(Single cab) Location:in Fukuoka Motor Show held in December 7-10, 2007, at Fukuoka International Congress Center.
Datsun 620(Single cab) Location:in Fukuoka Motor Show held in December 7-10, 2007, at Fukuoka International Congress Center. by Muyo (CC BY-SA)

Datsun 620

Datsun introduced the U.S. to small trucks when it shipped its first one over in 1959. But the fourth-generation 620 it introduced in 1972 was stylish, had the first long bed of any compact truck and, by 1977, had a King Cab version popular among surfers. This truck would end its run in 1979, but it gave the U.S. its first idea of what a sports truck could look like.

Nissan Hardbody
Nissan Hardbody by OSX (CC BY)

Nissan Hardbody 4X4

Known officially as the D21 pickup, it launched halfway through the 1986 model year and rolled right through to the late '90s thanks to its double-wall bed and sporty styling. It was one of the earliest arguments that a truck could be sporty, and its sports-package 4X4s with their 31-inch tires, fender flares, and light bars pushed that narrative. Equipped with either a four-cylinder or V6 engine, the Hardbody lingered in other countries until the mid-2000s, but still has a spot in the hearts of truck owners here.

Related: The Best Truck and SUV Tires

1989 Dodge Dakota Shelby (Red paint version)
1989 Dodge Dakota Shelby (Red paint version) by Latvian98 (CC BY-SA)

Dodge Shelby Dakota

In 1989, Chrysler decided it wanted in on the high-performance pickup game. They were a big deal in the 1970s, but the 1980s focus on sports trucks put them in vogue again. Muscle-car icon Carroll Shelby was up for it, replacing a 3.9-liter V6 and with a 5.2-liter V8 with 175 horsepower. Granted, there are midsize sedans with that much horsepower now, but at the time that made this Dodge Dakota an incredibly fast mover. It's now highly sought after, with one selling at auction for nearly $40,000.

Ford SVT Lightning
Ford SVT Lightning by Rurik (CC BY)

Ford SVT Lightning

In 1993, just as Chevy was burying the 454 SS, Ford's Special Vehicles Team was modifying the F-series' 5.8-liter small-block V8 with better parts to produce 240 horsepower. They dropped the suspension 2.5 inches and added new shocks, springs, anti-roll bars, and 17-inch tires. Through the end of its first run in 1995, little more than 11,000 were produced. But a second run from 1999 to 2004 only enhanced the Lightning's reputation.

The Dodge Ram SRT was created by DaimlerChrysler's PVO (Performance Vehicle Operations) division, using Dodge Viper and Chrysler Prowler engineers.
The Dodge Ram SRT was created by DaimlerChrysler's PVO (Performance Vehicle Operations) division, using Dodge Viper and Chrysler Prowler engineers. by Steve (CC BY)

Dodge Ram SRT-10

Built only from 2004 through 2006, this pickup was a beast by birthright. Built by the same Dodge Street & Racing Team assembled to build the Dodge Viper, the SRT-10 followed the Viper's lead by putting its V10 engine and 6-speed manual transmission into a standard-cab Ram 1500. That produced a 500-horsepower truck that topped out at 155 miles per hour, good enough for the Guinness record for pickup trucks at the time.

Toyota 4Runner
Toyota 4Runner by OSX (CC BY)

Toyota 4Runner

It looks like a four-wheel-drive SUV today, but in its earliest incarnations from the 1980s, it was basically a HiLux with a cap on the back. Considering the durability of those trucks and their solid axle and leaf spring suspensions, that's a great thing. The four-cylinder engine in the originals flat-out can't be killed, but even the newer versions live up to their lineage: It's one of the longest-lasting vehicles on the road.

Ford Super Duty
Ford Super Duty by Dana60Cummins (CC BY)

Ford Super Duty

The 1999 Ford Super Duty was the first heavy-duty pickup created as a separate model line instead of an upgrade of a lighter-duty vehicle. It lets the folks at Ford engineer the Ford F-150 for day-to-day tasks while catering models like the F450 Super Duty and the Ford F250 Super Duty to workers. Throwing in a 6.8-liter gasoline V10 engine, a 5.4-liter V8, or a 7.3-liter turbodiesel to go with manually telescoping side mirrors for towing only drove home the fact that these trucks aren't for amateurs.

Rear
Rear by Alexander Migl (CC BY-SA)

Nissan Titan XD Pro-4 Diesel

For years, this was just a terrible pickup: Outdated, poor gas mileage, dreadful comparisons to competitors. In recent years, however, Nissan stepped up its game by dropping a 5-liter, 310-horsepower Cummins diesel engine into its more high-end models and tricking them out with information and entertainment systems, mobile apps, and heated and lighted tow mirrors. The Pro-4X builds on all that by adding Bilstein off-road shocks, a locking rear differential, skid plates and Hill Descent Control. The used Nissan Titan is still a popular choice, but the company recently unveiled a new Nissan 2020 Titan at the State Fair of Texas, and Cars.com had some thoughts, mostly positive. 

Nissan Frontier
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Nissan Frontier

Nissan introduced the Frontier in 1997, adding a crew-cab on in 2000. Nineteen years later, you can choose from five trim levels. Though it's won plenty of awards, this popular midsize pickup isn't exactly known for being the brawniest of trucks, giving drivers a 2.5-liter, 152-horsepower, four-cylinder engine hitched to a five-speed manual transmission. What it gives up in brawn, the Nissan Frontier makes up in tech features that new car buyers look for, such as a 7-inch touchscreen, rearview monitor, Bluetooth, hand-free text, and Siri Eyes Free. Cruise control, four cup holders, and 9 inches of ground clearance aren't such shabby throw-ins, either, especially with a payload capacity of all of 900 pounds. You may not haul gravel in it, but it'll come in handy on moving day.