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A very general rule of thumb: When shopping for used trucks, look for a five-year-old model with low mileage. Shopping for a used pickup truck is like skiing through a minefield; there are many ways to go wrong. However, many of us overthink the used pickup truck market. The truth is, the best used pickup truck is a no-brainer. Stepping back five years puts us at a 2018 model, and if you need an efficient, reliable, well-maintained pickup truck, for most of us, a Toyota Tacoma will almost always get the job done – that is, if you can find one.

What is the best used pickup truck? 

U.S. News ranked used pickup trucks from every year, going back to 2009. If we stick to our five-year rule and see what U.S. News ranked in the No. one spot, you’ll find the venerable Toyota Tacoma. 

The Toyota Tacoma has long been one of the most popular pickup trucks on the market, and the 2018 model year is no exception. Toyota 4x4s are defined by their rugged build quality and impressive performance capabilities. The 2018 Toyota Tacoma is a fantastic option for anyone looking for a reliable and capable used pickup truck.

As far as compact pickup trucks go, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything as tough, strong, and fun as the Tacoma. While folks needing heavy towing capability might find the Tacoma lacking, most truck drivers can get everything they need from the ol’ Taco. 

Part of what makes the 2018 Toyota Tacoma a great used pickup truck is the same thing that typically hurts new ones with critics; a general lack of fancy interior appointments. The Tacoma’s simple interior translates really well as a used truck. Nothing is worse than trying to use tech in a car that was flashy when it was new and is now painfully outdated. The Tacoma doesn’t really have that issue because the interior and lack of many luxurious features were already outdated and simple in 2018. This makes for a bit more of a timeless feel. That is one of the best reasons to love a used Toyota pickup truck.

What engines came in the 2018 Toyota Tacoma?

A first-generation Toyota Tacoma can make a good used truck for under $15,000.
Toyota Tacoma | Michael McCullough

A key part of what makes Toyota trucks and SUVs so popular is the short list of powerful and steadfast engines, including a 2.7-liter 4-cylinder and a 3.5-liter V6. The Toyota Tacoma has employed these engines for over a decade. They might be a bit cavemanish and less efficient than some newer powerplants, but they are dead-reliable. If you have an issue with a used Tacoma, there is no shortage of people who know these engines backward and forward. 

The Toyota Tacoma is one of the most fun options for a used pickup truck

The best compact pickup trucks from 2009 include the Toyota Tacoma seen here
A 2009 Toyota Tacoma | Toyota

Not only is the Toyota Tacoma one of the best used pickup trucks, but it’s also one of the most fun. The Tacoma has a killer 4×4 drive. This is a well-known fact. Since the Toyota pickup 4×4, off-roaders have pined for a Toyota pickup truck. 

While all Toyota 4x4s are super capable, the Tacoma is one of the best because of its size. Something that many off-roaders don’t get is that size matters. The Tacoma’s smaller footprint makes it not only more agile on the trails, but it can also fit down narrower trails than some of the heavyweights. 

SO, whether you want a swamp toy or a daily driver, it’ll be tough to do much better than U.S. New’s pick for the best used compact truck from 2018.