Consumers searching for the best performance trucks have several options from each of the automakers that compete in the pickup truck market. Keep in mind, though, that not every pickup truck is equal, and you can configure pickups in an almost limitless number of combinations – everything from sprucing up a base model with graphics packages for visual appeal to optioning up to beefier engines and suspension, the whole bit.

Some of the best performance trucks, however, are specifically called out as such. Here we look at a few of them.

  • 2011 Toyota Tacoma T/X, T/X Pro – Available in 236-horsepower 4.0-liter V6 Access or Double Cab models, the 2011

    Toyota Tacoma T/X and T/X Pro (dealer-installed) take performance to the extreme. The setup for T/X starts with the TRD Off-Road Package (sport or off-road), including 16-inch TRD Beadlock wheels, BF Goodrich Rugged Trail Tires, stainless steel exhaust tip and black tube steps. T/X Pro builds upon this by adding TRD performance exhaust and unique body side graphics. Another model is X-Runner, also with standard V-6 engine. Starting MSRPs for the 2011 Toyota Tacoma Access Cab is $19,655, $21,865 for Double Cab, and $25,735 for X-Runner. TRD packages add $3,000-$4,000 more and the dealer-installed T/X, T/X Pro several thousand on top of that. Consumer Guide comments: “Tacoma leads its class in refinement, and is more than competitive in performance, accommodations, utility, and off-road prowess. The X-Runner handles like a sports car while sacrificing little utility.Overall, these are excellent compact trucks and Best Buy picks.”

  • 2011 Ford F-150 – If a full-size pickup is required, Ford offers 11 tough models. Among the performance ones are the sporty

    STX, off-road FX4, and limited-edition SVT Raptor. Starting MSRPs are $25,495 (STX), $36,625 (FX4), and $41,550 (SVT Raptor). Engines include the 360-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 (available in STX, standard in FX4), and the standard 411-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 in SVT Raptor. A number of option packages are available for Raptor, including Plus, Luxury, exterior graphics, and interior accent. Of the Raptor, Edmunds observes: “Off-road fans should be thrilled by the purpose-built SVT Raptor, as it is an immensely capable treat to drive off-road, although its wide body and atmospheric ride height make it hairy to drive around town.”

  • 2011 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X — Another contender includes the 2011 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X Crew Cab, with MSRP

    starting at $26,910. Consumer Guide says: “Frontier carves out a nice niche for itself in the compact-pickup market with a powerful V6 engine, middle-of-the-pack size, and options that appeal to the off-road enthusiast…the Recommended Frontier merits consideration for those who don’t need or want the bulk of a large pickup.”

  • 2011 Suzuki Equator – Essentially a rebadged Nissan Frontier (but with different styling, options and a much better warranty), the 2011 Suzuki Equator (also a Consumer Guide Recommended) in Sport and RMZ-4 are the brand’s best performance trucks. Starting MSRPs range from $25,079 for Sport to $28,950 for RMZ-4.

Other considerations for best performance trucks have to include the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 with Z60 (street performance) or Z71 (off-road), GMC Sierra Denali, and Dodge Ram 1500.

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