My truck buying journey

I'm trying something new this year and already it has shifted my perspective on trucks and SUVs that I am reviewing here. While we've historically fallen into the trap of simply promoting the latest and greatest trucks and basking in the joy that comes with getting a brand-new truck several times a month. What's changed now is that we're moving to Michigan and need a beefy vehicle that is capable in bad weather, gets good gas mileage and is comfortable for road trips, and ideally can tow a boat in and out of the water. After all, this is Michigan and along with having a gun, the state requires that you either have a buddy with a boat or you have one yourself. As a result, I'm going to be looking at these trucks with a different perspective in mind ... someone who is actually looking to BUY a truck. Not simply someone interested in the latest and greatest shiny stuff on the market.

For those that don't know, I currently drive a 2013 Kia Soul. It has been a wonderful vehicle for the past 10 years in Southern California and while it is still in excellent condition, it isn't exactly the best vehicle for Michigan winters. Even if it was - our new reality is that I'm going to be 30-40 min (vs 15 min Uber) from the airport and in our new home we will have multiple parking spots ... each of which is far larger than the compact space we were lucky to have in our loft in San Diego.

This new car will be a vehicle specifically for and so we are leaning towards options that are more masculine in nature - but as any married man can appreciate ... you aren't spending 10s of thousands of dollars unless your wife approves too!

Are We Only Looking At Trucks?

NO! I'm also looking at SUVs such as the Ford Explorer, Ford Bronco Sport, and Hyundai Palisade alongside vehicles like the GMC Canyon, Dodge Ram, and Chevy Silverado. We have roughly 6-months or maybe a year before we need to buy our new vehicle, so there's plenty of time to spend doing research and checking out new entrants the market.

What Our New Vehicle Needs To Do:

There are three main things that we need the new vehicle to be good at: Road Trips, Moving Stuff, Safe To Drive In Winter.

Road Trips:

This is our primary use case - I need something with excellent gas mileage, great comfort, plenty of safety technology, and windows that allow us to take in the scenery when we stop for a break. 

Moving Stuff:

While some vehicles on our list may be better at towing than others, we still need plenty of space either in the bed or behind the front row to haul "stuff". Whether it be picking up a grill at Home Depot or packing coolers, cots, and other gear for a weekend getaway to a cottage somewhere, we need a vehicle that is up to the task.

The secondary requirement here is that we need something that can tow at least 4,000 pounds. This is based on the fact that we'd like to buy a small boat at some point and don't want to feel the need to buy another vehicle just to bring it in and out of the water. To put this into perspective - a 20' pontoon boat with trailer will typically weigh about 3,600 lb. We'd like to have more margin there but 4,000 is our minimum.

Safe To Drive In Winter:

In theory, the Soul should be just fine in winter driving but we want something that can offer 4WD or at least AWD to offer better traction in slippery conditions. Additionally, the Soul ... as great as it's been over the past decade ... belongs to a different era of safety technology as well as lacking comfort features like heated seats and steering wheel for instance.


We're somewhat flexible on price (to a point) and so we're not trying to kick options out of the running just because it costs more than others. However, our realistic budget for a new truck is between $30,000-$60,000 and so so that's why favorites of mine such as Tahoe and Yukon just simply aren't on this list. Many of you might have no problem with spending 80, 90, 120k+ on a new truck but that's just not in the cards for me right now. 

What Vehicles Are On Our Short List Currently?

We have a pretty long shortlist currently and so I'm breaking it up by manufacturer and they are currently in no specific order. However, I am sharing some of my thoughts here so that you, our readers - as well as automakers and PR friends can get a better idea of what we're looking at.

General Motors:

  • Silverado / Sierra - I love both of these trucks and while I favor Sierra over Silverado ... this pair is hands-down my favorite full-sized truck right now.
  • Colorado / Canyon - The new Colorado is my favorite mid-sized truck as well and the pricing of Colorado and Canyon put them at the top of our list to buy.


 I'm not sure what it is about Ford but they've managed to produce more vehicles that I can truly see in my own garage than any other manufacturer. This includes some options such as the Mach-e that just aren't practical for Michigan currently but here's what we're looking at that will match our new lifestyle ...

  • F-150 - I have an on-and-off emotional attachment to the F-150. On one hand, I love driving it each time a new version shows up in my driveway. On the other, after it leaves I just don't have that connection to it the way I do when I see a Sierra AT4 for instance. Regardless - it is clearly on our short list for full-sized trucks.
  • Bronco Sport - This shouldn't qualify for our list based on the fact that the max towing is currently only 2,200 pounds. However, I absolutely love this "baby Bronco" as a fun lifestyle vehicle and so I'm keeping it on our list anyhow.
  • Bronco - We tested the Bronco Badlands Wildtrack a few months ago and absolutely loved it in the desert driving off-road ... but hated it on the highway. I'm looking forward to testing out an on-road focused trim level and giving it a better review for our needs as a daily driver. It is important to note here though that the Bronco max towing capacity is only 4,500 pounds so it barely qualifies for that.

Special Consideration ... Ford Maverick

We just spent a week driving the Maverick around town and I want one! Seriously, I've already looked at inventory across Michigan to see if there were any available in the configuration that I wanted, and sadly I was told to get ready to hit the pre-order website on July 17 to put my money down.

Right now, with a towing capacity of only 2,000 pounds and no AWD for the hybrid version (the only configuration I'm considering right now), it doesn't deserve to be on this list. However, rumors suggest that the 2024 version may add an extra motor for the rear axles and increase the towing to 4,000 pounds. If this happens ... at the same very aggressive price point that the Lariat trim we just tested had ... then that will be at the very top of our list!


  • Ram 1500 - It's hard to ignore Ram when it comes to shopping for a new truck. They have an extremely good ride quality and good interiors too. Heather especially loves the dynamic ride height and the ability to lower it a couple inches so she can enter and exit the cab without having to stand on rails or use a step stool


  • Gladiator - Heather and I both love the Gladiator and if we were still living in California, this would be an almost no-brainer but since our experience has been limited to driving it and the Wrangler as a rugged off-road vehicle, I'm not sure how it will ultimately stack up.


  • Palisade (or Genesis GV80) - This is one of the few SUVs on our list and that's because the Palisade and GV80 offer 5,000 and 6,000 pounds of towing capacity while offering a fabulous on-road driving experience that is packed with comfort and safety technology. 


  • Frontier - we have not tested this but I hear good things
  • Titan - I like the Nissan Titan. It isn't my favorite full-sized truck but there are some good deals out there as they are discontinuing the line since it failed to find it's market and so if I can get a Titan for thousands of dollars less than a Silverado then I have to consider that option!


The upcoming 2023 Toyota Tacoma deserves to be on our list but I'm reserving it till we get a chance to test this new generation. I have a lot of respect for Toyota vehicles, I absolutely love the Rav4 (especially the Rav4 Prime), and the Tacoma is legendary in terms of off-road reliability. However, as a bigger guy the passenger seats tend to just not be comfortable and the roofline is too low. This is something we decide to "grin and bear it" when it comes to reviews since everyone is different, but for a vehicle that we may have for the next decade ... that's a critical consideration!

 I Invite You To Join Me On My Journey!

Am I missing a vehicle that you think we should consider? Let us know. 

If you are a PR person for a manufacturer and you'd like to get us into a vehicle - one we've mentioned above or one that you think we should consider for our shopping list ... please let me know that too.

This is going to be a long journey but I think it's going to be a lot of fun!