2 Pickup Trucks Under $10,000 Consumer Reports Rates as the Least Expensive to Maintain

It’s easy to focus on a vehicle’s purchase price, but maintenance and repair costs can create unexpected expenses down the road. When you’re shopping for pickup trucks, considering maintenance costs can save a significant amount of money.

According to Consumer Reports, the 2011 Ford Ranger and Nissan Frontier are two pickup trucks under $10,000 with the least expensive maintenance costs. Here’s what you should know about these vehicles.

The 2 cheapest pickup trucks to maintain

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To determine the cars and trucks with the lowest long-term maintenance costs, Consumer Reports looked at 2011 models to determine how much it cost owners to maintain them 10 years later. CR’s research found that the Ford Ranger and Nissan Frontier cost only $200 each in yearly maintenance at the 10-year mark.

Consumer Reports notes it’s important to consider the average maintenance cost both five and 10 years after purchase. That’s because certain factors can cause a vehicle’s maintenance costs to be lower in the first five years but spike several years later.

For example, new-car warranties can significantly reduce maintenance costs in the first few years after purchase. Some automakers, such as BMW, also offer free maintenance during the first several years. Once this type of coverage ends, expenses often rise significantly.

What Consumer Reports has to say about the 2011 Ford Ranger

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Ford has redesigned the Ranger since the 2011 model year, but Consumer Reports looked specifically at 2011 models when determining maintenance costs. This Ford Ranger model year received mixed ratings. Its biggest strength is its predicted reliability, with a 4/5 rating. However, its predicted owner satisfaction rating is an abysmal 1/5.

The 2011 Ranger has a 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 143 hp, but a 4.0-liter V6 making 207 hp is also available. Unfortunately, CR’s testers found the V6 to be lacking. It gets only 16 mpg combined, which was unimpressive even in 2011. Consumer Reports also describes this engine as “low on power, thirsty, and coarse.”

The 2011 Ranger can tow up to 5,600 pounds. While towing a 5,000-pound trailer, CR’s test drivers reached 60 mph in a decent 25.5 seconds.

Inside, hard plastics fill the cabin. Testers described the seats as firm and noted the decent legroom and headroom but minimal space for shoulders and elbows. The controls are simple to use, and the bed can support loads up to 7.5 feet long with the tailgate down.

How does the 2011 Nissan Frontier compare?

Like the Ford Ranger, the 2011 Nissan Frontier received mixed ratings from Consumer Reports. It, too, earned an excellent 4/5 predicted reliability rating and an unimpressive 1/5 predicted owner satisfaction rating.

Test drivers praised the performance of this truck’s 4.0-liter V6, which produces 261 hp and gets 15 mpg combined. Though it offers strong performance, it becomes noisy at higher speeds.

Also, this truck performed significantly better than the 2011 Ford Ranger during the tow test. When pulling a 5,000-pound trailer, the Frontier reached 60 mph in just 17.5 seconds. Additionally, it boasts good traction and handles corners well, something with which the Ranger struggles. 

Test drivers also found the cabin to be more comfortable in the Frontier. It features textured plastics, supportive seats, and a high driving position.

Regardless of these two pickup trucks’ mixed Consumer Reports reviews, there’s no denying their low price points and impressively low maintenance costs even 10 years after purchase. Taking factors like these into consideration helps save money and reduces the risk of encountering unexpected costs down the road.