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Experts have answers if you’re searching for a high-quality used small truck that’s also affordable. U.S. News & World Report listed its best used compact pickups for under $20,000 in 2023. We’ve compiled the best options and what makes them so great. Small trucks are the perfect affordable alternative to a costly full-size model. Although they’re less capable, almost every one provides similar interior space, a convenient cargo box for hauling, and a more drivable car-like ride that larger options don’t offer. According to U.S. News, here are the best used small trucks under $20,000: the Honda Ridgeline, Toyota Tacoma, Chevy Colorado, and Nissan Frontier from these model years.

Best used small trucks in 2023

The list of best used small trucks of 2023 provided by U.S. News is filled with excellent options. The only downside is that there isn’t much variety—for example, the top three features two model years of the Honda Ridgeline. Additionally, the top five include another two model years of the Toyota Tacoma. It seems the best used options are the same from different years. Many competitors fall short of these models in terms of reliability and long-lastingness, which is the primary reason they’re excellent options for under $20,000.

4. 2013 and 2015 Toyota Tacoma

A 2015 Toyota Tacoma mid-size truck shows off. It can be found used for around $20,000.
2015 Toyota Tacoma | Andrew Harrer via Getty Images

According to U.S. News & World Report, the 2013 Toyota Tacoma is one of the best used small trucks. For under $20,000, the popular model provides many benefits to owners. For example, the average price paid is between $13,881 and $20,796. Additionally, it earned an 8.7 out of 10 overall from the publication, with a few highlights helping it beat rivals. The 2013 Tacoma has above-average fuel economy for a midsize truck, a better cabin quality than most rivals, and the Double Cab version has very spacious rear seats. Lastly, it earned a 4.5/5 from J.D. Power for reliability.

Next, the 2015 Toyota Tacoma earned the same score from U.S. News. However, the newer model year makes it slightly more expensive than its predecessor. Used models range from $19,011 to $28,910, so a more basic version will be the only one available for under $20,000. The reviewer says it’s highlighted by its punchy engine options, excellent reliability rating, and impressive off-road performance. Moreover, the model earned a perfect score from J.D. Power for reliability.

3. 2016 Chevy Colorado

Right above the two versions of the Tacoma is the 2016 Chevy Colorado, one of the best used small trucks for under $20,000. On average, customers have paid between $15,683 and $25,531 for the Colorado. As a result, more costly trims will undoubtedly land above the $20K mark. The excellent model received the same score from U.S. News as the two Tacoma model years for a few reasons. First, it has exceptional towing ability, which still holds true for modern versions. Second, the Colorado provides owners with a smooth ride and spacious interior. Finally, the reliability rating is excellent, a four out of five from J.D. Power.

2. 2012 and 2010 Honda Ridgeline

Right above Chevrolet’s offering is the 2012 Honda Ridgeline. It’s one of the best used small trucks for under $20,000 for a few reasons. First, the model earned an 8.8 out of 10 from U.S. News, placing it above other models on this list. Next, the average customer paid between $13,724 and $16,934 to get one. The affordable model provides car-like handling, spacious rear seats, and many useful cargo features. Furthermore, it earned a perfect reliability rating from J.D. Power in addition to its multiple excellent safety scores.

Next, the 2010 Honda Ridgeline is the second-best used small truck. With an 8.9 out of 10 from U.S. News, it’s nearly the best model overall. On average, most used versions have sold for anywhere from $9,471 to $12,022. As a result, any version of the pickup is affordable to the average consumer. Highlights of the 2010 Ridgeline are very similar to the 2012 model year. A comfortable and car-like ride, an innovative tailgate and in-bed trunk, and an outstanding safety score highlight the Honda. Moreover, it earned a perfect J.D. Power reliability rating and a top-of-the-line safety rating to go with it.

1. 2009 Nissan Frontier

One of the best used small trucks to buy for under $20,000, the 2009 Nissan Frontier.
2009 Nissan Frontier | Mark Elias/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Finally, the best used small truck for under $20,000 is the 2009 Nissan Frontier. U.S. News says it’s the best because it gave the model an incredible 9/10 overall score. Getting one will cost anywhere from $6,443 to $10,624, which is shockingly affordable. Highlights of the model include an excellent, refined ride and strong off-roading capabilities. The Frontier also received updates to its exterior styling for this model year, so it looks better than previous versions. Lastly, the Nissan truck has a perfect J.D. Power reliability rating and a high safety score of 8.2 out of 10. For the low price, it’s easily one of the best used small trucks you can find.

U.S. News’ best used small trucks under $20,000

In conclusion, the best used small trucks for under $20,000 in 2023 are all either a Toyota Tacoma, Honda Ridgeline, Chevy Colorado, or Nissan Frontier. As the long-reigning champion of the segment, it’s no surprise to see the Toyota midsize pickup on the list. However, sleeper models like the Nissan Frontier top the list. Nissan’s offering is an outstanding used option, providing an excellent value with its affordable price, plus reliability and off-road capability.


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