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Top 6 $40,000 Pickups for the Whole Family

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author photo by Jeffrey Archer August 2012

While many drivers split their time between a pickup and a family car, we believe there are several vehicles capable of performing both family tasks and work duties. We've compiled a list of our favorite pickups with a family flair, capping our budget at around $40,000 - steeper than our usual price point, but still affordable considering that we're suggesting you consider one vehicle in place of two.

Chevrolet Avalanche LS

Due to a starting price of nearly $38,000, only the base-level Avalanche LS is affordable for most family-minded truck shoppers. But that's not a problem considering the four-door pickup's long list of passenger-friendly standard equipment, which includes dual-zone automatic climate control, tinted rear windows, rear audio controls and even side curtain airbags. Of course, the Avalanche isn't all about passenger comfort, as the truck's rear partition can be stowed to create a huge load floor that rivals most modern full-size pickups. The truck also features a standard 320-hp 5.3-liter V8 designed to tow more than 8,000 lb, making it a great choice as a family vehicle or a true pickup.

Ford F-150 SuperCrew Lariat

We highly recommend the luxurious F-150 Lariat to just about anyone who regularly carries passengers in their pickup. While its starting price of just under $39,000 might seem steep, the F-150 SuperCrew Lariat boasts an impressive 5.0-liter V8 that offers 360 hp, 380 lb-ft of torque and a muscular 9500-lb towing capacity. The Lariat also includes a long list of luxury goods like leather upholstery, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control and satellite radio. Shoppers on a slightly more restrictive budget would also be wise to consider the F-150 FX2, which includes nearly all of the Lariat's equipment - minus the leather - for around $1,000 less.

Honda Ridgeline

With a starting price of around $30,000, Honda's 4-door Ridgeline easily fits within our budget. It's also a prime candidate for our list thanks to four full-size doors, a comfortable back seat with room for three and an in-bed "trunk" that's both lockable and waterproof. Truck shoppers with families will also appreciate passenger friendly equipment like tinted rear windows, dual-zone automatic climate control and an in-dash 6-disc CD changer, all of which is standard on the mid-range RTS model. But while the Ridgeline might be car based, it hasn't forgotten its truck roots, offering a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 lb and a dash-mounted button that provides full-time 4-wheel drive.

Nissan Frontier

Although Nissan's full-size Titan might seem like it makes more sense as a family pickup, we prefer the midsize Frontier. For one, the Frontier offers a more reasonable base price, topping out around $33,000 for the upscale SL model. That version - which includes automatic headlights, Bluetooth, power front seats, leather upholstery and satellite radio - is our top pick, not just due to the long list of standard equipment but also because of its potent powertrain. In addition to a standard 5-speed automatic transmission, the Frontier SL offers Nissan's 261-hp 4.0-liter V6 as included equipment, meaning the pickup offers a healthy 6,500-lb towing capacity and a payload rating of nearly 1,600 lb.

Ram 1500 Laramie

Although the Ram is more of a full-size pickup than a family vehicle, the truck still offers a host of equipment designed to appeal to the family-oriented truck shopper. Perhaps the most notable item is the truck's "RamBox" feature, which is mounted on both sides of its bed and serves as a veritable trunk for items that would otherwise roll around if unsecured. The Ram also offers plenty of interior convenience features, especially in its $38,300 Quad Cab "Laramie" guise. There, standard equipment includes a power passenger seat, leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate controls and tinted rear windows.

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Toyota Tundra Double Cab Limited

While we'd like to recommend Toyota's luxurious Tundra CrewMax, which offers four full-sized, front-hinged doors, its base price of nearly $42,000 places it out of our league. But after spending some time in the back of a Tundra Double Cab - which starts around $39,000 - we think most buyers will have no trouble getting by with the slightly smaller body style. Sure, the Double Cab doesn't offer four large doors, but its backseat is just as big - and passengers will likely get over the slightly cumbersome entry and exit thanks to an impressive list of standard equipment that includes leather upholstery, tinted rear windows, a power passenger seat and even Toyota's signature power-operated rear window. The Tundra Limited also comes standard with the truck's 5.7-liter V8, which produces more than 380 hp and tows a brawny 10,000 lb.

What it means to you: Our list shows that it's possible to combine the utility of a pickup with the practicality of a family car.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Top 6 $40,000 Pickups for the Whole Family - Autotrader