Pickup Trucks are one of the most popular vehicles in the United States. Built to carry nearly any load, they are perfect vehicles for almost any job. From towing a boat for a day out on the lake to transporting work supplies from point A to point B, there isn’t much these beasts can’t do. But what happens when the manufacturer puts quantity over quality or rushes a new truck to market? You end up with some of the worst pickup trucks of all-time.
From constant breakdowns, cars pretending to be trucks, and awfully low-performance grades from consumers and reviewers, keep reading to find out which ones are among the worst of the worst.
One of the most popular vehicles in America is the Ford F-150. Just because it sells like hotcakes doesn’t mean it is without problems. Owners who bought model years 2004 and 2005 F-150s were not happy about their purchases.
In those specific models, owners complained about the windows and, more importantly, failed transmissions. Those problems, among others, led to massive recalls, making this one of the biggest mistakes in Ford’s history.
Joining the list of RAM trucks you want to avoid at all costs in the RAM 1500. The 1500 preceded the 3500 and set the tone of just how bad this line of pickups was going to be.
Owners of RAM 1500s cited transmission failures, engine failures, and oil sludge build up as consistent issues. They also noted the truck was poorly built and it wasn’t uncommon for dashboards to crack or interior electronics to fail.
Ford Explorer Sport Trac
We still aren’t sure what the point of the Ford Explorer Sport Trac was. It was only produced for four years, which felt like four years too many. To manufacture the Sport Trac, Ford took one of their most popular SUVs and modified it into a pickup truck.
The truck’s flat bed was too small, and Ford tried to charge an arm and a leg with an MSRP sticker price that customers weren’t interested in.
The GMC Canyon was built as an upscale pickup truck that would last for the rest of your life. Of course, that’s not true or it wouldn’t be on this list. Consumers reported problems with the fuel system, cabin electronics, and transmission.
To help compete against its rivals, GMC offered the Canyon in a variety of colors and sizes. In the case of this truck, customers preferred quality over quantity.
1997 Ford Ranger
Ford has always been known for producing some of the best pickup trucks you can buy, which made the misstep of the 1997 Ranger very strange. The biggest mistake Ford made with the Ranger was including a transmission that was anything but reliable.
Reported problems for the failed transmission included: gear slipping, solenoid failure, delayed gear shift response, upshift failure, loss of gears, and loss of reverse gear. It’s hard to find success if your product barely works!
The Chevy Avalanche was in production from 2001 until 2013. During that time, two generations of the pickup truck were produced. Even though the truck stayed in production for over a decade, there’s a reason you can only find it on the secondary market today.
Consumers who owned the Avalanche complained about speedometer malfunctions, which led to being pulled over and getting tickets. Other problems were the vehicle’s excessive oil consumption and questionable transmission.
2006 Nissan Frontier
As much as we would like to forget about the 2006 Nissan Frontier, it’s impossible. The pickup truck was noted for having awful transmission issues. And did we mention there were seven factory recalls?
Three of those recalls turned out to be big problems for Nissan. They involved the vehicle’s suspension, fuel system, and engine, all of which had failures linked to crashes. If you see one of these on the secondary market, now you know why.
1976 Dodge Ramcharger
The Dodge Ramcharger was first released in 1974, but it’s the 1976 model year that really missed the mark. Originally known as the “Rhino,” the Ramcharger was filled with odd quirks, including a passenger seat that was optional and not standard.
The driver’s seat, of course, came standard, but if you preferred to drive in solitude that was more than possible. While getting rid of the passenger seat increased the carrying room, customers just weren’t impressed. Pictured here is a Ramcharger with the flat hard top option.
2009 Hummer H3T
The Hummer is famous for being a military vehicle that became in such high demand by non-military personnel that it eventually was redesigned and released to the public. For years it sat at the top of the market — then the 2009 H3T model was released.
The H3T was expensive and featured a terrible miles-per-gallon fuel efficiency rating. As gas prices rose, consumers wanted smaller cars that could push 30 to 40 miles per gallon, effectively turning the H3T into a mistake that nearly killed the brand.
1978 Subaru BRAT
Subaru has a reputation for releasing some of the best vehicles on the market. From sedans to SUVs to everything but trucks, Subaru makes excellent vehicles. The BRAT was a truck, a market the brand has never been able to corner.
The big issue is a misunderstanding of what makes a pickup truck an actual truck. The BRAT was a sedan that was rebranded as a compact truck, which was not good. Oddly enough, the BRAT stayed popular for two decades and has a surprising secondary market value today. It made our list because, again, it’s not a truck!
RAM Rumble Bee
The RAM Rumble Bee has one of the most ridiculous names on this list. What exactly was Dodge thinking when they made a bumblebee yellow pickup truck and added it to their lineup?
Dodge released the Rumble Bee in 2004, trying to jump on the success of Super Bee muscle cars. Aside from the paint job and decals, there was nothing under the hood that could separate this truck from the rest of its class.
The Lincoln Blackwood wasn’t just one of the worst pickup trucks ever released, it was also one of the strangest. Known for their luxury, Lincoln created pickup with an undersized bed and an underpowered engine.
The Blackwood, aside from being oddly shaped, was also unreliable. Blue collar workers stayed away, and so did Lincoln’s core consumer base. At the end of the day, the Blackwood only lasted one generation before Lincoln discontinued production altogether.
1999 Chevy Silverado
The Chevy Silverado is an iconic pickup that almost missed the mark entirely. When it was first introduced in 1999, it was a release nightmare that Chevy barely woke up from.
Chevy put one of the worst engines on the market in the Silverado, which seems like an odd choice for what was intended to be a new flagship vehicle. The lack of power made the pickup truck slow and unreliable, a mistake the automaker quickly remedied with the next generation.
In theory, the idea of a compact pickup truck makes sense. In practice, they are rarely hits with consumers, and the Chevy Colorado was no different. It was fuel-efficient and easy to drive, but also received poor reliability ratings.
Most of the problems look to be put in the past by Chevy, as the 2019 Colorado has received mostly positive remarks. So, if you’re looking for a compact truck, go for the 2019 model year or later.
2006 Dodge Dakota
Dodge completely redesigned the Dakota for 2006, an idea which turned out to be a huge misstep for the automaker. The new model stayed on the market for five years, when Dodge discontinued the Dakota entirely.
What was so disastrous about the 2006 Dakota? While it was a reasonably priced pickup truck, consumers reported it broke down constantly. The cost of repairs quickly added up, turning a modest initial investment into a bank account nightmare.
The Nissan Titan undeniably looks like an incredible truck. It’s big and has aggressive styling that instantly catches the eye. It’s also one of the worst-performing pickup trucks on the market.
Most of the truck’s problems can be attributed to the pulleys, mounts, and belts. Some owners have also experienced cracks in the body and fluid leaks. None of that adds up to a truck that is worth the money, which explains why it can often be found at discounted prices.
According to Consumer Reports, the Ram 3500 is the “least reliable vehicle you can buy.” While it looks like it can take a beating and keep on keeping on the outside, anyone foolish enough to buy one learned how big of a mistake they made.
The biggest reported issues with the 3500 were the vehicle’s steering, transmission, fuel system, and suspension. All of those components are kind of important when it comes to driving.
2018 Mercedes Benz X-Class
When Mercedes released the X-Class, they billed it as the first true luxury pickup truck experience. Sadly, despite coming out in 2018, the truck is already proving to be a mistake by the usually reliable German automaker.
When Top Gear reviewed the X-Class, it was called, “meh.” The highly respected auto program also noted, “kick down accounts for a two-elephant count before anything happens, and even then you aren’t exactly subjected to forceful acceleration.”
1957 Ford Ranchero
In 1957, Ford tried to fool consumers with the Ranchero. A wolf in sheep’s clothing, the Ranchero was essentially a sedan with a truck bed. Ford sold the auto as a pickup truck, though, and consumers picked up and took their business elsewhere.
By 1960, Ford realized they made a mistake. The company created a smaller more compact Ranchero and marketed it to consumers as a car this time, not a pickup truck.
What exactly was the Chevy SSR? An odd hybrid of a pickup truck and a sedan, the retro-style vehicle was eye-catching, but not in a good way. At the end of the day, consumers didn’t know what they were looking at.
Anyone looking for a pickup truck who bought an SSR was disappointed at its lack of hauling power. And since that was the target market, Chevy was forced to end production after three years.
1976 Cadillac Mirage
We can 100 percent confirm that in 1976, the Cadillac Mirage was not a dream. The pickup truck was more of a coupe-truck hybrid than a pure hauler. The back seats were replaced with a flatbed, and Cadillac slapped a high price tag on the auto that turned away customers.
The Mirage was so disliked by consumers that Cadillac only produced a few hundred, scrapping the mode altogether and pretending it never existed.
2006 Honda Ridgeline
Honda made its first attempt to enter the pickup truck market in 2006 with the Ridgeline. The truck was built from the ground up and took four years to design. And for all the hard work Honda’s designers put into the car, it was labeled a lemon as soon as it was released.
Reviewers reviled the truck, with one writing, “The Ridgeline can’t really do what most people who like trucks need it to do. Sure, some homeowners and weekend warriors may actually need a 10,000-lb towing capacity, but the Honda Ridgeline is probably just right for most.”
2005 Toyota Tundra
Today, the Toyota Tundra is considered one of the best pickup trucks on the market. In 2005, the truck was nearly running itself off the road. Toyota first introduced the Tundra in 2000, and five years later nearly had to discontinue the model entirely.
The 2005 Tundra was one of the least powerful trucks for its size, which crushed its market share. In 2007, Toyota overhauled the Tundra entirely, giving consumers everything they asked for.
2002 Subaru Baja
What a strange vehicle the Subaru Baja was. The automaker introduced it in 2002 as a pickup built for adventure seekers. Praised upon its release by the industry, consumers weren’t so kind to the niche auto.
The Baja struggled to meet sales productions and only stayed on the market for four years. While we appreciate the valiant attempt from Subaru to try and create a new market for pickup trucks, we can’t ignore the overall failure that followed.
Ford Thames Trader
A pickup truck lesser-known in the United States was the Ford Thames Trader. Ford ended manufacturing of the truck in 1965 after eight failed years mostly on the English market.
Oddly enough, the Thames Trader was used to make double-decker busses for England, which are more well-known and popular. This list isn’t about busses, though, and the pickup truck version of the Trader is best forgotten in the pages of history.
As the Chevy Silverado exploded in popularity (after its disastrous initial release), GMC decided they need a pickup truck that could compete with it. The GMC Sierra 2500HD was just that vehicle, and boy was it terrible.
The Sierra has never received strong consumer scores, with its biggest issue being poor reliability. Even though the truck can technically start any job you want to throw its way, there is no guarantee it will finish.
Dodge Ram Daytona
Dodge released the Ram Daytona in 2005 with high hopes. It was an aggressively styled vehicle with hopes of bringing a new buyer to the legendary American automaker. The last thing Dodge expected was for their plan to backfire.
Dodge put so much attention into making the Ram Daytona a visual stunner, the company seemingly forget working people would be buying it too. Its hauling capacity was limited and its engine was severely underpowered.
When Suzuki wanted to break into the American automobile market, they were right to think making a truck would be a great start. They were wrong with the truck they ended up developing – the Equator.
Suzuki asked Nissan for help when it began developing the Equator, and got exactly what they asked for – a Nissan. The Equator was a rebranded Nissan Frontier, and consumers noticed. After four years on the market, it was discontinued.
2013 Toyota Tacoma
The long-running Toyota Tacoma was beginning to show its age in 2013. After years of the market advancing, the Tacoma was falling behind, and the 2013 model offered very little improvements over its predecessor.
The new Tacoma had six recalls involving important parts. Three years after introducing the poorly received truck, Toyota re-hauled it and brought home the bacon with the 2016 Tacoma. This article isn’t about the best pickup trucks though. Sorry, Toyota.
1972 Ford Courier
In 1972, Ford brought back the Courier pickup truck after a 12-year market absence. The truck was only a Ford by name though and was actually a Mazda that had been rebranded for the American automaker.
In other countries, the 1972 Ford Courier was sold as a Mazda B Series, because that’s what it was. Ford customers in the United States weren’t fooled and sales nosedived. Ford pulled the plug on the Courier after four years.
Ford F-250 And F-350
It’s not just the Ford F-150 that had issues. The F-250 and F-350 have both had numerous issues reported over the years. Most common year models with issues include the 2006, 2008, and 2011 Ford pickup trucks.
The 2006 models had reported engine failures. In 2008, customers returned F-250s en masse because of a shaky suspension. The F-250s also had a particular issue with unintended acceleration and premature braking that needed to be addressed.
You did not read that wrong. In 1969, Dodge released a pickup truck named Dude, and it was not a very well made truck. The Dude was a part of Dodge’s Sweptline pickup series and was essentially a D100 with special decals added on.
The Dodge doubled down on the failure in 2004, releasing a Dude version of the Durango. The Durango Dude was more functional than the original, but neither was anything to be excited about. It’s not even that they broke down, consumers just didn’t like them.
When Chevy first introduced the C/K series, they were great vehicles. That was back in 1959. As the years passed, so to did the attention Chevy put into this pickup truck, leading to the disaster that was the K2500 in 1997.
One owner complained that the truck rusted early on the cross-member underneath the driver and passenger seats. That is… not ideal when it comes to safety. It’s best to avoid this truck if you find it on the used market.
Mazda B Series
The Mazda B was a visually interesting looking pickup truck that was poised to be a hit for the automaker. Looks aren’t all that matter, however, especially when it comes to pickup trucks, and the B Series was sorely lacking under the hood.
The truck had limited hauling power and was marketed as a commuter vehicle instead of a blue-collar truck. Mazda missed the market entirely and ended up with easily one of the worst pickup trucks ever made.
The Mitsubishi L200 was originally sold in Japan as the Forte but was rebranded as the L200 in the United States. Designed to be able to handle small jobs, Mitsubishi completely over-estimated the market for such a truck in America.
The L200 was also noted for severe rust problems. One owner claimed the bottom of the car was almost entirely rusted over after just one year of ownership. That’s a scary thought for any auto owner!
Let’s all be grateful the Nissan Navarra was never released in the United States. The pickup truck was released in Europe, New Zealand, Asia, and Australia, where it was discovered to be a mess of a pickup that should have never left the factory.
Rust was a major issue with the Navarra, which causes the underpinning of the truck to crack and eventually break into two. This, of course, is not safe for the driver or their passengers.
One of the more unique looking cars on this list is the Chevy Corvair. It looks like Chevy took a toy truck and turned it into a pickup truck. In reality, it was created in response to the Volkswagon Type 2, a popular car at the time.
In 1961, Chevy put just under 3,000 Corvairs into production. The next year less than 400 were produced. Chevy was quick to admit their mistake and discontinued the vehicle.
If you thought the Mazda B Series was the worst the company ever produced, you must not remember the Rotary. One of the most griped about vehicles in Mazda history, there was nothing good about the Rotary, not even the engine.
The name Rotary actually comes from the engine of the car, which was a Wankel-engine. This unique engine used a rotary design in combination with its internal combustion mechanics. It was, to be blunt, never intended to be put inside a pickup truck.