For much of its existence, the pickup truck was primarily seen as the vehicle of choice for contractors and do-it-yourselfers, alike. From the first Model A configured with a bed to the late-model trucks that dominated roadways, the pickup was the workhorse that shuttled Americans to and from the job site each day.
Somewhere along the way, though, this vehicle lost its blue-collar heritage and, subsequently, was transformed into a leather-wrapped luxury ride.
It’s evident by most automakers’ decision to place more emphasis on crew and extended cabs, as opposed to the traditional two-seater – complete with plastic floor and crank windows. Thus, it seems as if the four-door pickup is here to stay.
However, that doesn’t mean that you have to stick to the full-size staples of the F-150, Silverado, or Ram.
If your main motive is to transport more people than bulky items, opt for a mid-size truck that packs the trifecta of power, comfort, and capability – albeit in a smaller form.
When Fiat Chrysler first brought the much-anticipated Jeep Gladiator to market in May 2019, this Wrangler-truck hybrid was met with mixed reviews. To the Jeep purist, the Gladiator provides all of the off-road capability of its counterpart, but with the on-road stability that one would expect from a comparable truck (courtesy of the standard Wrangler wheelbase stretched by 18.9 inches).
The main drawback, though, is price. Whereas most other mid-size trucks start in the $25,000 range, the base Gladiator retails for $33,000, and can exceed $40,000 when well-equipped options are added.
But the Gladiator’s standout feature that makes it perfect for all type of scenarios is its engine-transmission combo. The 285-hp V6, which can be connected to either an eight-speed automatic or six-speed manual gearbox, offers enough low-end torque to provide a best-in-class 7,650-lb towing capacity.
When you think of top-tier truck manufacturers, the Honda probably isn’t the first to come to mind, simply because its more well-known for producing motorcycles and passenger-cars.
But the Ridgeline proves that Honda, which makes everything well, can be a strong competitor in the mid-size pickup market. It may not be conventional, but this truck is one of the more luxurious options out there.
What the Ridgeline lacks in traditional truck attributes – like four-wheel-drive, a high payload, and a 6-foot bed – it makes up for in fuel economy and storage options. Its V6, which is rated at 280-hp, averages 19 city and 26 highway mpg, numbers that rival most four-cylinder compact trucks. And the addition of an in-bed trunk with removable drain plug makes this vehicle the perfect weekend tailgater.
Similar to the Gladiator, Honda’s pickup is a little on the pricy end – starting at $29,000 and exceeding $43,000 for the top-of-the-line Black Edition. However, for the versatility and safety features that this truck offers, it’s a great alternative to the more mainstream trucks made by the Big 3.
Though the Frontier may lack the styling that consumers have come to expect with most modern vehicles since the current generation hasn’t received a major facelift since 2005, with a starting MSRP of $19,000, it’s the least expensive new pickup on the market and one of the most affordable that we’ve seen in a long time.
Although the base model comes with manual windows and locks, standard amenities include a 7-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth, and backup camera – meaning this pickup is techy savvy while still retaining the typical work truck features.
Just don’t expect a Frontier to haul heavy objects since its maximum payload is a mere 1,4060-lbs. But, since most drivers are likely to use a mid-size pickup as a people mover, that shouldn’t be an issue.
If you recently purchased a new or used truck and need it inspected, give Andy’s Auto Service a call at 412-478-9304 to schedule an appointment.