Pickup trucks really came to prominence in the 1970s, when the need for an everyday vehicle to use for long-range transport had become common for vehicles on the roads. Even with the rise of SUVs, pickups are still used by those who don’t want to rent a full-scale truck but still need to haul a lot of heavy stuff around.
Various models have been produced as companies try to mix together the right size of truck for use with a certain level of comfort. Many prefer a simple truck that can handle serious weight, and sometimes rough terrain, along with a very nice bed in the rear. Companies have been taking to creating more upscale pickups and even played around with the occasional “luxury” item. And yet, most pickup owners still prefer something simpler for everyday use.
Just like any other type of car, pickups have had more than their share of lemons. Most belong to the 1980s and 90s, when the kinks were being worked out and too many models boasted great power but not enough speed. The 21st century has allowed technology to improve things and thus, owners can enjoy some great rides.
Sadly, quite a few are not up to the requirements. Some are plagued by horrible issues that turn them into repair-ridden nightmares. Others don’t have the right bed space or ability to drive properly. Then there are others that are just flat out terrible in their design. Here are the 20 worst pickup trucks since 2000.
20 Ford Explorer Sport Trac
Being the first of a new model can be a risky proposition. Far too many “first models” become rough drafts for much better versions down the line. The Sport Trac was Ford’s first mid-size pickup and did live up to the “sporty” name with its design. Sadly, that’s the best thing to be said about it. It lacked the power of other pickups and the bed size wasn’t as large as it could have been. The body was blatantly copied from the Explorer SUV and it showed in its handling and interiors. It simply did not appeal at all and it petered out fast among buyers.
19 GMC Sierra
Rushing a car into production is never a good idea. GM failed to heed that lesson in 2008 when they were racing to get some sort of headway to avoid insolvency and that led to some major mistakes. The Sierra was a huge one and the issues became famous as soon as it hit the roads. The ABS pump would fail to turn off, which led to the battery draining. That wasn’t helped by how the engine lights and fuel sensor would constantly fail to work properly. The whole thing was built cheaply, as proven by the door handles breaking off, the steering shaft grinding, and requiring coolant and oil changes faster than other models.
18 2004 Titan Nissan
Nissan had a rough time of it in the 2000s, with several models needing constant recalls. The Titan wasn’t too bad and was even seen as one of the better pickup models on the market. The key issue with the model was from 2004 through 2006, when the rear axle which had a tendency to loosen and thus throw off the suspension. It also had a problem with the rear differential and loose seals, which added up to constant oil leaks. Luckily, smart owners were able to claim the warranty covered the issue, which put the company on the hook for repair work. Later models corrected this but the 2004 version is one to avoid if you’re buying a used Titan.
17 2018 Mercedes-Benz Benz X-Class
The newest model on this list, the X-Class is already being slammed majorly by reviews and customers alike. The biggest issue is the price. Pickup trucks are meant to be bought by the common driver and used for a lot of work. The very idea of a “luxury pickup” is nearly an oxymoron. The profile looks poor and the interior is blatantly plastic and Spartan and the actual hauling power is rather low. Automobile blogs and websites have had a field day mocking the X-Class for trying to be a rich person’s car more than a working one. Luxury just has no real place in a pickup truck.
16 2013 Toyota Tacoma
The Tacoma has always had a bit of a rough reputation. Some models can be very good and top-notch pickups. Others can be rather poor and lacking. The 2013 model is, hands down, the worst of the bunch. It was obvious the production process was rushed to make it to market on time and as a result, the Tacoma had some major issues. The drivetrain problems would be constant and create too much vibration during acceleration. The interior had problems from the radio to the engine light on constantly as well as the windows and windshields not working properly. It says a lot this was the last gasp of this generation of Tacomas.
15 2006 Honda Ridgeline
On any Honda forum, the 2006 Ridgeline is easily cited as not just the worst pickup but one of the worst cars the company ever built. It looks as if someone was trying to assemble a Hummer but got bored halfway through and quit. Its small trunk space is bad, as is the bulky frame. What really made it bad was that it conned countless owners into thinking it drove great when first bought. Before long, reports grew of the Ridgeline being unreliable with constant breakdowns and issues with the suspension, brakes, engine and more. Thankfully, Honda improved it with further models yet the 2006 version remains a lemon.
14 Lincoln Blackwood
A trunk: nothing screams how much Lincoln transformed into a complete joke more than the absolutely ludicrous idea of having a pickup truck boasting a trunk. It was already smaller than other models and emphasized the speed more than the hauling power. But it’s the trunk that’s the feature everyone remembers. Who buys a pickup whose storage space is better suited to hauling golf clubs than major furniture items? The smaller size and weight helped it ride better but a pickup is meant to be used for the storage size more than anything. It took three years for this thing to sell out and it’s still regarded as one of the worst mistakes the automaker has made.
13 2001 Toyota Tundra
Toyota had problems in the early 2000s with some poor quality of some of their cars. The Tundra was a major victim of this. The key problem was that it became obvious that it rusted far faster than other trucks of the time. Corrosion was common as the Tundra couldn’t survive the elements nearly as long as other trucks on the market. There were six recalls due to these issues, which included reports of the spare tire breaking loose due to rust and causing accidents. For a pickup truck called the Tundra, this couldn’t stand up to any elements properly.
12 2012 Ram 2500
Usually, Dodge's Rams are seen as sone of the most dependable and must-buy pickups on the road. However, even the best trucks can have a poor year and 2012 was one for the Ram 2500. It got great reviews for its hauling power, speed, and reliability. But then the problems came in, with hundreds of complaints about how shifting without touching the brakes could cause the truck to go out of control. The engine also had bad coolant issues which increased the likelihood of combustion. No less than five recalls were made due to these issues and it got the company some bad press.
11 2005 Chevrolet Silverado
Some fans argue that the Silverado is a perfectly good truck to buy used. However, that ignores the scores of issues about the 2005 model. Even a brand new one can somehow have rusted brake lines that get worse over time and require replacements, which throws off the suspension and leads to engine issues. The steering wheel was a terrible problem for several models and caused clunking sounds. There were also problems of fuel and oil consumption, with the 2007 model needing over twice the quantity of oil of any pickup on the market. It may be a good hauler but the Silverado’s constant repair needs offset the price of buying one.
10 GMC Envoy
You can’t blame GM for trying to experiment and figure out a new model to impress drivers. On paper, mixing a pickup with an SUV could have worked and provided a ride with comfort for the family, as well as being good for pulling cargo. However, the emphasis was on the SUV part, with the roomy backseat and a smaller cargo bed. The swinging door function didn’t work either and mixing these models up led to problems with the engine, suspension, and transmission. This was also a low period for GM and they never sold more than 10,000 models per year. It was discontinued in 2009 and written off as a major misfire for GM.
9 2005 Nissan Frontier
Usually, the Frontier is cited as one of the biggest game-changers in the pickup field. The 1997 models were hailed for their great space and amazing driving abilities. However, the 2005 models had a serious flaw in the radiators that led to issues with their transmissions and overheating. It also made it more likely to get cracks in the radiator or undercarriage, which required a lot of repair work. While Nissan has done its best to correct these issues in later models, somehow, the radiator problems continue. Even newer models can still need a full transmission replacement from time to time. It ruins an otherwise good pickup design and makes this a bad buy for anyone wanting a good ride.
8 Chevrolet Avalanche
Just like its name, the problems of this truck began slowly but then went downhill fast. First, there were the cladding issues and early models would have a paint job that made it look like a zebra. To their credit, GM quickly worked to correct that. Then there came reports of speedometers malfunctioning, leading to countless drivers being hit with tickets when they had no idea they were breaking the speed limit. That was followed by the 2005 models being slammed for transmission failures. Then, in 2007, the problem was excessive engine oil consumption. It was as if the Avalanche was somehow cursed to endure countless problems that led to it being discontinued.
7 Chevrolet Colorado
The problem from the start with the Colorado was that it was just not good for towing. It can handle storage space all right and yet the lack of towing didn’t help it become a top pickup. Worse was that the first models had serious issues with the air conditioning either not working at all or blowing hot air. Given that pickup are often used for hot environments, that was a real issue. That was connected to constant overheating and engine failures, which soon made the Colorado a regular sight at repair shops. The topper was that models from 2004 to 2011 were recalled due to faulty child car seats and brake lights.
6 Ford F-250
The F-150 was a top-notch pickup that was hailed as fantastic by buyers. Rather than an improvement, the F-250 was a serious step back and the F-350 wasn’t much better. Both had issues with suspension and were not able to handle heavy loads right. Then there were the engine issues, which continued for years despite numerous complaints. More troubling were the reports of trucks that would have premature braking or sudden acceleration, which is an accident waiting to happen. Even newer models still have issues with the suspension, so while it may haul big loads, it’s not the most reliable truck out there.
5 Dodge Dakota
It wasn’t as consistently bad as some of the other trucks on this list, however, there’s no denying the Dakota had issues. The biggest were the brakes, as for nearly two years after production began, multiple reports came in of Dakotas with brake problems, failing to stop on time or at all. Naturally, this was a huge problem and was made worse by Dodge refusing to even acknowledge it was an issue despite the growing customer complaints. Then there was the loss of oil pressure thanks to sludge buildup that also caused problems. To top it all off, the 2004 models were slammed for irregular shifting. It’s a shame as Dakotas that worked were a good truck but constant issues gave it a bad reputation.
4 Hummer H2 SUT
The Hummer obsession was a serious thing in the 2000s. With almost every big celebrity owning a huge pickup, many folks wanted to do the same, which led to the laughable sight of people in big cities or even suburbs fighting to find proper parking space for these monsters. The SUT was a bad addition to the Hummer lineup, with a smaller bed and it couldn’t even pull its own weight. A famous story had one customer so irate at how bad his SUT was that he lit up the dealership that sold it to him. Nearly any list of the worst cars of the decade includes this model.
3 Subaru Baja
The Baja is one of the biggest flops in Subaru’s history. It rolled out to good reviews and Subaru boasted that they were expecting to sell about 25,000 a year. In a four year span, they sold only 30,000 units total. Its 2.5-liter engine was subpar compared to the other pickups of the time and even worse today. One look shows its very small bed and smaller windows, which pretty much defeats the purpose of a pickup. The big blow was when Top Gear featured the Baja and gave it a terrible review on space, handling, and its high fuel consumption. Even Subaru’s website doesn’t talk about it, as it’s a black eye on the Outback legacy.
2 Dodge Ram Daytona
Often cited as one of the most useless pickup trucks ever built, the Daytona sure looks good. It has a sleek design, nice bright colors, gets good mileage, reaches high speeds, and has good hauling power. So what’s the problem? The fact that the rear wing can’t be removed. Yep, Dodge put on a massive blocking wing that prevents any serious storage use. To haul something huge means using the side, which just increases the time and effort involved. It’s little better than just buying a sedan and wastes its large bed. Why Dodge built a pickup that looked good but had such a horrible addition remains one of the company’s most baffling moves.
1 Chevy SSR
You can’t totally blame Chevrolet for thinking a pickup with some style might be something nice and spark up buyers better. But a convertible? Pickup trucks are chosen for looking strong and tough, not for a fun day driving the roads. It threw the entire shape and design of the car off massively and made it look worse. Sure, it could hit great speeds and was actually more reliable with its engine and suspension than some of the other models on this list. But it also has smaller trunk space and no power for any task a pickup is made for. The very idea was crazy and even worse in execution, making this one of the worst cars to hit the road this century.
Sources: Jalopnik, Auto Daily, and Repair Pal.