Cheap pickup trucks are by no means hard to come by. Due to their extremely competitive market, carmakers often compete to offer more standard equipment for less. However, just because there are plenty of trucks to choose from doesn’t mean they’re all good choices. Car and Driver recently published a comprehensive list of the cheapest 2021 pickup trucks currently available. To save you some time, we’ve chosen the three best options.
Toyota’s pickup trucks are some of the best
The 2021 Toyota Tacoma is not only one of the best cheap pickup trucks; it is also one of the most popular. According to CarSalesBase, in 2019, Toyota managed to sell 248,801 units of its cheapest truck. If that’s not impressive enough, sales for the Tacoma have been rapidly increasing since 2014.
It’s easy to see why the midsized pickup truck is so popular. Under the hood lives a choice of two available engines. The first is a 2.7-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder developing 159 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. The second is a 3.5-liter V6 developing 278 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque. While those aren’t exactly the world’s most powerful engine, the Tacoma’s 4445 curb weight makes it by far the lightest on this list.
The Toyota Tacoma is also one of few 2021 pickup trucks that utilize a body on frame design. The result is that the Tacoma has excellent ground clearance, making it a great off-roading pickup truck. Aside from its off-roading capabilities, a variety of trim levels means you can either have a luxury-oriented Tacoma or a full-fledged off-roader. Prices for Toyota’s cheapest trucks start at $26,150.
You can’t argue with the best-selling truck in the U.S.
If we’re talking popularity strictly, no other pickup truck comes close to the Ford F-150. According to CarSalesBase, Ford managed to sell 896,526 F-Series pickup trucks in 2019. While those sales figures also include the F-250 and F-350, they are still mighty impressive.
Throughout its last few generations, the Ford F-150 has begun to demonstrate a bit of a split personality. A base XL model with its 3.3-liter V6 engine and $28,940 starting price is more than capable of acting as a work truck. However, the range-topping Limited trim and its $70,825 starting price and plush interior lean significantly more toward a luxury truck. A large portion of the F-150’s appeal is that there is likely a trim level configuration that has exactly what you’re looking for.
Aside from pure choice, the 2021 F-150 gets some major improvements over the outgoing model. Aside from a neater aesthetic featuring LED headlights and taillights, the interior also gets a major refresh. For starters, the F-150 is now available with both a digital instrument cluster and a 12-inch infotainment screen. Even the cheapest trim level gets an all-new eight-inch display with Ford’s latest SYNC 4 infotainment system.
Not all pickup trucks have to be serious
In terms of cheap pickup trucks, the Jeep Gladiator is the oddball of the group. Based largely on the Jeep Wrangler, the Gladiator is equally comfortable on and off-road. Like the aforementioned Toyota Tacoma, the Jeep Gladiator features a body on frame design, which gives it excellent ground clearance and off-roading capabilities.
However, unlike the Tacoma, the Jeep Gladiator is highly configurable. Unlike most pickup trucks, the Gladiator allows its owners to remove its doors by utilizing an included screwdriver easily. Additionally, the Jeep Gladiator is the only convertible pickup truck currently available for sale. If the soft top isn’t your cup of tea, Jeep also offers a hardtop option. Unlike the Ford F-150, the Jeep Gladiator offers few trim levels. While the base Sport trim starts at $33,545, the range-topping Willys starts at $39,420.
As standard, the Gladiator is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 developing 285 hp. An optional 3.0-liter turbo-diesel engine is available and develops 260 hp. The Gladiator is the only pickup truck on this list that doesn’t offer a luxury-oriented interior. Thankfully, you’ve got three very diverse trucks to chose from.