You can't conduct an automotive awards show in the U.S. of A without talking trucks. The utility, style, and status they provide consistently place pickups atop the sales charts, whether fuel is cheap and life is easy or gas costs more than $5 a gallon on average. The driving public showed their stance on what's most important in 2022, and apparently, we Americans will keep our trucks until they're pried from our cold, cold hands.
Fortunately, automakers like making money too much to let that happen. They're proving that right now by dumping billions of dollars into electrification so we can still have our F-150s and so on with battery power. All the while, internal combustion is getting the swan song it deserves with V8 performance pickups and forced induction aplenty.
That made the field more diverse than ever while picking The Drive's Best Truck of 2022, which was voted on by our staff and given the stamp of approval by yours truly, the site's Truck Editor. Check out all the rigs that were in the running:
Runner-Up: Ford F-150 Lightning
"It zooms down the interstate in a way that's totally untaxing thanks to silent electric motors and that fully independent rear suspension I mentioned earlier. That suspension helps keep the pickup planted, whether it squats briefly on a hard launch or hits a Texas-sized pothole with a load on. It keeps you comfy, which is no doubt important, but it also builds the experience when you floor it."
"I'd say my feelings on the F-150 Lightning are clear: It's as good as we'd hoped for. Critics harsher than myself will pick apart the fact that it's really not that environmentally friendly, which is true in some respects. Others will say certain versions cost too much, in which case I'd also agree. But one concept we should all be able to see eye to eye on is that once public charging infrastructure improves, particularly for pickup trucks, it will be capable of fully replacing fossil fuel guzzlers." —Caleb Jacobs, Truck Editor
Runner-Up: Chevy Silverado ZR2
"Anyone with enough funds to shop this space is going to get a big, cool truck. You won't go wrong picking the Chevy Silverado ZR2, and you also couldn't be blamed for spending as much on a new Tundra TRD Pro. But having driven both of them, I find myself liking the ZR2 more.
"If you're mainly into wide-open desert running and the pumped-up pickup aesthetic, then a Raptor's the best choice. But if you're a little more realistic and want to hang onto natural aspiration and big displacement, the ZR2 is really your lone option. Luckily, it's a stellar one."—Caleb Jacobs, Truck Editor
Runner-Up: Rivian R1T
"The gear tunnel—a storage cubby located between the truck’s cabin and bed—was easily the R1T’s most standout and amazing feature. At 65 inches long, it’s way more convenient than storing quick-access things in the back seat, its doors can function as stools, and yours truly fits neatly inside it with both ends shut ... This gear tunnel is singularly the best use of space I’ve ever seen on any vehicle, hands down. Automakers, if you’re utilizing a skateboard design and you’ve got the room, we want more storage solutions like these. We’ll use the shit out of ’em.
"The business of automotive toy buying has never been a cheap one, and with a price tag that confidently approaches six figures, the Rivian R1T is positioned exactly there. But what you get is a statement piece that’ll turn heads and draw onlookers wherever you go. It’s a recreational take on what a pickup in 2022 can offer (along with additional ingenious storage options) and doesn’t rely on something archaic and tacky like fossil fuel to run. Get it in yellow. Pretend it’s a giant electric Tonka trunk. Because that’s kind of what it is." —Kristen Lee, Deputy Editor
Runner-Up: Toyota Tundra Hybrid
"Anyone who thinks new trucks should be the same as they were in the '80s won't like the move away from natural aspiration and simple science; everyone else, though, will love this thing once they floor it. I'm not saying it's Corvette quick, but for a 4x4 pickup that weighs a skosh over 6,000 pounds, it scoots.
"In all, I like the 2022 Tundra for its new platform, its improved and modern infotainment, and yes, its hybrid power plant. It's the right choice for someone who prefers comfort to outright work capabilities, and if you don't see yourself needing portable power in bulk, then it's bound to impress.
"Plainly put, Tundras with the hybrid are the best Toyota has to offer." —Caleb Jacobs, Truck Editor
Winner: Ford Maverick
After sending Baja behemoths up and over dunes, squealing tires in unsettlingly quick electric pickups, and towing hundreds of thousands of pounds collectively, we still landed on the Ford Maverick as The Drive's Best Truck of 2022. It wasn't close, either, as the unibody ute impressed in categories that count—including price, which is tougher than ever. Plainly put, people are flocking to the small-but-mighty Mav for reasons other than misdirected machismo.
The hybrid-as-standard Maverick ticks the boxes that most people need in a pickup, and indeed, a daily driver. You probably know by now that it nets more than 40 mpg around town, and while dually drivers might scoff at its 1,500-pound payload capacity, that's still more than an F-150 Raptor can officially manage. It does all this while being far and away the most affordable on our list with a starting price well under $25,000.
"Throttle and brake response are smooth, steering is neither too heavy nor too floaty, and it turned corners with modest, poised body roll," wrote Staff Writer James Gilboy. "The [hybrid] Maverick tries to run on electric power whenever possible, which is part of why it scores nearly double the gas mileage of any other truck on sale in America. I averaged 44 mpg in my week with it—in a truck! That was a pleasant week, too, because the Maverick is remarkably refined for its price.
"The Maverick melds the utility and driving experience of a pickup with the everyday suitability of a world-class economy car, giving drivers exactly the vehicle they need for all but the most extreme use cases. It's spacious, quiet, comfortable, economical, sturdy, and not even short on technology ... the Maverick is a terrific truck that's almost impossible to under-utilize, and it's made all the better by giving buyers more bang for their buck than a box of firecrackers on July 5th."
It's far from the biggest truck we tested this year, nor is it the fanciest, toughest, or quickest, but, for the money, it's unequivocally the best and that's why we're crowning it as The Drive's Best Truck of 2022.