Car manufacturers have woken up to the fact that buyers want trucks that have the same comforts and amenities as cars have. The range of robust engine choices and luxurious options available on pickups these days boggles the mind. And if you go overboard with the bells and whistles, it’s all too easy to end up with a ridiculously expensive truck.
Buyers should take heart, though, because budget-friendly trucks are still within reach. Granted they are no-frills trucks. You’ll be passing up the leather upholstery, fancy tech, and some active safety features found in higher-end trucks. And two of the three trucks listed here have no rear seats.
But if you need a basic truck for work or as a daily driver, keeping it simple will hold the price under $25,000. Here are the three cheapest trucks that Car and Driver recommends.
2019 GMC Canyon – $23,295
The GMC Canyon‘s price reflects the base SL trim with an extended cab style and two-wheel drive. This truck is the slightly tonier twin sibling of the Chevrolet Colorado.
They share a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that delivers 200 hp and 171 lb-ft of torque. It has a standard 6-speed automatic transmission and electric power steering. The fully-boxed framed GMC has a payload of almost 1,457 pounds and can tow up to 3,500 pounds. Fuel economy for the Canyon runs 20 mpg city and 26 mpg highway.
Inside the stripped-down Canyon, more expensive floor carpeting is replaced by vinyl floor covering. The seats are also vinyl. Seating is limited to two occupants as there are no rear seats, although the front bucket seats are standard. The truck also has air conditioning and power windows and door locks.
Infotainment features on the Canyon are an AM/FM radio, a 7.0-inch touch screen, Bluetooth capability, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, smartphone connectivity, USB ports, and a 6-speaker sound system. Standard safety features are a rearview camera, a stability control system with traction control, GM’s Teen Driver technology, anti-lock disc brakes, a tire-pressure monitoring system, and six airbags.
The Canyon also sports 16-inch aluminum wheels and a high-strength steel pickup box.
2019 Chevrolet Colorado – $22,395
The Chevy Colorado is configured exactly as the Canyon is, yet it’s $900 cheaper. It’s built on the same platform and shares the same engine and transmission. Its payload is slightly lower at 1,422 pounds but its maximum towing capacity is the same. The Colorado’s fuel economy is the same as the Canyon’s.
It has a similar interior to the GMC’s with comparable materials and seat set-up, an almost identical infotainment system, and safety features that are nearly indistinguishable from the Canyon’s.
The Colorado’s 16-inch wheels are made of steel rather than aluminum. The Chevy truck doesn’t have a steel pickup box, either. Those are the only real differences.
So, your choice between the Canyon and the Colorado will depend mostly on if you prefer the GMC badging and its somewhat bolder exterior styling or the extra cash in your pocket.
2019 Nissan Frontier – $19,090
The Nissan Frontier is basically the same pared-down truck that it was in 2005. It has the distinction of being one of the oldest vehicles still on the market.
The MSRP listed here is for the S trim level with an extended cab, 2WD, and a five-speed manual transmission. Note that this price was taken from the Nissan website and is lower than the one listed for the Frontier in the Car and Driver article. A similarly configured truck with five-speed automatic transmission will cost you $23,160.
The Frontier’s 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine makes 152 hp and 171 lb-ft. Its maximum payload is 950 pounds and it can tow a maximum of 3,800 pounds. Fuel economy is 19 mpg city and 23 mpg highway.
It’s got body-on-frame construction and a fully-boxed ladder frame. It rides on 15-in steel wheels.
The interior is simple, but you do get cloth seats instead of vinyl. It also has amenities such as air conditioning, a 7.0-inch infotainment touch screen, Bluetooth, Siri Eyes Free, a USB port, and an AM/FM radio with four speakers. Unlike the Canyon and the Colorado, though, the Frontier has no smartphone compatibility apps.
Also, be aware that you’ll be doing your own cranking up and down of the truck’s windows. They are manual as are the door locks. The 4-way adjustable driver’s seat is also manual. Safety features include a rearview camera, six airbags, and a traction control system.
This truck is indeed bare-bones but it does offer one thing that the other two trucks in this list don’t: a back seat. Having additional seating capacity is a huge plus for a truck under twenty-five grand, especially one this affordable.