More than anything, a ranch truck needs to be tough. That's because life on a ranch isn't always easy. Working on a ranch may seem easy enough -- get some livestock, stick them on a field and watch them eat -- but in reality, there's a lot more to ranch life.
Ranch trucks are used for a number of different jobs. What all the jobs have in common is that they're extremely rugged. Because living on a ranch means going where the work takes you, ranch trucks have to be able to reach the entire ranch. That means four-wheel drive is a must, as is beefy, durable construction that can withstand punishment.
Ranch work is also pretty heavy-duty stuff. Ranch trucks are often used to transport food to livestock, to take livestock to market and to haul other machinery around the property. That means that ranch trucks need to have large payload and towing capacities. For the most part, the best ranch trucks are heavy-duty trucks that are strong enough to haul several thousand pounds worth of hay or feed and that can tow a large trailer filled with livestock.
With such heavy-duty work to accomplish, you might think that fuel economy isn't a concern for ranch trucks. In actuality, it is. After all, if you live on a remote ranch an hour away from the nearest gas station, you don't want to have to make the long drive to fill up constantly. Diesel engines are common among ranch trucks, not only because they tend to get better fuel economy than gasoline engines, but also because they provide more torque, which is key for moving heavy loads. As an added bonus, diesel engines can run on biodiesel, which can be made at home -- a big plus for a self-sufficient rancher.
Finally, ranch trucks need to be versatile. Ranchers frequently modify the trucks, removing the traditional truck bed in favor of a flat one or pulling the tailgate off to make it easier to tow a gooseneck trailer or load hay into the bed. One thing you'll notice is that a ranch truck doesn't have to be pretty: Ranch trucks are rough-and-tumble tools. They're meant to get the job done, not win beauty contests.