3 Sensible Used Midsize Pickup Truck Models and Years To Buy

Many pickup buyers find midsize trucks perfectly balance efficiency, capability, and operating costs. If you are considering a used pickup truck, here are three midsize models–and specific model years–that you should consider.

2005-2020 Nissan Frontier

Orange 2019 Nissan Titan full-size pickup truck driving along a dirt road.
2019 Nissan Titan | Nissan

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Nissan’s midsize Frontier pickups is easily one of the best values on the used truck market. The automaker built the second generation of the Frontier from 2005 to 2020. As a result, Nissan had lots of time to rework any problem areas, and by 2017, the Titan earned an incredible 85/100 predicted reliability score from J.D. Power. But know that its interior features and technology lagged a bit behind its contemporaries.

Just like its competitor, the Tacoma, you could get a Frontier with either an I4 or V6. This I4 may have been the only real weak-point of the Frontier. According to U.S. News, the entery-level engine made a measley 152 horsepower yet its mileage was nearly as bad as the V6. Therefore, most used Frontier buyers seek out the 261-horsepower V6.

Read how Nissan doubled the Frontier’s sales.

2003-2012 GMC Canyon/Chevrolet Colorado

Beige 2013 Toyota Colorado midsize pickup truck sitting on the stage at an auto show.
2013 Chevrolet Colorado | Rodney Morr for Chevrolet

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General Motors built the first generation GMC Canyon/Chevy Colorado from 2003 to 2012. The company’s strategy to compete with the Toyota Tacoma was to offer both the GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado midsize trucks in every conceivable configuration–with every possible drivetrain. Want a standard cab, short bed, with an I4? You could order it. Need a four-door midsize truck with a 300-horsepower V8? You could buy that too.

The reviewers at MotorTrend concluded that you can’t go wrong with any of the first-generation Canyon/Colorado drivetrains. Some promise better fuel mileage while others offer more grunt–but they’re all reliable. These trucks are known for interior build quality that doesn’t stand the test of time very well, so you may be chasing electrical gremlins or chalking plastics. But the 2003 through 2012 GMC Canyon/Chevrolet Colorado doesn’t hold its value nearly as well as a Tacoma. As a result, you can get a lot of truck for your buck.

Find out which midsize pickup truck has a solid front axle.

2017 Toyota Tacoma

Silver 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD 4x4 midsize pickup truck parked in a row of vehicles at an auto show.
2017 Toyota Tacoma | Raymond Boyd via Getty Images

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When many folks think of midsize trucks, they think of the Toyota Tacoma. This is evident in the high resale values Tacomas of any configuration command on the used market. Only certain Jeep Wrangler trims hold their value better than Toyota Tacomas. If you are looking to buy a Tacoma the bad news is you’re unlikely to find one cheap. The good news is that you will likely be able to recoup most of your investment. For this reason, many buyers opt for a new Tacoma.

So how reliable is the famous Tacoma? J.D. Power gave the 2017 truck a predicted reliability score of 79/100. That’s not as high as you might expect, so what’s all the hullabaloo? Firstly, even the Tacoma’s V6 engine does not make enough power to really strain its transmission or axles. Secondly, many of these trucks see mostly highway miles and thus last for hundreds of thousands of them. One bonus for the Tacoma is how capable it is if you choose to take it off-road. Note that 2017 was the first year of the TRD Pro trim which came with a factory lift, skidplates, and performance exhaust system.

Read about the current slump in Toyota Tacoma sales or see some of the best used midsize pickup trucks for yourself in the video below:

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