Pickup trucks are hard to hate. They let you carry heavy loads, carry half a house with you, boast an incredible presence on the road and are never limited to just the asphalt. Pickups have been a staple of the market since the early 1900s, and every automaker worth their salt has striven to showcase the next best thing and constantly innovate every aspect of a pickup. So pickups have always had the promise of adventure: take what you want, wherever you want, and the truck will be there you can rely on.
However, as is the case with every segment of the auto industry, several brands failed to keep up with the times, while some managed to raise the bar and raise the bar for years themselves. When we talked about the best pickup trucks of all time, we were of course talking about trucks that were not only flawless, but also had an X-factor that cemented their name in automotive history as well as in our hearts. Of course, recency will be something you would notice in this list, but that is inevitable given how far the industry has come in recent years in terms of technology, innovation and reliability.
On the other hand, there have also been experiments and missteps by certain brands who tried to make a pickup truck but ended up with something unworthy of the name itself. So it’s only natural that if some truly impeccable pickup trucks have graced the market over the years, there are some terrible ones too, and we’ll take a look at those too, and exactly what it was that made them one of the the absolute worst pickup trucks ever made.
9 Best: 2019 Ram Power Wagon 2500
Some pickups, like the Power Wagon 2500, are absolutely timeless. Anyone driving a Dodge Power Wagon fully realizes that any pickup truck enthusiast would give a limb to be in their shoes. Arguably Dodge’s most rugged vehicle ever, the 2019 Ram Power Wagon 2500 was the pinnacle of power and performance.
The truck was truly a modern take on the hard-hitting, no-nonsense Power Wagons of the past, and featured a massive 6.4-litre Hemi V8 engine that propelled 410 horses. Despite being incredibly adept at off-roading, the truck was just as capable on the highway. The 2019 Ram Power Wagon 2500 delivered everything you could want from a truck, with power, off-road capability, on-road discipline and speed, as well as a subtle aesthetic that was as powerful as it was stylish.
8 Best: 2017 F-150 Raptor
The 2017 Ford Raptor ushered in the second generation of the Raptor, and it did what the Raptor did best: it dominated every feature a pickup truck could boast. It received both praise and reverence and was even more capable of off-road driving than its predecessor, while ironing out all the problems of the first generation.
Despite ‘only’ using a V6, the Raptor pulled out 450 horsepower, which propelled this truck from zero to sixty in just 5.5 seconds. Sophisticated electronics and remarkable shock and bump stop also made the 2017 Raptor nearly immune to jumps, as it came off the assembly line and could land jumps without too much damage.
7 Best: 1991-93 GMC Syclone
GMC demonstrated with its 1991 Syclone that not all pickups need to focus solely on heavy loading and towing. Thus, the Syclone did not focus on the most power, but on the best performance, which it definitely delivered. For anyone not involved in industrial work who wanted a pickup, the Syclone was the perfect pickup, and GMC offered it to them by turning their S-10 compact pickup into a lightning-fast pickup.
The truck’s 4.3L V6 engine delivered 280 horsepower and the truck even used the Corvette’s automatic transmission, all of which allowed the GMC Syclone to hit 100 km/h in just 4.3 seconds. Sure, it wasn’t good for towing, but when you could gap most muscle cars on the highway, you didn’t worry about that.
6 Best: 1995 Nissan Hardbody 4×4
The Nissan D21 is the truck that formed the basis of what would become the Nissan Pathfinder. Affectionately called the Hardbody for its strength, the truck’s design was quite unique and novel at the time. One of the most beautiful trucks of that time, the Nissan Hardbody only offered a V6 until 1995after which the next two models only came with a four-cylinder option.
The 4×4 sports package for the Hardbody showed off 31-inch tires and fenders. In addition, its 4-cylinder and V6 models produced 134 hp and 154 hp, respectively. Both power units were remarkably reliable and the truck was a financial success for the Japanese brand.
5 Best: Original Ford Lightning (1993)
How could the original Ford Lightning not be on this list? After all, it completely revolutionized the pickup truck industry. This was the truck where enthusiasts realized that trucks simply didn’t have to be about power or performance and, when fully used to their potential, could work wonders.
The Ford Lightning is what Ford used to set the industry standard in strength, power and functionality. Sitting on a 5.8L V8 that put out 240 horsepower, the Ford Lightning is to be credited with the competitive truck/pickup range we have on the market today.
4 Worst: 2002 Subaru Baja
One of the biggest flops in both Subaru and pickup truck history, the 2002 Subaru Baja was a weird experiment and a terrible model. With virtually no trunk, it was quite brave of Subaru to even call it a pickup truck, just think how awful of a vehicle it was.
What made it worse was the horribly weak 2.5L engine that could never match its contemporaries, let alone today’s powerplants. With small windows and an equally small bed, the truck was a huge gas guzzler, which was unjustified for its performance, looks and overall design.
3 Worst: 2006 Honda Ridgeline
Easily the worst pickup truck to ever house a Honda decal on the front, the 2006 Ridgeline was an absolute disaster. The bed was too small a bed to ever be really useful when it came to work, and time has not been kind to it, as it failed royally at least to remain reliable.
Without saving graces, the truck’s inferior and poor build quality was the final nail in his coffin, and nobody liked to talk about the truck these days, let alone buy one.
2 Worst: 1972 Ford Courier
Looking at the 1972 Courier, it looks and even looked like a good truck of its time, but sadly it wasn’t. This model year’s Ford Courier was so badthat it’s easily considered one of the worst pickup trucks of all time, a thorn in Ford’s pickup history.
It failed at the very first thing a good pickup truck should be able to do – heavy work and heavy loads. Unfortunately, both the exterior and interior structure of the truck were weak from the assembly line, and it remains a truck best avoided.
1 Worst: Chevrolet SSR
There are no words for this truck – Chevrolet really has the worst pickup trucks in automotive history with Chevy SSR series† It was even more surprising and unusual from a world famous, established car giant like Chevrolet, which makes it all the worse.
A sorry excuse for a pickup, the SSR trucks should never have been called pickups. The truck lacked power, couldn’t handle the work, and even had regular cars that had more power. understandable, Chevy sold just over 24,000 barley from 2003 to 2006, never sell more than 9,000 units a year. There was also the fact that it looked playful, and horrible – nothing like a pickup truck should ever have been.