The 10 Worst Options for Pickup Trucks

By Tori Tellem & Drew Hardin

Most of the time, manufacturers have a pretty good handle on the kinds of options pickup buyers want in their trucks. The key words here are “most of the time.” There are, actually, quite a few that leave us with a big fat case of “What were they thinking?” Here are some of the worst we’ve seen.


10. Wake Up!

Worst-10 II
Several vehicles are now equipped with sensors that can tell if the driver is drowsy or otherwise inattentive behind the wheel. If the vehicle wanders too far outside the lane, an audible warning goes off to snap the driver back to focus. Figuring a pickup driver also needed more than just a gentle nudge, one manufacturer is offering a similar alert system, but with a little more kick — the equivalent of a household 120-volt current zaps the steering-wheel rim, certain to wake up even the sleepiest driver — and restart his heart, too.


9. Urgent Solutions

Worst-9 II
You’ve probably heard of the “trucker’s helper,” or using a plastic bottle that functions as an, um, portable relief station for those long hauls. Given recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation about average commuting times and traffic flow being in crisis mode, we’re not entirely surprised to learn that doctors and scientists recently released their own related stats about a rise in kidney stones and other ailments. That’s why we think one pickup has, buried deep on the options list, a more forward-thinking version of the helper. It uses the center console and a space-age polymer container that’s dishwasher safe. The console is self-cleaning.


8. Food Holder

Worst-8 II
There’s an option that costs less than $80, and it could be as lifesaving as the texting-while-driving ban. So what makes our eyes roll? Even though advanced safety technologies are drawing all the attention, a couple of automakers are offering simple ways to keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel by holding “dangerous” foods — like tacos and barbecue sandwiches — in a plastic vice while you’re driving. One automaker calls it the Food Assist Replacement Tray. Worse, we don’t know how they missed that acronym.


7. Special-Edition Trucks

Worst-7 II
We sort of hit on this with the appearance packages, but what we’re totally not digging are the movie-inspired trucks. When the Chevy Camaro went all “Transformers,” it caught buyers’ eyes, but we think mainly because customers thought there was a chance for some Bumblebee action. But what we’re wondering is if we really need that “Hunger Games” trim level supposedly in production for the sequels. We have to admit, though, we are a bit curious about what exactly the Katniss Edition’s postapocalyptic badging will look like.


6. Hybrids

Worst-6 II
We might stir up some controversy here, but all new vehicles are “clean” these days, so that’s not really a good argument for why you should be in a hybrid pickup. Truth be told, fuel economy of hybrid trucks isn’t all that impressive compared with their counterparts, and the MSRP can start close to $40,000. Plus, has anyone told you you’ll lose thousands of pounds of towing capacity to boot?


5. Interior Camera

Worst-5a II
What makes us cringe more than an off-road camera? A steering-wheel-mounted camera. Due in 2013 from an import automaker is a special camera that can zoom in to focus just on you, or zoom out to capture the entire cab so that you can instantly update your Facebook or Twitter status with pics of you driving, or of your passengers passengering. It’s said to be hands-free and voice-activated, of course. Safety first.


4. Front-View Camera

Worst-4 II
We kick it old school and do what we learned in driver’s ed: Use windows and mirrors to see what we’re doing and what’s happening around us when we drive forward and backward. But we know the age of backup cameras is upon us, and if the government has anything to say, the cameras will be mandated by 2014 in all vehicles. But what we really have trouble getting behind — or in front of, technically — is the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor’s front camera, designed to outsource the work of spotters or your own eyes, by giving drivers a view what’s directly in front of the truck, then displaying it on the navigation screen.


3. Calling All Diesel Engines

Worst-3 II
Along the same lines as no stick shifts for full-size trucks, how come full-size pickups get diesel engines but compact trucks don’t? We came close — real close — with the pickup from Mahindra, but that whole situation seems to be dead in the water, so who knows when — or if — we’ll see an oil burner in a compact anytime soon.


2. Aesthetic Packages

Worst-2 II
Why cough up money for all form and no function? We’re pointing at you, Ford, and your King Ranch and opulent Platinum editions. Sure, if upscale is your thing, you’ll likely be in hog heaven sitting in a truck swathed in saddle-tooled leather. But do we really need all those logos on the seatbacks, floormats, center console and other body parts? Of course, Ford’s not alone in this. The pricey Ram Laramie Longhorn and Limited editions have an equally leathery Southwestern and excess theme. Then there’s the Texas-only Ram Lone Star, with its Texas state emblem on the doors and tailgate. Wouldn’t that money be better spent on equipment that actually does something instead of just looking pretty?


1. What, No Manual Transmissions?

Worst-1 II
Where are the stick-shift trucks? True, compact pickups like the Chevy Colorado and Nissan Frontier get a manual in small numbers, but what about their full-size brethren, the Silverado and Titan, or any of the other full-size trucks, beyond the Cummins Ram HD? We’d prefer the option of a manual transmission across the board, not multiple choices in automatic gearboxes. Not only do they typically offer better fuel economy numbers but you're likely to get better/stronger gearing ratios. 


If you drive an automatic, you better have a handicap or your just a lazy/moron...

If you drive a Toyota, you better have a handicap or your just a moron...

Correction... last time I copy and paste a previous post...

If you drive a Toyota, you better have a handicap or YOU'RE just a moron...

I think the days of manuals getting better mileage are over, adapt or get out of the way...I'll take an auto

Front /rear camera are a good idea. Too many small children are injured because their parents did not see them behine or in front of the vehicle.

Please keep the analog gauges on trucks. I do not want digital or some kind of LED light for warnings. I want to have a real temperature gauge, alt gauge, and rpm gauge.

I have absoulely no problemo with Aesthetic Pickup truck packages such as the King Ranch, Platnum or Harley Edition trucks! Most people who buy these trucks have the coin for them & are not lookin for to save a buck on lesser equiped rigs to save money! I own a Harley Edition & bought it for just what kind of truck & what equipment it did have, nor what it didn't have & was willing to pay for it! Its great not seeing another one every time I drive down the road!

The first manufacturer who offers a full size pickup in crew cab/4x4/biggest engine configuration WITH a manual transmission will get my money.

And I suspect many consumers feel the same way.

@Michael Ram is the only to offer a manual trany in a heavy duty or midsize pickuptruck. Ford and Chevy stopped to max there towing to keep u with the Cummins A manual trany on dodge max towing is 19,500-(We all know it can tow More) but the manual can keep up with the automatics any day of the week

You guys need to get with the times. The eighties are long gone. Most, if not all, modern automatic transmissions will out-perform manuals in every way, including fuel efficiency. Plus... most, if not all, modern automatic transmissions have manual modes where you can still row through the gears as desired. Welcome to 2012.

The drawback of the automatic still remains the need for the torque converter and fluid cooling. The solution will be greater adoption of the automated manual transmission. Yes, automatics have closed the gap on fuel economy, but if you can't keep the ATF cool, forget it. With AMTs, a computer handles the clutch operation instead of the extra pedal, but the transmission is still a manual - there are no torque converters, fluid lines, or transmission coolers to worry about.

As for #10, anybody who's been sideswiped on a highway doesn't think this is a dumb option... I've had it happen to me twice in the last 10 years (and only once was the other driver honest enough to tell the responding police officer they screwed up).

Idc if autos can do all a manual can do nowadays, stick shift is just more fun. And I dont want to have a 2wd 4cyl truck to get it.

So when is this site going to get back to REAL truck stuff? Ever since Mike Levine left it has been on a downward spiral and looks like it will nevr get back to it's former glory..........sad

LOL!..some of those options really make me think if, auto makers are trying to make our lives easier or trying to make us lazier?

as for the MANUAL vs AUTO.

i'll stick with my chevy k2500 with manual transmission and dodge better keep selling HD with manual tranny JUST SAYIN' THERE IS ALOT OF PPL THAT PREFER MANUAL TRANNY VS AND AUTOMATIC"

1.less parts to wear
2.less expensive
3.ease of mainteneance
JUST to name a few....

Some of these things are good options, like systems to wake you up, forward cameras, aesthetic packages and special editions are fine as long as its not something dumb, for instance a 100th anniversary edition is ok, but something like the Cawa dooty madurn wawrfur tree edishun jeep is retarded.
Hybrids just aren't ready yet but their time will be soon.

Diesels may not work out here just because they are not cost effective like they are everywhere else. Just do the math between a jetta gas burner and jetta TDI, the tdi costs more, diesel fuel costs more so in order to save money you'd have to drive it like 250K to over 300K miles before it becomes cheaper overall than a jetta gas burner.

i think every car and truck should be offered in a manual trans. How cool would it be to drive around in a full size car like a impala or charger with a stick. i got a 1996 ram 1500 stick love it but they dropped that in 2002 in the 1500 and i think ford dropped there stick f150 around that time to sad sad days they should of kept them i think

Prior to 1988 all I drove were 6-cylinder trucks with a manual transmission. Didn't know any better! I bought my first brand new truck in 1988 and it had auto/AC/PS/PB/PW/Cruise and a nice interior. Now I'm spoiled. I want a truck with everything in it and on it. But I can live without the ten options listed in the article.

@Mike to be honest there is little happening, so it is a bit hard to post if there not much coming from the "Big 3 " and Toyota.

I don't see what is so wrong with front or rear view cameras, for the sake of parking. But I don't think it should ever be forced on people.

Manual transmissions may not be as good for mileage around town cause now the autos are so controlled to get the max efficiency. Once in top gear though the auto trans takes more power to turn. So I would bet the auto will get the best city and the manual will get the best highway, if they both have an equal final drive. I think for a manual to get the same power and mileage and potential to get a heavy load moving as the auto can with it's unlocked convertor, I think the manual needs one more gear. Hey, it works for Porshe, they are using a 7 speed manual.

As for Oxi's opening comments, that's about par for him. Not lazy here, there's just no 1500s available with manual option. And the little midsize trucks we have can't haul a heavy trailer comfortably and they sure don't have any bed space. The longbed Frontier or Tacoma just doesn't have the space. If I had the choice when I drove trash trucks, I would take the Eaton Fuller manual transmission, anyday. But then it's kinda an apples to oranges comparison, we didn't have any 10 speed autos, (if they exist). Just old 5 speed autos. I wonder how much more that company paid in fuel cause the 5th gear didn't work, and they said "drive it" vs. the high price to fix it? I do know there is alot less to go wrong with a manual, and they are taking the control out of the driver.

@Mark Williams I just noticed this article, it maybe good for an article in

@Mark Williams. Maybe Ford, GM or Chrysler could do the same or similar?

Interesting list. There has been considerable study done on #10. I'm not sure if they've come up with anything that works really well. Rumble strips on the road seem to be effective.
#9 - You got to be f-----g kidding? I've heard of long haul bikers using a condom catheter with a tube running down to their boot sole, I've also heard similar things being done in automobiles, I had read that some states have made it illegal to pee in a bottle because those pee bottles thrown out the window become pee bombs as they sit getting hot in the sun and explode when a poor maintenance guy hits them with a lawn mower. Yuck.....
#8 Stupid. Same category as texting, reading newspapers, applying makeup etc.
#7 Agree only if the Special Edition truck is some lame assed rebadge.
#6 Hybrid trucks currently do not provide an effective return on investment.
#5 Used for Facebook etc agreed, but IIRC commercial operators are using these devices to monitor what their drivers are doing. If there is an MVC, the data is reviewed.
#4 I disagree. I thought that you guys liked it on the Raptor? For tight urban environments, it may be more effective than for offroading. It could keep you from running over your kids or their stuff. My backup camera and sensors have saved me a few times.
#3 I do agree that small diesels should be offered in smaller trucks.
#2 Disagree. Sort off. If you are refering to all of the badges, tags, and labels attached to a high end truck, I agree with that. I don't need 30 reminders pointing out that I own a Harley Davidson F150.
#1 No manual transmissions. I agree and disagree. Modern automatics are more fuel efficient than a stick. They also have higher tow ratings. Resale sucks if you are selling a vehicle with a stick. Apparently 80% of NA vehicles are automatic. In the rest of the world, only 20% are automatic. Most European luxury cars come with stick shifts. As Roadtrip pointed out, you can get manual trans vehicles that have the clutch run by a computer. High end sports cars are a prime example.
I think that people should have a choice.

@Robert Ryan - the 6x6 is really cool. I've seen "cherry pickers" like that on the front of fire rescue units. It wouldn't be too hard to make. Just an A - arm with a pully attached to the front bumper and run your winch through it.

@TRX4 Tom - the only way to get maximum towing capacity with a Tacoma is with the V6 and auto transmission. In Canada, the Tacoma maxtow is packaged with the TRD Offroad package so you need to get close to a "loaded" trim truck to get it. I think that even with the Tacoma "max tow" you are limited to 7,000 lb. My F150 after rebates was cheeper than the comparable Tacoma. You could argue that the TRD package isn't the same as the XLT, but I could of got a FX4 for the same price as the TRD and still have a 2,500 lb higher rating.

@ oxi

That is one of the dumbest comments you've ever made. Oh, and it's "you're" you toyota loving moron.

Just an FYI: three of these on the top ten list are made up for April Fools Day. Pretty sure everyone can figure it out which ones but was still fun to put together. Hope all had a great day. And, by the way, our "Silveradeaux" should have shown it was posted at 12:15 AM on 4/1 instead of 3/31. Thanks for all the great comments.

Ha! This was a pretty solid April Fool's joke. Satire at its finest. Alas... I have to wonder when some moron decides to adopt one of these bad ideas.

Though, if I can be honest, I wouldn't mind having a portable bathroom in my car. God knows I've had trips where it would have saved myself a deal of pain and, um... suffering?

Manual transmission are dead, and are going to stay that way.
Automatics have more gears, and have more ratio spread.
Manual transmission have higher specific efficiency, but that doesn't matter when you can pull a taller gear with the automatic, so you get better efficiency from the engine-more than making up the slight efficiency loss.

Speaking of compact pickups...where ARE the REAL compacts?! Sure I love the midsize truck as much as the next guy, but they are getting as expensive and large and thirsty as their full size ancestors of the 20th century. I'm pretty sure someone can come up with a true compact...with a manual transmission to boot.

Well Tori and Drew have never owned a King Ranch then. It has nothing to do with looks and everything to do with Durability. Which is Exactly what a truck should be. Durable and long lasting. I opted for the King Ranch in my 2001 and never looked back. This is real working mans rawhide built to last. I'd never own anything else in my trucks. If they want that cheap crap more power to them. When a good base truck anymore costs 40-50-60 thousand dollars, what's a few grand more for quality leather? As long as Ford is selling it, I'll be buying it. Even Dodge recognizes this is what people want. Chevy? Not so much.. They're still stuck a decade or two back in time.

@Lou: I know Tacomas are spendy. My brother in law just bought a used one, they hardly came down off their price. But he was also thinking resale, which Tacomas may have now, but according to the JD Powers survey, Tacoma slipped back. That might hurt resale. Another reason? He couldn't fit the other truck he looked at into his garage. It was a Supercab 2010 4.6 3 valve 4x4. But I know the deal, some of those midsizers do cost what an even optioned full size would. I believe my brother in laws is rated to tow 6300 or 6500 and that is within my 6,000 range, but I wouldn't buy it to tow that heavy. 5,000 or less in these Ozarks. As for me, I park outside and don't buy based on what fits in my garage. I was only bringing it Oxi's attention that those trucks don't have space or capacity, and like you point out, value per buck spent.

@Kemo- If you're not oxi, you're just not as cool.
Front- mounted cameras.... the Europeans have some that actually just look left and right from the front bumper- lets you peek out around obstructed view.
Robert Ryan- almost no children are hurt just because they couldn't be seen- they are hurt because they were no being watched/ weren't told not to play behind cars- EVER! I've known this since I've been wearing washable underwear. People who back up whithout checking when kids are around, won't check a camera either. You can't fix stupid, but you can cost everyone money while trying. I DO think rvc's are the cats ass for hooking up trailers though.
Manual transmissions- When 4spd Autos were he norm, a 5 speed manual could offer serious performance and economy advantages. With 6spd autos now the standard, there are few advantages to be had. I still like the control of a manual off-road, but on pavement, I'll take an automatic or dsg with full manual modes.

A toilet in the center console? Where has this been all my life?!?!

@TrxTom - my bad. The Tacoma is rated at max tow of 6,500. I'm like most guys, I'd rather be well within my tow ratings than be right at their limits.

@Mrkowitall. It is the 'obstructed view" aspect as well as the small child dashing across a driveway without warning to pickup an object, although they are with another parent. It is the 3-5 age group that do not seem to comprehend danger. They need a leash in some cases like a dog to make sure they do not do something silly.

Never seen them here on a pickup but I know in Europe you see "Cherry Pickers" on cab chassis variants of Vans

I wouldn't buy a Hunger Games truck in a million years but I would run out and buy a Battle Royale Tacoma or Frontier! Every one should come with a backpack with a weapon, just like the movie. Just the thing for road rage, beats the subwoofer package on the Tacoma hands down. Probably should be followed up with the Road Warrior Camaro option and Terminator Edition Jeep. Durango 95 anyone?

Figured this was an April’s Fool joke straight way but this is an interesting topic as there are some options that are truly lame. The first legitimate stupid unnecessary option in my books is electronically shifted transfercases on full-size 4x4 trucks. How lazy are people that need button or dial that can't yank on a smooth shifting lever? Those pansies have practically all but ruined 4x4’s for the rest of us. Aren’t truck owners tired of Service Transfercase lights and pushing buttons that sometimes work and sometimes not for the past 15 years or so? The only way to get a true manual lever on the floor is to get a base model Ram ST or Power Wagon or base model GM truck. If you want leather and manual shift your out of luck. BS!!!

@scott The 3rd Gen Ram 1500 Hemi never had a manual available, but the 4.7L did all the way up to 2008. I have a 2004 4.7L with 235HP and a 5 speed, which I enjoy. I was bummed, however, because in 2008 they bumped the 4.7L to 310HP and you could still get the 6 speed manual. I was all ready to buy that same engine/tranny combo when the 2009 4th gen Ram came out, but alas the stick was no longer available in any 1500 model - :-(

I agree that a manual should be an option - I know when the Challenger first came out you could get the manual at an extra cost - which would be fine with me! Now you can still get the Chally with a manual, but it no longer has a price premium (the auto costs more). Anyone buying a manual SHOULD also know that re-selling it would be more difficult, but that is something I know I would be willing to accept.

I just love how everyone makes "factual claims" when they have no 1st hand experience. I bought my 2009 Frontier automatic brand new and never got better than 18.4mpg in mixed driving. I traded it for a 2011 with a 6 speed, everything else being the same. I drive it like I stole it, and it consistantly returns 19.8mpg.

Damn an automatic. If I want/need to grab a lower gear, I don't want the ecu/tcu to decide if it's going to downshift for me.

6 speed manual=more power to the wheels, complete control of what gear you're in, more mpg, and it's just way more fun to drive. What's not to like?

Automobile manufactures suck ass with EPA, thats why we are not getting our stick shift in most bigger trucks. So now when we tow we have to put coolers on our auto's.
If you want stick shift vote republican as they hate EPA

If Chevy offered a Full size, Z71 4x4 with a 5 speed stick shift, and a manual 4x4 lever on the floor they would sell thousands...... A manual locking rear diff would be nice too instead of the automatic one that may or may not kick in.

In 1983 ford installed a Mazda diesel in certain ranger trucks. To bad they didn't follow through with them. My son has one and after sitting for a year, it started right up. I would love a ranger diesel w/ stick.

Manual transmissions are fun. Too bad the masses prefer automatics and therefore make it not cost effective for the companies to offere manuals, except to make a low price teaser to get people into the sales lot.

I'll be buying restored old cars with manual transmissions, rear wheel drive, and no touch screen.

Let me start off by saying I love a manual again I love a manual. I live in Northern Virginia where the traffic is terrible. I really love my manual transmission in this ridiculous traffic because I have to shift gears. For years it was known that an automatic transmission was extremely inefficient. People bought them anyway because it was what they wanted. Now some may say that an automatic transmission is more efficient. But A manual transmission is still what I want. Don't quote data to me concerning the efficiency or inefficiency of one or the other. None of this data represents the size of the smile on my face when I shift through the gears of a manual transmission with a clutch. Five-speed, six-speed, seven-speed, the more gears I can shift through the happier I am. I am so mad at auto manufacturers for making it obvious that those of us who love manual transmissions are not worthy of their consideration.

wow i looked in dodge , ford, GM dealerships online browsing for a full sized truck with a manual trans and wow not available! your kidding i remember a few yrs ago getting a manual trans could knock off several 1000s in optional equipment its not hard shiiit ive txted while driving my 1995f150 that has a 5speed trans :P well even the newer trucks that had available standard trans the stick shift seemed small like the size of the stick shift in a car small compared to the stick in my truck thats like 18 inches long

Toyota still doesn't bring their line of Land Cruisers to the NA market and it just leaves me wondering why... An already tried and tested mid/full size pickup/suv/troop carrier line up with 4,6 and 8 cylinder turbo and N/A diesels. All of which get awesome fuel economy and can run on anything from store bought veggie oil to used motor oil if need be. Real 4WD systems sitting on 1 ton axles... The mines still import them by the 100's to be used underground all over North America, every rebel army in history has a fleet of them! Every country in the worlds best selling truck other then North America is The Toyota Land Cruiser... Protectionism at it's finest, GM, ford and daimler could at least f'in copy it! Cause I would buy one especially over all the under built overpriced huge ass bubble trucks that still get 20mpg and have such a shitty service record mine's still import LC's from japan!

Don't comment, do ur own research!

Look on the toyota austrlia website under 70 series!

Those people who commented about preferring auto trans over manual trans either don't know how to drive manual trans, or they're too old to care... personally, coming from a FEMALE who wants a manual transmission silverado... or I'd settle for a Ram 1500... I wish domestic companies who specialize in big engine powered vehicles would stop being so lazy, and give us control freaks (Yes, I PREFER having control of my acceleration speed and optimizing my torque) better options.

Well, I've got a 92 Chevy K2500 with 290,000 mi on it and had no trouble with the NV4500 tranny. Match that with an Auto. Main problem is keeping the idiots at Jiffylube from putting GL-5 in it. Pissed that Chevy no longer offers this fine transmission.

Manual vs Auto. I drive a Taco 5 speed odo is at 75k and still on factory brakes. Why, they have lttle wear, due to the ability to down shift. Yes, autos may have closed the gap on fuel efficency, but how many people down shift a automatic? They tend to have two pedals stop and go.

The comments to this entry are closed.