Best Used Trucks for under $10,000
Need to move a lot of earth and keep your car payments low? These used trucks can do it all for less.
Americans buy trucks so often you'd think there was something about six-foot beds in the United States Constitution. Halfway through 2020, more than a million new trucks have been purchased, and the best-selling vehicle in 2019 was the Ford F-series with 896,526 sold. Trucks are the meat and potatoes of vehicle sales, and automakers have been unable to make one crazy enough to keep people from buying them. Take the recently announced Ram TRX, a 702-hp supercharged off-road Truckasaurus that starts close to $72k. Its only competitor is a $55,150 twin-turbo Ford F-150 Raptor. In the end, it's all just dinosaurs burning other dinosaurs.
Meanwhile, back in reality, the rest of the country is looking to do some landscaping and tow a snowmobile trailer up to camp for the weekend and used cars sales have been in high demand this year. Depending on how much earth needs to be moved, these trucks can do it all and can be found on your local used-car listing website for less than $10,000. If your budget is even tighter, we've also put together a list of the best vehicles to buy for under $5000 here. Whether you're looking for an affordable snow-removal rig or a truck for everyday use, it's hard to deny the allure of the first-generation Chevrolet Silverado 1500. For less than $10,000, you can acquire a well-cared-for example in just about any drivetrain or cab configuration. Both the 4.8-liter and 5.3-liter V-8 engines offer decent fuel economy and reliability, and if something bad happens, Chevy parts are easy to find. In a 2002 comparison test, C/D praised the Silverado for its class-leading smooth ride and comfortable interior. There are some second-generation Silverados within reach of a $10,000 budget, but that would only afford you a V-6 and, in most cases, rear-wheel drive only. Stick with the first generation if you're looking for more traction and less oxidation in a used pickup. —Max Mortimer
Chevrolet S10 ZR2
efore the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon were a thing, GM's smallest pickup trucks were called the S-10 and the Sonoma, respectively, and were available with a dedicated off-road model. These lifted and widened variants were dubbed ZR2, and used examples are readily available for a lot less than $10,000. Built between 1994 and 2003, both versions of the compact pickup truck boasted a roster of trail-ready hardware. Along with a sturdier frame and a stronger drivetrain, they were buoyed by Bilstein shocks and rode on chunky 31-inch tires. Motivation came from a 4.3-liter V-6—generating a stout 250 pound-feet of torque—and routed to all four wheels through either a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission. While the ZR2-enhanced Chevy S-10 and GMC Sonoma aren't as popular among the off-roading crowd as the Toyota Tacoma from that era, they remain a really cool alternative for those who don't want to spend the extra coin on a Taco. —Eric Stafford
The Dodge Dakota R/T
followed the same performance-enhancing formula that gave the world the Ford F-150 Lightning and GMC Syclone. While the latter are certainly more memorable, the Dodge remains an impressive hot-rod pickup and currently the only one you can get for less than $10,000. Built between 1998 and 2003, the Dakota R/T packed a huge 5.9-liter Magnum V-8 that pumped out 250 horsepower and 345 pound-feet of torque. A four-speed automatic was the sole transmission, but it promoted smoky burnouts and rowdy takeoffs by twisting the rear wheels with the help of a limited-slip diff and 3.92 gears. With a sport-tuned suspension that lowered the ride height by 1 inch and meaty 255/55 tires at all four corners mounted on stylish 17-inch wheels, the Dakota R/T was also fun to drive in more than just a straight line. Available with a regular or an extended cab, the Dodge's muscular design still looks good today. Although models with the shorter wheelbase are the most sought-after and can cost upwards of $25,000, versions with the longer wheelbase can be found for four figures. Just don't expect them to be immaculate. —Eric Stafford
Ford Super Duty
Heavy-duty trucks are the hardest-working pickups out there, and the Ford F-250 and F-350 Super Duty never clock out.
You'll want to see the receipts on their common problems, but don't expect America's favorite work truck to get to the job without a few bruises. The 411-hp 6.2-liter V-8 isn't as mighty as the larger turbodiesel powertrain also offered, but the gas engine lacks expensive common repairs like turbo failure and EGR problems. Would we still rather suggest the more powerful 6.7-liter turbodiesel? Well yeah, but you won't find a third-generation F250 with a Powerstroke for less than $10,000 unless its been rolled into oblivion. Maximum towing with the gas engine is 15,800 pounds with a fifth-wheel trailer, and its telescoping mirrors are as big as Dumbo's ears. —Austin Irwin
This is a one-percenter truck, in that it can service all but one percent of most owner's needs. Bulletproof Toyota reliability
is a plus, as is the available five-speed manual transmission. The one thing they can’t do is tow big loads. The four-banger models are rated to pull 3500 pounds, while the 190-hp V-6 models (with the exception of the S-Runner model) are rated for 5000. Many of these were sold in the southwest, aka the land of rust-free bodies. And don’t be afraid of high-ish miles. The Toyotas seem to hold onto value like old ladies do purses. —K.C. Colwell
The first-generation Toyota Tundra was powered by a 190-hp V-6 until 2004 and a 236-hp V-6 for its last few years. The bigger 4.7-liter V-8 is the one to get, especially between 2005 and 2006 as Toyota added variable-valve timing, which increased horsepower and torque. The Tundra has a strong foundation in reliability with two very well-known engines. In fact, there have been multiple million-mile Tundras with the same 4.7-liter V-8. It can be difficult to find these trucks with less than 100,000 miles, and if you do, there's no guarantee it'll be in good shape. Upping the cool factor, all first-generation Tundras could be had with a manual transmission, starting with a five-speed and then moving to a six-speed in 2005. The Tundra also offered a fully retractable rear window. Pretty rad. —Max Mortimer