- 1. Honda Ridgeline
- 2. Jeep Gladiator
- 3. Toyota Tacoma
The midsize pickup truck segment is one of the most competitive in the industry, with a huge range of trucks on offer. This genre might not boast gutsy V8 engines, or cavernous cabins like full-sized trucks or deliver 10,000 lb plus towing capacity, but they suit the needs of a wide cross-section of consumers. In 2023, there are three trucks that stand out from the crowd: the Honda Ridgeline, the Jeep Gladiator, and the Toyota Tacoma.
1. Honda Ridgeline
Price: MSRP starts at $38,800
- Towing capacity: 5,000 lbs
- City/Hwy rating: 18/24 mpg
- Carlist ranking: 9/10
Employing some chunky looks, the Honda Ridgeline is the most unique truck in the segment. It just happens to be the only midsize pickup truck that’s built on a unibody platform, similar to a car or SUV. This gives it a more composed, smoother ride and sharper handling than its body-on-frame competitors. The Ridgeline also has a unique ‘dual-action’ tailgate that opens like a trunk, making it easier to load and unload cargo.
Honda’s popular truck comes in two engine options: a 3.5-liter V6 generating 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque, or a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 270 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque, and both engines are married to relatively shift-shock-free a nine-speed automatic transmission. It also comes standard with Honda’s i-VTM4 AWD system that delivers superb grip in all situations.
The Ridgeline is available in three trim levels: Sport, RTL, and Black Edition. The Sport trim is the base model and comes standard with features like a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a rearview camera, and Bluetooth connectivity. The RTL trim adds features like a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats, and a power moonroof. The Black Edition trim adds unique exterior styling, black 18-inch wheels, and a black interior.
2. Jeep Gladiator
Price: MSRP starts at $38,775
- Towing capacity: 7,700 lbs
- City/Hwy rating: 16/22 mpg
- Carlist ranking: 8.8/10
The Jeep Gladiator is the most capable off-road truck in the segment. Based on the same platform as the Jeep Wrangler, it comes standard with four-wheel drive. The Gladiator also has a removable top and doors, making it a great choice for outdoor enthusiasts.
The Gladiator is available with two engine options. The flagship model gets a 3.6-liter V6 developing 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, while a 3.0-liter diesel V6 is also on offer pumping out 260 hp and a beefy 442 lb-ft of torque, with both variants matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The Gladiator is available in four trim levels: Sport, Overland, Rubicon, and Mojave. The Sport trim is the base model and comes standard with features like a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a rearview camera, and Bluetooth connectivity. The Overland trim adds features like leather-wrapped seats, heated front seats, and a power moonroof, while the Rubicon trim gets a locking front and rear differential, heavy-duty axles, and a disconnecting sway bar. The macho Mojave trim boasts a longer suspension travel, wider track, and 35-inch tires.
3. Toyota Tacoma
Price: MSRP starts at $28,250
- Towing capacity: 6,800 lbs
- City/Hwy rating: 20/23 mpg
- Carlist ranking: 8.7/10
As you’d expect, the Toyota Tacoma is the most reliable truck in the segment. On sale for over 20 years, this tough Toyota is known for its durability and longevity, offered in a variety of body styles, including a two-door regular cab, a four-door extended cab, and a four-door crew cab.
The Tacoma is available with two engine options. Massively undercutting the entry-price of its rivals by around $10,000, the base-trim Tacoma gets a 2.7-liter four-cylinder producing 159 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. The flagship 3.5-liter V6 pumps out 278 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque, with both engines paired with a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic transmission.
The Tacoma is available in four trim levels: SR, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, and Limited. The SR trim is the base model and comes standard with features including a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a rearview camera, and Bluetooth connectivity. The TRD Sport trim incorporates sport-tuned suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels, and a black exterior grille, while the sportier TRD Off-Road trim employs a locking front differential, Bilstein shocks, and all-terrain tires. The Limited trim adds features like leather-wrapped seats, heated front seats, and a power moonroof.
This is a tough choice. Each truck has its merits, with very few demerits. Firstly, if you’re looking for the most cost-effective (read as “cheapest”!) and reliable truck, then the $28,000 Tacoma—offering 6,800 lbs of towing capacity—sticks out like a sore thumb. But then if you want a cool truck for the urban jungle, with the smoothest ride and best handling then the Ridgeline could be for you. And then again, if you’re an outdoorsy type leaning towards a heavy-duty off-roader with plenty of poke, then the Gladiator should sit in your driveway.