5 Used Trucks Under $20,000 That Get the Job Done
Used car prices are crazy. Used truck prices are even crazier. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a good work truck for less than $20,000.
Towing and payload numbers are what define a truck. If you’re buying a truck, you want to know what size trailer you can safely tow and how much weight you can put in the bed. The towing capacity is usually indicated on the sticker on the door. But make sure you have the right type of hitch. Payload capacity can be a little harder to determine. You need to find the gross vehicle weight, or GVWR, on the sticker, then subtract the curb weight. So if you have a 5,000 pound truck with a GVWR of 7,000 pounds, that means everything (including the passengers) can’t weigh more than 7,000 pounds.
A seven to 10 year old work truck from the mid 2010s is a great used buy as it has generally depreciated a lot but still has modern technology and is not worn out. All of these trucks can be found on the used market for less than $20,000, but as always, prices vary depending on condition, mileage, options and more.
The Nissan Frontier is smaller, but no less capable
Towing: 6,500 pounds
Payload: 1,515 pounds
Truckers will tell you it takes a full-size truck to tow your trailer or haul your stuff. They are usually wrong. Look at a mid-size truck and you’ll be rewarded with better gas mileage with a package that’s easier to park but does 90% of all the truck stuff you’ll ever need. The Nissan Frontier was never a “modern” truck, its roots go back to the 1980s, but it is robust, it can be ordered with four-wheel drive and a powerful V6. Additionally, it could be ordered in a variety of cabins seating two, three, four (in jump seats) or five.
Ford F-150 XL is the standard work truck
Towing: 5,000 to 9,400 pounds
Payload: 994 to 2,732 pounds
The F-150 has been North America’s best-selling vehicle for decades. It’s easy to see why. The F-150 has a variety of engine options, from a fuel efficient V6 to a powerful V8 and can tow a lot. The XL is the work truck version and has a basic interior with a bench seat. Generally, XLs are sold as long beds, which means you can fit up to eight feet of stuff in them. It still does all the truck stuff you want, but at a great price.
Chevrolet 1500 Work Truck because work is in the name
Towing: 4,400 to 6,700 pounds
Payload: 1,494 to 1,937 pounds
Mid-2010 Chevrolet Silverados are still great value, and you can find a works truck example for under $20,000. Like the F-150 XL, the Work Truck is the base truck. It still has air conditioning, a radio and electric windows. Like the Ford, many work trucks have eight-foot-long beds and can be ordered with a variety of engines. They are known as reliable trucks and for Chevy fans, nothing beats a solid Silverado.
Ram 1500 SLT, more for less?
Towing: 9,200 pounds
Payload: 1,500 to 1,700 lbs.
The Ram 1500 ST is, like the Ford and the Chevy, the most utilitarian version of the Ram. But they seem to sell for less than other American trucks, which means for your imaginary $20,000 you can get more goodies, like navigation, seating for up to six, and a slightly upgraded interior. In 2013, the styling was improved, but the trucks remained virtually the same until today.
Toyota Tacoma is awesome if you can find one
Towing: 3,000 to 3,500 pounds
Payload: 1,175 to 1,500 pounds
It’s hard to find a good used Tacoma under $20,000, but if you do, you’ll be rewarded with one of the excellent midsize trucks. It’s almost as capable as the big trucks, but easier to park. Also, 10 years ago, Toyota sold Tacomas with a four-cylinder engine that, while underpowered, achieved 24 mpg on the highway. For less than $20,000, don’t expect to find a TRD or SR5 model. Its good. The base two-wheel-drive Tacoma will do the job.
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