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Opting for a used truck is the best way to avoid dealer markups on the most popular models and get a reliable vehicle in the process. The best used compact trucks sell for anywhere between $10,000-$20,000 on average, and a few are available for much less. However, one of the cheapest and most well-rounded options might already be a no-go for some truck shoppers.

A silver-gray 2010 Honda Ridgeline RTL midsize pickup truck model parked on a wet asphalt lot in the wilderness
2010 Honda Ridgeline RTL | American Honda Motor Co., Inc

This is one of the best compact trucks for under $20,000

The Honda Ridgeline makes more appearances than any other truck on U.S. News’s first page of best used compact trucks. The 2010 Ridgeline is reportedly the best and it’s available for as low as $12,461 on average. This Honda Ridgeline has a 250-hp V6 engine and standard four-wheel drive.

The 2010 Honda Ridgeline has one cargo box size (approximately 5 ft long), equipped with a lockable in-bed trunk and a dual-action tailgate. The crew cab has room for five people and U.S. News showcases no complaints about the legroom for any passenger. This Ridgeline also has a perfect J.D. Power reliability score and above-average IIHS safety scores.

The Honda Ridgelines from model years 2011-2014 are also highly recommended. The 2009 Honda Ridgeline offers a lower starting price, though it’s slightly less reliable than some of the later models. Some critics also complained about transmission performance issues on the 2014 Ridgeline.

The Honda Ridgeline might not appeal to truck fans

The Honda Ridgeline is a somewhat divisive pick because of its construction. The Ridgeline has always been a unibody truck with independent suspensions for both the front and rear. This allows it to ride as smoothly as an SUV with better handling dynamics compared to other trucks.

However, unibody trucks are also less brawny than body-on-frame pickups. Despite having standard 4WD, the Ridgeline’s approach and departure angles aren’t really suited for serious off-roading. Additionally, every used Honda Ridgeline recommended by U.S. News can only tow a maximum of 5,000 lbs.

Which truck should you buy instead of the Honda Ridgeline?

U.S. News recommends the 2009 Nissan Frontier over any other used compact pickup truck. The most affordable examples have an average asking price of $8,785 and a standard 152-hp four-cylinder under the hood. This Nissan Frontier could also be optioned with a 261-hp V6, allowing the truck to tow up to 6,500 lbs.

Despite its body-on-frame construction, critics were impressed with the Frontier’s agreeable ride quality. It also offers an extra cab and cargo box size over the Honda Ridgeline, plus a dedicated off-roading trim.

The 2009 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X has a locking rear differential, skid plates to protect the truck’s underside, off-road tires, and off-road shocks. This trim also has approximately 10.1 in of ground clearance, nearly 2 in more than the Honda Ridgeline.

The 2016 Chevy Colorado is a slightly more expensive option, but it’s possible to find some at $18,782 on average. Critics praised the Colorado’s smooth ride and its maximum towing capacity of 7,700 lbs. Some examples might have a diesel engine that earns 22/30 mpg city/highway.

The 2016 Chevy Colorado LT can be had for around $19,000 and includes an enhanced infotainment system with smartphone integration. However, you’ll likely have to pay over $20,000 if you want the rough-ready Z71 trim. 

The 2013 Toyota Tacoma’s cabin is reportedly nicer than many of its rivals’, and Bluetooth was even included on the base trim. Examples with the 241-hp V6 option cost a minimum of $18,063 on average. If you can’t find a Honda Ridgeline in your area, critics say that the Tacoma’s ride quality is still acceptable.


Why the Honda Ridgeline Is Popular With Critics but Not Consumers