American All-Stars: The Most Popular Pickup Trucks in the U.S.

Americans are well-known for their intense devotion to their cars. And pickup trucks, more than any other vehicle, have earned a loyal following across the United States. 

Since the inception of the first pickup truck over a century ago, this quintessentially American vehicle has gained a strong foothold in the American psyche. Pickup trucks have come a long way from their progenitor, the Ford Model TT. And in the United States, a pickup truck is more than just a vehicle — it’s evolved into a multifaceted cultural symbol. A longtime embodiment of Americanism, the pickup truck is a vehicle of dualities at its core. It’s representative of both consistency and innovation, practicality and luxury. It exemplifies masculinity to some, and overcompensation to others. 

Pickup owners are also some of the most loyal. Eighty percent of pickup owners will go on to replace their old pickup with a new one, according to Edwards’ New Vehicle Experience Study. A recent Ford survey reports that a whopping 79 percent of pickup owners would more willingly give up alcohol for a year than the keys to their pickup for the same amount of time, and 47 percent would willingly give up their phone. The devotion that owners have to their pickup trucks is not only steadfast and deep, but it’s also a key selling point for auto companies.

Americans purchased $91.831 billion worth of pickup trucks in 2019 alone. It goes without saying, but pickups occupy a significant segment of the American car market. In recent years, sales have trended upwards, compared to sales of cars and SUVs. In fact, in keeping with this upward trend, sales of pickup trucks officially overtook sales of cars this spring. A handful of car brands are also adding a pickup to their 2021 lineup, eager to capitalize on pickup trucks’ increasing share of the car market. 

It’s clear that Americans love their trucks. But when it comes to specific models, which pickups are more popular than the rest? Eager to identify the most popular pickups in America, the data science team at Insurify turned to their database.

Insights

bar chart of the ten most popular trucks in America

  • Ford reigns supreme… except in Hawaii. When considering pickup popularity on a state-by-state basis, Ford F-series pickups are the most popular trucks in all states, except for in Hawaii. It turns out that residents in The Aloha State tend to prefer the affordable, no-frills Nissan Frontier instead.
  • How safe are pickups compared to other vehicle types? Pretty safe. In fact, pickup trucks are safer than SUVs and cars, based on the driver fatality rate per miles driven. According to a national report released this May by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the death rate of pickup truck drivers is 18 for every 10 billion miles driven. SUV owners are a little less lucky, with a death rate of 19 drivers for every 10 billion miles driven. Meanwhile, driving a car is twice as dangerous as driving a pickup; there are 36 deaths for every 10 billion miles driven in a car. 
  • Which state drives the most pickups? The highest proportion of drivers owning a pickup truck live in Georgia, which has 5.52 times more pickup drivers than the national average. The average share of pickup truck drivers across all states is 8.25 percent

Methodology

The data science team at Insurify, a website to compare insurance quotes, referred to its database of over 2.5 million insurance applications. When applying for car insurance, car owners must disclose their driving history, including the make and model of the car they drive. The most popular pickup trucks in America were determined from this car ownership data. 

MSRP data for the top ten pickup trucks were gathered from the manufacturers’ websites for the 2020 model’s base trim level, with the exception of the Nissan Frontier, for which the 2020 model year’s MSRP is still unavailable. 2019 MSRP data was gathered instead. Each of the top ten trucks was given an Insurify composite rating, based on their 2020 model. This rating was determined using scores given by Edmunds, U.S. News & World Report, and Car and Driver. 

The Most Popular Pickup Trucks in America

10. RAM 2500

  • Vehicles per 10k: 13 
  • MSRP: $33,895
  • NHTSA safety rating: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Insurify composite rating: 8.6/10

The first pickup to round out the top ten is the RAM 2500. With 410 hp and 385 lb-ft of torque, this heavy-duty truck is the stronger, more powerful cousin to the RAM 1500. As one of the only three trucks on the list awarded 5 out of 5 stars by the NHTSA, it’s also very safe. This is also the priciest pickup to make the list, and it’s also one of the most luxurious. It’s easy to see the appeal of the RAM 2500, for those who can afford it and who want that extra muscle.

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9. Chevrolet Colorado

  • Vehicles per 10k: 18
  • MSRP: $21,300
  • NHTSA safety rating: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Insurify composite rating: 7.7/10

The Chevy Colorado is the ninth most popular pickup truck in the nation. Affordably priced and dependable, this pickup appeals to those looking for a more modestly-sized Chevy truck. The Chevy Colorado is one of the less-powerful trucks on this list. A baseline 2.5L 4-cylinder engine provides only 200 horsepower, 191 feet-pounds of torque, and 3,500 pounds of towing capacity. 

8. Nissan Frontier

  • Vehicles per 10k: 24
  • MSRP: $20,300
  • NHTSA safety rating: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Insurify composite rating: 6.6/10

The Nissan Frontier is the eighth-most popular pickup truck in the United States. With 6,720 lbs max towing capacity, 261 max horsepower, and 281 lb-ft of torque, this midsize pickup delivers the essentials, but nothing more. Aesthetically, not much has changed for the Nissan Frontier since 2005; it’s by far the least glamorous pickup on the list (and, frankly, on the market). Nonetheless, the Frontier remains a favorite among frugal pickup drivers, given its consistently high reliability ratings and relatively affordable price. 

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7. Toyota Tundra

  • Vehicles per 10k: 32
  • MSRP: $33,575
  • NHTSA safety rating: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Insurify composite rating: 5.9/10

Like the Nissan Frontier, newer model years of the Toyota Tundra are beginning to feel a bit “old” compared to the competition. Additionally, the Tundra’s towing capacity (10,000 pounds for the baseline 5.7L V8 engine) and fuel economy are among the lowest in its class. Nevertheless, this full-size pickup is still quite popular among truck owners and is prized for its consistent performance, smooth ride quality, and high resale value. The Tundra especially appeals to drivers who stray off the beaten path, with two trims designed specifically for offroading.

6. Toyota Tacoma

  • Vehicles per 10k: 45
  • MSRP: $26,050
  • NHTSA safety rating: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Insurify composite rating: 7.2/10

It’s easy to see why the Toyota Tacoma ranks higher on this list than its closest competitors, the Nissan Frontier and Chevy Colorado. With a baseline engine offering only 159 horsepower, it’s certainly not the most brawny pickup on the list. Nevertheless, the Tacoma is a sensible choice for those drivers who don’t need to do a lot of heavy lifting. It’s a solid option that’s smaller than the Tundra and much more affordable, in terms of MSRP, fuel efficiency, and excellent resale value.

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5. GMC Sierra

  • Vehicles per 10k: 60
  • MSRP: $29,600
  • NHTSA safety rating: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Insurify composite rating: 7.9/10

The GMC Sierra makes the top 5 most popular pickup trucks in America, and it’s easy to see why. The Sierra has received consistently high ratings and is well-known for its build quality and performance. Even the smaller of the GMC Sierra’s two engine options is quite powerful: the 4.3L V6 offers 285 horsepower, 305 lb-ft of torque, and a towing capacity of up to 7,900lbs. Often compared side-by-side with the nearly identical Chevy Silverado, the Sierra has more available features than its counterpart and is also marketed as the more luxurious vehicle of the two.

4. Ford Ranger

  • Vehicles per 10k: 61
  • MSRP: $24,410 
  • NHTSA safety rating: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Insurify composite rating: 7.1/10

The Ford Ranger is the fourth most popular pickup in the United States. It might be surprising to find this slightly smaller and less powerful pickup (at least when comparing base engine options) among the top five, especially in a country where it seems that bigger is always considered better. But the Ford Ranger, with its much more limited array of customizations and no-frills base trim, appeals to those who know exactly what they want and nothing more. 

3. RAM 1500

  • Vehicles per 10k: 62
  • MSRP: $32,145
  • NHTSA safety rating: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Insurify composite rating: 9.2/10

The RAM 1500 is one of the top three pickups to dominate the American car market. It’s also one of only three trucks on this list to be awarded five out of five stars for crashworthiness and rollover safety by the NHTSA. With a roomy, quiet cabin and a smooth ride, the RAM 1500 is also one of the more powerful light pickups on this list — its standard 3.6-liter V-6 engine boasts 305 horsepower, 269 pounds-feet of torque, and up to 7,730 pounds of towing capacity. Americans have loved RAM trucks since the first, which was released in 1980. And as “America’s Most Loyal,” RAM trucks are certainly here to stay.

2. Chevrolet Silverado

  • Vehicles per 10k: 158
  • MSRP: $28,095
  • NHTSA safety rating: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Insurify composite rating: 8.0/10

The Chevy Silverado is America’s number two best-selling pickup truck, and for good reason. It’s nearly three times as popular as its more luxurious counterpart, the GMC Sierra. Like the Sierra, the Silverado is the ultimate combination of strength, dependability, and performance. But while the GMC Sierra may alienate some pickup drivers due to its reputation as a luxury truck, the Silverado is considered more accessible, selling for more than $1500 less at base price than the Sierra — and its resale value also depreciates less over time. 

1. Ford F-Series 

  • Vehicles per 10k: 250
  • MSRP: $28,745
  • NHTSA safety rating: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Insurify composite rating: 8.7/10

Ranking number one this year, the Ford F-series is the most popular pickup truck in America. This quintessential American pickup has been a perennial bestseller and American source of pride. Having debuted more than 100 years ago in 1917 as the Fort TT, the Ford F-series has consistently delivered on value and durability. With a wide variety of trim levels to fit every budget, superb towing and hauling capacity, excellent handling and superior build quality, and a comfortable interior (at higher trim levels, it’s downright luxurious), it’s easy to see why the modern Ford F-series continues to please.

If you have questions or comments about this article, please contact insights@insurify.com.

Updated July 21, 2020

Insurify’s team of data scientists and content specialists presents Insurify Insights, a series of automotive, home, and health studies focusing on the topics that impact us all. Through expert analysis of over 2.5 million car insurance applications and an array of top data sources, the Insurify Insights team produces new data-driven articles, trend analyses, regional superlatives, and national rankings every week. See Insurify Insights as featured in Forbes, Fox News, USA Today, NPR, and more.