Pickup trucks are primarily work vehicles, built for towing and hauling, but they're also designed for rugged off-road play. What they were never meant to be was track monsters, or at least that's what most people think. However, the truth of the matter is there are muscle trucks and straight-up drag pickups. Even cooler, these aren't custom jobs, but rather trucks that can be picked up at the dealer.
A sleeper car is an unassuming vehicle that nobody suspects is freakishly fast like a Ford Taurus SHO, which looks dorky, but can blow some doors off. By their very nature, all trucks are sleepers, because hardly anyone thinks of them as performance vehicles. It's not until someone is looking at a tailgate disappearing over the horizon that they realize how fast some trucks are.
Obviously, all-electric trucks like the Rivian R1T and GMC Hummer EV are fast, but those are six-figure super-vehicles, that nobody is sleeping on. A true sleeper truck is gas-powered and comes straight from the factory. Hennessey does some great aftermarket upfits, but this is all about production vehicles. There are far too many super-quick trucks for a comprehensive list, so here's a sampling of some of the coolest and hottest sleeper pickups.
10 1978 Dodge Li'l Red Express
In the late 1970s, muscle cars were all but dead, but there was still a market for fast American-made vehicles. Dodge filled that void with a series of "Adult Toys" in the forms of their Macho Wagon, Warlock pickup, and the Li'l Red Express. Often fantasized about, muscle trucks finally became a reality.
The 1978 Dodge Li'l Red Express came with a modified 360 V-8 police engine that made 225 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Thanks to a loophole, the truck didn't require a catalytic converter, and at the time was the fastest American vehicle from 0-100, beating even the Corvette and Trans Am. It could also hit 0-60 in 6.7 seconds, which was additionally top among American vehicles in 1978.
9 2017 Ford F-150 3.5L V-6 EcoBoost 4x4
Nothing says sleeper like a six-cylinder and the 2017 Ford F-150 V-6 EcoBoost has probably suckered more than a few people into a race. With a twin-turbo 3.5 L V-6 and 10-speed automatic transmission, the deceptive F-150 EcoBoost makes 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque.
That's good enough to propel the pickup from 0-60 in 5.7 seconds and down a quarter-mile in 14.7 seconds at 95 mph. That's on par with the 2017 Mustang EcoBoost, which makes 310 horsepower and goes 0-60 in 5.5 seconds, with a 14.1 quarter-mile time. Keep in mind the F-150 is a full-size truck and not a sports car.
8 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 RST
Everyone knows that the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 is fast truck with 420 horsepower and a 0-60 time of 5.7 seconds, so the much faster 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 RST is tragically slept on. With a 420 horsepower 6.2 L V-8, the RST hits 0-60 in 5.4 seconds and runs a quarter-mile in 14 seconds flat at 100 mph.
Lining up against a Silverado sporting a ZR2 badge makes people think they're racing a Corvette truck. The RST however has nothing to indicate it's anything but a regular pickup. That is until the light turns green and the Chevy 1500 RST leaves everything in the dust.
7 2015 Ram 1500 R/T HEMI
It's a given that Dodge trucks are "Ram tough," it's literally their motto, but starting with the third-generation when they began dropping excessively powerful engines in them, they became Ram fast. A firth-gen 2015 Dodge Ram 1500 R/T answered the question of what would happen if Dodge made a Ram truck to rival the Challenger.
The 5.7L Hemi V-8 made 395 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque, which launched this full-size truck from 0-60 in 5.4 seconds. The 14.1 second quarter-mile time at 99 mph is nothing to scoff at either. Both the 2015 Challenger and Charger were obviously faster than the Ram 1500 R/T Hemi but neither of them had a 9,200 pound towing capacity.
6 1991 GMC Syclone
If this was a list of the ranking the sleepiness of pickups, the 1991 GMC Syclone would be at the top. The quarter-ton all-wheel drive truck was about the blandest thing to ever hit the road but its 280 horsepower 4.3L V-6 was quick as hell. It could take off from 0-60 mph in 5.3 seconds, making it the fastest production vehicle of 1991.
Car and Driver famously put the Syclone up against a Ferrari 348ts in a drag race, and they wouldn't have written about it if the Italian car had won. In the end, the Ferrari's V-8 and aerodynamic design were no match for the flat, boxy GMC Syclone, which won by 0.4 seconds.
5 2004 Ford F-150 SVT Lightning
With the second-gen F-150 SVT Lightning, Ford attempted to give the truck a sportier look, but ended up making one of the all-time ugliest trucks. Luckily, the speed they put into it was just as ugly, only in a good way. With a supercharged 5.4L V-8, the 2004 Ford F-150 SVT Lightning generated 380 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque.
While opponents were laughing at the awkward design of the pickup, it was down the road, doing 0-60 in 5.1 seconds and the quarter-mile in 15.1 seconds at 108 mph. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but the fact that these second-gen SVT Lightnings sold less than 30,00 trucks in six years of production shows most people's eyes were beholden elsewhere.
4 2004 Dodge Ram SRT-10
Being a designer at Dodge must have been a fun job until recently because they could do cool things like shoehorning a Viper engine into a Ram truck. That's what happened with the 2004 Dodge Ram SRT-10. With a massive 8.3-liter V-10 and the Viper six-speed manual transmission, the Ram SRT-10 was one of the fastest sleeper trucks ever conceived.
Making a whopping 500 hp and 525 pound-feet of torque, this was closer to a dragster than a pickup. It made 0-60 in a mere 4.9 seconds and ran a quarter-mile in 13.2 seconds. While there are a few other quicker trucks, MotorTrend said the "Ram SRT-10's 107.1-mph trap speed is the fastest" they ever tested.
3 2008 Toyota Tundra TRD Supercharged
Toyota makes sensible reliable vehicles, not muscle trucks, right? Well, back in Oughts, they made one hell of a fast pickup with the 2008 Tundra TRD Supercharged. The unassuming looking Toyota had a supercharged 5.7L V-8 that blasted out 504 hp and 550 pound-feet of torque.
MotorTrend rated the TRD as, "among the quickest-accelerating production trucks we have ever tested." The supercharged American-made Toyota could hit 0-60 in 4.4 seconds and destroy the quarter-mile in 13 seconds flat. It's a guarantee that nobody ever pulled up next to a Toyota truck and thought they were about to get smoked.
2 2021 Ram 1500 TRX
Now down to the final two. Now granted that these might not necessarily be sleeper trucks, but you simply can't ignore them. The 2020 Ford F-150 Raptor was the fastest truck out there, but the team at Dodge thought they could beat it with a Tyrannosaurus Rex. What they came up with was the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX. Hardly a sluggish dinosaur, this super-predator packed a supercharged 6.2 L Hellcat V-8 that pumps out 702 horsepower and 650 lb.-ft. of torque.
Obviously this is a fast truck, but the expert opinions vary. MotorTrendgives it a 0-60 mph time in 4.1 seconds, MotorWeeksays it's 3.8 seconds, and Car and Driver tested it at 3.7 seconds. One thing that isn't disputed is the blazing 12.3 quarter-mile speed of the Ram TRX at 110 mph. Dodge may have wrestled the fastest truck crown away from Ford, but it was only temporary.
1 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R
The battle of the behemoths turned in favor of the Blue Oval with the introduction of the 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R. Packing a 700 horsepower 5.2L supercharged V-8, the Raptor R beat the Ram 1500 TRX's 0-60 time by a fraction, doing it in 3.6 seconds. The Raptor R's quarter-mile time is also slightly better at 12.1 seconds.
With a base price of $109,145 it is significantly more expensive than the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX, which started at $71,690. Is a tenth of a second worth $37,185? Probably not, but the bragging rights for Ford are priceless. The question remains if Dodge is going to come back in 2024 with a Ram truck hiding a 1,025 horsepower Demon 170 engine in it. Every truck fan is hoping so.