New pickup trucks these days can run you a small fortune, and some are as expensive as high-end luxury vehicles. But if you’re in need of the power, practicality and capability that a truck can offer, an affordable alternative is to buy one used. A used pickup can give you everything you’re looking for — except the high price tag. And since trucks are made to last, even those with high mileage can give you years of hard work and everyday transportation. Here are six used pickups that deliver big, but come in under $15,000.
2010-2012 Chevrolet Colorado
Even new, the Chevrolet Colorado is one of the more affordable light-duty pickup trucks out there. But on the used market, you can easily find one for under $15,000. On the outside, as its outdoorsy name suggests, the Colorado is a handsome and rugged-looking truck with ample bed space and good ground clearance. Available in three body styles — regular, extended and crew — the Colorado offers a cab that’s a bit utilitarian. But if you’re looking for a real work truck, there’s no need for a sunroof or leather bucket seats, right?
The Colorado offers three capable engines, including an inline-4, an inline-5 and a 300-horsepower 5.3-liter V8. Energy channels through either a 5-speed manual gearbox or a 4-speed automatic. And 4-wheel drive models utilize a 2-speed transfer case with an optional locking differential to dig in for some real traction. The Colorado with V8 power has a max tow capacity of 6,000 pounds, just enough for a medium-size boat or camper.
2008-2011 Ford F-150
The Ford F-Series has been around for seventy years. You read that right … born in 1948, this proverbial workhorse is now a septuagenarian. And there’s a reason that it’s been the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. for the better part of the last 30 years. The full-size Ford F-150, the most popular offering in Ford’s F-Series line, seems to have it all, even under the $15,000 threshold. The tough-looking exterior comes in three configurations — regular cab, supercab or supercrew — and there are three available cargo bed lengths: 5.5-foot, 6.5-foot or 8-foot. The right one depends on what you plan on hauling.
Beyond its towing and hauling capabilities, the F-150 enjoys a reputation for reliability and an easy-to-drive demeanor that makes it more pleasant to drive on normal roads than many of its full-size competitors. Ford’s prodigal son is powered by one of four engines: A 302-hp 3.7-liter V6, a 360-hp 5.0-liter V8, a 365-hp twin-turbo Ecoboost V6 and a colossal 411-hp 6.2-liter V8. Every engine is paired with the same 6-speed automatic transmission, ready to take on the toughest of jobs.
2009-2011 Ford Ranger
The other Ford on our list is by no means a heavy-duty work truck. The Ranger is actually what you would call a compact pickup. But that doesn’t mean it can’t get the job done. It just depends on what kind of job you need to do. Easily fitting within the $15,000 budget, the Ranger is the truck you want for lawn and yard projects, minor home improvements or helping a friend transport a treadmill. If you’re looking to have the convenience of a pickup truck so you can haul trash or bags of top soil, the Ranger could not be a better fit.
Inside, the Ranger is sparse and simple. There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles here. On the road, the Ranger drives more like a car than a truck, which, for many, is a plus. Available in regular-cab and extended-cab body styles, the Ranger offers either a standard 6- or 7-foot cargo bed. And as for power, there are two choices: A 143-hp 2.3-liter engine only available with rear-wheel drive, or a stouter 207-hp 4.0-liter V6 that comes with either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. Both engines tie to either a 5-speed manual transmission or a 5-speed automatic.
2008-2012 Honda Ridgeline
The Honda Ridgeline is no doubt polarizing. Some love the way it looks, others aren’t fans. For those looking for a traditional body-on-frame pickup truck, the Ridgeline is not for them. Although it’s not a heavy-duty, full-size workhorse, the Ridgeline grants plenty of pickup utility and a car-like ride, thanks to its unibody structure and independent front and rear suspension setup. New Ridgelines can be quite pricey, but a first generation version of this truck can certainly be found for under $15,000. And for that thrifty price tag, you still get a well-constructed truck with Honda reliability.
Inside, the cab is well-crafted and looks more upscale in comparison to other pickups. The Ridgeline’s lone engine choice, a 3.5-liter V6 generates 250 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque. You won’t be pulling trees out of the ground, but the Ridgeline will pull a 5,000-pound trailer to the lake or the campground for the weekend. And feel free to haul as much as 1,500 pounds of payload in the 5-foot long bed. All-wheel drive and eight inches of ground clearance makes the Ridgeline a capable vehicle for most on- and off-road conditions — within reason.
2009-2013 Nissan Frontier
The Nissan Frontier is a midsize pickup that smartly splits the difference between a full-size, heavy duty truck and a compact, light-duty offering. Touting an athletic build and a wide, confident stance, the Frontier blends body-on-frame ruggedness, outstanding utility and good handling in everyday driving. The Frontier is for those who need a workhorse, but also enjoy exploring the wild and going off the beaten path. Offered in three body styles and two bed lengths — 5-foot and 6-foot — there’s a Frontier for just about anyone.
The interior is well-crafted with plenty of useful features, ranging from dual-zone climate control to navigation to a rearview camera system, which is more than a lot of older model pickup trucks. In terms of power, the Frontier offers two engines: A 152-hp 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, which some may find underwhelming, and a much more truck-like 261-hp 4.0-liter V6. When equipped with 4-wheel drive, the 4-cylinder can tow up to 3,500 pounds, while the V6 has a max tow rating of 6,500 pounds. Among used pickups, the Nissan Frontier offers a lot of utility and value for under $15,000.
2006-2011 Toyota Tacoma
The Toyota Tacoma has been among the most popular pickups for past 20 years due to its athletic looks, outstanding capability and varied choice of configurations. This midsize truck is leaner than many full-size offerings, meaning it isn’t quite as beefy in size and presence, but still brings the payload, power and utility that most truck owners need. Simply put, it bridges the gap between light-duty and heavy-duty. At the same time, the Tacoma brings an outdoor adventure feel for those who enjoy heading to the mountains or the campgrounds on the weekends, or just like to go 4-wheeling in the mud.
Touting Toyota build quality and reliability, the Tacoma delivers a well-crafted cabin with good materials, a wide array of standard features and lots of space. Offered in Regular Cab, Access Cab and Double Cab body styles, the Tacoma makes use of a 6-foot cargo bed, ready to haul materials for home and garden or the worksite thanks to a standard composite bedliner and bedrail system. Power comes from either a 159 hp 2.7-liter 4-cylinder engine, or a 236 hp 4.0-cylinder V6. Connecting to either a 6-speed manual gearbox or a 5-speed automatic, energy channels to either the rear axle or all four wheels. For any kind of serious work or play, or if you live in a cold climate, we suggest going with 4-wheel drive, which gives the Tacoma the ability to tow up to 6,500 pounds. Coming in under $15,000, the closest rival to the Tacoma is the Nissan Frontier.