Once the perfect starter vehicle for young drivers, pickup trucks have grown larger, more sophisticated and much more expensive over the years—the price of a loaded pickup can quickly reach the $50,000 range. You could always opt for the bare bones trim and save some scratch; however, the goal of this shopping list is to deliver the best bang for your buck, taking creature comforts, off-road capability, towing capacity and even fuel economy into consideration to find the best values in a segment where it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
10 Best Value Trucks
Photo Credit: Chevrolet
2016 Chevrolet Colorado LT Duramax
The base 2016 Colorado will set you back $20,995, but if you have wiggle room, there are lots of ways to pack some impressive equipment into that frame. Choose the LT trim, which makes the 2.8-liter 4-cylinder Duramax turbodiesel engine available. Armed with 181 horsepower, plus 369 lb.-ft of torque at just 2,000 rpm, the diesel is EPA-certified for 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. If that weren’t enough, this configuration includes the safety package, convenience package, and Z82 trailer package with a locking 3.42:1 rear differential and exhaust brake. Unless you really need 4-wheel drive, stick with the 2-wheel drive for a lower curb weight and higher payload rating, and you’re out the door for $35,280 with destination. Pricey for a compact? Maybe, but also the most loaded truck on this list.
2016 Chevrolet Silverado LT Z71
One of the icons of this segment, the 2016 Chevrolet Silverado, starts from $27,095 and offers plenty of capability out of the box. Adding a Double Cab won’t hurt your pocketbook too much, and tacking on the LT trim nets great options like an automatic locking rear differential and OnStar with 3 months of 4G LTE data. From here, 4-wheel drive is an extra $3,150, or the Z71 off-road suspension is tailor made for spirited romping. To make the most of your money, though, start with the LT Convenience package, which at just $1,510 adds a 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat, rearview camera, dual-zone climate control, fog lamps and more. The base 4.3-liter V6 provides plenty of punch at 285 horsepower and 305 lb.-ft of torque. That means that after destination, your Silverado 1500 is going home for $38,530 before incentives (of which Chevrolet offers several).
Photo Credit: Ford
2016 Ford F-150 Lariat
Can you get a 2016 Ford F-150 for $26,430? Sure you can. But if you want to take advantage of what the F-150 has to offer, start by selecting the Lariat trim with a SuperCab and 6.5’ bed (the base available on Lariats). It opens access to a wide array of features, from push button start and rearview camera to the much-improved SYNC3 infotainment system. If you guessed there’s an ulterior motive here, you’re right—it's the 2.7-liter V6 EcoBoost engine with 325 horsepower and 375 lb.-ft of torque, with fuel economy rated at 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. The 3.31:1 non-limited slip axle ratio can be upgraded to 2 electric locking options, or 4x4 is available for $4,175. Of course, there’s always a 3.5-liter EcoBoost and a 5.0-liter V8, too. If the current setup is enough, though, you’re signing papers for $41,445 including destination.
2016 GMC Canyon SLE V6
As the only (quote-unquote) luxury compact pickup truck in the industry, the price of the 2016 GMC Canyon can quickly escalate. On the other hand, if you select the SLE trim, the 2016 Canyon comes equipped with an 8-inch Color Touch screen, OnStar with a 4G LTE hotspot, aluminum interior trim and a telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel. It also brings an automatic locking rear differential on 4x4 models, so go ahead and tick that box. What’s more, the 17-inch Dark Argent Metallic wheels include a $2,605 bundle with the All Terrain Package, the SLE Convenience Package, all-terrain tires and the larger 3.6-liter V6 engine. Now that’s value, and it brings the cost of your loaded, powerful, 4-wheel drive luxury truck to just $34,695. Including destination! It may market itself as a premium truck, but the 2016 GMC Canyon also offers one of the best opportunities on this list.
Photo Credit: General Motors
2016 GMC Sierra SLE V6
The options sheet for the 2016 GMC Sierra is similar to that of its smaller Canyon sibling, so the approach for a value-based decision is similar, as well. Start with the Double Cab, Standard Box configuration, then consider the SLE Trim, which comes with an automatic locking rear differential and a 2-speed transfer case, and will pair nicely with the option to select 4x4 power. Now you’ve got a very capable truck, armed with the 4.3-liter V6 engine with 285 horsepower and 305 lb.-ft of torque. Of course, no one will blame you for lusting after the 6.2liter EcoTec3 V8 engine and available 8-speed transmission in the SLT trim. But if the SLE is enough, you’re out the door for just $40,915 for a well-appointed premium pick-up that seats six people.
Photo Credit: Honda
2017 Honda Ridgeline
The former half-SUV, half-truck Honda Ridgeline has reemerged with a true unibody frame. That may signal a more casual, everyman truck—rather than a workhorse or off-road mountain goat—but we’ll know much more once the 2017 Ridgeline is available for media drives. Either way, it promises to pack a ton of value with a standard rearview camera, cleverly folding rear seats, dual-action lift gate and an in-bed trunk. With all that—or at least most of it—included as standard, it may very well be worth checking that option box for 4-wheel drive, especially given that it will include torque vectoring. Pricing hasn’t been announced yet, but the 2017 Ridgeline will deserve a look for its standard value alone.
Photo Credit: Nissan USA
2016 Nissan Titan XD S
Nissan is trying interesting things with their new, full-sized 2016 Titan XD. Soon they’ll bring a smaller Titan to market, which leaves room for the Titan XD to go above and beyond. In fact, with a base price of $40,290, you might think that there’s not much opportunity to find value here. Challenge accepted. The base Titan XD S actually comes well equipped, and it’s available with the 5.0-liter Cummins turbodiesel V8 engine known as the “Triple Nickel” thanks to its phenomenal 555 lb.-ft of torque. Skip the standard trailer package in the Titan XD SV, and add the S Convenience and Utility Package ($800) with a hitch, plus 4x4 capability ($3,000) instead. After destination, you’re all set for $45,285 out the door.
2016 Ram 1500 Lone Star
The recent rise of Ram has made it a must-see for prospective pick-up customers, and for good reason: its 2016 1500 boasts a treasure trove of performance and comfort capabilities. One of the best ways to take advantage is the popular Lone Star trim. While its running gear is largely the same as the more affordable Tradesman and SLT trims, the Ram 1500 Lone Star comes with power windows, remote keyless entry, remote start, a backup camera, 10-way power driver’s seat and UConnect 8.4. And that’s just the interior. Lone Star also includes a Class IV receiver hitch and 20-inch wheels. Selecting this trim opens the possibility of the 5.0-liter V8 engine ($1,150) or the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel ($4,270), but otherwise, you’ll be off the lot with the 305-horsepower 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine for just $33,255 with destination.
Photo Credit: Toyota
2016 Toyota Tacoma SR5 V6
Long the only compact truck option on the market, the Toyota Tacoma returns for 2016 with a more chiseled redesign and the same go-getter capability. To start, the Double Cab and Shorter Bed (5’) configuration will save enough money to allow buyers to opt for the SR5 trim, guilt-free. Toyota also makes it easy to skip the 159-horsepower 4-cylinder engine, and instead take the tempting V6 with 278 horsepower and 265 lb.-ft of torque. An added bonus is that thanks to direct injection, variable valve timing and an efficient 6-speed transmission, the larger V6 actually sees better fuel economy than the inline-4 with a 19/24 mpg rating. If that isn’t value enough, tack on the Appearance Package (including the Tow Package) for just $1,500, but otherwise this packed 2016 Tacoma is ready to roll for $28,885 (including destination for $900).
Photo Credit: Toyota
2016 Toyota Tundra SR5
Time seems to have passed by the Toyota Tundra just a tad. However, there will always be a market for a standard V8 engine and a starting price under $30,000. Choose the SR5 trim for basic upgrades like fog lights and Entune Audio Plus. All Tundras come standard with automatic limited slip differential, and the base 4.6-liter V8 comes with a healthy 310 horsepower and 327 lb.-ft of torque, so save some cash with the 2-wheel drive option. Since you’ve been so value-focused thus far, the TRD Off-Road Package at just $2,440 is looking awfully attractive. That nets 18-inch alloy wheels with black accents, trail-tuned Bilstein shock absorbers and a towing hitch receiver—helping unleash the impressive athleticism in the surprisingly agile Tundra. Believe it or not, that brings the pricetag to just $34,585 (including $1,195 delivery, processing and handling). Now take to the trails.