Even though it may seems as though the light truck market has become entirely focused on high-feature luxury pickups, the reality is that most manufacturers see their lineups dominated by the basic work trucks that form the backbone of corporate and municipal fleets. These inexpensive, frill-free vehicles are also often used in agriculture and by contractors more concerned with getting the job done than settling back into leather seats.
This proliferation of basic workhorse trucks should mean that there would be no difficulty in finding excellent deals on the secondhand market as companies and individuals cast off their older vehicles in order to replace trucks which have outlived their usefulness. However, the used truck market is not quite the same as the used car market. A lot of companies tend to hold onto trucks until the bitter end, meaning that they have accumulated lot of miles and wear over the course of their lifetimes. However, even a worn out truck is still useful to someone, keeping prices from hitting absolute rock bottom. To complicate matters, recently used trucks owned by individuals that have seen only light duty are more commonly daily drivers which have a higher level of equipment than the base new model, skewing pricing comparisons slightly.
This article takes a look at the cheapest brand new vehicles currently sold by GM - two pickups and one SUV - and compares them to models that are only a few years older to try and determine whether a used or new version of the truck presents the best value to potential buyers. The prices quoted are intended to reflect market value for a low mileage vehicle in good condition, but it helps to keep in mind that the cost of a used car can vary greatly from region to region depending upon availability. These figures should be taken to represent a starting point when investigating local prices for each of these vehicles.
2005 GMC Canyon versus 2009 GMC Canyon
The least expensive vehicle in the GMC lineup is the 2009 GMC Canyon compact truck. Pried at around $17,000, the entry-level Canyon is basic transportation that still includes features such as air conditioning, anti-lock brakes, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a bed liner. The engine is a 2.9-liter 4-cylinder unit that produces 185 horsepower and 190 lb-ft of torque, and is shifted through a 5-speed manual transmission. All base GMC Canyons are offered in two-wheel drive.
The 2005 GMC Canyon is a very similar affair. Exterior styling is identical, with both trucks sharing a smaller-scale version of the look popularized by the full-size GMC Sierra. The first year of the current generation's re-design, the 2005 GMC Canyon features a slightly smaller 4-cylinder base engine whose 2.8-liters produce 175 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque. However, when examining the used market it becomes clear that finding a barebones Canyon is a tricky proposition. Single cab trucks have fallen out of favor with the average buyer, meaning that many of the vehicles available are Extended or Crew Cab trucks that can seat 5 people. Many of these trucks are also found with automatic transmissions, nicer interior features and four-wheel drive, not to mention a more powerful, 220 horsepower 5-cylinder engine.
The price for a higher-spec 2005 GMC Canyon hovers around the $14,000 dollar mark for a clean, low-mileage example. This makes it considerably cheaper than the 2009 model, and provides far greater comfort and power. If a stripped down truck is an absolute must, examples with close to 50,000 miles can be found for around $7,000, a $10,000 savings over new. In either situation, a used Canyon provides the same durability and look as a new vehicle for significantly less money, making it a much better buy.
2005 GMC Sierra versus 2009 GMC Sierra
A full-size 2009 GMC Sierra 1500 pickup starts out at $19,000. For this price, buyers receive a two-door regular cab truck with a 6 foot, 6 inch box and a 4.3-liter V-6 engine that provides 195 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. An automatic transmission is included as standard equipment, as are an MP3/CD player, and a split bench seat. Air conditioning is not provided, and all other features are quite spartan - the base Sierra is intended to work for a living and it cuts costs wherever it can in order to keep the entry-level price affordable.
The 2005 GMC Sierra 1500 hails from an earlier platform which dates all the way back to 1999. From the outside, the truck still has a modern look although it does seem to be a bit old-fashioned when compared to the newer truck. The 2005 Sierra faces the same issue as the Canyon when it comes to pricing a used example: single cab trucks are quite hard to find, with the majority of low-mileage vehicles featuring at least an Extended Cab. These better-equipped trucks are also pricier than one might expect, with the average vehicle coming in at around $21,000. This price usually affords used buyers with a 5.3-liter, 295 horsepower V-8, an automatic transmission and nicer interior features. If budgets can be bumped up by a few thousand dollar, it is possible to find 40,000 mile Denali ultra luxury trucks which provide all-wheel drive and sumptuous leather accommodations.
For buyers who absolutely require a regular cab truck, then allowing for increased use - sometimes as much as 70,000 miles - will land such a vehicle for around $9,000, once again a $10,000 savings. However, given that these vehicles have seen quite a bit of duty, it is recommended that drivers either choose to buy a brand new truck or pay a little bit extra for a much more comfortable, extended cab 2005 GMC Sierra instead.
2005 GMC Envoy versus 2009 GMC Envoy
The 2009 GMC Envoy is a mid-size sport-utility vehicle that starts at just over $30,000. At this price point, the Envoy features two-wheel drive, anti-lock brakes, and a 4.2-liter 6-cylinder engine that generates 285 horsepower and 276 lb-ft of torque. Cloth seats, a 4-speed automatic transmission and dual climate controls round out the list of features. Stabilitrak stability control is also offered as standard equipment, a big plus for such a tall vehicle. The Envoy seats five passengers and provides a good amount of cargo space for hauling luggage, hockey equipment or whatever else might accompany a busy family on the go.
The GMC Envoy is largely unchanged since it debuted towards the beginning of the decade, and the 2005 edition of the vehicle is impossible to tell apart from the 2009 model. When it comes to pricing, the situation is much clearer than with either of GMC's pickup trucks. Low mileage 2005 Envoys can be had for only $16,000, knocking a full $14,000 off of the 2009's purchase price. Not only that, but the majority of these used Envoys come with a 100,000 mile, 5 year powertrain guarantee and a 12 month bumper to bumper warranty thanks to GMC's Certified used vehicle program. This means that the half-priced 2005 Envoy carries with it nearly the same peace of mind as the new SUV.
Given that the features list of both the 2009 Envoy and its four-year old ancestor are almost identical, and that they feature similar warranties, it would seem that there is little reason to shell out the extra dollars for the privilege of being the first owner of the SUV. Frugal families can stretch their dollar in a relatively worry-free fashion by choosing a 2005 GMC Envoy over the latest model.