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The Best Midsize Pickup Trucks

Towing, payload, power and price.

Calling anything the best is a big claim and one that shouldn't be taken lightly. With that in mind we've taken care to pull together a list of not the best overall midsize trucks, but rather which trucks are the best in each of six categories. These claims are not subjective; instead, they are based on manufacturer-provided specifications. Let's dig in.

Best Midsize Truck: Towing

The great thing about shopping for a midsize truck to tow with is that all of the trucks in the class are capable of towing about the same amount. Manual transmission vehicles aside, Honda's Ridgeline is rated to tow up to 5,000 pounds. On the high end, Chevrolet's Colorado and GMC's Canyon can both tow up to 7,700 pounds when equipped with the 2.8L Duramax diesel engine. Jeep's Gladiator is rated at up to 7,650 pounds, and the Ford Ranger can tow up to 7,500 pounds.

Best Midsize Truck: Payload

Payload ratings for midsize trucks these days rival those of their half-ton counterparts. At the highest end the spectrum, the 2021 Ford Ranger can haul up to 1,770 pounds of payload. At a close second, the 2021 Jeep Gladiator Sport can haul up to 1,700 pounds of payload when equipped with the 3.6L V-6 and a six-speed manual transmission. Average payload of the class is about 1,400 pounds.

Best Midsize Truck: Horsepower

At 310 hp the 2020 Nissan Frontier tops the midsize list when it comes to gasoline power. With a new 3.8L V-6 engine, which is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission, this old truck takes the top spot. Interestingly, this is the drivetrain that Nissan has announced will fill the framerails in the forthcoming all-new Frontier. In a close second is GM's 3.6L V-6 that is fitted to the Colorado and Canyon, which pumps out 308 hp. On the diesel side, the 2021 Jeep Gladiator takes it with 240 hp from the 3.0L EcoDiesel V-6.

Best Midsize Truck: Torque

Ford's Ranger tops the pack when it comes to torque. The company's 2.3L EcoBoost I-4 pumps out an incredible 310 lb-ft of torque. Across the rest of the gasoline V-6 midsize lineup, the average torque is about 275 lb-ft, so Ford's EcoBoost enjoys a sizable advantage. Diesel torque goes to the Jeep Gladiator EcoDiesel V-6, which produces 442 lb-ft at just 1,400 rpm. GM's smaller 2.8L I-4 Duramax puts down a respectable 369 lb-ft in the Colorado and Canyon.

Best Midsize Truck: Cost

Midsize trucks are a really cost-effective way to get into a pickup. Nearly all brands sell a truck for about $25,000. The absolute least expensive, if you can find one, is Ford's Ranger at $24,410. All of the midsize trucks can be optioned up to more than $40,000, and Jeep's Gladiator can get well into the $60,000 range if one so chooses.

Best Midsize Truck: Fuel Economy

Fuel economy is so tough because aside from there being three different ratings (city, highway, and combined), there are also different EPA ratings between trim levels, two-wheel and four-wheel drive, and drivetrain combinations. For this exercise we'll look at the best combined figure. Topping the list is the 2021 Jeep Gladiator EcoDiesel with an EPA combined fuel economy rating of 24 mpg. Ranger comes in second with a combined rating of 23 mpg. Colorados and Canyons with the 2.8L Duramax I-4 diesel are rated at 23 mpg combined, as well.