“Not too long ago pickup trucks were primarily designed to do tough work and haul a bunch of heavy stuff. Nowadays they can still do all of that, but they’ve gotten more comfortable, luxurious, safer, and even family-friendly.”
While I’m no longer a resident of Texas, I did live in the charming and vibrant city of San Antonio up until my 22nd birthday, and I learned that whether you own a ranch, a luxury condo, need a truck bed or not, pickup trucks are a way of life in the Lone Star State.
Just a few months ago, I found myself driving from our home in Indianapolis to San Antonio, Texas for the third or fourth time in a matter of six weeks. And when I drive a particular route enough times I start noticing traffic patterns, vehicle demographics, and other silly things that only I’d pay attention to. And one thing stood out—the moment I crossed the Mississippi, the number of pickup trucks on the road tripled.
That’s when the “Family Friendly pickup” idea was born. For the next thousand miles or so I held a mental debate about what my dream truck would look like, what color it would be, what options it would have, and if a full-size pickup truck would fit my family lifestyle with kids, daily commutes, and even winter weather.
I put my ideas together, smiled in a somewhat mischievous way, grabbed my phone and sent some emails. Fast forward a couple of months and I can now say I’ve experienced some of the most popular, iconic, and coolest pickup trucks in the market. So I guess it’s time to answer my own question…
2015 Chevy Silverado Z71 LT
- Price as tested: $51,805
- Rear leg room: 40.93 inches.
- Key features: plenty of USB chargers, clever cargo compartments, ability to manage rear child door-lock from the front.
My very first car was a 2002 blue Chevy Silverado z71 LT appropriately named “Blue”, in part because of the its color but also because of my favorite character from the movie “Old School”…
Right off the bat the Silverado boasts some key ingredients that make it an excellent choice for the Mom or Dad that wants or needs a pickup truck as their only car. It seems that Chevrolet borrowed some queues from their successful family sedans and incorporated them into the Silverado, like rear cupholders, center armrest, large ac vents and comfortable seats with plenty of padding. But in today’s world if you want to please the kiddos then you must have a solid source(s) of power to charge their many gadgets. The Silverado has that, actually—I counted a total of 8 freaking power sources. Oh, and did I mention the Silverado also serves as a rolling 4G LTE hot-spot?
Enough with what kids need, what about what parents need for the kids? Well, I personally hate two things—a cluttered car and a dirty car. The Silverado features some genius plastic compartments under the rear seat that are perfect for throwing in muddy shoes, bike helmets, a soccer ball, or even help with keeping their backpacks or road trip toys organized. Also, you can activate or deactivate the rear door child locks by pressing button located on the driver’s door. It’s the little things…
2015 Ford F-150 4X4 Supercrew Lariat
- Price as tested: $56,360
- Rear leg room: 43.6 inches.
- Key Features: most rear leg room, surround view cameras, inflatable rear seat belts.
Although not crucial to family functionality, the F-150 leaves the others in the dust when it comes to interior and exterior design. It’s bloody pretty!
It’s quite easy to understand why the F-150 is the best selling truck in America for 38 years, as it is a well crafted package. The Ford immediately stood out by having the most rear legroom for the kiddos, which is important — not only because they are the primary rear occupants, but just in case you leave them at grandma’s for the night, you can still seat 3 of your favorite party friends comfortably. Even I fit in the back seat, and with the optional panoramic sunroof it even felt a bit luxurious.
Do you live in a place where it gets a bit chilly? Then your kids are gonna love the Ford. On top of offering the most rear leg room, the F-150 also features front and rear heated leather seats, which will help put an end to the awkward stares from the back seat during cold winter mornings. The rear center console housed the heated seat switches, two large ac vents and two power plugs — one household and one cigarette lighter style, though no USB plugs. Sure you can buy an adapter, but that’s just silly nowadays…
Overall the Ford packed the most pizazz, luxury, technology, and with its 3.5-liter V6 Ecoboost Engine it also delivered the best fuel economy of the group.
2015 Toyota Tundra Platinum Crewmax
- Price as tested: $50,250
- Rear leg room: 42.3 inches.
- Key Features: massive cabin, first-class seats, cool rear window.
I’ve never wondered what it’d be like to pilot Grave Digger or Big Foot, but after the driving the Tundra Platinum for week, I think I may have an idea what driving a building might be like.
Built in San Antonio, Texas the Toyota Tundra is about as ‘murican as it gets, and it’s most definitely not ashamed of showing its southern pride with Texas-sized doors, windows and a ripped and muscular hood. If there is one thing the kids and I will never forget about the Tundra—is the ride quality. It seriously reminded me of what my old Silverado drove like; smooth and plush. The Tundra absorbs bumps the size of the Grand Canyon with grace and composure.
The Toyota’s suspension isn’t the only contributor to its smooth ride, because the front and rear extra-large and extra-padded leather seats offer the utmost comfort to big and little passengers alike. The Tundra hits it out of the park with exquisite cross-stitched upholstery with embedded Platinum badges, but the rear seats aren’t heated and don’t offer any type of cargo compartments, so even though the Tundra may offer great backseats for long road trips, the two front seat-back pouches won’t be enough to store all the stuff that kids need to survive on trips nowadays.
The Tundra is definitely the most heavy-duty, powerful and rugged out of the group. I believe the somewhat outdated interior, poor fuel-economy, and lack of practicality due to its enormous size make it a better choice for a serious work truck than a convenient daily driver. (Though for some, bigger is better)
Driving all three trucks was an incredible experience and an immense pleasure. I couldn’t be any happier to have experienced first-hand how each manufacturer tailors their vehicles to their own specifications and demands of their loyal clientele. If you happen to need a pickup truck that doubles as every day car, family car, pleasure car and weekend car, I hope this helped with your homework!
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