5 Best Used Pickups To Buy

Ethel Walsh

Show me a little kid and I’ll show you a budding truck enthusiast. Pickups have always been cool and they always will be. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking at a 1949 Dodge Power Wagon or a 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning; there’s something about a big vehicle with an open bed that sucks us in like flies to a bug-zapper, for better or worse.

Truck sales dipped in the U.S. during 2021, and manufacturers still managed to move more than 2 million vehicles off new car lots. With that kind of production, you know the used market is going to be full of opportunities to land a great truck — hopefully for a fraction of its original MSRP. Once you own one, you can take advantage of booming aftermarket support to keep it running, build an off-road monster, or soup it up into a modern-day muscle car.

The trick (as always) is finding a good one. Used cars and pickups built in the last 20 years generally benefit from favorable reputations for reliability, but some are more trouble than they’re worth. Aside from watching out for universal problems like rust, collision damage, and deferred maintenance, you should stay away from certain vehicles if you want your truck to spend more time on the road than on jack stands in the driveway. Buy wisely, and you can enjoy your used truck for decades.

5/5 2016-2022 GMC Canyon Duramax

2016 GMC Canyon Duramax front

This pick is controversial but I happen to like the little Duramax. For a brief time, GMC seemed to acknowledge what the rest of the world has known for decades: low-displacement diesel engines in small, four-wheel-drive vehicles are great fun. Enjoy diesel clatter and turbocharged induction noises from the plush cab of the Canyon. Take advantage of parking spaces full-sized trucks have to drive past. Choose from trim levels ranging from posh to adventure-ready. No, it’s not powerful or fuel-efficient but neither is the Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser or the Mazda Miata.

In the used market, gasoline-powered Canyons outnumber diesels about 10-to-one. With only a few hundred used examples available nationwide at a given time, this is certainly one of the more niche pickups out there. Expect to pay anywhere from $19,000 to $47,000 for a four-wheel-drive, Duramax-equipped Canyon depending on mileage, trim level, and condition.

Related: This Is What We Love About The 2022 GMC Canyon AT4

4/5 2016-2019 Toyota Tacoma

2018 Toyota Tacoma TRD front

The plucky Toyota Tacoma’s modest V6 and small stature might preclude it from competing directly with the full-sized trucks on this list, but there’s no denying its legendary status. Aside from a few squeaky body panels on 2016 Tacomas, the pickup’s third generation is very solidly built. Its biggest advantage is aftermarket support, which is fantastic. You can upgrade your Tacoma with everything from lights and interior accessories to off-road suspension components and rooftop tents with products designed specifically for Tacomas of this era.

If you want to dive headlong into the overlanding craze, this is one of the best trucks for the job without paying extra for the facelift that came in 2020. Prices for 2016-2019 Toyota Tacomas with four-wheel drive start just under $16,000 for a clean, but basic example and go all the way up to $60,000 for a custom-built off-road beast.

3/5 2006-2007 Chevrolet 2500HD and 3500HD Duramax

2007 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD front

The engine that powered heavy-duty Chevy pickups from 2006 to 2007 may have been short-lived, but diesel fans still speak of it with reverence in hushed tones. At the time, Dodge and Ford were slugging it out for bragging rights to the most powerful diesel engine. Ford’s Powerstroke V8 produced 570 pound-feet of torque, while Dodge offered a Cummins straight-six with 610 pound-feet of torque. The Duramax LBZ that Chevy dropped in 2006 blew both out of the water with 650 pound-feet of torque. It was powerful, reliable, and sounded great. So what went wrong? As is tradition for great engines, emissions standards doomed the LBZ and General Motors ended this truck’s production after the 2007 model year.

Prices for 2500HD and 3500HD pickups equipped with the LBZ range from roughly $14,000 to $38,000. It’s common for odometers to show more than 100,000 miles, with some trucks showing more than 200,000 miles on the clock. The fact that one of the most popular diesel pickups in America was only built for two years means that finding one can be tricky, and you might have to know somebody who knows somebody to get a clean one. Buying one of these won’t be easy, but you’ll have a great truck (and major street cred) if you manage to pull it off.

2/5 2019-2021 Toyota Tundra

Via Pinterest

Toyota has one of the best reliability records in the business, and the Tundras built from 2019 to 2021 represent some of the manufacturer’s finest work. Nearly two decades of production and refinement led to a pickup that’s powerful and reliable; rugged and refined. There may not be as much aftermarket support for customization as you’d get with a Tacoma, but plenty of people have built their Tundras into impressive off-road rigs. Toyota announced a switch to a twin-turbo V6 for the Tundra starting in 2022, making the third facelift of the second generation the last to offer the 5.7-liter V8. That might help these trucks hold their value (and they’ll definitely make better noises).

Even though other engines are available, the 5.7-liter V8 is the one to have. Prices start around $25,000 for a Tundra with more than 100,000 miles. A loaded pickup with very low miles can fetch $70,000 or more. With thousands of trucks in the used market, there are plenty of options for different budgets.

Related: A Detailed Look At The 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R

1/5 2011-2014 Ford SVT Raptor

2011 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor
Via: Flickr

If you’re reading HotCars, you must have a sweet tooth for performance. Obviously, some kind of Ford Raptor has to be on this list; there’s no better place than the top spot. Rather than the original Raptor or the current turbocharged incarnation, shop the middle years: 2011 to 2014. This is where you’ll get more ground clearance than the early model years, four doors, and a raucous 6.2-liter V8 under the hood. It’s worth pointing out that the same engine was available as an option in 2010. This is a truck that checks all the boxes. It’s fast, capable off-road, and comfortable enough for a cross-country road (or off-road) trip.

The cheapest SVT Raptor I’ve seen for sale recently had just under 200,000 miles and a price tag of $21,000. There are loads of options between $25,000 and $30,000, with the most pristine examples demanding more than $40,000. It’s honestly amazing that such an incredible pickup is so attainable. Maybe you should put one in your driveway before more people wise up.

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