Years ago, full-size pickup trucks were intended for rugged use on farms, ranches, and job sites.
But as they’ve exploded in popularity and posted epic sales, they’ve become as luxurious as some some upscale cars.
I’ve tested every full-size pickup on the market, from Ford, Chevy, GMC, RAM, Toyota, and Nissan.
Here’s a rundown of all my favorite luxury features, from each truck.
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Let me tell you about my first pickup truck.
It was a 1980s-vintage Mazda B2200. It had a five-speed manual, a single plastic bench seat, crank windows, and an AM/FM radio.
High luxury it wasn’t. But it was my truck, and I loved it. I used it for … well, you name it. Hundreds of miles driving back and forth to college, cleanup jobs, camping trips, helping friends move. The I gave it to my brother and he drove the wheels off.
Fast-forward a few decades and the world has changed. Pickups were utilitarian vehicles when I was a youngster. You found them on farms and ranches, not in the driveways of homes in the well-heeled communities.
These days, a full-size pickup from the Detroit Big Three can easily hang with a sedan from Audi, BMW, or Mercedes when it comes to luxury appointments. That’s a good thing for pickup truck makers, as all those extras have led to historically high transaction prices for vehicles that already sell in the millions of units annually. A top-line Ford F-150 can go for more than $70,000, and the entire F-Series brings in over $40 billion in annual revenue for the Blue Oval.
That has translated into historic profits since the financial crisis, enabling General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to fill their coffers with cash.
Let’s take a closer look at the markets’ current roster of full-size pickups and review some of their more luxurious features, from interiors to exteriors, from infotainment systems to cool extras:FOLLOW US: On Facebook for more car and transportation content!
Let’s start with the king of the hill: the Ford F-150! Intent on keeping its crown as the bestselling vehicle in the US since 1982, Ford loaded the already upscale trim levels of the truck with even more extras.
Take a look back at the truck’s humble beginnings. Here we have the F1 from 1948. You’d have been hard-pressed to find one of these anywhere but on a farm or ranch.
What a difference more than half a century makes! The top trim levels of the F-150 aren’t quite equal to Mercedes-Benz when it comes to interiors, but they’re definitely competitive. This my number-one feature, on this pickup.
My second-favorite feature is this retractable step and handle, located in the tailgate.
Read the review.
Makes getting in and out a snap.
In the new F-150, the front seats can actually recline to a lay-flat configuration. Sort of like flying business class.
The new F-150 also has a center console that can be turned into a mobile office.
And Ford’s SYNC4 infotainment system, running on an available 12-inch touchscreen.
The new F-150 can also tow 12,000 pounds, so if your idea of luxury is being able to haul a small house on wheels, Ford has you covered.
Now let’s examine the rather upmarket RAM 1500. This full-size pickup can be crammed with luxurious appointments, if you go for the right trim levels.
Read the review of Business Insider’s 2019 Car of the Year winner.
The 2019 RAM 1500 Crew Cab I tested was a Western-themed Laramie Longhorn edition, which was $54,000 before the addition of many extra features. As tested, it ran for $68,500. That not-insane price paid for a primo interior.
The 12-inch center touchscreen is stunning. FCA’s excellent infotainment system, Uconnect, is a showstopper.
The panoramic moonroof is also impressive.
The comfort of the RAM 1500’s front seats carries over to the back. Combined with an independent rear suspension, this pickup delivers a plush ride.
My tester had a luxurious interior, great infotainment, a huge moonroof, and a limo-like back seat. The cabin was also full of high-end touches, such as the carbon fiber detail on the leather-wrapped steering wheel.
An overlooked feature in full-size pickups is the vast amount of interior storage they provide — and how designers have thought through every detail. Sure, luxury SUVs can carry a lot of stuff, but the RAM takes it to a new level.
In the old days, pickup customers were happy with steel wheels. But luxury buyers expect to have plenty of options — and so the RAM 1500 offers a range of styles.
Finally, my Ram 1500 test truck had an exquisite paint job: deep black, with gorgeous chrome flourishes.
On to the Chevy Silverado!
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The most recent Silverado I tested was a $62,515 model pickup truck from the 2020 model year that featured a 3.0-liter diesel engine. It also had the Z71 off-road package.
Read the review.
For a truck intended for rugged use, it was quite premium. Check out that leather-wrapped steering wheel.
The infotainment screen was on the small side, but Chevy’s system is among the best in the industry, giving luxury brands a run for their money.
Wireless charging! Many luxury vehicles I drive now have this feature. But quite a few don’t, and it’s often a demerit, in my book. I was glad to find in on the Silverado.
The “Cajun Red Tintcoat” is among my favorite automotive colors on the market, period. It outdoes what’s on offer from plenty of upscale nameplates.
Moving right along, let’s sample the venerable Toyota Tundra.
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Here’s the thing: I tested the “1794 Edition,” well-appointed and well-optioned at almost $53,000. The luxurious aspects of this Tundra have stayed with me.
The 1794 backstory is intricate: The oldest cattle ranch in Texas, near San Antonio, dates to 1794. The property is where Toyota built its US pickup-truck factory.
Lovely leather and real wood trim filled the cabin.
That steering wheel! I Haven’t been able to get it out of my head.
If Bentley or Aston Martin made pickups, they’d look like this on the inside: tooled butterscotch leather and upscaled bunkhouse timber. I was a real suburban cowboy for the week I tested this Tundra.
Like the RAM 1500, the Tundra combines considerable legroom and cushy seats …
… with a ride that, among pickups, was second only to the RAM 1500.
The JBL audio system in my tester wasn’t high end, but compared to the AM/FM radio on my first pickup, a 1980s Mazda, it was symphonic. These days, it’s not usual to find the best audio setups a carmaker has to offer in its pickups.
Finally, we have the Nissan Titan.
Read the review.
OK, I’ll be honest, the Titan is both the least-updated and least-luxe full-size pickup truck I’ve tested of late.
That said, at $50,000, my 2020 Nissan Titan Pro-4X tester was reasonably well-appointed for a truck that’s optimized for off-road action.
The knobby General Grabbers suggest that this 4×4 might be able to do some damage in the mud, on rocks, or over dirt roads. But have a gander at those nicely-styled wheels!
A dual-pane moonroof was a bonus. And yet again, a feature that we used to see mainly in luxury vehicles that’s migrated to the mass-market — and to pickup trucks.