We go back and forth about buying a truck. We really want a truck. We could really use a truck. We don’t want to spend the money. Over the past couple of years we’ve had the opportunity to drive several full size pickups. We’ve had our favorites and until my few days at the Texas Truck Rodeo with my fellow Texas Auto Writers Association members, the Toyota Tundra PRD-Pro had our hearts. And I was having a bit of an affair with the Ford F-150 Lariat Sport too.
I went to the Truck Rodeo with a mission… test three trucks I knew to be good… three I’d enjoyed the most in our week-long reviews. But what I wanted to do at the rodeo was drive them back to back, one after the other, on the exact same terrain. And I did. First in four wheel drive, then in 2 wheel drive, on the most extreme off-road course offered.
My Picks for the Top Trucks for Texans
Of course I drove all the trucks at the rodeo, including the very impressive 2017 Ram Rebel and Powerwagons, and GMC’s brand new Sierra HD All Terrain X, and the Honda Ridgeline. All amazing trucks. They just aren’t on my list of personal favorites for the top trucks for Texans.
So what made the list?
Ford F-150 Lariat Sport – Polished and Sleek… the Pretty Boy of the Trucks
Last year I got to be the first media person in Texas to drive the all new F-150 Lariat Sport for a week. I felt spoiled and special. And I fell in love. For one, it’s a beautiful truck. Second, it makes a glorious sound when you accelerate. I’m kind of a Ford fan anyway, so it didn’t take much for me to decide I really liked this truck. It was pretty near the top of my list when I arrived at the Truck Rodeo because my experience on my week-long drive had been so good.
So, what did I think? Well, the new blue color was fabulous, and the sound just as good as I remembered. But after getting in a bunch of trucks back to back, it didn’t feel as special as I’d remembered. I still really liked it, but it easily dropped to number three on my list.
To me, the interior of the Ford trucks just feels more plastic. With the exception of the King Ranch trucks which are all-out luxury, there’s a hollow bulky feel that I just don’t dig.
Off road performance. It was lacking. I started to worry about this as I got stuck behind a few of the Fords on their way up the steep inclines and rocky craigs of the west Texas mountainsides. I noticed that in two wheel drive most of them, especially the heavy duty trucks, would spin out and get stuck. Of course they were fine once they were switched to four wheel drive, but this observation made me pause. This is when I decided I needed to drive them all two wheel drive as well as four wheel drive. And sure enough, the Ford was the only one I drove that couldn’t make it. It almost did, but not quite. I gave it a good go… slipping closer and closer to the edge of the mountain till neither the Ford rep or I could take it anymore.
And that pretty much ended the love affair. It’s still a really good truck. And I wouldn’t complain about driving one or owning one. Or just looking at one. I just know that if I’m going to spend close to $50k on a truck, I have to love everything about it and it still comes in as a serious contender in my top trucks for Texans!
Toyota Tundra TRD-Pro – The One that Makes Me Swoon Like When My Husband Wears Flannel
The minute that 2015 Inferno Orange Tundra pulled into our driveway two years ago, I was in love. And my husband too. There simply isn’t a better looking or sounding truck on the market today. Then Toyota outdid themselves in 2016 with the new Quicksand and Concrete colors which add a whole new level of bad-ass to these trucks and I just can’t stop staring. Or accelerating. (Vrrrrroom!) Having driven the Tunrda three times now, for week-long drives, we knew we loved this truck. In fact, there’s not a single thing we dislike about any of the models and we’ve driven them all from the 2015 TRD-Pro Double Cab, to the 2016 1794 Crew Max and finally the 2017 TRD-Pro Crew Max. Oh yes, and just for kicks I recently borrowed a 2016 TSS with a Crew Max cabin from our local dealership and drove it around town. I just can’t say no to these trucks!
How it handled: Perfectly. This truck had no trouble scaling mountain sides, fording creeks, or navigating deep wholes and washed-out roads. And, it did it all in style. Flannel wearing, big beard, mountain climbing, wood splitting style.
So, why did I keep driving other trucks, and what ultimately made this truck option #2 for our family’s next purchase?
The interior. Here’s the thing, you can upgrade from the cloth and plastic and get the luxurious 1794 edition leather and wood grain, but it’s going to cost you. And a few of the features we loved on the other trucks… keyless entry, push-button start, and auto climate controls are add-ons instead of standard. We’d pay a pretty hefty price to upgrade and get what we really wanted.
Nissan Titan Pro-4X – The Truck that Surprised Us All
A few years ago, the Titan wouldn’t have been a consideration for us. But in 2016 Nissan re-launched this truck as a Cummins Diesel Beast. We got to drive it for a week and loved it, but we didn’t add it to our list because we weren’t shopping for a diesel truck. I’d kind of dismissed them as an option until I saw the 2017 Titan Pro4X at the Texas Truck Rodeo.
Granted this one didn’t catch my eye the way the Tundra still does, but something told me I needed to give it a try. My fellow auto journalists were gushing over it, and it was rumored to be a TRD-Pro competitor. Why not give it a shot, eh?
The interior and performance of this truck blew. me. away.
The inside is sporty, has all the features we love about the more luxurious trucks, but it doesn’t feel like a truck you can’t play in. We like to camp and hike and do all kinds of outdoor and DIY projects and this truck felt like it would hold up to our active lifestyle.
And climbing? This truck is incredible. Of all the trucks I drove at the rodeo, this one impressed me the most. It was after driving this one in two-wheel drive on the roughest terrain that I came home and told my husband I felt we needed to re-think our narrow list.
The Post-Rodeo Comparison
Being serious about putting some money into a truck soon, I was determined to figure out which truck my husband and I both liked the best. So, I immediately scheduled to have the Toyota Tundra TRD-Pro and the Nissan Titan Pro4X for week-long loans, back to back. We had two super busy weeks planned when having trucks would make a huge difference for us.
The Tundra came first, and of course I lived and breathed that truck all week. We even ended up with an extended loan on that one and had it a few days into our Titan loan. I kept it to myself most of the time. And my opinion of it didn’t change. I still loved in. In fact, a photo of it remained on my phone’s lock screen for weeks, warranting much teasing from my husband.
Then came the Titan. Now, keep in mind this was a new model for us, not something we’d driven before other than my brief encounter at the rodeo, and my husband was skeptical. He got to spend a few days in it while I hoarded the Tundra and he decided he loved it! I was certain he would once he had a chance to experience it. See, the Titan isn’t a real head-turner like the Tundra. But, it makes up for it with great features, a top-notch interior, and a warrantee you won’t find on any other truck.
So, What Will We Buy?
At this point I think we’re torn. I feel like the Titan is the smart buy and what we’ll be happiest with in the long run. But I’m not sure I’m ready to rule out the Tundra. After all, it’s made in Texas!!
Seriously tho, ask me to pick between the trucks and I’ll probably have to close my eyes and draw a card.
What would YOU buy?