In recent years, pickup trucks have emerged as the vehicle of choice for every single automotive market segment. Even city dwellers now choose pickups to haul the family around town, joining rural and work-oriented buyers who use their trucks for more serious truck stuff.
The result of this trend is that most manufacturers have upped the ante in terms of their pickup truck lineup's luxurious amenities. Even truck commercials on TV now feature more information about Bluetooth connectivity, sunroofs, and ventilated seats than horsepower, torque, and towing capacity—gone are the days of pickup trucks towing enormous loads up ramps in the desert while rings of fire erupt around them.
But not all pickup trucks are created equal. Keep scrolling for 10 pickups that were built to crumble and 10 that are worth every penny.
20 Built to Crumble: Ford Explorer Sport Trac
The Ford Explorer is already a dubious vehicle to buy used, having earned its "Exploder" moniker many times over, but the Sport Trac pickup truck version is even worse. This truck is a perfect example of a parts-bin special that ends up being a mistake from the get-go, even if Ford tried to keep it on the market for about a decade.
19 Built to Crumble: Mercedes-Benz X-Class
Calling a pickup truck "cheap" can either refer to its original MSRP, its current value on the market, or its build quality. For the Mercedes-Benz X-Class, the MSRP and current value are relatively close—and both are pretty high up there given the company's luxury status. But in reality, the X-Class is a weak Nissan with some fancy amenities that don't make it worth the extra cash.
18 Built to Crumble: Chevrolet Avalanche
The Avalanche emerged onto the pickup market as an attempt by Chevrolet to combine the best parts of a truck and an SUV. Unfortunately, it was worse at truck stuff while simultaneously being less comfortable than an SUV. And given that hauling anything in the short bed almost required folding down the rear seats and opening up the cabin to the elements, there's a good chance any Avalance has serious interior damage today.
17 Built to Crumble: Nissan Frontier
Nissan has built some great vehicles over the years, from commuter cars like the Sentra to full-on racers like the Skyline GT-R and even a few pickups. But in the last two decades, Nissan has decided to beef up their trucks and try to compete with larger American products, though the results, like the Frontier, have been significantly less than stellar.
16 Built to Crumble: Hummer H2 SUT
When GM decided to develop the lineup of Hummer H2 vehicles, hippies and eco-conscious drivers the world over were aghast. But gearheads didn't understand the concept, either, since the new version was a parts-bin special that combined elements of several pickup trucks and SUVs in a recipe that was never destined for success, especially the H2 SUT and its teensy-tiny truck bed.
15 Built to Crumble: Subaru BRAT
The Subaru BRAT has developed a bit of a cult following over the years thanks to its small size, all-wheel drive, and, of course, those bed-mounted jump seats. But as cool as it may seem, the BRAT was a product of Subaru's down years, when rust and electrical issues were all too common for the brand. Most BRATs today suffer from extensive deterioration.
14 Built to Crumble: Toyota Tacoma
Most iterations of Toyota's pickup trucks have proven themselves as being about as reliable as trucks can get. The only real knock on the brand's attempts to corner the pickup market is their early to mid-2000s trucks, which suffered from frame rust issues if neglected in bad weather. The result is mind-bending issues like in the photo above.
13 Built to Crumble: Subaru Baja
As SUVs began to coalesce into a huge market presence in the late-90s and early-2000s, most brands experimented with variations on the theme. Subaru went the route of trying to bring back a vehicle inspired by their BRAT, the Subaru Baja. But the Baja only loosely qualifies as a pickup truck, given that it's essentially a station wagon with the rear canopy removed.
12 Built to Crumble: Lincoln Blackwood
The Lincoln Blackwood will go down in history as one of the strangest decisions in the automotive world. Essentially, Ford took an F-150 and upscaled it with a fancier interior and a few exterior modifications that included a factory bedcover and outward-hinged truck bed. The combo resulted in no one wanting to actually use their Blackwood for truck stuff, so most just crumbled after sitting around for far too long.
11 Built to Crumble: Chevrolet SSR
The entire concept of the Chevrolet SSR seems built to crumble with the slightest amount of thought. A V8 engine, hardtop convertible layout, bedcover, and absurd styling—not to mention a ridiculously high price tag—just all seem absurd all together in one package. Chevy struggled to sell the SSR, and there are probably more in various stages of neglect than still driving on the road today.
10 Worth Every Penny: Toyota Tacoma
Just about any generation of the Toyota Tacoma is a great buy, either new or used. As long as the truck has mostly avoided extensive exposure to bad weather and potential frame rust issues, these trucks will run for hundreds of thousands of miles while only needing an occasional oil change—and they hold their value almost like a collectible.
9 Worth Every Penny: Ford F-150 SVT Lightning
Ford took the street-sport pickup truck to a new level with the second-gen F-150 SVT Lightning. Powered by a supercharged V8 producing up to 380 horsepower, the Lightning also utilized a beefy transmission from the larger F-350 diesel pickup. The exterior design was smooth and powerful simultaneously, and even without four-wheel drive, this is still an awesome pickup today.
8 Worth Every Penny: Dodge Li'l Red Express
Perhaps the truck that began the trend of factory street-sport pickup truck models, the Dodge Li'l Red Express remains in a class of its own. During its production run for 1978 and 1979, it could take on pure sports cars like Ferraris and was the quickest vehicle to 100 miles per hour on the market. They're actually pretty cheap on the used market, too.
7 Worth Every Penny: Ford F-150 SVT Raptor
Ford struck gold with the F-150 SVT Raptor, the latest in their long line of F-150 special editions. Not only did the media go into a frenzy, but the truck was in a class of its own for years before other manufacturers started to get the hint that maybe a powerful off-roader would be popular for them, as well.
6 Worth Every Penny: Nissan Hardbody
Nissan's Hardbody pickup truck is so ubiquitous that most people don't even look twice when one passes them on the road—and they don't think of the pickup when shopping around. But with a simple drivetrain, simple build, and simple interior, the Hardbody is a great option for a simple, reliable truck at a low price.
5 Worth Every Penny: Dodge Ram SRT-10
The Dodge Ram SRT-10 may be the most expensive pickup truck on this list, but there's no doubt it's the wildest concept. The fact that someone at Dodge had the brass to drop a Viper V10 and a six-speed stick shift into a truck is encouraging—and the fact that executives at the company were willing to go along with the idea is amazing.
4 Worth Every Penny: GMC Syclone
The GMC Syclone is a one-year-only street-sport truck that's become slightly collectible over the years. With a turbocharged V6 engine that sent power to all four wheels—a rarity in the street-sport world—the Syclone was ready to take on the world in 1991. Finding one in good shape may be difficult but the smiles per gallon rating is as high as it gets.
3 Worth Every Penny: Dodge DW Cummins
In terms of reliable pickup trucks for ranch were and generally beating up on a daily basis, it's hard to go wrong with a Dodge Ram D/W series, especially when equipped with the Cummins inline-six diesel engine. Rugged, simple, and with enough beef for most truck tasks, this is a truck that the current industry needs to remember as design and engineering inspiration.
2 Worth Every Penny: Dodge Power Wagon
Finding a solid Dodge Power Wagon might be a challenge but the effort is well worth it. Few trucks embody classic and rugged style so well, though a restored example like the one pictured above is worth a serious chunk of change. Pristine paint just looks silly on a Power Wagon, though, so an original survivor might be more fun.
1 Worth Every Penny: Chevrolet 3100
There are a few pickup trucks that have just become timeless examples of perfection in design and engineering. One of the best ever is the Chevrolet 3100, part of the Advance Design era that ran from 1947 to 1955. Enough of these trucks survive today to make them attainable and from the looks to the powertrain, they're great investments to cruise in or beat up more.
Sources: Bullet Motorsports, Wikipedia, and Dodge Connection.