The best part about trucks is that most refuse to put on airs. Starting MSRPs are generally low compared to similarly-outfitted cars, and although trucks hold their value well, resellers never seem to charge a premium for the pleasure. Purchasing a used truck can be a rewarding experience; to get the most for your money, look out for these five excellent models you can snag for under five figures:
2006 Dodge Dakota SLT V8
Before Dodge’s mid-size truck went the way of the dodo, it provided a venerable in-between truck that had the rare privilege of boasting a V8 engine. The 4.7-liter engine option was good for 230 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Dodge gave the third gen Dakota a facelift in 2007, making ’05-’06 models cheaper by comparison.
2008 Ford Ranger V6 4×4 Sport
A moment of silence for the American compact pickup.
With that out of the way, let us remember the quiet star of the group, the Ford Ranger. This vehicle changed little from 1998 to its discontinuation in 2012, making nearly any model year in that range more than acceptable.
The V6 option affords you a meager 148 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque, but with a manual transmission, four-wheel ABS and a 4WD mode, it can be more than enough to haul almost anything that fits in its 7-foot bed.
2005 Dodge Ram 2500 Cummins Diesel 4×4 SLT
Got some serious hauling to do but a strict car budget? Take a look at the ’05 Dodge Ram 2500, which offers 325 hp and a whopping 610 lb-ft of torque in its 5.9 L six-cylinder Cummins turbo-diesel engine. This vehicle is known for its reliability and its frightening amount of on-tap power, perfect for those jobs that require an extra bit of push.
2004 Toyota Tacoma V6 4×4 SR5 Double Cab
The Toyota Tacoma was once the little truck that could, posting quiet but strong sales numbers that boosted Toyota’s bottom line year after year. Back in 2004, the first generation of Tacomas were at their tail end. Their DOHC V6 4×4 engine option offers a surprisingly smooth ride with a wide power band that is fun to drive around town. With 220 lb-ft of torque and 190 hp, you can also haul a substantial amount of goodies in the bed or off the hitch.
2007 Chevy Silverado V8 LT1 4×4
Motor Trend’s 2007 Truck of the Year improved very much on a good thing, adding fuel economy and improving both handling and stiffness. They also sold like gangbusters, meaning finding an affordable version in top trim is very possible.
The 4.8 L V8 option cranks out a respectable 295 hp and 305 lb-ft of torque. A lack of a manual option may irk some, but poor sales excuse its absence.
Any of these trucks would be a great addition to your personal fleet, as would the laudable but unmentioned Ford F-150 of the early 2000s. Just make sure to inspect the frame and snag a Carfax report on any models you are interested in to see just how much fun the previous owner had. Happy haulin’!