Some guys are just truck guys. Always have been; always will be. Others might have a job or favorite past time that requires the ruggedness of a truck. And still others have a truck out of pure domestic necessity. How else are you going to pick up pine straw for the yard, take jet skis to the lake or haul your daughter's horse to the equestrian show?
So here are our favorite trucks that are equally rugged, powerful and family-friendly.
2011 Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab
There's no mistaking a Ram pickup, what with the big rig grill and fender treatment. The current Ram's design has evolved from the influential 1994 model, which has also been mimicked by every other full-size truck manufacturer. Like most pickups, many different combinations are available (depending on which cab, bed and drive type you choose), and dealers' inventories will likely span a wide range of trim levels and options.
We like the roomy Quad Cab's seating for six. It gives you room to comfortably haul the whole family - or carry half the team home from practice. It's a great choice if you want the capacity of a full-size pickup to haul a boat or motorcycle while also enjoying a comfortable, family-friendly daily driver. Another bonus: it's attractively priced against its competitors.
2011 Honda Ridgeline
Thanks to a car-like unibody construction, the Ridgeline is the non-truck truck. It's an excellent compromise for the dad who wants the versatility of a pickup but prefers the ride and handling of his Accord.
While you can enjoy a more car-like driving experience, you still get the tall, spacious ride of a typical pickup. It easily seats five and has an ample bed for hauling. And Honda, as always, offers nifty features dads will find convenient, like a locking trunk integrated into the bed.
With Honda's legendary quality, reliability and resale value, dads really can't go wrong with the Ridgeline.
2011 Chevrolet Suburban
While the Suburban isn't really classified as a truck, the world's first SUV offers many truck-like capabilities, from towing to cargo stowing. The added benefit, of course, is its interior spaciousness. The Suburban is about volume, pure and simple. It seats up to nine people. You can even load it down with cargo and still fit six or more. And unlike the pickup, you can lock up your cargo, which makes it great for traveling.
Admittedly, the Suburban is not fuel efficient. The trade-off here is the time saved when deciding what to bring on vacation and what to leave behind. Pack in this order: family members and additional passengers, everything you absolutely need, everything you think you might want and, lastly, some other stuff just to make it look less empty.
Like the Ram, the Suburban is available in a wide combination of configurations and trim levels, from basic to full-on luxury.
2011 Ford F-250 Super Duty Crew Cab
Sometimes a regular full-size truck just won't cut it. That's when you turn to the tough Ford Super Duty to perform your supersized tasks.
Maybe you need to pull a gooseneck horse trailer to equestrian events. Or perhaps you have a fifth wheel camper, so you can take the kids camping and let them howl at the moon while you sleep in a bed.
Either way, the F-250 Super Duty Crew Cab and its powerful all-new turbodiesel engine offer enormous towing capacity (up to 14,000 lbs.). And you can forget about the diesel clatter of yore - this motor is quiet.
The spacious cabin also gives you plenty of room for your gear plus four or five passengers along for the ride.
2011 Suzuki Equator Crew Cab
If the Equator looks kind of like a Nissan Frontier, that's because underneath it really is a Frontier. But maybe a little better. "rebadged" vehicles like the Equator are not new or uncommon, especially among pickups.
The sticker price on an Equator is a few hundred less than a comparable Frontier, and it offers a better warranty - so you know which one we'd choose. This truck is an ideal alternative to the trucks above for the dad on a budget. It offers most of the functionality of the bigger trucks at a fraction of the purchase price and operating costs.
So if you and the kids want to howl at the moon, toss the gear in the Equator and take them camping. We're willing to bet Mom would enjoy a quiet weekend at home.
Our top five trucks prove that you don't have to give up your beloved pickup just because you're a family man. In fact, that truck is probably going to come in handy time and time again. So, go ahead, take advantage of the impressive seating, towing and cargo capacity that today's trucks offer.