Pickup trucks were once simple vehicles merely intended to haul cargo. Throughout history, they’ve always had working-class owners who prefer a practical vehicle in order to get the job done.
Today, however, pickup trucks’ popularity has reached a whole new level. The pickup truck now appeals to more types of owners than ever before. It's not uncommon to find families driving pickups as their daily commuter. While continuing to be a staple American vehicle, the pickup truck is now also courted by the wealthy, the member of the upper classes. The dawn of the luxury pickup is already upon American car buyers. If those types of vehicles find success in the car market, then there’ll be plenty more like them coming out in the coming years.
These examples show just a taste of how much pickup trucks have evolved over the years. Trucks weren’t always this widely appealing. Like any class of vehicle, pickup trucks had their rough times. Out of those eras came some trucks few enthusiasts are able to forgive or forget. Even today, when more pickups appeal to different types of buyers, some automakers are willing to go to drastic lengths to create pickups the public find flawed.
Also among some of the worst pickups in history are a slew of underappreciated ones. Whether it was because the automaker dropped the ball or because buyers failed to notice them, these pickups deserved better despite what history tells us.
Below are ten pickup trucks the public doesn’t show enough love to, along with ten others that hurt the pickup truck image.
20 Worst: Mazda B-Series
The Mazda B-Series managed to summon a bland reception among truck enthusiasts that's best described as malaise. U.S. News helps to provide a breakdown of the truck’s features, giving low marks to its design, interior, and towing capabilities. When all those areas fail to impress in a pickup, there are going to be some problems, at least in this day and age where people expect more from their utility vehicles.
A pickup can’t get away with just being functional anymore as we enter a new age of luxury pickups.
As if that wasn’t bad enough news for the Mazda B-Series, its reliability scores aren’t stellar either.
19 Undervalued: Ford Ranchero GT
Many think the Ford Ranchero got the love it deserved. According to Motor Junkie, they ended up selling well. That affirms the public’s approval of such an awesome car or truck, depending on whom you talk to. It’s the GT version, though, that didn’t get enough attention. The same source speculates that because it cost more and required more savviness behind the wheel, the car buying public didn't bite.
It’s too bad the Ranchero GT didn't have a great following. The engine could deliver over 400 hp, which is incredible for a pickup—even if it doesn’t look like the pickups most are accustomed to today.
18 Worst: Chevrolet Diesel Trucks
Not all Chevy trucks are created equal. While old diesel trucks, including this 1978 Chevy, sure look cool, they weren’t known for having the best engines around. According to Jalopnik, the engines had a notorious enough reputation to give diesel a stigma in the States that remains today.
They even go so far as to say that if someone were to convert these to take gas instead, they’d actually be competent.
This is one of those rare examples where the truck’s flaws have less to do with its design or engineering and more to do with what it runs on.
17 Undervalued: Chevrolet Avalanche
American car buyers like what’s familiar; if not for that, the Chevrolet Avalanche might be more popular. The exterior is rather unconventional, sporting a shorter bed than truck owners are familiar with. That shouldn’t keep truck enthusiasts from ruling it out, though.
According to Cars.com, the Avalanche is capable of towing a competent 8,100 lbs. These aren’t as common on the road anymore because their last year in production was 2013. There’s still plenty on the used car market, though. Automakers are unlikely to release a truck close to the Avalanche anytime soon—or perhaps ever again.
16 Worst: Mercedes-Benz X-Class
America has to wait on the Mercedes-Benz X-Class. Business Insider reports that Europe, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand are all expected to get it first. Mercedes-Benz has a reputation for making luxury sedans, and this is the first pickup in their history.
The odd thing is, according to Business Insider, the company doesn’t have plans to bring the pickup over to the States.
This is enough to raise an eyebrow and make us wonder if the X-Class is a lot less than Mercedes-Benz is making everyone believe it is. If it’s not good enough to launch in the biggest pickup market in the world, something’s up.
15 Undervalued: Nissan Frontier
The Nissan Frontier is a solid pickup truck that nobody wants. In between small-size and full-size trucks, the Frontier sits comfortably in the middle, offering a decent V6 with the option of going manual. Even the website The Fast Lane Truck considers it an “overlooked gem” in the truck market. They even point out the Pro 4X version, which gives off-roading fans something to be proud of. Compared to GMC trucks and the Toyota Tacoma, though, consumers aren't giving Nissan the credit it deserves for delivering an awesome truck in the Frontier. There’s always hope the public will change its mind on this one.
14 Worst: Dodge Ram Daytona
The outside of this truck screams racing. While that’s not exactly a reputation that pickup trucks are usually known for, it certainly won our intrigue. The only problem is it sacrifices too much of the basic traits that define a pickup truck.
According to A-1 Auto Transport, in possessing a spoiler that owners can’t detach, the truck isn’t ideal for hauling.
It’s ironic then that the appeal of a giant spoiler on a pickup suggests it has awesome power in addition to hauling capabilities. In reality, though, it replaces most hauling capabilities for more performance, making this a letdown among pickups.
13 Undervalued: Toyota Tundra
The Toyota Tundra deserves better than this. The Tacoma sure makes up for any lack of interest consumers have in the Tundra, but it still doesn’t explain why more truck buyers seem to neglect this incredible full-size offering. As Forbes points out, not only is the Tundra a great truck, but it’s also a great deal for what you get.
They point out that for a truck that can haul up to 10,200 lbs, it only starts at $28,786, which makes it a terrific deal. More and more have been catching on to the Tundra in recent years, so hopefully, it won’t be so underrated soon.
12 Worst: Subaru Baja
The Subaru Baja is a polarizing automobile. There are even differing opinions on what it is exactly. It’s got a bed, and that makes it a pickup on paper. And since it’s technically a part of the pickup family, it’s only fair to judge it as one.
The thing is, the Baja isn’t like ordinary pickups. It’s smaller, lacks ruggedness, and arguably isn’t as useful compared to... say... a Dodge Power Wagon or a Jeep Gladiator. While we can appreciate Subaru trying something new here, it just doesn’t offer as much as other pickups out there.
11 Undervalued: GMC Syclone
From the looks alone, the GMC Syclone wasn’t much to look at. It also didn’t help that they decided to spell "Syclone" with an “S,” which comes across as goofy. Like a Transformer, though, this truck was more than meets the eyes. While it didn’t transform into a full-fledged robot, it did scream in terms of speed.
Complex reports that it can do 0 to 60 mph in a mere 4.3 seconds, which makes it one of the fastest trucks ever made.
At least this one didn’t have a massive spoiler on it that made the bed useless.
10 Worst: Hummer H2 SUT
Hummers may not be as popular as they were a little more than a decade ago, but they still have a loyal following. The H2 SUT is the closest take on a pickup that Hummer has ever attempted. While it also has qualities of an SUV, it definitely fits the definition of a pickup even if it doesn’t look like a traditional one.
As A-1 Auto Transport astutely points out, the truck bed didn’t offer much. According to Car and Driver, the plastic bed measured 34.7 inches from front to back. At least H2 SUT owners don’t have to worry about their friends and family calling them up to help them move.
9 Undervalued: Lamborghini LM002
It might be hard for some to believe, but Lamborghini made a pickup—or at least something close to it. On paper, it has the staple features you’d find on a common pickup, except it’s also something of a standard SUV, too. That’s what Motor Junkie asserts, also making sure to note that its chassis and suspension are unlike any other.
What makes this SUV or truck or whatever you want to call it unique, though, is its V12 engine.
Something that powerful in a truck is a beautiful thing—and something that frankly doesn't get enough attention.
8 Worst: Chevrolet Corvair 95 Rampside
The Chevrolet Corvair is a classic and endearing pickup on the outside. It may not look like it’s up to the task of hauling whatever may come, but its got character. The only problem is, in retrospect, it’s not the best pickup. That may have to do with how different the design is, which deviates drastically from conventional pickups.
According to Curbside Classic, Chevrolet got inspiration from VW for their Type 2 vans when designing the Corvair. This notion may appeal to some, but many truck enthusiasts think trucks should get design influences from anywhere but VW.
7 Undervalued: Jeep Honcho
A mere glance at the outside of this Jeep is enough to convert plenty into new fans. While Jeep certainly has its detractors, it’s hard not to like the Honcho. According to Motor Junkie, even with all their advertising money behind it, the Jeep Honcho never took off.
They report that only 1,500 exist (over the course of seven years).
The sales figures alone tell the whole story on how the public felt about Jeep’s pickup. With a competent engine and cool styling, though, this pickup deserves a better place in the annals of pickup history. All we’re saying is that people should give the Honcho a chance.
6 Worst: Lincoln Blackwood
The Lincoln Blackwood has a nicer styling than many other pickups, making it one of the least-liked trucks on the list for that reason alone. Instead of taking a more rugged approach, the Blackwood adds sophistication. According to A-1 Auto Transport, then-Ford-CEO Jacques Nasser wanted the Blackwood to have a trunk instead of a bed, which deviates from traditional pickups. While it’s commendable to attempt something different, the trunk may have been too controversial for truck enthusiasts.
In the end, buyers rejected the Blackwood. The same source reports that it only had one model year, suggesting people weren’t too thrilled about it.
5 Undervalued: Chevrolet El Camino 454 SS
While it’s usually not a good idea to mix pickups with other types of cars, the El Camino SS 454 is an exception. Embodying both the characteristics of a pickup and a muscle car, the El Camino SS 454 shares a lot in common with the Ranchero GT detailed above.
What made the SS version so intriguing was its engine and the 325 hp behind it.
According to Motor Junkie, the SS version even went through a makeover that improved that engine even more in 1970 to a 454 ci V8. Although it’s not clear whether it’s more of a muscle car or more of a pickup, what's clear is that it’s under-appreciated.
4 Worst: Mazda Rotary
Truck enthusiasts agree that the Mazda Rotary stands out as a dud when looking back on pickup history. Tuners will tell you they love rotary engines. The only problem is, as Jalopnik points out, they aren’t meant for pickup trucks. When you put two great things together, it doesn’t always make a positive. At least the Mazda Rotary settled a question many enthusiasts had up to this point about whether a rotary could adequately power a pickup truck.
There appears to be a general consensus about this issue, and the fact that the Mazda Rotary is on so many lists of failed pickups should give a clear answer.
3 Undervalued: Ford F-150 Lightning
"A truck that lives up to its name: the Ford F-150 Lightning" isn’t false advertising. Motor Junkie reports that the Ford F-150 Lightning could deliver 280 hp while handling well. While the 1990s may not have been the best era, it’s credited for producing this high-performance truck.
The same source goes on to point out that it can go from 0 to 60 mph in a mere five seconds.
Those kinds of numbers are mind-boggling to imagine in a truck. That makes this under-appreciated relic from the 1990s worth revisiting and makes us grateful for Ford’s worthy successor in the Raptor.
2 Worst: Chevrolet SSR
The Chevy SSR gets a lot of flak for its design and lackluster engine. While it gets its aesthetic inspiration from hotrods, many qualify it as a pickup truck. One could defend Chevy and their SSR for trying to appeal to too many niches of car buyers. On the one hand, it’s a hotrod; the other, a pickup; the next, a convertible.
In the end, the people spoke, proving that the SSR didn’t win them over. A-1 Auto Transport reports that sales of the SSR were poor and failed to capture car buyers' attention even if it offered something different.
1 Undervalued: Dodge Ram SRT 10
The Dodge Ram SRT 10 is a beefy and crazy performance machine. That "10" represents its V10 engine, which Motor Junkie puts somewhere above 500 hp. It’s that kind of power that has many wondering why it isn’t a household name among car enthusiasts. What made it even more mind-boggling was the price.
When one factors in the performance this truck is capable of outputting, it’s easy to see how the price tag was a steal.
The same source confirms the cost was about $45,000, though that may have proved too high for prospective buyers back when it came out.
Sources: Car and Driver, A-1 Auto Transport, Jalopnik, U.S. News, Curbside Classic, Complex, The Fast Lane Truck, Forbes, Cars.com, Motor Junkie