Used pickup trucks can be a great way to avoid one of the big problems new trucks have: cost. New trucks are real expensive. Especially when compared to the prices they were a few years ago, adjusted for inflation. A used pickup can do everything a new one can, but with fewer safety features in some cases and more miles on the ticker.
Another advantage to buying used over new is the compilation of different owner surveys, recalls, and technical service bulletins. Combined, they tell a story of how reliable these trucks were in the wild. New trucks haven’t been there yet, so they can’t. We’ve based this list on both the results of Consumer Reports owner surveys and MotorBiscuit’s own experiences with these trucks when new. Our list includes both full-size and midsize pickups, all chosen by the above metrics. We’ll present them in alphabetical order for your perusal.
The 2020 Chevy Colorado pickup has high owner ratings
The Colorado, and sibling GMC Canyon, are about the size of full-size pickups before the new millennium. So they’re not minitrucks and ride on a separate frame. Owner satisfaction per Consumer Reports was more favorable for the 2020 model than previous years of Colorado trucks. Handling is good, but the ride, interior noise, and general comfort could improve. Still, these are solid trucks that range between $27,000 and $47,000, based on condition, options, and mileage.
The 2020 Ford Ranger pickup is an older platform but reliability is great
The midsize Ranger’s come back to the US in 2019 was a truck available in other countries for years. So it could use some updates. A new Ranger is set to happen next year. The current Ranger doesn’t look dated, but the ride and engine performance could use some work. Able to tow 5,000 lbs, it makes up for those faults with load and capacity chops. Prices vary from $30,000 to $43,000.
The 2020 GMC Sierra 2500HD is the 3/4 ton truck you’re looking for
With the ability to lead in towing and payload numbers, the Sierra 2500 is a full-size truck that gets more serious in this ¾-ton configuration. With the 2500HD specs, it is able to tow up to 35,000 lbs based on which options it has. Both the 6.6-liter 401 hp V8 with six-speed automatic transmission, and 6.6-liter 445 hp turbodiesel mated to a 10-speed automatic, were offered. This year Sierra has a lot of safety features to aid the driver.
The 2014 Honda Ridgeline is the only unibody truck listed here
Going back a few years, the older Honda Ridgeline has shown itself to have fewer problems, with 2014 being an excellent reliability candidate. Keep in mind that the Ridgeline uses a unibody architecture, not a separate frame like most of the others on this list. But what you might trade-off in towing or payload ratings is made up with a smoother ride, good handling, and features unique to it. Like the lockable, watertight compartment in the bed, and a tailgate that can open down or swing out like a door. Expect to pay between $18,500 and $23,000.
The 2017 Nissan Frontier is affordible reliability
The 2017 Nissan Frontier is the same generation of midsize trucks as the 2021 model. Only this year has the Frontier seen an upgrade and restyle. So for starters, no one will view your 2017 Frontier as old or even used. Consumer Reports has been glowing about the 2011 to 2018 Frontier being very reliable based on its owner surveys. With V6 power, this is a quick engine that also has the grunt to tow. When compared to some of the other midsize trucks in this list, fuel mileage could be better. Used 2017 Frontier prices go from $18,500 to almost $30,000.
The 2017 Toyota Tacoma gets high marks for off-road chops and reliability
Though Consumer Reports says that the 2005 to 2010 Tacomas had better reliability numbers, this generation of Tacoma still scores above average for reliability. While that and off-road capabilities are its strong points, when it comes to comfort, that might not be. Some owners say the ride is stiff, noisy, and a bit cramped. The seats could use better support as well. But these Tacomas are very popular, which says something about what buyers want. Besides the plusses mentioned, towing and performance were found to be great according to owners. Used 2017 Tacomas are seeing prices between $25,000 and 45,000.
The 2018 Toyota Tundra is one of the few full-size pickups on the list
Back to full-size pickups, the Tundra has soldiered on basically the same since 2007. Safety features and interior updates have kept it going. Its 5.7-liter V8 has the power, and also great towing capacity. Owners show great allegiance to their Tundras, in spite of a choppy ride and so-so fuel economy. For reliability, the Tundra has beaten all other full-size pickups for years running. Though not as refined, nor as up-to-date as its American counterparts, these Tundra pickups do pretty much everything others in this segment can, for less money. Figure prices that range from $30,500 to $48,000 depending on options, condition, and mileage.