Among a list of fewer than ten competitors, we’ve found the best mid-sized trucks that are available on sale today and one is totally new to the market.
The mid-sized pickup market stagnated for some time before the resurgence of the last few years. That growth has seen new additions, big updates, and some seriously innovative features. Nevertheless, fewer than 10 mid-sized trucks are on sale today in the USA, so we’ve narrowed the list even further to the top 5. These aren’t in order because each of them is outstanding in one or more facets of its design, but here’s your list of the best mid-sized trucks for sale today.
The Honda Ridgeline is similar to a movie that becomes a cult classic. When it was first released it wasn’t very well loved and it struggled to gain mainstream traction, but that hasn’t stopped Honda from making this one of the best mid-sized trucks ever. What makes it so good?
The simple fact that it’s based on the Pilot, which is a very capable and very confident on-road-focused SUV. Ridgeline drivers understand that they’re rarely going to need to tow big numbers, they know that they want their truck to handle well, and they understand the compromise other brand owners have to make. The Ridgeline is probably the best driver on this list and the most enjoyable to drive day in and day out around town.
What most don’t know about is all the innovations that Honda has built into this truck. Just one example is the two-way tailgate that stands out in a market of tailgates with gimmicks. When things do get tough and you need to tow or haul, the Ridgeline still offers a 5,000 lb towing rating. Add to that incredible standard safety tech and it’s easy to see why it’s a real all-star.
Toyota has done a great job of keeping the Tacoma at the top of the pack despite not being as innovative as other companies. One way it’s done that is by keeping all of the great traits we love like dependability, handsome looks, and serious capability, while also offering flexible configuration.
Want a Tacoma that’s luxurious and comfortable enough to shuttle clients to and from the jobsite? The Tacoma Limited is that truck. How about a truck that can climb serious mountain trails without fear of damage and destruction. The TRD Pro fits that bill. Still, others who want maximum practicality can get a Tacoma for under $27,000.
While many trucks can do a few things very well, the Tacoma can do almost anything skillfully. We also love the top engine choice, the available manual transmission, and its snappy infotainment system equipped with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa. Finally, much like the Ridgeline, Toyota has outfitted every Tacoma with advanced safety features like Adaptive Cruise Control, lane departure warning, and automatic high beams.
If this was a design contest, nothing else here would come close to the rugged Gladiator. After years of fans asking for a Wrangler-styled truck, Jeep finally dropped the Gladiator and it’s still the most iconic looking option on the mid-sized truck market. Likely the only thing keeping it from being the best-selling mid-sized truck is about $10,000 on its base price. Remove that factor and this Jeep is so very enticing. Not only is it within a hairs breadth of the leader in towing capacity (7650 lbs), but it is the leader in terms of fuel economy with up to 27 mpg highway when buyers select the diesel engine.
Besides those great aspects of its design, it’s also the most capable once the road runs out. It’s not particularly pleasure-inducing to drive, but Jeep has come a long way in terms of on-road comfort, and the Gladiator benefits from those refined manners. It’s louder inside and it’s rougher on medium quality roads than we’d like, but you have to make tradeoffs to have the most capable and cool pickup available.
The Chevrolet Colorado sparked off the mid-sized pickup revolution in a way. It’s small stature has kept it popular, and it’s only getting better. If there’s any truck here that can come close to as capable off-road as the Gladiator, it’s the Colorado and its GMC sibling the Canyon. Why isn’t the Canyon here? It’s not much better than the Colorado and it’s considerably more expensive.
The Colorado offers flexibility like the Tacoma, but rides better on road and has a more enjoyable infotainment system. The locking rear differential is a serious piece of kit for off-roading too. We don’t love the styling of the lower tiered models or the diesel engine (which is a bit lackluster), but at the end of the day, those factors don’t actually matter in terms of capability. Also, once optioned up to Z71 and ZR2 levels, this is a dapper truck that looks great, even next to the Gladiator.
Perhaps the hidden secret of the segment is the all-new Santa Cruz that’s a fantastic option overall. If we had to put it in a sub-category we’d say that it’s a baby Ridgeline in many ways. It’s based on a car, not a truck, so it handles better than a typical truck. Both 2.5-liter engines are good, but the top of the range option is a turbocharged V6 that provides 275 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque.
It’s also the reason a good truck like the Ranger isn’t on this list. Unlike the Ranger, the Santa Cruz is a real true mid-sized truck. Sure, Hyundai doesn’t want us calling it a truck, but it’s got all-wheel-drive and a bed, so we’re sticking with it. That all-wheel-drive system is fantastic too, because it’s rear-biased unlike the vast majority of the rest of the market.
Hyundai is about to make a big dent in the market thanks to features like a locking bed, a 10.25-inch infotainment system, a matching 10.25-inch driver display, and one of the best warranties in the business. It seems perfectly built to do what people who buy in this segment most want to do. Just two examples are the drainable bed and the power port in the back, which are both perfect for tailgating. Add to that the excellent suite of advanced safety features inside and there are very few mid-sized pickups that can keep up.