They’re old, overused, and still doing more work than any city slicker in a Honda Ridgeline. Here’s a list of the top 10 farm trucks.
The pickup truck world has been evolving into a playground of prerunners, mudders, and unwieldy lift kits. It’s become all about looking good and having disdain towards tiny cars on the road just because you have a truck. While the boys are rolling coal at stop lights and boasting about how tall their ride is, the men are out in the country actually utilizing a pickup truck how they were meant to. They’re beat up and showing their years, but these farm trucks are still doing a lot of truckin’. Surveying the fields, hauling fencing, towing livestock, harvesting crops, delivering hay, plowing snow, and plenty more projects that really put these trucks through their paces.
A majority of farm trucks found working in the fields are composed of Fords, Dodges, Chevys, and the occasional GMC. If it isn’t American made, then it probably isn’t out on the farm. Farmers look for some key points when shopping for trucks. They want something reliable, both in model and in brand recognition. They want may want 4-wheel drive allowing them to actually get through tough terrain. They may want a dually for pulling trailers. They want a good engine that can last while pushing it to its limits. They also want a long truck bed or a flatbed so that there is plenty of room to work with.
Farmers also look towards other truck owners for their opinion and experiences with certain models when shopping. And while some may suggest some newer model trucks, there are others that suggest older models as they’re proven workhorses and can be had for a bargain. Plus, used options allow owners to beat on their truck without much worry. We took all this information and looked at which trucks farmers are currently utilizing or have been looking to get their hands on over the years. Even if you’re not a farmer, you may want to take a look at some old farm trucks as some have relatively low miles and/or have been maintained (to an extent) pretty well over the years. Here’s our list of the top 10 farm trucks you can own today.
Starting off the list of farm trucks is the 3rd gen Dodge RAM 3500 with the mid-generation 6.7L Cummins turbo diesel I6. This engine replaced the popular 5.9L Cummins I6 and brought with it a 6-speed automatic transmission, rather than the prior 4-speed. The RAM 3500 6.7L Cummins engine makes 350hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. It replaced the laggy fixed geometry turbo found in the 5.9L with a variable geometry turbo that experiences no lag and incorporated a turbo brake to the system. The main issues in this version are the added emissions components, like the EGR and DPF, that need to be checked for soot and carbon build up and there’s also some known head gasket issues due to the higher pressure built up in the cylinders. While it may come with some known issues, it is still quite the farm truck with regular upkeep and maintenance.
Coming in as one of the newest used farm trucks on the list is the 3rd gen GMC Sierra 3500HD from 2011-2014 with the revised 6.6L Duramax turbo-diesel V8 making 397 hp and 765 lb-ft of torque. This mid-generation update tuned the GM Duramax engine, increased the axle weight to 6000 lbs, strengthened fully boxed frame rails, and upgraded the suspension. You may be thinking “isn’t the GMC Sierra 3500HD also the Chevy Silverado 3500HD?” and while that may technically be true, the Sierra version can experience a little more ride quality and comfort with GMC’s higher end trims. Why not ride in a bit of farm truck luxury when hauling livestock?
Ford diesel engines weren’t much to talk about in the 90s, with the exception of the 7.3L PowerStroke turbo-diesel V8 found in the 9th gen Ford F-250 from 1994-1997. This engine found in the F-250 is touted as one of the most reliable diesel engines ever built with a history of models surpassing 500k miles and many still acting as great farm trucks to this day. The original engine produced 210hp and 425 lb-ft of torque and reached 0-60mph in a little over 14 seconds. That doesn’t sound like much, but it created a long-lasting reliable truck that is renowned by Ford enthusiasts. The Ford F-250 came with either 4×2 or 4×4 drivetrains, offered an 8ft bed, came as a single rear wheel or dually, and the HD version came with a heavier rear axle and larger springs and shocks. The 7.3L PowerStroke Diesel can also be found in the facelifted 10th gen Ford F-250s, but eventually it was replaced by the less than favorable 6.0L PowerStroke Diesel engine.
Much like Ford, Dodge had its own renowned engine found in the 1st gen Dodge RAM D/W250s from 1989-1993. The introduction of the 5.9L 12-valve Cummins Diesel I6 engine was revolutionary for the time and led the way for the competitive diesel segment we know today. The original engine produced 160hp and 400 lb-ft of torque with a fixed geometry turbocharger, direct fuel injection, durable cast-iron block, and forged steel pistons. It was a simply engineered and reliable engine design that was paired with an outdated square body Dodge truck design making it a perfect farm truck. This iteration also featured Dana axles in their prime (Dodge eventually switched to AAM axles due to quality control concerns and legal issues in the early 2000s).
In 2001, GM introduced the world to the 6.6L Duramax diesel V8 found in the 1st gen Chevy Silverado and the 2nd gen GMC Sierra pickup trucks. For this list we picked out the 2500HD as it fell right in the sweet spot for hauling and working everyday tasks. The first iteration LB7 6.6L Duramax diesel V8 engine made 300hp and 520 lb⋅ft of torque. The platform was improved upon leading to the sought after LBZ version that is known for its reliability, performance enhancements, and being made prior to emissions standards. The LBZ 6.6L Duramax diesel V8 can be found in 2006-2007 models and makes 360hp and 650 lb-ft of torque.
Now, into the non-diesel farm truck options we’re starting with the 2nd gen Dodge RAM 1500. If you think of this generation, you may consider it kind of a rusty beater that had trans issues. And while that statement has some truth to it, the Dodge RAM 1500 with the 5.9L Magnum V8 is pretty well rounded as a farm truck. Sure, it succumbs to the elements a little easier, but it has an engine that gets the job done and just allows you to run it ragged without worry. As for the transmission problems, these trucks are going for below $5,000 in some instances. That price point should leave some wiggle room to maintain or even upgrade the transmission creating a more reliable farm truck option.
The 9th gen Ford F-150 is a modern classic farm truck. The exterior design was something new and modern rather than the boxy bodies of the 70s and 80s. The chassis and suspension components were similar to the proven ones of the previous generation with some tuning and improvements. And the line of engines available were all simple in design and easy to work with. There were plenty of higher powered V8 options in this time, but the 4.9L Ford 300 straight six is probably one of the most bulletproof engines out there. Making just 150hp and 250 lb-ft of torque the 4.9L engine might not be able to haul quite as much as most of the list, but it’ll keep working without question for everything else.
A little less of a “modern classic” and basically just considered a classic is that of the C/K 10 trucks found from 1973-1987. The predecessor to the Silverado took many forms, but the 3rd gen is probably one of the most recognized as a Chevy fan favorite. The square body was computer designed with more boxy proportions and had a curved front windshield. It featured a reworked suspension and rugged new axles while also bringing sedan like comfort into the interior. The C/K models carried quite the catalog of available engines ranging from straight sixes to different V8s and was one of the first trucks to offer a diesel engine option. While the 3rd gen Chevy C/K series has fallen into the realm of classic restoration pieces, their price hasn’t exploded yet and there’s some old farm trucks still chuggin’ today for great prices. Plus, the restoration surge just makes finding replacement parts and body panels an easier effort.
Alright, Nissan isn’t your typical farm truck brand, but the Titan is slowly becoming a contender in the truck market and it is actually manufactured here in the USA. While it isn’t accepted by a majority of farmers, there are a select few who have found that the Nissan Titan can get the job done. The midway through the 1st gen Nissan Titan is a sweet spot of improvements that makes the Titan fit on the list. In 2008, Nissan added a longer wheelbase option increasing the bed size and the company also improved upon their drivetrains and axles that plagued the prior years’ versions. The only engine found in the Titan is a 5.6L V8 that makes 317hp and 385 lb-ft of torque. It isn’t a Chevy, Ford, or Dodge, but it’ll still get the job done.
Another slightly obscure farm truck is that of the 2nd gen Toyota Tundra. Like Nissan, the Tundra is from a Japanese company, but the manufacturing is done here in the USA. The 2nd gen Tundra is still being produced today just with the 2014 cosmetic facelift and some suspension tuning, but why not get basically the same performance in a slightly older used version found from 2010-2013? There are three engines available in the Tundra including a 5.7L V8 that makes 381hp and 401 lb-ft of torque and could also be paired with a TRD Supercharger. The Toyota Tundra also came with truck bed options ranging from a puny 5.5ft to a long 8ft option. So, while it isn’t the norm in the farming community, it’s still worth a mention as a farm truck option.
I have both a 1994 1500 4×4 Dodge Ram and 2004 4×4 Nissan Titan on the farm. The 94 Dodge Ram has the long bed which is great for farm work, whereas the Nissan has the short bed. The Dodge only has 150k miles and the Nissan 265k. I bought both trucks new and hands down the Nissan has outperformed the Dodge both on the farm and general driving. I have had a countless number of electrical and transmission issues with the Dodge and virtually no issues with the Nissan other than general maintenance. The Nissans ability to get around the farm in mud and snow vs the Dodge is not even close. I’m keeping both, but if I need to tow something or want to make sure I don’t get stuck in the backwoods I’m taking the Nissan.