America’s love for trucks is unmatched. In 2021, Ford’s F-Series had its 40th consecutive year as the best-selling vehicle. Four other trucks from Chevrolet, GMC, Toyota and RAM joined the F-Series in the top ten for new car sales. The shortage of computer chips has made it difficult to meet the demand for new car production and has had a knock-on effect on the used car market, where prices are higher than before the pandemic. But, manufacturers like Ford have prioritized production of the F-150 model and its rugged siblings, which means more trucks in the used-car market.
New trucks are expensive and will cost you north of forty thousand dollars. Still, there’s hope for weekend warriors who prefer pickup trucks and are on a tight budget. You can buy a reliable and affordable used truck if you don’t have a considerable fortune to spend on buying a new one. While you may miss the latest security technologies and features, you’ll still benefit from their versatility and timeless features. Here are the best-used trucks under $20,000.
ten 2014-2015 GMC Sierra 1500 ($17,300)
The GMC Sierra 1500 half-ton pickup truck has a lot to offer. It produces massive power from a choice of one V6 engine or two V8 engines delivering up to 420 hp in the 6.2 liter V8. When properly equipped, the heavy-duty trims can tow up to 23,000 pounds. Inside, the cabin is elegant, with high-quality materials and spacious, comfortable seats.
Plus, it has a nicely refined ride, and with $20,000 you can get a pre-facelift 2014-2015 model with a V8. You’ll have to spend more for an updated 2016 model, but you’ll be able to settle for a lower-quality V6 that’s powerful enough.
9 2012 Honda Ridgeline ($17,000)
The Honda Ridgeline is one of the top contenders for best compact pickup trucks thanks to its car-like handling, dialed performance, innovative cargo features, and unmatched reliability. It comes standard with four-wheel drive and offers excellent gas mileage for a mid-size truck. In addition, the cabin is well equipped and has spacious rear seats and an electric sunroof. But it will have to deal with the low towing capacity for its category.
The Ridgeline holds its value well, and used pre-2013 models can fetch north of thirty grand. But you can get a 2012 model for as little as $17,000.
8 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 ($17,500)
Choosing a heavy-duty pickup truck comes down to personal preference, as most of them are incredibly packed with features and towing capabilities. The Silverado 2500HD is available in gasoline, diesel and compressed natural gas powertrains, all producing massive power.
You get up to 23,000 pounds of towing capacity with a well-equipped model with the 6.6-liter turbodiesel. Diesel-powered models in mint condition command a premium, but you can pick up a mint 2013 gas-powered model for less than $20,000 on eBay.
seven 2013 Toyota Tacoma ($16,000)
Toyota builds its trucks with a rugged off-road vibe, and it shows with the Tundra’s little brother, the Tacoma. Owning a 2022 Toyota Tacoma SR5 will set you back over forty grand in the top TRD Pro trim. But the second-generation Tacoma built between 2005 and 2015 offers a great affordable choice, making them some of the Japanese automaker’s most reliable and powerful trucks.
You get a proven pickup with perks like good fuel economy and better cabin quality than its rivals, and the SuperCab comes with generous rear-seat space. Expect to pay between $15,000 and $20,000 for a 2013 copy in good condition.
6 2013 Ford F-250 ($19,000)
The Ford F-250 is a rugged beast of a machine capable of towing up to 18,500 pounds while hauling 7,260 pounds in bed. It comes standard with a 6.2-liter V8. The Super Duty trim adds a 6.7-liter turbodiesel V8 producing 440 hp and 860 lb-ft of torque, boosting towing capacity to 26,700 pounds.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better workhorse among heavyweights. Although they are quite expensive, you can find a bargain for under $20,000 in lower trims, like this example Lariat Crew Cab Short Bed listed on eBay for $19,900.
5 2012-2015 Nissan Frontier SL ($16,000)
Nissan’s Frontier compact pickup often comes out on top for its outstanding reliability, excellent safety score and powerful V6 engine. It’s a capable off-road work truck with a smooth ride on paved roads. But you have to live with the unremarkable interior styling and subpar fuel economy.
Plus, you can tow up to 6,500 pounds with the V6 engine. The 2012-2015 examples on Edmunds cost between $13,000 and $28,000 with an average of around $20,000. The price is below the category average and you can get a good deal depending on the location and condition of the vehicle.
4 2012-2015 Ford F-150 ($16,000)
Being America’s best-selling vehicle for more than four decades says a lot about the Ford F-Series. The F-150 full-size pickup truck is one of the best pickup trucks you can buy for under $20,000. It offers competitive towing and hauling numbers while being a very capable on-road and off-road machine.
It comes with a sufficiently equipped interior with state-of-the-art electronics and infotainment systems. But you get a stiffer ride compared to its rivals, and its large truck dimensions mean it’s not the truck for occasional jobs like hauling small items. There are many model options, and prices for a clean 2012-2014 model range from $14,000 for the XL 2WD version to over $30,000 for the SVT Raptor 4WD version.
3 2013-2015 Ram 1500 ($18,000)
Ram updated its Ram 1500 full-size truck in 2013, giving it a new V6 engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission. There are two V8 options, but the base V6 represents better value and great fuel economy while offering good acceleration. The interior is plush with comfortable, supportive seats and a wide range of standard and optional features to equip your vehicle.
For less than $20,000 you can find a 2014 Ram 1500 in good condition and you get a powerful and hardworking truck.
2 2014-2018 Chevrolet Colorado ($16,000)
Not everyone needs a big truck like the F-150s or Ram1500s of the world. Some just need an efficient truck that can haul and tow occasionally, and the Chevy Colorado fits that bill. It comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that returns an impressive 26 mph on the highway.
The Chevy Colorado is one of the newer vehicles on this list, fitting our $20,000 budget. Chevy introduced the second generation in 2011, and you can find a used 2018 facelift model on eBay for as low as $16,950.
1 2016 GMC Canyon ($18,000)
The GMC Canyon is the mid-size sibling of the Sierra 1500 full-size truck. It bears striking similarities to its Chevy Colorado cousin, but comes with a higher price tag. In 2014, GMC introduced an all-new generation, and you can find a lower-trim 2016 model for less than $20,000, like this $18,116 SL model on Kelly Blue Book.
It provides the biggest feedback you need from a compact truck; reasonable size, agile handling and good fuel consumption. Plus, you get performance powertrain options, refined styling and technical features. The only downside is that rivals like the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma are more established and reliable options in the midsize pickup segment.
Sources: edmunds.com, forbes.com, cnbc.com, kbb.com, ebay.com