Pickups aren’t just load-carrying mules on wheels anymore and things are looking up for the ubiquitous American truck. The way the muscle cars ruled the ‘60s and spilled over to the ‘70s as well, it seems to be all about pickup trucks and their performance now.
Of course, the performance pickup truck came to fore in the ‘90s, and unlike the muscle car craze that immediately topped the charts, this one has been slow and steady in the building.
Technically, the first-ever performance truck came in the ‘70s, when Dodge used a little loophole in the emission control rules. The noose was tightened for sedans and muscle cars and they had to use a catalytic converter to control what the exhaust was spewing but the rules forgot to mention pickup trucks. For a while, the fastest car was a truck, and it was the Dodge Li’l Red Express.
Now, pickup truck engines have just gone crazier albeit savvier as well, keeping performance and power in mind along with a kinder take on the environment.
So here go the ten most powerful American pickup trucks ever, ranked from the powerful to a storm on the road!
10 2014 Ram 2500 Cummins: Bursting With Torque
The Cummins diesel engines are a thing of legend if not beauty, and often considered to be one of the most powerful things on Earth, next to the Olympians. The 2014 Ram 2500 carried a 6.7-liter version that made “only” 370 horses. Why then, did we put this on the list? Wait till you hear about the torque!
With 800 ft-lb of sheer power, the towing capacity is mind-blowing making these trucks more dangerous weapons on the road than just a pickup to haul something in.
9 2001-2004 Ford SVT Lightning: Remains Impressive
The second of the Ford SVT Lightning generations, and also the last, the 2001 Lightning gave a cool 380 horses. Very impressive for the turn of the millennium. The Lightning was put out in 2004 and never revived, later replaced by the Ford SVT Raptor.
Still very much a cult classic, the Ford SVT Lightning remained popular because of that impressive 450 ft-lb torque that hit like a lightning bolt as soon as you put the pedal to the metal. Of course, with a truck that powerful, hauling capacity was reduced lest the tires shred on just a test ride.
8 2020 Chevrolet Silverado: Hints Of The Vette
The 2020 Chevy Silverado comes powered with a 6.2-liter V8 and this engine is related to the power they put under the hoods of the sporty Corvette and the muscular Camaro. The V8 jets 420 horses and is made more impressive by that 460 ft-lb torque.
For the 2020 refresh, there are more driver and towing assists as well as a 10-speed automatic transmission made widely available through the line-up. The adaptive cruise control is one of the best, reason enough for sales to soar back up in the first quarter of 2020.
7 2015 Ford HD Power Stroke Diesel: Torque Conquered
Remember the 800 ft-lb Ram Cummins we spoke about earlier? Well, might as well forget about it because, in 2015, Ford infused its heavy-duty F-250, 350s, and above with the Power Stroke Diesel engine. This 6.6-liter V8 now made a mind-blowing 860 ft-lb torque.
The 440 horses this engine jetted weren’t bad either, though all this power is yours only if you are okay with a diesel truck. But even gasoline trucks are upping their game and Ford is out to beat itself in the torque wars.
6 2020 Ford F-450 Lariat: 1,000+ Torque
The 2020 Ford-450 Lariat is not just 450 in tonnage, but horsepower as well. And this makes the Lariat tow a massive 24,200 pounds with the normal four-wheel setup. Add a fifth wheel, and this truck can now do 32,500 pounds.
The engine that does that magic is a 6.7-liter Power Stroke V8 TurboDiesel one, and the magic does not just come from the modest horsepower it makes. It’s the insane 1,025 ft-lb torque that makes it all look effortless and help the Lariat carry 7,850 pounds.
5 2004-2006 Dodge Ram SRT10: Pure Poison
Forget V8s. Sure, these are powerful and popular engines everyone wants in their truck, but at times, even a V8 can pale in comparison to a true behemoth. In 2004, Dodge incinerated just about every performance truck with its Dodge Ram SRT10, thanks to its wild engine.
The engine was borrowed from the Ram’s insane cousin, the Viper. The 8.3-liter V10 took this truck to 500 horses and 525 ft-lb of torque and got it a Guinness World Record of being the fastest full-size pickup, period. And it still is, even if fuel economy is a pain.
4 2021 Ram 1500 TRX: Challenge Accepted
Once Dodge did the SRT10, what further crazy could it do? Since someone must have asked this question, Dodge answered it in the best way possible. It took the 6.2-liter Supercharged V8 from 2015 Dodge Challenger and dumped it into a Ram.
Here, this very engine, so taken from the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat sent 702 horses and 650 ft-lb of torque to 35-inch all-terrain tires to chew up and spit out just about any road. A beefy suspension and a jump detection system made riding all the smoother. The Ram TRX will hit the showroom floors next year and we are all excited about it.
3 2022 Nikola Badger: Taking On Tesla
We all know of the Tesla Cybertruck, it has been vaunted enough by Musk himself. But there’s another all-electric pickup coming up that not only looks a lot less alien but also takes a page of off Tesla’s inspiration, and calls itself the Nikola Badger. A driving range of 600 miles, 906 horsepower as well as 980 ft-lb of torque make this a powerful all-electric contender.
It may also come with a water fountain as well as a hidden refrigerator and bookings have opened as of July 2020. The final Badger will be released on December 4, at the annual Nikola World Event.
2 2022 Tesla Cybertruck: Electric Supernova
Yes, it’s bizarre and so edgy it can cut if you looked at it wrong. But Tesla’s all-electric pickup truck that looks more like it belongs to the Matrix will make 800 horses from its three motors, two of which are in the rear.
Forget body paint, this is all scratch and dent-resistant steel and claims a tow rating of 14,000 pounds, plus a 500-mile driving range. The catch? It’s not here yet. It can also fly 0-60mph in 2.9 seconds for a heart-stopping performance with 1,000 ft-lb of torque.
1 2022 GMC Hummer EV: Pandemonium!
Remember the Hummer? Despite it going away in 2010, 2022 is likely to see Hummer make a comeback, according to industry news. Only now, it will be dressed far more nifty in an environment-conscious electric avatar.
With over 1,000 horses, GMC claims this will go 0-60 mph in 3 seconds, so the Cybertruck better watch out. What’s even more insane, is the torque, in five figures! The GMC Hummer EV SUT just made a promise of 11,500 ft-lb of torque and we just can’t anymore. Enough said.
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