Ranked

Ranked: 5 best pickup truck interiors for the 2021 model year

The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX interior has an impressive interior that rivals the best of the Ram lineup.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

The good ol' American pickup truck is more popular than it's ever been, and buyers are shelling out more for them than they ever have. The pickup has become an "only vehicle" for many families and busy professionals, and their feature sets have grown to accommodate the peoples' desires.

Truck MSRPs have drastically increased as they have become more of a luxury vehicle proposition for buyers who were traditionally limited to the confines of a large luxury car or SUV if they wanted to shell out around $100,000 for a new model. Their features match their price tag, with the newest models being equipped with hands-free driving tech and appointed with soft leathers and real wood.

No other group of vehicles better illustrates that point than the five we've listed here, our picks for the best truck interiors of 2021. These pickups put some premium brands to shame, and do so while retaining the high level of capability we've all come to expect.

No. 5 - 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD High Country

2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD High Country

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

The High Country is the range-topping trim in the Chevy Silverado line, so the interior finishes better be good. If there's any doubt that the statement isn't true about this year's truck, here's the proof. The 2021 Silverado 2500 HD High Country leaves the factory with standard perforated leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, a memory system for seats and mirrors, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and more.

The 2021 Silverado also picks up several improvements from its predecessor, including standard Hitch Guidance and Hitch View systems for easier towing, and an HD surround-view camera with two trailering views. That's on top of the already excellent existing hardware, which includes an 8.0-inch touchscreen with navigation, Bluetooth, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality.

Editor's Note: Photos of the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD High Country are not yet available. The truck is mostly a carryover from the previous model year so the above image of the 2020 version is a good representation of what the 2021 looks like.

No. 4 - 2021 GMC Sierra 2500HD Denali

2021 GMC Sierra 2500HD Denali

Photo courtesy of GMC

Where the Chevrolet's work truck roots show through at times, even in the plush High Country trim, the GMC hides its underpinnings well. It's got all the goodies that the Chevy brings to the table, such as an 8.0-inch screen, and then some. The 2021 Sierra Denali trim's cabin is filled with premium materials, from Forge perforated leather upholstery to premium tufted carpeting throughout.

In addition to its lavish interior finishes, the GMC brings peace of mind with several safety and driver assistance features that include the automaker's innovative trailering functions, an off-road package, and two different driver alert packages. Between them, the two options groups bring lane departure warnings, forward collision alerts, perimeter lighting, blind spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alerts, and automatic emergency braking.

Editor's Note: Photos of the 2021 GMC Sierra 2500HD Denali are not yet available. The truck is mostly a carryover from the previous model year so the above image of the 2020 version is a good representation of what the 2021 looks like.

No. 3 - 2021 Nissan Titan Platinum Reserve

2021 Nissan Titan Platinum Reserve

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

If you can deal with not having the best towing capacity or the most powerful engine in your pickup truck, it's hard to get much better than the 2021 Nissan Titan's interior accommodations. Even without acknowledging anything else about the truck, the amazingly comfortable Zero Gravity seats alone would almost be enough to put the Nissan on our list.

The Titan Platinum Reserve also checks in with the second largest infotainment screen on this list, at 9.0-inches, and comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, navigation, a Fender 12-speaker audio system, a subwoofer, and a top-notch voice recognition system.

No. 2 - 2021 Ford F-150 King Ranch

2021 Ford F-150 King Ranch

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The redesigned 2021 Ford F-150's interior isn't quite as upscale as Ram's, but it's got enough clever and thoughtful features to land it a number-two spot on our list. The 2021 model will still get useful gear like Ford's excellent Pro Trailer Backup Assist, but there are a few new tricks up the truck's sleeve.

Ford is offering a power-retractable gear shift lever, which can fold down into the center console. This allows the armrest to fold open, which forms a flat work surface, ideal for writing and using a laptop. Also, the front seats in some trims can be upgraded with a Max Recline feature, which lets them fold almost flat to form a cot for sleeping.

Elsewhere, the 2021 F-150 can be optioned with a horizontally oriented 12-inch screen, which rivals Ram's vertical unit. The display will run the latest version of Ford's awesome infotainment system, known as SYNC 4. In some trims, that screen will be joined by another foot-long screen to house a digital gauge cluster. It can display navigation information and can be customized to display off-road and performance data.

No. 1 - 2021 Ram 1500 Limited Longhorn Edition

2021 Ram 1500 Limited Longhorn 10th Anniversary Edition Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

If you're sitting in a German luxury sedan right now, conflicted about needing a pickup truck but not sure if you can live with a utilitarian vibe, fear no more. Ram thoroughly updated its 1500 line of light-duty trucks in 2019 with interiors and tech that could almost make a Mercedes-AMG engineer quake in their boots.

Plush leather upholstery, heated and cooled seats, an optional panoramic sunroof, and what is arguably the best infotainment system on the market are just a few of the headlining features here. Oh, and let's not forget that the Ram can be equipped with a 12-inch infotainment touchscreen, a unit which is capable of running two apps in split-screen views. That's a huge plus and allows the driver to do things like change climate settings while watching navigation directions.

If you need more capability, Ram's got you covered there as well. The automaker took that award-winning premium formula and applied it to its heavy-duty trucks as well. That means that you can get all of those lust-worthy features while also towing up to 35,100 pounds with the Ram 3500 (19,780 pounds in Ram 2500 models).

Pictured above is the 2021 Ram 1500 Limited Longhorn 10th Anniversary Edition, a special edition model that tops the Ram 1500 lineup.

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New off-roader

Ford Bronco Production Officially Begins

The Ford Bronco is finally ready for primetime.

Ford

The time is finally here. After years of speculation and several months of pandemic-related delays, the Ford Bronco is starting to roll off the assembly line. The SUV marks the first new Bronco model in Ford's lineup in 15 years, not counting the Bronco Sport, and is one of the most hyped and sought-after vehicles to hit the market in quite some time. Ford's announcement that production has begun will be accompanied by a special YouTube presentation that Ford says will include interviews with the Bronco team and with reservation holders at the automaker's new Modification Center.


2021 Ford Bronco Ford added 2,700 jobs to support Bronco production.Ford


Bronco production has driven Ford to invest $750 million into its Michigan Assembly Plant, and the automaker says it has added 2,700 jobs to support the rollout. Ford's push to begin production can't come soon enough. Over 125,000 Bronco orders have been placed, and multiple delays have pushed the vehicle's arrival back, meaning there is considerable demand for the off-road legend.

Ford is ready to capitalize on the craze and will offer several ways to customize the new vehicle. At its 1.7 million square-foot Modification Center, The Blue Oval will factory-install several optional modifications that include equipment such as a front bumper safari bar, graphics packages, roof racks, and more. That's on top of more than 200 factory-backed accessories that can be installed at the dealer, either at or after the time of purchase.


2021 Ford Bronco Delays and production difficulties have pushed the Bronco back.Ford


If you are hoping to get behind the wheel of a new Bronco, it could be a while. Even buyers that have been in line for a while now might not see their new vehicle until late 2021 or 2022, and the vehicle's official rollout will almost certainly re-spike demand. Even so, many feel it's worth the wait, and Ford's vehicle configuration tool is live, so go check it out for yourself.

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The Nissan Pathfinder is just at home on the trial as it is on the road.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

One of my favorite poems is Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken". The message is about making choices and, how the road taken made all the difference. Often in life and on the road, we have to make one choice. Take one road. No turning back. I thought of this poem on my recent test drive in the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder in the hinterlands of Montana, when I could take two different roads—paved and dirt—and that made all the difference!

Nissan has redesigned and retooled its fifth-generation Pathfinder instilling greater latitude for buyers who want to travel both types of roads and expand their adventure footprint. After seven decades of off-road development, 35 years in the business of selling Pathfinders, and with more than 1.8 million sold in the U.S., this Japanese automaker has moved the needle with a ground-up revision of the previous-gen model.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is a capable off-roader.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The full-sized sport utility is available in four trims (S, SV, SL and Platinum) and two- and four-wheel drive versions; Nissan expects that nearly 60 percent of buyers will choose four-wheel drive. The Pathfinder is in a segment that has grown larger each year as more families want a vehicle for around-town, school and playdate runs and for weekend getaways with traction technology that allows travel in the backcountry and good towing capability. Direct competitors are the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, and Ford Explorer.

A day-long drive of approximately 150 miles on tarmac and over a variety of dirt roads and tracks provided the opportunity to assess the Pathfinder's updates. A late-spring snowstorm added slickness to all the road surfaces in the region and allowed the Pathfinder to show off its traction capabilities at both slow and higher speeds and with lane change and emergency-braking maneuvers, when towing. I concentrated my evaluation on the augmented hardware and software designed to enhance the crossover's capabilities for backcountry travel and towing.

What I found most notable over every road surface was the comfortable ride and responsive handling that come from a collection of upgrades—and, in particular, as a result of the following: the gearing on the new nine-speed transmission, with paddle shifters for personal and more precise shifting for sport driving and slowing over rough terrain; the new terrain mode system that's engineered for different driving conditions; the four-wheel drive system that moves torque more quickly to avoid wheel slip; the improved suspension system; and new tires with a larger contact patch and more aggressive tread pattern, among other changes.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder Pathfinder's drive modes are designed to inspire confidence. Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Pathfinder provided sure-footed motoring and comfort over uneven surfaces. Its 7.1 inches of ground clearance easily maneuvered over the small obstacles on the trail and hill descent control took the reigns without hesitation for steeper and longer downhills on traction-compromised surfaces.

I was also impressed with the Pathfinder's towing competence and appreciated the standard trailer sway control onboard all trims. It offered notably strong, mannered acceleration from a standing start and excellent straight-line braking without porpoising for either exercise.

The new 2022 Pathfinder brings off-road and towing attributes that are important to families who are seeking to spend time in the backcountry for days trips and longer and for overlanding in terrain that doesn't require a true off-road vehicle with a low range. It's will appeal to buyers who want don't want to have to choose only one road.

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