The Ram 1500 offers the Most Bang for Your Buck in a Small Half-Ton Truck
The last true high performance street trucks sold in America were the 2004 Ford F150 SVT Lightning and the 2006 Dodge Ram SRT10 – both of which had a big, powerful engine, rear wheel drive, a regular cab and a short bed. Since then, the performance trucks from Ford and Ram (as well as GM and Toyota) have been larger trucks, usually with extended cabs, four wheel drive and a design which caters more to off-road performance.
This has created a distinct lack of rear-drive, on-road performance pickups and we regularly field questions from readers asking about a modern F150 Lightning or SRT10 Ram. Unfortunately, there has been no word from any of the automakers about a modern incarnation of the supercharged Lightning, the Viper-powered Ram, the older Chevrolet Silverado 454SS or anything along those lines, but there is an answer for go-fast truck fans who are looking for on-road performance.
In fact, Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota and Ram all offer small, powerful, no-frills trucks which could be the basis for a great sport truck, but when it comes to bang-for-your-back, the Ram 1500 is the leader of the pack.
Before getting into the comparison of these trucks, keep in mind that the sole focus of this discussion is buying a smallish half ton truck with as much power as possible for as little money as possible. This doesn’t take into account things like sound system quality, seating layout, standard interior features, etc – just power, price and the size needed for a proper sport truck.
Small, Powerful Half Ton Trucks
The Ram SRT10, the Ford F150 Lightning and the Chevrolet Silverado all had a handful of key factors in common. They were all regular cab trucks with a short bed (RCSB), they were all rear-wheel drive and they all had a high performance engine – with the Ram SRT10 being the most powerful of the group with 500 horsepower and 525lb-ft of torque.
Looking at the modern options in the half-ton truck segment, you can get a regular cab, rear wheel drive truck with a V8 engine from Toyota, Chevrolet, Ram and Ford, but only the Ram and the Chevy offer a regular cab, short bed design like the older sport trucks. Both the F150 and the Tundra come with a long bed mated to the regular cab in their least expensive configurations, giving them more of a work truck look than a sport truck look, so if you want a regular cab/short bed truck with a powerful engine for as low a price as possible, your only options are the Ram 1500 and the Chevy Silverado 1500 WT.