- Plenty of pickups offer bang for your buck even as costs skyrocket.
- Buyers have lots of choice in terms of size, style and capability.
- Even base versions provide better everyday living than trucks of old.
Pickup trucks have grown to be comfortable, plush and technologically advanced. Unfortunately, pricing has grown to match. For buyers who need a truck to do truck things, at a fair price, what is there to do? Well, quite a lot actually.
Plenty of trucks boasting high towing and payload capacities are available at reasonable prices. They also offer a healthy set of standard comfort and tech features in their most basic trim levels. Check out our list of recommended models in several categories below.
This class of affordable trucks popped up in just the last year, and there are two excellent options. The first is the Ford Maverick, with strong towing and payload ratings for its size, and an EPA-estimated 37 mpg combined for the base hybrid version. We like the XLT trim for more helpful features at a starting price of $24,855 including destination.
The second model is the Hyundai Santa Cruz, a more comfortable and stylish choice in the class. It's actually capable of higher towing and payload figures than the Maverick, but it's also pricier. On the plus side, the interior is very comfortable and the Santa Cruz feels great to drive. Our recommendation is the SEL trim priced from $28,935.
Strength and power are plentiful as you move up in size to these midsize models. But what about refinement? The Honda Ridgeline has you covered, with an excellent ride and standard all-wheel drive on all models. There are several trim levels, but for these purposes the base Sport is a great starting point. Priced from $39,435, it includes an in-bed trunk, dual-action tailgate and excellent payload rating for the class.
On the rugged size of the segment, there's the tried-and-true Toyota Tacoma. This pickup has a tough reputation and strong towing and payload figures. It's also ideal for off-roading, and that's one of the reasons we gravitate toward the TRD Off-Road model starting at $36,555. Then there's the Jeep Gladiator. Yep, it does Jeep things, and it's the only truck on our list that has a removable roof and doors. This one is best in its Rubicon trim, with upgraded tires, axles and suspension, to maximize off-road capability. Pricing starts at $50,705 for the Rubicon. While that's high for the class, we're confident you'll enjoy playing with this trim.
Here's where the real value lies. Full-size trucks are designed to handle real work, and you can get a whole lot of vehicle here for under $60,000. The king of the crop is the Ford F-150, capable in some trims of towing 14,000 pounds and hauling an astronomical 3,325 pounds — one reason why it was named Edmunds Top Rated Truck for 2022. There are innumerable combinations and configurations available, but the F-150 Lariat with a 12-inch touchscreen for $51,395 is an excellent one.
Not far behind, you have the Ram 1500. This truck is bold in so many ways, including its spacious interior and delightfully comfortable ride — thanks to standard rear coil springs. Check out the Laramie, a midlevel trim with loads of luxury features, starting from $51,835. Speaking of rear coils there's also the redesigned Toyota Tundra, which now comes standard with that suspension and a dent-resistant composite bed too. If you get the Limited trim, you'll have all that plus a 14-inch touchscreen for $49,245 to start.
Finally, there's the Chevrolet Silverado 1500. Now, the Silverado has always been tough, but for 2022 it's gotten a much-needed makeover as well. Chevy has redesigned the interior, which gives the truck the comfortable, premium feel it deserves. Definitely try the LT trim, which starts at $47,495, because it has the right combination of features and muscle in this range.
What's this? An electric truck? That's right — the Ford F-150 Lightning is out and available for under $60,000, not in one version but in two! You can grab a Lightning Pro for $41,769 or a Lightning XLT for $54,769, and that's before up to $7,500 in potential federal tax credits or other incentives down the line. It's true that a fully electric pickup won't work for everyone, so consider your range needs and charging infrastructure before getting serious. But for some folks, an EV truck that tows and hauls — and can provide power to tools and other equipment on a worksite and has a front trunk for extra storage space — is just the thing.
Expensive, flashy trucks seem to get all the shine these days. But this list proves there are still economical pickups out there to fit your budget. Click on any of the models above to learn more about their features and trim levels before your next run to the lumber yard.