What Makes a Good Pickup Truck?

I like looking at trucks.  I am, after all, a truck guy.  Cars are nice ‘n all, but so are medium t-shirts: they fit someone, but certainly not me.  I’m almost 6’6″, so my value for gas mileage is outweighed by, well, my outweight.

Trucks are neat because they can haul stuff.  Not just the driver, but also some cement and an old rusty merry-go-round.  This might be the payload of someone who just bought an old merry-go-round and wants to reinstall it at their home.  Caution: merry-go-rounds are the death machines of the playground.  Thank goodness you have a pickup truck, though, since you could easily uninstall and push it into a lake for its eventual destiny of becoming a coral reef.  With a truck that option is always there.

I know someone who is looking for a used GMC or Chevy pickup.  Since I like to look at trucks, I said I’d keep my eyes opened, alerting him immediately if I see a good deal.  I have realized now that people who own these particular trucks tend to keep them.  “Enoch?” I once asked Enoch — “why are used Chevy trucks so hard to find?”  His answer fit the bill perfectly: “Well, I have a Chevy, and I have no interest in selling it.”  Never have I seen a person harbor such pride for a truck.  It brought a tear to my eye.  Well, not really, but still.

I did an online search for used pickups with the highest miles on the odometer.  Chevy/GMC wins.  However, an F-150 is considerably cheaper, probably because there are so many more of them.  Dodge Trucks, which I think I like the most, are right in the middle.  They hold their value evidently, as a somewhat rusty 1997 Ram 1500 8-cylinder 4×4 with 250,000 miles just sold for almost $3,900 on eBay.  That’s a lot of cash for an old truck.

My interest in the Ford/Chevy/Chrysler debate stems primarily from my upbringing in Metro-Detroit, which meant that I had more than a few family members who ate dinner under a solid roof because of the big 3.   Most people in Detroit are fairly opinionated about their favorite brand.  I like to pit them against each other to see who wins, which is fine as long as it doesn’t come up at a family gathering.

In my humble opinion, here’s how I rate the big 3 on their pickups (used):

Right now, a Ford F-150 is the champion for value — you can get a good truck for cheap.  And, because they are the highest selling, there are many of them on the road (or on the side of the road).  The quantity means that there are more parts available, more experts on fixing them and overall lower prices.

The Dodge Ram is the coolest, most powerful and best looking of the bunch.  I have noticed that a lot of mechanics drive Dodge trucks, which tells us one of two things: they either tend to not need repair OR they need the constant attention that only a mechanic could give.  I would guess the former.

The Chevy/GMC truck would be my choice, based on longevity and reliability.  I’m sure that for every story of praise there are songs of lament.  The reason I probably wouldn’t get a Chevy?  Like I said — they’re hard to find.

So: If it were cheap, I’d get a Dodge Ram.  If I could find one, I’d get a Chevy/GMC.  Because of the economy of used trucks, I’d probably end up with an F150.

Maybe I’ll just stick with my old Jeep Grand Cherokee.  It’s no pickup, but I do have a trailer.
With a Chevy axle underneath.

About radamdavidson

I'm a husband, dad, and pastor living in Portage, Michigan. I suppose I'm a euphoric melancholy generalist with average skills, experiences, and passions across several intertwined disciplines and hobbies including music, speaking, writing, leadership, ministry, and collecting cultural artifacts from the 1980's -- mostly vintage boomboxes. You can read my blog at www.radamdavidson.com, subscribe to my podcast (RadCast) or friend me on facebook.com/radamdavidson. about.me/radamdavidson
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3 Responses to What Makes a Good Pickup Truck?

  1. Mark Dusseau says:

    Adam,

    I grew up in a Ford family. Papaw (grandfather) worked for For Motor Company so, I too, grew up in Big 3 household. We always had Ford/Lincoln/Mercury (well maybe not so much the lincoln) vehicles in my family.

    I’m sure that my love for Ford vehicles is completely biased based on this fact. I’m not going to deny it. BUT! as far as the debate between which company produces the “best” truck we have to consider a couple of factors.

    1. Are we talking about a certain year?

    What I mean by this is, each year every company comes out with a new style truck with different specs. Every 5-10 years each company come out with a new body style. Which company and which year are we talking about specifically when we are considering our position? Some years the F-150 has been leaps and bounds the “best” option based on these consideration. For instance in 1999 when Ford came out with a new, non-box shaped body style. Very cool! two years later Dodge made the same move, but improved on the curve like design and from 2001-2005 Dodge was far superior in the look and feel department.

    2. Each truck is taken care of differently.

    My father (Billy D!) had a 1988 Ford ranger for 15 years. Who knows how many miles on it when he got rid of it. Lets just say some records could have been set with longevity. He took better care for that truck, as well as our other vehicle, then roughly 98% of the population of the U.S. takes care of their vehicles. He gave the truck to a friend who let me store my mustang in his garage for the winters I owned it. This friend was going to used the ranger to race. He was going to put a v-8 in the little thing and race it! That would have been sweet, but the truck ended up being so reliable for him he just used it as his everyday vehicle. Now, if my dad had purchased a GMC instead, took care of it the same way, do you think it would have lasted as long as the ranger? The chances are good if you ask me. The care people take of their trucks has a lot to do with how long they last.

    Personally if I were going to buy a truck, which I would love to do, I would get a Ford. Not because they’re better, because I’ll never really think one truck is better then another. It’s all a matter of opinion, and not a lot of fact. The real reason I would get a Ford…because Mike Rowe told me to.

  2. josh says:

    i am one of bowtie faithful. i have been lucky enough to own 2 GMC trucks and now would not consider compromising with anything else. it was a sad day when i had to sell my 91 rust bucket, even though it did not run and was half disassembled. there are few things i take so much pride in, among them are my wife, dogs, guns, and GMC 1500 HD crew cab with the 6.0 (yes i am a hillbilly, loud and proud). in regards to Ford, the acronym Fix Or Repair Daily could not be more true. i would not even drive one if it was equipped with a GM engine. keep looking, it is worth the hassle.

  3. Irish Conyer says:

    I love my 2001 Ford f350 diesel! I get almost 20mpg and can haul a fifth-wheel no problem.

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