If you are in the market for a midsize truck, there are obviously a number of things you want from the vehicle. Perhaps a certain towing capacity or above-average fuel economy are crucial features, or maybe you need a more spacious interior to accommodate passengers.
Regardless of what you’re looking for, we’ve compiled a list of the Best 5 Midsize Trucks for 2019, based on aggregate consumer and professional reviews. Read on to learn what we found
What is Classified as a Midsize Truck?
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Midsize trucks generally weigh well under a ton and have towing capacities ranging from 5000 to 7500 pounds.
Some are light enough to operate on four-cylinder engines, allowing drivers to haul and transport tools and materials without paying egregious amounts at the gas station. Others can be optionally upgraded to V6 configurations for additional power.
The main perks of midsized trucks are that these vehicles generally offer the comparable towing capacity to full-size trucks while also offering increased maneuverability and potentially better fuel economy.
Why Buy a Midsize Truck?
As stated above, a midsize truck is a less expensive way to get the hauling and towing benefits of a full-size truck while also offering many of the comforts seen on modern passenger vehicles.
Like many older cars, engine size and tow capacity were once benchmarks that determined the value of a vehicle. Horsepower and liters of displacement were the main considerations when a driver was looking to buy a new truck.
However, while the market for full-size trucks is still robust, many drivers find that they don’t need to pull 8500 pounds with regularity, nor do they need the unbridled power of a ten-cylinder engine for everyday use.
Additionally, while the market for full-size trucks is still strong – the Ford F150 was the top-selling vehicle of any type for 2017 – the cost of a full-size truck begins at about $28,000 and ranges up to $60,000 or more depending on bells-and-whistles.
These figures price a certain segment of the population out of the market, and in order to meet demand, many manufacturers began to produce lighter trucks with smaller engines for more routine use.
The average midsize truck ranges in the low-to-mid $20,000s, and most feature potent 4-cylinder engines or the option for a V6 upgrade. For many drivers, this will be more than enough towing capacity and engine power, especially given the greatly improved fuel economy.
Most midsize trucks also offer optional four-wheel-drive systems for occasional off-roading. While those doing regular treks through the mountains might need the powerful drivetrains of a full-size truck, many drivers who seldomly use the four-wheel-drive function can get by with a more practical everyday configuration.
Lastly, the bed length on a midsize truck is not decidedly shorter than that of a full-size truck. While full-size trucks generally offer much more room for backseat passengers, the bed length on a full-size truck might be the same size or smaller than a midsize truck.
While backseat room might be a factor swaying a buyer toward a full-size pickup, the difference in bed length from full-size to the midsize truck isn’t nearly as significant.
As you can see, there are a number of factors distinguishing a full-size truck from a midsize truck, but the added benefits in fuel economy and drivability make midsize trucks more than worth considering.
With no further ado, here are the Best 5 Midsize Trucks for 2018:
The Toyota Tacoma
Tacoma has built a sterling reputation as a high-quality product, a fact reflected in Tacoma’s enduring, impressive sales figures and high resale value.
If needed, the Tacoma can tow up to 6800 lbs., putting it in the same class as a number of full-size trucks while also offering Toyota’s fuel-friendly drivetrain and engine.
The Tacoma comes with two different engine options, one being the base 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine and the 3.5-liter V6. Most reviewers felt that it was worth shelling out for the 3.5-liter V6, as many noted that the four-cylinder seemed a bit underpowered.
Edmunds was a big fan of the 2018 Tacoma, citing its off-road capabilities, utility, and ruggedness.
The biggest inclusion for 2018 was the addition of Toyota’s Safety Sense suite, imported from high-selling models such as the Rav4.
While many truck drivers may not opt for modern safety features such as Safety Sense, inclusions such as collision detection do serve to modernize midsized trucks and perhaps open the market up a bit to non-traditional buyers.
If you are looking at midsized trucks for 2018, the Toyota Tacoma is one of the most well-established models available. In terms of being a safe bet, a buyer can purchase a Tacoma with the expectation of quality and, with proper care and maintenance, eventually a high return on their investment.
The Honda Ridgeline
Honda’s answer to the Toyota Tacoma has been the highly successful Honda Ridgeline.
One of Honda’s strengths is that they have been able to penetrate a number of markets by erasing the lines between cars, trucks, and SUVs. The 2018 Ridgeline is extremely streamlined, attractive, and packs strong visual appeal to those who might not necessarily be interested in midsized trucks.
Moreover, most reviewers agree that the Ridgeline is extremely comfortable and quiet compared to most midsized trucks, further enhancing its appeal to the SUV and hybrid crowd.
Edmunds called the 2018 Ridgeline “the roomiest, most comfortable midsized pickup truck around.” While the idea of comfort may give a lot of traditional truck drivers a wan look, Honda appeals to a much broader audience by offering midsized truck capabilities with more modern automotive refinement.
The 2018 Ridgeline uses a 3.5-liter V6, offering a good blend of power with respectable fuel economy for its class. Honda is known for fuel efficiency, and the Ridgeline caters strongly to traditional Honda customers. If towing is the primary reason that you’re looking at the Ridgeline, you may want to keep looking.
The 2018 Ridgeline only pulls a modest 5000 pounds, putting it at the low end of towing capabilities for midsized trucks.
The Ridgeline also uses an AWD (all-wheel drive) drivetrain, meaning that it can’t climb over rocks and rough terrain in the same fashion as 4WD trucks such as the Tacoma.
However, the AWD setup is certainly better in adverse conditions such as high wind and rain, and the suspension is set up for better, more nimble handling during day-to-day driving.
As most reviewers note, the Honda Ridgeline lacks most of the drawbacks associated with pickup truck ownership and offers plenty of appeal in an attractive package.
While traditionalists might not love how Honda smoothed out many of the rough edges seen on most midsize trucks, mainstream consumers will likely take a closer look at the 2018 Ridgeline based on crossover appeal.
The Chevy Colorado
The mechanical twin of the GMC Canyon is the Chevrolet Colorado, which continues to be one of the best-selling midsize trucks among American car companies.
Chevy offers more engine choices than all other midsize trucks, giving buyers a diverse array of purchasing options. The base Colorado comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, but buyers can also opt for a more traditional 3.6-liter V6 or a more economical 2.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine.
Drivers opting for the 2.8-liter turbo diesel will have a maximum towing capacity of 7700 pounds, which leads the midsize class and puts the diesel Colorado in the same towing class as a number of full-size trucks.
Colorado has a towing range of 3500 to 7700 pounds, depending on which engine they opt for. Moreover, the truck can come with Chevy’s 4WD ZR2 drivetrain package, giving it comparable off-roading capability to the Toyota Tacoma.
Reviewers were also impressed with the 308-horsepower V6, which doesn’t pull quite as much as the turbo diesel but showcases better fuel economy and was repeatedly noted as being quick and responsive.
The main drawbacks noted by reviewers were that the interior felt cheap and that the truck could get quite expensive depending on which features the buyer opted for.
That said, drivers can get into a Colorado for just under $22,000, making it in most cases a very affordable alternative to most full-size trucks.
The Nissan Frontier
The Nissan Frontier had slightly mixed remarks from consumers and reviewers, but one thing everyone agreed on is that the Frontier is very affordable, with an MSRP of just under $20,000 for the base model.
Reviewers repeatedly cited the Frontier’s utility, painting the truck as perfectly useful for those needing decent pulling capabilities and the hauling advantages that come with any midsize truck.
However, another common take was that the other trucks in the same class – notably the other ones on this list – offer features, comfort, and performance that make the Frontier seem undesirable by comparison.
For example, most reviewers cited the bland interior of the Frontier as passable, but certainly not contemporary or stylized. The overall aesthetic of the Frontier is quite dated, particularly compared to the modern, sharp Ridgeline.
But the Frontier is adequate is all important respects, and sells very well because buyers can purchase it new for substantially less than offerings from Honda, Toyota, and Chevrolet.
If you are looking for a no-frills entry among midsize trucks, the Frontier comes as described, and based on sales figures is worthy of inclusion on our list of the Best 5 Midsize Trucks for 2018.
The Ford Ranger
The Nissan Frontier had slightly mixed remarks from consumers and
Closing out our list is the 2019 Ford Ranger, which will go on sale in the United States in late 2018 after having been cycled off the market for a number of years.
Edmunds was excited for the return of “a long-lost friend”, as Ford put the line into mothballs in 2011.
But even casual consumers recognize the Ford Ranger, which has built a well-earned reputation as a standard-bearer within the midsize truck class.
While the 2019 Ranger has a familiar (if strikingly updated) look, the truck was overhauled for 2018 to be competitive with offerings from Honda and Toyota.
The Ranger now comes in three trim levels (LX, XLT, and Lariat), as well as rear-wheel and part-time 4WD drivetrain configurations. It also features FX2 or FX4 Off-Road packages for those who plan to take their truck away from highways.
Ford opted for a very fuel-efficient engine, using a slightly smaller version of the engine used in their wildly-popular F150 full-size series. The 2019 Ranger will use a 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder with a stop-start system, and unlike other companies only offer this engine in their Ranger series.
Educated reviewers believe this engine will have no problem pulling the same loads as the gas-guzzling V6 engines seen in the 2018 Honda Ridgeline and Toyota Tacoma models.
Ford has done so well with the 2.7-liter version of this engine in their full-size F150 that drivers are rather excited to see how this engine set up plays in the smaller Ranger.
Given the overhaul that Ford has put into the 2019 edition of their midsize truck, many consumers have put a hold on their purchasing decision until the Ranger re-debuts. This new version of old classic figures has best-in-class fuel economy, as well as the signature utility that fans of Ford trucks have long expected.
Choosing the Right Midsize Truck for You and
As you have read, there is surprising diversity among midsize trucks, as each of the major manufacturers looks to find or maintain its foothold in the market.
The determining factor will be which features you most value. Solo drivers might prefer the off-roading capability and resale value of the Toyota Tacoma, while those with families might prefer the added comforts of the Honda Ridgeline.
In any event, we feel that this list showcases the Best 5 Midsize Trucks available for 2018, and should help point potential buyers in the right direction.