While most car shoppers in the USA stick with the popular SUV and crossover body styles, or even the more old-school sedan, some want something a bit bolder. If the ability to do what others can and go where they dare not tread sounds appealing to you, then you may want to consider buying one of the many pickup trucks, such as the Ford F-150 discussed here. These high-riding bruisers are now more stylish than ever, with modern updates constantly adding new tech and features to complement their already impressive capabilities. Due to their size, they may not be the most practical town vehicles, but they are still very versatile, and they definitely make a statement.
Here are five of the most affordable, and capable, models on the US market right now, and a brief breakdown of why you should consider them for your next vehicle.
1. Ford Ranger
The smallest pickup to bear the blue oval, the Ranger comes equipped with a small-displacement turbocharged engine, paired with a ten-speed automatic gearbox and a choice between RWD for 4×4. Like many larger rivals, it is customizable with various cabin and bed configurations, allowing buyers to tailor it to their needs.
However, where it really shines is as a rugged town car. Thanks to its size, it is highly maneuverable, and the lively powertrain gives it a certain skip in its step. Unfortunately, you do get what you pay for here, and the low MSRP serves as a warning to the mediocre overall quality of the vehicle.
The interior is spartan, and many desirable features are expensive add-ons that push the price up well beyond what you would be paying in comparison for larger, better-equipped trucks. If your needs are simple, though, the Ranger is a great choice.
2. GMC Canyon
General Motors focuses on developing more premium products than its cousin, Chevrolet. However, many of its design principles carry over, meaning that GMC trucks look very similar to those from Chevy, and they often share the same powertrains. In this case, it’s a choice of three motors, the most affordable being the inline-four. However, the turbodiesel is the most economical choice, returning fuel economy figures of 22/28/24 mpg city/highway/combined.
Paired with either an RWD or 4×4 setup, it supplied 181 horsepower and an impressive 269 lb-ft, which is what grants the Canyon degree of towing capability, if the standard cargo space is not enough for you.
The GMC can be had with the larger extended cab, supplying space for up to four passengers, but those in the back seats won’t be comfortable for long drives if they have legs longer than a child’s. The basic cloth upholstery can be upgraded to perforated leather, but it may not be worth the price.
3. Chevrolet Colorado
A budget version of the hardy Silverado, the Chevy Colorado is still one of America’s most loved pickups. This is large because it delivers great off-road and workhorse capabilities at highly affordable prices. You can get even more if you’re willing to spend for one of the ZR models, but the price tag and cost to gas mileage may offset any advantages this brings.
Inside, it’s rather plain, but the rugged aesthetic will appeal to certain buyers. Once again, space is a bit limited in the back seat, so sticking with the single cab may serve you better. The list of standard features is also a bit on the short side, with the seven-inch infotainment suite including smartphone integration and a six-speaker sound system. Meanwhile, safety systems are restricted to a rearview camera and traction control. More can be unlocked via the pricey packages.
4. RAM 1500 Classic
One of the most luxurious brands within the pickup market, Ram has a knack for delivering high-quality interiors at relatively low cost. Don’t expect the same level of comfort you would in a sedan or a crossover, though. Trucks naturally ride a little stiffer, and the standard vinyl upholstery does little to compensate for this.
But, leather is available on the upper trim levels, along with more advanced tech in the form of a larger touchscreen with Uconnect 4, HD Radio, and navigation. A sunroof and dual-zone climate control are also available to make the cabin a more inviting place. Furthermore, the 1500 Classic has some of the best rear-passenger head- and legroom in the segment.
5. Toyota Tacoma
If there is one thing Asian automakers know how to do, it’s how to produce a modern, capable vehicle that will cost you less than anything found in the US or Europe. Tacoma is a prime example of this. Though a bit basic in terms of interior materials, it doesn’t skimp on features. These include forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, as well as lane departure alert.
In terms of capabilities, it may not be quite as rugged as some of its global competitors, but it can definitely play in the made as well as any other. The base-model engine doesn’t inspire much confidence, but the available V6 is quite a bit livelier. Add the four-wheel drivetrain, and there is not much terrain the Japanese pickup can’t handle.
It is a solid and dependable pick, with high levels of safety and consumer confidence. However, many American trucks can do what it does better at only marginally more costly, and Toyota has some of the worst fuel economy figures in the segment, too.