As the average transaction price of a new full-size pickup has passed the $43,000 mark according to J.D. Power, buyers who want to save money should take a closer look at the used truck market.
Trucks are well-built these days, and they are staying on the road longer than ever. Average age of a pickup truck was 11.6 years in 2016, the latest data available. That’s up from 9.5 years in 2009, according IHS Markit. So a well-chosen used truck can be a very cost-effective choice.
Trucks.com looked at a variety of metrics to pick out the best used truck buys under $25,000. They were judged on all-around versatility, capability and overall value using publicly available data. Fuel economy and reliability also factored into the results.
Pickups are incredibility varied and can be built with different bed, cab and drive configurations. This list identifies rear-drive and four-wheel drive models and trucks with and without space for back-seat passengers.
All of the picks had a retail price of below $25,000 as estimated by J.D. Power/NADA Guides at time of publication.
1. 2015 Toyota Tundra SR Double Cab 2WD $24,875
The 2015 Toyota Tundra has built a reputation as a reliable workhorse. It has a “recommended” rating from Consumer Reports.
The rear-drive double cab version of the pickup is a useful combination of cargo-carrying capacity and interior space. A fabric-trimmed 40/20/40 split fold-down front bench seat is standard in the SR trim level. Accommodating three passengers, the bench seat offers four-way adjustment on both driver’s and passenger’s sides. Other versions of the 2015 Tundra are equipped with front bucket seats.
The 2015 Tundra offers a well-designed interior with ample storage space. The double cab design, with rear doors, offers easy access to the back seat. The lengthy 145.7-inch wheelbase makes the Tundra ponderous to drive, but the tradeoff is a 78.7-inch cargo bed.
The 5.7-liter V-8 engine makes 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. Maximum payload is 1,735 pounds and maximum towing ability is 10,300 pounds.
The 2015 Toyota Tundra received a 5-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, in its 5-Star Safety Rating Program. It received Good ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, or IIHS, on all crashworthiness measures with the exception of “Small Overlap Front,” in which it was rated Acceptable.2.
2. 2014 Honda Ridgeline Sport 4WD $23,100
The 2014 Honda Ridgeline is not a conventional pickup truck, but it enjoys hearty owner support. It is a Consumer Reports recommended pick.
Based on the same platform that underpins the Honda Odyssey minivan, the Ridgeline has quirky technology. Conventional trucks are body-on-frame construction, but the Ridgeline uses unibody technology like a car. Its four-wheel independent suspension endows it with sedan-like ride and handling.
The 2014 Ridgeline is a four-door with seating for five. Rear-seat access is easy thanks to the large rear doors. The rear setback is split 60/40, providing versatility for cargo.
The 122-inch wheelbase and tidy 209.6-inch overall length make Ridgeline easy to maneuver and park. The truck’s bed is small — 60- inches long — but deep. There is a lockable 8.5-cubic-foot trunk beneath the truck bed floor.
Honda’s heavily used 3.5-liter V-6 engine is the only engine choice. It produces 250 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of torque. Maximum payload is 1,735 pounds, and maximum towing ability is 5,500 pounds.
The 2014 Ridgeline was unrated in NHTSA’s 5-Star Safety Rating Program. It received Good ratings from the IIHS on all crashworthiness measures.
3. 2013 Ford F-150 SuperCrew 2WD $24,025
The Ford F-150 is so well regarded that most versions more recent than 2013 still retail for more than $25,000. The 2013 F-150 SuperCrew slides below that. It is a versatile model with ample interior space for five adults and good payload capacity. Equipped with trailer sway control, the 2013 F-150 also makes towing easier and safer.
Combining separate body-on-frame construction, steel structure and rear- or optional four-wheel drive, the 2013 F-150 is a conventional pickup. Conventionality extends to the engine compartment where V6, turbocharged V6 and V8 powerplants are available. The 2013 F-150 is one of the first full-size pickups to offer a six-speed automatic transmission across the entire range.
The F-150 also offers electric power steering, which delivers steering feel and fuel economy benefits. With wheelbase lengths of 144.5 inches or 156.5 inches, drivers appreciate the benefits of power steering to help the F-150 maneuver. Interior passenger space is 130.9 cubic feet. Maximum payload is 1,700 pounds, and maximum towing ability is 11,300 pounds for this configuration.
The 2013 Ford F-150 received a 4-star rating from NHTSA in its 5-Star Safety Rating Program. It received Good ratings from the IIHS on all crashworthiness measures.
4. 2017 Toyota Tacoma SR Crew Cab 2WD $23,725
The Crew Cab version of the 2017 Toyota Tacoma midsize truck is among the most useful of the Tacoma’s various configurations. It seats up to four passengers. Access to the rear seat is easy, thanks to its large rear doors.
Its 127.4-inch wheelbase and 212.3-inch overall length mean it is handy around town. At the same time the Tacoma punches beyond its weight with a 6,400-pound towing capacity. Maximum base payload is 1,175 pounds.
Both 159-horsepower in-line four-cylinder and 278-horsepower V8 engines are available. They can be matched with a six-speed automatic transmission.
The Tacoma offers a wide variety of car-like options, including tilt-and-telescope steering wheel, Bluetooth/USB integration, 6.1-inch touchscreen and six-speaker sound system.
The 2017 Toyota Tacoma received a 4-star rating from NHTSA in its 5-Star Safety Rating Program. It received Good ratings from IIHS on all crashworthiness measures, though its headlights were rated Poor and child-seat latches Marginal.
5. 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Extended Cab LT 2WD $24,075
With a retail price hovering around $24,075, the full-sized Chevrolet Silverado 1500 extended cab pickup in LT trim offers work capabilities and interior niceties. While Chevy offered three higher trim levels for the 2015 model year, the LT version is well equipped.
An extended cab Silverado is a big truck riding on a 143.5-inch wheelbase. Overall length is 230 inches (more than 19 feet.) The upside is 61 cubic feet of bed volume and an 1,850-pound payload. Towing capacity in this configuration is 9,200 pounds.
2015 Silverado 1500s were offered with three engine choices: 285-horsepower 4.3-liter V6, 355-horsepower 5.3-liter V8 and 420-horsepower 6.2-liter V8. Most have six-speed automatic transmissions.
OnStar connectivity, a 4-inch color touchscreen display and backup camera are on the list of options that might be available on used 2015 Silverados. The interior is well designed and has the aura of a full-size domestic sedan.
The 2015 Chevrolet Silverado received a 5-star rating from NHTSA in its 5-Star Safety Rating Program. It received Good ratings from IIHS on all crashworthiness measures.
6. 2016 Nissan Frontier King Cab PRO-4X 4WD $23,550
The Frontier PRO-4X is the dedicated off-road version of Nissan’s midsize truck. It has a luxury-style interior and features like NissanConnect with navigation, 5.8-inch touchscreen display and voice recognition for both navigation and audio.
With a 125.9-inch wheelbase and a compact 205.5-inch overall length, the Frontier PRO-4X is maneuverable both in town and in the dust of an off-road adventure. The potential downside is relatively confined truck box volume of 34 cubic feet. Maximum payload is 1,188 pounds, and maximum towing capacity is 6,300 pounds.
For the 2016 model year Frontier offered two engines — 152-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder and 261-horsepower 4.0-liter V6, the engine of choice in the PRO-4X. The PRO-4X also includes Bilstein off-road-oriented shock absorbers, skid plates, electronic rear differential locker and 16-inch alloy off-road wheels with 265/75R16 tires.
PRO-4Xs have standard comfort and convenience features, including cruise control, remote keyless entry, power windows and door locks and power outside mirrors. The interior includes leather white-stitched shifter knob and steering wheel, white-faced gauges and trip computer.
The 2016 Nissan Frontier King Cab was not rated by NHTSA in its 5-Star Safety Rating Program. It received Good ratings from IIHS on all crashworthiness measures with the exception of Head Restraints and Seats where it was labeled Marginal.
7. 2015 Ram 1500 Crew Cab SLT 2WD $24,850
The 2015 Ram 1500 Crew Cab is a large, useful, reasonably late-model full-size pickup truck available for less than $25,000. The four-door cabin can accommodate six or the rear seat area can be used as lockable storage. In SLT trim the 2015 Ram 1500 is equipped with air conditioning, cruise control, keyless entry and trip computer.
Ram Trucks offered a variety of engines for the 2015 model year, but to keep the price under $25,000 the 305-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 is the choice. It is equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Riding on a 140.5-inch wheelbase with a 229-inch overall length, the Ram 1500 crew cab is a sizable vehicle. While it is certainly not as maneuverable as a sedan, it does ride and handle better than the comparable trucks from Chevrolet and Ford. Truck box volume is 50 cubic feet. Maximum payload is 1,851 pounds, and maximum towing capacity is 7,480 pounds.
The 2015 Ram 1500 Crew Cab was rated 4 stars by NHTSA in its 5-Star Safety Rating Program. It received Good ratings from IIHS on all crashworthiness measures with the exception of Roof Strength and Small Overlap on driver’s side, where it was labeled Marginal.
8. 2017 Chevrolet Colorado Crew Cab LT 2WD $24,925
The 2017 Chevrolet Colorado is among the newest other pickups on this list. Another advantage of the midsize pickup is its five-passenger four-door crew cab configuration. While full-size pickups can be a handful to drive, the Colorado handles much like a midsize sedan. It will fit in most garages.
Both V6 and four-cylinder diesel power plants are available in 2017 Colorados. But to keep the retail purchase price below $25,000, it’s necessary to specify the 200-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine. It has a six-speed automatic transmission.
One advantage of the 2017 Colorado’s relative newness is its level of standard equipment. It comes with tilt steering wheel, rear parking camera system with 5.2-inch screen and six-speaker audio. GM’s OnStar safety and convenience system and 4G LTE Wi-Fi are available but require a fee.
The 2017 Chevrolet Colorado Crew Cab was rated 4-stars by NHTSA in its 5-Star Safety Rating Program. It received Good ratings from IIHS on all crashworthiness measures. Its headlights were rated Poor.
9. 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 Extended Cab 4WD $22,700
The 2014 GMC Sierra is a full-size pickup similar to the same-year Chevrolet Silverado. With four-wheel drive and a V8 engine, the extended cab version of the truck offers versatility at a price well under $25K. While not as accommodating as a crew cab model, it does offer the advantages of rear doors and rear seating for up to three passengers.
An extended cab Sierra has a 143.5-inch wheelbase. Overall length is just under 20 feet at 229 inches. This results in 61 cubic feet of bed volume and an 1,850-pound payload. Towing capacity in this configuration is rated at 11,900 pounds.
Three engine choices are available: 285-horsepower 4.3-liter V6, 355-horsepower 5.3-liter V8, and 420-horsepower 6.2-liter V8. Most have six-speed automatic transmissions. For less than $25,000 it is possible to purchase a Sierra with the 5.3-liter engine and four-wheel drive.
Safety and convenience features include front park assist, stability control system, anti-lock brakes and tire pressure monitoring system.
The 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 Extended Cab was rated 5-stars by NHTSA in its 5-Star Safety Rating Program. It received Good ratings from IIHS on all crashworthiness measures with the exception of the Small Overlap where it was rated Acceptable.
10. 2017 Nissan Titan XD Regular Cab S 2WD $23,175
The Nissan Titan XD straddles the light-duty and heavy-duty segments of the full-size pickup truck market. The regular-cab version cited here is not as accommodating as a crew cab, but it gives the chance to buy a recent-vintage full-size pickup with substantial towing capacity and a diesel engine for less than $25,000.
In regular cab trim the Titan XD is a three-passenger vehicle with minimal lockable storage inside the cab. It is equipped with air conditioning, cruise control, and adjustable steering wheel with integrated audio controls. The front bench seat is split so that it can be adjusted to accommodate driver separately from the passengers.
Two engines are available: 5.6-liter gasoline V8 that makes 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque or 5.0-liter inter-cooled turbodiesel V8 that makes 310 horsepower and offers 555 pound-feet of peak torque. With the diesel engine, maximum towing capacity is 12,640 pounds.
The Titan XD has a 139.8-inch wheelbase. With a turning circle of 53.8 feet, maneuverability requires planning. Still, the Titan XD offers a comfortable ride and only muffled diesel rumble.
The 2017 Nissan Titan XD was not rated by NHTSA in its 5-Star Safety Rating Program. It also was not rated by IIHS for crashworthiness.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this report said the Titan XD received Good ratings from IIHS on all crashworthiness measures.