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What’s the Best Ford F-150 You Can Get for $20,000?

The Ford F-150 is the most popular vehicle in America. In the past five years alone, there have been over four million new Ford F-150s sold. Needless to say, there are a lot of these trucks out there, and choosing a used one can be challenging with so many different model years, engines and configurations available. Below, we’ve outlined some attributes buyers should look for from a used F-150 for around $20,000.

Model Years

With $20,000 to spend, the best value here is the twelfth-generation F-150, sold from the 2009-2014 model years. The twelfth-gen model was the last F-150 to offer steel construction; for the thirteenth generation, the F-150 adopted a number of aluminum components. As usual, a variety of trim levels were offered, from the work-truck spec XL model to luxury trims like the Harley Davidson, King Ranch and Platinum. The game-changing SVT Raptor model was introduced for 2010, though you’ll be hard-pressed to find one for under $20,000 without major mechanical issues, previous accident history or flood damage. If you’re on a strict budget, the Raptors you’ll find are going to need work before you can reliably enjoy them.

There are currently close to 4,000 2009–2014 Ford F-150s for sale on Autotrader for around $20,000.

Engine

The twelfth-generation F-150 was available with a variety of engines, from a so-so 248-horsepower 4.6-liter V8 offered only in 2009 and 2010, to the potent 6.2-liter V8 making 411 hp and 434 lb-ft of torque, offered in high-end models from 2010 to 2014. Worth noting is that an all-new and improved engine lineup was introduced for 2011, the crown jewel of which was Ford’s excellent turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6. While the EcoBoost V6 models offer respectable fuel economy, we recommend the 5.0-liter "Coyote" V8 for buyers who want to stay under $20,000, as this engine offers similar power to the EcoBoost V6, but with a slight decrease in fuel economy. Therefore, it doesn’t command the price premium of the EcoBoost.

Of the 4,000 2009–2014 F-150s for sale on Autotrader for around $20,000, around 1,500 are 2011–2014 models employing either the 5.0- or 6.2-liter V8 engine.

Configuration & Trim Level

This is where the buyer’s individual needs will matter more than anything we can recommend. Worth noting is that while lower trim levels offer single, extended and crew-cab configurations, the smaller cab sizes start to drop off as you move into higher trim levels, leaving only 4-door crew cab options when it comes to upper trim levels.

Four-wheel drive models command a higher premium than 2-wheel drive.

In terms of overall utility, it’s hard to argue against a V8-powered, 4-wheel-drive-equipped Crew Cab model. In this configuration and with the 5.0-liter V-8, the F-150 offers room for five people to ride along comfortably, a 1,700 lb payload capacity and a towing capacity of up to 9,300 lbs, sufficient for towing just about anything.

Configured this way, there are over 200 F-150s to choose from on Autotrader, most of which are the XLT trim level, while still honoring our target price of $20,000. If you’re okay with higher mileage, nicer, more luxurious trim levels become available.

Conclusions

With so many different variables when it comes to the Ford F-150, it’s impossible to recommend one particular configuration as the end-all-be-all solution, as different buyers have different needs. That said, with $20,000 to spend, buyers should expect to find a 2011–2014 V8-powered F-150 XLT crew cab with 4-wheel drive and around 75,000 miles. This configuration should be seen as the bare-minimum requirement, though. With a little patience and persistent searching, nicer trim levels, better engines and lower mileage examples will likely present themselves at the $20,000 price point, as well.

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