A recent development in the pickup Truck segment is the emergence of the six-cylinder engine as a powerhouse. Sure, compact pickups have run them for years—those are the ‘big” engines in that class. But when you’re talking 1500-series trucks, most six-cylinder engines weren’t taken seriously at all. This is now history. As a result, this list of the best six-cylinder trucks contains some of the most noted models in the category. Advances in turbocharging, direct fuel injection, and variable valve timing have made extracting 300+ horsepower from a V6 engine pretty much routine. Further, these remarkable power increases come with strong fuel economy and smaller emissions footprints too.
The new Chevrolet Colorado offers a stout 3.6-liter V6 with 305 horsepower and 269 ft-lbs of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard, but a six-speed manual can be paired with rear-drive versions of the pickup. The mid-size truck features an extended cab with a six-foot bed and a crew cab with five- or six-foot bed lengths. Features include an eight-inch touch screen, Siri Eyes Free, OnStar 4G LTE with a WiFi hotspot, and a Bose seven-speaker audio system, as well as a rear view camera. Options include forward collision warning and lane departure warning. The Chevy is capable of towing up to 7,000 pounds. Pricing starts at $20,120.
Chevrolet Silverado 1500
Along with Silverado’s 2014 redesign came a 285-horsepower, 4.3-liter V6 with 305 ft-lbs of torque. For the first time in the Silverado’s history, the V6 is being offered across the entire 1500-series model range—with all three cab configurations, and all three bed lengths. Available features include Chevrolet’s MyLink system with text messaging alerts and Siri Eyes Free (for iPhone users). The Silverado’s OnStar system offers 4G LTE capability and a built-in WiFi hotspot. A spray-on bedliner is also offered. Towing capacity with the V6 is 7,600 pounds. Fuel economy is rated at 18 mpg in the city and 24 on the highway. Pricing starts at $25,575.
Ford’s big on turbocharging these days, so you’ll find a choice of two blown V6 engines offered with the perennially best-selling pickup. The all-new F-150’s twin-turbocharged, 3.5-liter V6 boasts 365 horsepower, 420 ft-lbs of torque, and a 12,200-pound tow rating. The maximum payload rating with the turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 is rated at 3,180 pounds. F-150 also offers a 325-horsepower, 2.7-liter turbocharged V6 with 375 ft-lbs of torque, a 2,250-pound payload rating, and 8,500 pounds of towing capacity. There’s a normally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 too, with 283 horsepower and 255 ft-lbs of torque. This engine will tow 7,600 pounds or haul a payload of 1,910 pounds. For 2015, the Ford F-150’s pricing starts at $25,420.
The new GMC Canyon claims the mantle of being the segment’s first premium mid-size truck. Its 305 horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 produces 269 ft-lbs of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard, but a six-speed manual is offered with rear-drive Canyon models. The mid-size six-cylinder pickup is offered with a choice of an extended cab with a six-foot bed, or a crew cab with five- or six-foot bed lengths. Canyon is capable of towing loads of up to 7000 pounds. Electronic technologies include OnStar 4G LTE connectivity with Wifi hotspot capability. Options include forward collision alert and lane departure warning. A rear-vision camera is standard. GMC Canyon pricing starts at $20,955.
Completely redesigned for the 2014 model year, the GMC Sierra 1500 offers a 285-horsepower, 4.3-liter V6 with 305 ft-lbs of torque as its base engine. Direct injection, Active Fuel Management (cylinder deactivation) and continuously variable valve timing make the most of its power, torque, and efficiency. The V6 is teamed with GM’s all-new eight speed automatic transmission and offered for all trims except SLT. The engine can be had with all three cab configurations and all three bed lengths. Fuel economy is rated at 18 mpg in the city and 24 on the highway. Towing capacity is 7,600 pounds. For 2015, GMC Sierra pricing starts at $26,075.
Honda’s pickup truck is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 producing 250 horsepower and 247 ft-lbs of torque. Its all-wheel drive powertrain defaults to front drive in steady state conditions, employing the all-wheel drive capability only when traction is marginal. A five-speed automatic handles transmission duties. The five-passenger Ridgeline features a 5,000-pound towing capacity, four doors, and a midgate pass through from the five-foot cargo bed to facilitate larger items. Standard features include a rear view camera with an output display in the rear view mirror and full power accessories. Options include automatic climate control, a leather wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, foglights, a sunroof, leather upholstery, and heated seats. Pricing starts at $29,575.
The Nissan Frontier is offered in both extended- and crew cab body styles. For V6 power the Nissan Frontier runs a 261-horsepower 4.0-liter, good 281 ft-lbs of torque. A six-speed manual transmission and rear-wheel drive are standard. A five-speed automatic and four-wheel drive can be ordered as options. A V6 Frontier can tow up to 6,300 pounds. Fuel economy with rear drive and the manual transmission comes in at 19 mpg combined, while four-wheel drive models equipped with the automatic transmission are said to be good for 17. Available features include Bluetooth, keyless entry, full power accessories, foglights, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, a sliding bed extender, automatic climate control, and a Desert Runner off road package. Pricing starts at $23,610 with the V6.
The highly acclaimed RAM 1500 pickup offers a choice of two V6 engines: a 305-horsepower, 3.6-liter with 269 ft-lbs of torque, and a 3.0-liter turbodiesel with 240 horsepower and 420 ft-lbs of torque. The 3.6 tows 7,450 pounds, the diesel does 9,200. Both are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission as standard equipment, and both can be teamed with four-wheel drive—making Ram 1500 the only truck in its class offering both diesel power and an eight speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy for the gasoline engine is rated at 20 mpg when combined with rear-drive, and 19 with four wheel drive. The diesel’s fuel economy is rated at 28 on the highway with rear drive. Available features include trailer sway control, Uconnect Access smartphone integration with WiFi hotspot capability, and stolen vehicle tracking. Pricing starts at $25,060.
Toyota’s Tacoma remains one of the most versatile mid-sized pickups available. Whether you’re looking for a hearty work truck, a sporty off-roader, or you just like having a pickup and want more luxury features; Tacoma has the gear available for your prescribed mission. Offered in three cab styles with two bed lengths, as well as rear- and four-wheel drive, the Tacoma is good to go for pretty much anything you have in mind. Its 4.0-liter V6 boasts some 236 horsepower, 266 ft-lbs of torque, and a towing capacity of 6,500 pounds. The engine can be paired with either a five-speed automatic, or a six-speed manual transmission. Further, the Tacoma’s 4.0-liter V6 can be had with either rear- or all-wheel drive. Fuel economy is rated at 19 mpg combined with the automatic and rear-drive, or 17 with the manual and four-wheel drive. Pricing starts at $20,765.