Trucks have gone from farming equipment to the most popular form of transportation in America, so we’ve picked the coolest to feature.
No other automobile has seen the kind of changes that the pickup truck has. It’s come in many forms from car-shaped like the El Camino to gigantic rigs like the Ford F-650 super truck. Until recently though, almost all of them shared one trait in common… They drove pretty terribly. Why does that matter? Well, most folks don’t use their truck for going off-road, so it stands to reason that the best should be capable where people DO use them.
So today, we’re breaking down the top five coolest trucks of all time. Most of them set the bar higher than before and laid the groundwork for what we enjoy today. One of them is the product of all that innovation too. Oh, and if the truck isn’t actually in production it won’t be on our list. Sorry Tesla fans.
The original Ford F-150 Lightning was a cool truck for sure. It was pretty quick and it could go around a turn far better than the regular F-150. The truck that followed it up though completely rewrote what was possible for a vehicle of its size and form factor. The SVT Lightning looked much like any other F-150 short bed flare side of its day, save for an obviously lower ride height. That subtle but purposeful nod to athleticism was far more than the all-too-typical trim packages found throughout the automotive world.
Underneath the skin though was the most comprehensive performance package to ever be fitted to a truck at that time in history. A totally bespoke suspension was devised for the Lightning as were anti-roll bars, shock absorbers, and springs. Power was sourced from a 5.4-liter V8 with an Eaton supercharger strapped to the top of it. It made 360-horsepower and then sent it to the rear wheels only via a Lightning-only transmission equipped to handle the power. It could also be used like a truck too with a proper bed and a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds.
Following up on the SVT Lightning was a daunting proposition for Ford. That’s one reason that they only just recently announced the name would return with the upcoming electrified version of the truck. It’s also why they named the next serious performance truck something totally different. The Raptor once again redefined what an athletic truck could do. Originally, it arrived on the scene with a 6.2-liter V8 that made 411-horsepower and sounded like twice that amount.
Two generations have been released and a third is just now making its way to dealers. All have been fast, functional, and engaging. What has set it apart is that it’s basically a turn-key desert runner that can mall crawl Monday-Friday. With a maximum of 450-horsepower and internal-bypass dampers, it’s comfortable no matter where you take it. It also gets heavily bolstered front seats that encourage drivers to drive the truck the way it was meant to be. We can’t wait to see what the 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R brings… we expect it to be a V8 north of 700-horsepower.
And the reason we expect that Ford is beefing up their Raptor is because the RAM TRX came out a couple of years ago and dunked on the Raptor in every conceivable way. RAM had been missing out on the desert runner theme for a long time and the TRX changed that immediately. Under its hood is a Hellcat-derived 702-horsepower supercharged V8. RAM might not like you calling it that, but considering how powerful it is, we don’t care what you call it.
It’s not just the power that makes it special though. The TRX is possibly the most comfortable truck on this list. It’s spacious and incredibly well-appointed. It does everything that the Raptor does but better. If there’s any blemish against it, we’d have to call out the hilarious 14 mpg highway rating. Of course, worrying about fuel economy is only now becoming something the cool kids do. That’s why the next entry on our list is a no-brainer.
The race is over and Rivian is officially the winner as the first company to bring a real electric truck to the market. Perhaps more impressive is that their R1T doesn’t feel rushed at all. In fact, it feels like one of the most thoughtfully designed pickups maybe ever. From clever uses of space like the “Gear Tunnel” to sincere advancements in off-road ability with a 15-inch maximum ride height to the insane 0-60 times in the 3-second range, there’s not much the R1T can’t do.
Keep in mind that this pickup has more than 300 miles of range too. It’s no slouch in any particular category. It can tow 11,000-pounds. It has 835-horsepower. It can fit four adults in comfort and five in a pinch. It’s also cheaper than a new TRX or the next Raptor. Did we mention that you never have to change the oil and can charge at home? It’s a big part of the next wave of performance trucks for sure.
Of course, speedy trucks were probably at their pinnacle when the Dodge RAM SRT10 arrived. It’s actually slower than everything else here except for the Lightning, but what makes it special is that it’s the most bonkers truck here and might be the most special by far. Dodge somehow decided that the best thing for the Ram was to put a Viper engine under the hood and let the public buy it. It’s insane and it’s brilliant all at the same time.
No, these weren’t incredibly practical, but they did offer serious speed for the day, sincere cargo-hauling ability, and some of the most intense styling cues of their day. They’re also considered pretty reliable. The inside isn’t very luxurious though. These trucks were quite utilitarian at the end of the day. Lots of cheap plastics and switches litter the cabin. They’re easily spotted in traffic thanks to their unique wheels, the tailgate-mounted spoiler, or you know… the sound of a Viper V10 howling away.