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A silver 2019 Chevy Silverado 1500 Rally is shown from the front at an angle after leaving a dealer that has used trucks for sale.

Great Model Years for Five of the Best Full-Size Trucks

I get lost in the bread aisle of the supermarket. Just hear me out: there are too many options. Between different types of bread like whole wheat or white or sourdough, a wide range of brands available, regular loaves and bagels and rolls, hotdog and hamburger buns, and everything else packed into that aisle, my brain just starts to shut down. A similar thing can happen when looking at different used trucks for sale because you encounter such a wealth of options that trying to organize them mentally becomes a battle against the impossible.

But that’s where I come in because you don’t have to try to figure it all out on your own or navigate a bajillion options all at once. Today, we will start by eliminating everything but full-size trucks, so if you’re looking for a compact or midsize option, this won’t be too helpful. With that in mind, we’ll look at five of the best full-size models on the market, including the three most popular ones year after year, and we’ll go a step further by highlighting some specific model years you should have in mind. This will make it easier to avoid bread-aisle paralysis and brain shut down, so you can find the loaf of bread—I mean truck—you need.

The Ford F-150

As the bestselling full-size truck in the US since dinosaurs roamed the earth, the Ford F-150 is incredibly popular, and there are many of them out there when you’re looking at used models. You can go all the way back to the 1970s and find F-150 models, but I wouldn’t suggest going quite that far back for one (unless you’re looking for a collector’s item or have niche interests). Instead, the furthest back I would go when looking at used F-150 models is the 12th generation, which started with the 2009 model year—though 2013 saw a mid-generation facelift, making it an even better option. These 2013 models look sharper thanks to that update and enjoy a more powerful lineup of engines (first introduced for 2011 models) and improvements to the Sync Infotainment system.

If you’re looking for something with newer features and technology, then the 13th generation of the Ford F-150 kicked off with the 2015 model year, making that a terrific choice. I personally like to skip the first year of a generation, so I’d go with a 2016 model, where you can find revised engines, including a lighter starting powertrain. There was a facelift and update on the 2018 model year, making that and the next couple of years after great choices thanks to three new engines compared to the prior year, including a diesel engine not previously available. The latest 14th-generation F-150 launched with the 2021 model year and included a host of new features and options, including an available hybrid PowerBoost engine that offers fantastic power and capability. At just a couple of years old, these will be a bit pricey, but you’ll find the latest features and low mileage on them.

A silver 2021 Ford F-150 Tremor is shown from the front while off-road.

The Chevy Silverado 1500

Although the Silverado 1500 hasn’t been around as long as the F-150, it builds on the legendary reputation of Chevy for making some of the best trucks on the road for more than a century. Ultimately, this works in your favor since you don’t have to worry about trucks from 30 years ago, and you can focus on modern pickups designed to meet your needs. The first year for the Silverado 1500 is 1999, but I wouldn’t go that far back.

Instead, you’re better off starting with a 2014 or 2015 model, which marked the start of the third generation for this truck and launched with three engines, including a 4.3L V6 and an available 6.2L V8. Unless you can’t find one, however, a 2016 or 2017 is an even better choice since the Silverado 1500 received a facelift and update for 2016 with a new grille, new front fascia and headlights, and improved options inside like HD Radio with the available 8.0-inch infotainment system and wireless charging pads on certain models.

If you really want the latest features and options, consider the fourth generation launched with the 2019 model year, bringing a redesign and six available engines. The 2022 model year saw a facelift and major update for the Silverado, including the introduction of a standard 2.7L Turbo engine with 310 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque, making it one of the most powerful starting engines on the market. These can be expensive since they’re such a recent model year, but that new standard engine is truly something special.

The Ram 1500

Built on the legacy of the Dodge Ram, a series of trucks going back decades, the modern Ram 1500 has dropped the Dodge name and become its own brand. This separation occurred with the 2011 model year, just after the launch of the fourth generation of this incredible truck. If you’re looking for something a bit older, with plenty of life left in it and impressive power, then one of these trucks is a great choice, particularly if you are looking for a manual transmission since those were eliminated by Ford and Chevy in years before 2011. The Ram 1500 got a facelift for the 2013 model year, so look for them to get a stylish exterior, revised engines like a newly standard 4.7L V8, and an available air suspension.

If you want the latest tech, look for a 2019 or later Ram 1500, which kicked off the fifth generation for this truck. With a 2019 model, you can find a newly introduced eTorque mild hybrid system for boosted performance and a streamlined trim lineup with gorgeous details inside, like an available fully-configurable 7-inch Driver Information Display and 12-inch infotainment screen. With their HEMI V8 engines available throughout these years, these are some of the strongest and hardest-working used trucks on the market.

The Toyota Tundra

Domestic trucks might dominate the market, but they’re not without their competition from overseas. The Toyota Tundra is one of the most popular import full-size trucks you can find, with a price that makes it an incredible choice for a budget-friendly used option. This model has been around for about as long as the Chevy Silverado 1500 and made a name for itself during that time, though you probably don’t want to go that far back. Instead, consider a 2010 model or later—the Tundra received a facelift for its second generation that year, including a new Platinum package with unique 20-inch wheels, a power moonroof, JBL sound system, and more.

This second generation started with the 2007 model year and spanned more than a decade, which is something to consider. The 2010 model marked its first major update, but not its last. There was another facelift for the 2014 model year that included a redesign with a larger grille and an updated interior. New seating, gauges, controls, and more came along with this 2014 update, making it a great year to look for. You might also check out a 2020 model when the standard engine was changed from a 4.6L with 310 hp to a 381-hp 5.7L V8 if your budget allows it.

An orange 2015 Toyota Tundra is shown from the front at an angle.

The Nissan Titan

Finally, we have the Nissan Titan, which is a great full-size truck and the least aged of the models we’ve considered. It first hit the road for the 2004 model year, making an immediate name for itself by delivering the kind of power and reliability that Nissan is well known for. You’ll probably want to skip any used truck quite that old; a model from 2008 or later is a better choice, as this year saw a facelift for its first generation, which lasted a long time. With a 2008 model, you’ll find a revised front grille, updated interior with improved console controls, and an electronic stability system available—something you won’t find on others from 2008.

For a pickup with more modern features and performance, consider a Titan from 2017 or later. It marked the start of its second generation with a full redesign and major upgrades, including a new 5.6L V8 engine with 390 hp and an available XD model for heavy-duty performance. There was an update to the Titan’s infotainment system for 2019, including a larger display inside, while the 2020 model year brought a facelift and big improvements such as a newly standard nine-speed automatic transmission, improved 400-hp engine, and safety tech like automatic emergency braking and a lane departure warning becoming standard.

Now Go Get That Truck!

As you can see, your choice of model year greatly impacts the kind of performance and experience you get from your truck. Remember that moving from one generation to another often comes with new engines, redesigned frames and bodies, and other major changes that greatly impact the kind of performance you’ll get from your pickup. That makes these landmark model years incredibly important, so always have that in the back of your mind while shopping for a used truck. A Chevy Silverado from 2018 is a very different beast than a 2020 Silverado 1500, which is often reflected in the price you’ll find them listed at. Understanding which model years have the kinds of features you want makes it a lot easier to narrow down the options you find and get the perfect pickup.