Trucks are for more than just hauling lumber, they’re also for hauling your family around. Here’s our list of the best trucks for families.
What Americans have conceived of as the ultimate family vehicle as changed over the decades. Once the sedan ruled supreme. The station wagon added the utility of additional cargo and, in many cases, seating. The minivan improved further in both areas and the SUV took things one step further by adding still more utility on top. In many ways then, the modern (semi-luxury) pickup is the inevitable evolution of the family hauler, with extra emphasis now put on the hauling part. This has led us on a quest for the best trucks for families.
For a long time, the pickup truck had been the realm of work machines designed more for their utility than their comfort. But today’s truck buyers want their vehicles to cover all the bases. They want comfort and capability in equal measure. For truck-buying families, this trend as been all for the better with improvements in interior quality, ride quality, and modern amenities making trucks not just livable but desirable for family vacations and daily commuting.
Toyota’s mid-size truck, the Tacoma, is a great option for taking the road less traveled on family adventures. The Tacoma’s off-road prowess makes it a strong recommendation if your dream family vacation is taking a hunting or overlanding trip.
One of the biggest attractions for the Tacoma as one of the best trucks for families is the generous standard safety package that includes adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, forward automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, and pedestrian detection. The Tacoma is rated to tow up to 6,800lbs. and haul up to 1,685lbs.
For the maximum amount of passenger space, you’ll want a Double Cab model. You’ll either have to opt for the Limited trim if you want both the Double Cab and an automatic transmission or, if you’re cool rowing your own gears, there’s three different TRD trims that come with six-speed manual transmissions and options for the Double Cab configuration.
And the best part? With Toyota’s consistent reliability, there’s a good chance you’ll be keeping the Tacoma long enough to pass it along to the kids as a family heirloom.
The interior quality of full-size trucks continues to more ever northward and the RAM 1500 has been a leader in this trend. If you’re looking for a truck suitable for a cross-country road trip, there are few better options in the realm of family trucks. You’ll want to look for Crew Cab models that feature four doors and a huge amount of room in the back seat, enough for adults above 6ft. tall to ride comfortably for hours at a time. The mid-level Laramie trim offers a ton of must-have items like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, dual-zone climate control, and FCA’s upgrade Uconnect infotainment system housed in an 8.4-inch touchscreen interface.
The RAM 1500 offers a wide assortment of advanced safety features including adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, and parking assist. The Limited trim offers even more comfort with the addition of a four-wheel air-suspension system. And for those interested in taking the kids on the ultimate off-road adventure, there’s the rough and rugged TRX with its supercharged 6.2L V8 making 702 horsepower.
The RAM 1500 is rated to tow up to 12,750lbs. and haul up to 2,300lbs.
The Ford F-150 is “America’s best-selling truck” for a reason, or, scratch that, many reasons. It offers up to 14,000lbs. of towing capacity and can haul up to 3,325lbs. Beds come in sizes from 5.5-ft. to a full 8-ft. And it comes will a dizzying amount of modern tech and an upscale interior. And for families, it’s the interior of the F-150 that makes it so desirable. Though both the SuperCab and SuperCrew claim room for six, it’s only the SuperCrew that gets all four doors. So, whether you’ve got a baby seat to fit in back or a couple of teenagers, we’d recommend that version.
The F-150 entered it fourteenth generation in 2021 adding a load of practical features like a 180° reclining front seats for road-side nap times, a fold down work surface, and a utility-focused tailgate. And for the environmentally conscious, there’s a 400-horsepower hybrid option that gets 25 combined mpg and can act as a portable generator for up to 64 hours. There’s also plenty of safety tech options including blind spot detection, forward collision emergency braking, and Active Drive Assist.
The Honda Ridgeline received a mid-cycle refresh for 2021, adding sharp new styling to this already excellent mid-size pickup. The Ridgeline is by far the most comfort-oriented truck in the segment with a stellar interior and a well-tuned suspension. Materials are top-notch, design is a deft mix of modern and practical, and both the front and rear seats are exceedingly spacious for a mid-size truck. If you’re looking for the truck best suited for your daily commute, there isn’t a more livable pickup out there.
The Ridgeline offers some creative cargo tricks to make up to its 5-ft. bed. The rear seats fold down in a 6-/40 split for extra room for stuff in the back seats. There’s also a 7.3 cu.-ft. truck (complete with tailgating friendly drain plug) in the bed. And that bed, though short, is 50-inches wide. The dual-action tailgate opens down or outward to make loading easy no matter the object.
If safety is one of your priorities, the Ridgeline should be on your short list with its 5-star crash test rating and standard safety tech that includes lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and automatic emergency braking. Fuel efficiency is impressive, with the AWD Ridgeline getting a segment best 28 mpg combined. Towing is rated to 5,000lbs. and hauling to 1,600lbs.
Need a truck with plenty of room for the kids in the back, the ability to tow the camper, and a calm and quiet ride to make your next road trip stress-free? The GMC Sierra 1500 is the long hauler you’re looking for. Neck-and-neck with rivals like the F-150 and RAM 1500, the Sierra makes its case as one of the best trucks for families with its maneuverability, smooth-riding suspension, and huge towing capacity. At 11,800lbs. of max towing, the Sierra is the truck of choice if your family vacations involve brining a boat, ATVs, or other toys.
The Sierra’s interior quality rivals that of the segment leading RAM 1500. Materials are high-quality, design is crisp and upscale, and the layout practical and intuitive. Space is more than ample with the rear seat leg room an impressive 43.4 inches. The Sierra offers a laundry list of optional safety features that include (but are not limited to) blind spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, front and rear parking sensors, pedestrian detection, and a heads-up display.
For an upscale, supremely capable full-size truck ready to tackle the work week and the weekend with equal aplomb, make sure to consider the GMC Sierra 1500.