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A red 2022 Honda Ridgeline is shown from the front at an angle on a dirt road.

Best Buys: a 2023 Guide to Trucks

A new year brings a new crop of trucks to the market, with automakers rolling out a full slate of new features, trims, and styles to gain an edge in the competitive category. Certain trends have emerged for the coming year, with hybrid and full-electric models continuing to make gains as drivers seek efficient daily drivers that don’t compromise in terms of power. Automakers have also continued to expand the lineup of off-road-focused models, with some new, more affordable options allowing drivers to explore the road less traveled without having to take out a second mortgage. With so many factors to consider, it can be overwhelming for the average driver, but we’re here to offer a few pointers with our 2023 guide to some of the industry’s best trucks. From old favorites to newer options and everything in between, we’ll share our top five picks for the most alluring models going into 2023.

2023 Honda Ridgeline

For those who prioritize comfort and fuel efficiency over sheer power, the Honda Ridgeline offers the perfect compromise. Honda’s compact truck has won over more than a few pickup enthusiasts since it was reintroduced in 2017, offering a smoother, easier-riding alternative to the hulking models that have long dominated the market. The unibody pickup is built on much the same global light truck platform that can be found on the Pilot SUV, with a coil-sprung independent rear suspension that gives the Ridgeline all the benefits of a crossover while still retaining some of the workhorse attributes that are so important in the pickup sector.

This approach ups the Ridgeline’s comfort factor by a considerable margin, though it hasn’t come at the cost of performance. All Ridgeline trims are all-wheel drive and come standard with a 3.5-liter V6 that puts out 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. It’s not the biggest engine in the midsize segment, but it still delivers a respectable 5,000-pound towing capacity and 1,583 lbs of payload. That might leave a considerable gulf between the Ridgeline and other smaller pickups like the Chevy Colorado and Ford Ranger, but no other pickup in the class can match the Honda when it comes to pure fuel efficiency. As the most efficient V6 in its class, the Ridgeline offers 18 MPG in the city and 28 MPG on the highway. For those seeking to marry the capability of a light-duty pickup with the comfort of today’s crossover SUVs, the Ridgeline is a compelling option.

A grey 2022 Toyota Tundra TRD is shown from the rear while driving off-road.

2023 Toyota Tundra

Toyota’s third-generation full-size pickup received a much-needed redesign going into 2022, bringing the Tundra firmly into the modern era after a 14-year second-generation production run that had begun to look a little dated. The new Tundra is a head-turning affair, with contemporary styling and nearly endless customization that allows the pickup to excel on the job site, off-road, in the city, and wherever else your travels might take you.

Those looking to get some work done will appreciate the wide range of bed lengths, which include 5.5, 6.5, and 8.1-ft options, while benefiting from the smooth ride provided by the coil-spring rear suspension. The Tundra also holds its own in the technology department, with a massive 14-inch infotainment screen being the most obvious highlight.

Bucking the trend established by many other full-size pickups, the Tundra isn’t available with a V8. Instead, Toyota has opted for a twin-turbo V6 paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. That’s not to say the Tundra is lacking in power by any means, with two different engine configurations to choose from: a standard i-FORCE 3.5L twin-turbo and an exciting new hybrid option that pairs the twin-turbo V6 with a supplementary electric motor to up the horsepower by a considerable margin. The standard option offers 389 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque, but by upgrading to the hybrid powertrain, drivers can squeeze 437 horses and 583 lb-ft of torque out of the Tundra. That’s enough power to tow up to 12,000 lbs.

2023 Ford F-150

Of course, no list of top trucks would be complete without a nod to the Ford F-150. As the country’s best-selling truck –– or vehicle of any kind –– for the last 40-plus years, there’s no denying the impact that Ford’s marquee pickup has had on the American automotive landscape. The legendary pickup has managed to keep up with the times, with Ford introducing both hybrid and all-electric options in recent years. These expanded models haven’t come at the cost of the classic F-150 itself, which continues to dominate the market thanks to its wealth of trim options, storied performance, and Built Ford Tough reputation.

For 2023 Ford throws yet another special edition into the mix, with the off-road-ready Rattler offering a rugged, affordable new choice for drivers looking to explore the trail without splashing out the cash for a Tremor or Raptor model. The Rattler is more than just a surface-level off-road makeover for the F-150 and comes complete with a dual-exhaust system, 18-inch wheels, a locking rear differential, off-road suspension, and hill-descent control.

Customization has long been a strong suit of the F-150, and the 2023 model is no exception. Available in either two or four-wheel drive configurations, the pickup boasts six different engine options from an economical 3.3-liter V6 to a 400-horsepower, 5.0-liter V8, as well as two turbocharged V6 options, a 3.0-liter diesel V6 and a hybrid option. The 400-horsepower hybrid powertrain pairs a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 with a 35 kW electric motor to deliver an estimated 700 miles of driving range on a full tank. The hybrid doesn’t ask drivers to sacrifice anything in the way of power, in fact, quite the opposite, as it comes with an onboard generator that allows the pickup to power everything from tools to toys.

2023 Ram 1500

When Ram introduced the fifth-generation 1500 in 2019, drivers –– and the industry as a whole –– took note. While the popular full-size pickup had always been a strong entry within the category, the new model turned heads for its unique mix of power, comfort, and style. Most of Ram’s competitors managed to nail two out of three, but the 1500 managed to nail the trifecta. For example, it rivals the F-150 in terms of customization with eight trims and various engine options, including two which are complemented by a 48-volt hybrid system. The electric eTorque system not only aids in fuel economy but also provides a boost to the pickup’s overall torque, adding as much as 130 lb-ft to the 5.7-liter HEMI option.

The 1500 also delivers a smoother ride than any other full-size truck on the market, thanks in large part to Ram’s decision to replace the standard leaf-spring suspension with a coil spring design. Those seeking an even more comfortable driving experience can opt for an air spring suspension which, in addition to providing a next-level driving experience, can also be adjusted in order to improve the pickup’s off-road chops and fuel efficiency. Combine these factors with the Ram 1500’s 12,750-pound max tow rating and head-turning style, and you’ve got a well-rounded truck that’s sure to tempt drivers away from other full-size options.

The 2023 Ram 1500 is also notable for its high-tech interior. Long considered to have one of the best infotainment systems in its class, the Ram 1500 builds on this success with a 12.0-inch display, heated and ventilated front seats, real wood accents, a panoramic sunroof and even premium leather accents and upholstery in some models. When correctly optioned, the Ram 1500 almost transcends the pickup category, offering a luxury-minded ride that doesn’t ask drivers to make any compromises when it comes to balancing power, comfort, and style.

A white 2022 Ram 1500 is shown from the front at an angle.

2023 GMC Sierra 1500 EV

If any truck can hope to rival the Ram 1500 in terms of luxury, it would have to be the GMC Sierra 1500. The full-size pickup is positioned between the midsize Canyon and the heavy-duty Sierra 2500 HD and 3500 HD in the GMC lineup and has gained a loyal following among those who are willing to explore options outside of the long-standing top three trucks. If brand loyalty weren’t such a strong factor in this ultra-competitive segment, the Sierra 1500 would probably climb the charts in a hurry, but for some reason, GMC only manages to move a third as many units as Ford’s F-Series and half as many as Ram and Chevy. The GMC Sierra richly rewards those who are willing to explore the alternatives, rivaling any other full-size truck when it comes to power, comfort, and tech.

Packed with high-end features and impressively customizable to boot, the Sierra 1500 received an extensive update in 2022 that saw the addition of large, crisp infotainment and gauge cluster displays, premium interior touches, and new driver assistance tech. The upgrades are most noticeable on the premium Denali and the new Denali Ultimate models, which feature open-pore wood surfaces, premium leather, and Super Cruise, one of the best semi-automated driver-assistance systems available today. GMC also added an off-road-ready AT4X trim to join the AT4 trim for 2022, upping the pickup’s trail credentials with an upgraded suspension, including advanced spool-valve dampers, larger tires, and locking front and rear differentials.

With such a focus on tech and styling, one might expect the GMC pickup to be lacking in other areas, but that assumption doesn’t hold up too well. The 2023 Sierra 1500 is available with four powerful different engines, including a hulking 6.2-liter, 420-horsepower version that has the torque necessary to speed from zero to 60 in 5.2 seconds. That’s no small feat for a pickup of this size, and when optioned with the Max Trailering package, the GMC Sierra also provides up to 13,000 lbs of towing. The Sierra isn’t the most fuel-efficient full-size pickup on the market, with V8-equipped models delivering an estimated 15 MPG in the city and 20 MPG on the highway, but the diesel engine provides a good alternative for those looking to prioritize fuel economy with an EPA-estimated 24 MPG in the city and 29 MPG on the highway.

These Trucks Are Ready For 2023

With a strong showing from long-time leaders and some exciting new entries on offer, 2023 is shaping up to be another strong year in the pickup segment. Luxury features continue to creep into models across the spectrum while new hybrid and off-road models draw a new breed of driver. While we’ve limited this list to our five favorite models going into 2023, there are still plenty of other worthy options waiting for a test drive at your local dealership. In the end, it all comes down to what an individual driver is looking for. Doing your research is an important part of the vehicle-buying process, but in the end, the only way to tell if a pickup is right for you is by spending a little time behind the wheel. Some might see raw power as the end-all-be-all when it comes to the pickup category, while others are more focused on cargo space, comfort, tech features, or hybrid and electric models.