Buying a used pickup truck can save you money when you need a capable utility vehicle and want to avoid the high cost of new trucks. And with the durable nature of modern vehicles, finding a reliable truck on the used market is pretty easy, especially given how popular trucks are in America and how many are sold every year. Understanding your truck needs and weighing those against your budget will help you identify the best used pickup to buy.
Full-size pickup trucks, particularly in heavy-duty configurations, are the most capable models available. They are available with high horsepower V8 engines and even higher torque diesel engines, the latter usually offering the highest payload and towing capacity within a specific truck line. The American brands Chevrolet, Ford, GMC, and Ram all offer heavy-duty trucks, but keep in mind these models will likely cost the most while delivering the worst fuel economy.
If you don’t need the extreme capabilities of a heavy duty truck, a full-size light-duty pickup will cost less, offer improved fuel efficiency, and still provide a wide range of powertrain options, trim levels, and configurations that focus on everything from maximum comfort to maximum off-road capability. High tech features like large infotainment touchscreens and rear cameras to help hook up a trailer are also available in this segment. Beyond the American brands listed above, Nissan and Toyota also offer light-duty pickups, further widening your options.
Popular full-size models include the Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Ford F-150, GMC Sierra 1500, Nissan Titan, Toyota Tundra, and Ram 1500 All of these trucks come in crew cab configuration, meaning four full-size doors and two rows of roomy seating for up to five adults. Extended cab and regular cab models are also offered by the American brands, along with long bed and short bed versions powered by a wide range of V8 and V6 engine options. Some light-duty American models even offer turbodiesel engines, depending on model year.
The Japanese brands don’t offer as many full-size truck cab and bed length configurations as the American brands, but their reliability matches the domestics, making them a desirable choice in the used truck market. Keep in mind that every full-size truck sold in the U.S, both new and even used models going back several years, come with only automatic transmissions. If you want to drive a manual shift full-size pickup truck you’ll have to consider much older models, which are likely to have much higher miles.
Midsize trucks offer lower payload and towing capacities than full-size models, but these trucks have grown in size and capability over the past 20 years and can now serve a wide range of truck buyer needs. The Toyota Tacoma is one of the most popular trucks in this segment, offering extreme off-road capability in TRD trim and a reputation for long-term reliability. The Nissan Frontier is another well-established nameplate in this segment, with advanced four-wheel-drive technology and a durable design.
American midsize trucks like the Chevrolet Colorado, Ford Ranger and GMC Canyon are similarly capable, both as workhorse trucks in base trim and capable off-road models at higher enthusiast trim levels like the Chevy Colorado ZR2 or Ford Ranger Raptor. Another midsize model, the Honda Ridgeline, uses a unibody platform instead of the body-on-frame design of other midsize trucks This gives the Honda a more refined, car-like ride quality while remaining surprisingly capable as a cargo hauler or tow vehicle.
Two other models, the Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz, are available in the compact truck segment. These smaller trucks feature four-cylinder drivetrains that return impressive mpg figures, but they also have the lowest payload and towing capacity within the truck market.
List below are the best used trucks across a wide range of pricing categories, making it easy to browse models based on your budget. The trucks are ranked by their iSeeCars quality score, which takes into account reliability, safety, and value retention for each model.