Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A blue 2020 Ford F-150 is shown from the front while parked next to two UTVs on a trail.

Hit by a Truck: Finding a Used Pickup

Walking onto a used car lot without knowing what you’re looking for can be a tad overwhelming. Even if you’re simply looking for used trucks for sale, there can be a dozen different makes and models to explore. Worse, if you haven’t done your research, you might feel more like you’ve been hit by a truck than anything else.

So, where to start? With so many great brands out there, everyone seems to have a favorite. It helps to think about what works for you. Why do you need a particular truck? Driving around town, work, travel, heavy lifting? These aspects can determine which vehicle would best meet your needs.

To make things a little easier, I’ve gone ahead and done some of the research for you; I’ve handpicked five of the best-selling used trucks. Consider these 5 options when you start your search.

The Chevy Silverado

It’s no surprise if you know anything about trucks that the Chevy Silverado normally tops buyer satisfaction lists. This pickup has earned a reputation for being one of the best, most reliable trucks on the market when it comes to work or play. The Silverado family includes the 1500, 2500, and 3500 models. Each brings something of its own to the table, whether it be a variety of trim options or high hauling/towing capacity.

Spanning four generations, this truck typically offers a V6 engine, with other models offering a V8 or diesel engine—depending on the size and trim package. Plus, with its wide variety of cab sizes and bed lengths, a Silverado truck is always up for the challenge.

So what’s the best generation to buy? It’s typically thought that the 2012 Silverado 1500 is one of your best bets. Not only does this generation have the tough, lasting durability and reliability truck owners are looking for, but they also have a lot of the updates that the newer models have, save for some of the newer smart technology that’s only become popular in the last few years. If it’s tech you’re looking for, go up a few years to 2018-2019 to get some of the more recent updates—like a superior infotainment system and lower mileage—without the price tag of a brand new truck.

The Chevy Silverado truck family has maintained its popularity over the years because of its long-lasting durability and its ability to double as a work/play truck. It meets every area of the driver’s life without slowing down.

A black 2017 Chevy Silverado 1500 High Country is shown towing a horse trailer on a farm after the owner searched 'used trucks for sale'.

The Ford F-150

Looking for a tough truck that can take you on and off the road without a second thought? Take a look at the Ford F-150. Well into its 9th generation, the F-150 is no stranger to hard work; each generation is equipped with great updates to enhance the truck’s already noteworthy performance. And, with its continual selection of great trim packages, each generation has something to offer drivers.

The F-150 has perfected what it means to be a work truck. From the first generation to the present, the truck has earned its reputation for getting any job done, no matter how tough. Its signature look is only second to the truck’s superb performance, which continues to span each generation. There doesn’t seem to be a bad generation, but many buyers zero in on the 2012-2018 models. This was when Ford began adding some of the more modern safety features like hill assist, plus useful tech extras to help your everyday routine run a little smoother. With a used F-150, drivers can snag plenty of great extras without the heavy price tag of a new truck.

Like many models, as you go up the generations, the efficacy and gas mileage only gets better. The same goes with the F-150. This fun-to-drive pickup offers plenty of cab and head room for drivers, plus generous storage for extras. The F-150 was made to be at home on job sites, so in newer models, features like the Pro Power Onboard generator can power up your tools, electronics, and more.

The Toyota Tacoma

The Toyota Tacoma light-duty pickup truck has earned a name for itself; it’s one of the toughest trucks on the market. That reputation is well-earned, as the Tacoma is known to be a favorite truck for offroaders, taking on some of the harshest conditions—from rocky desert terrain to muddy, rutted lanes. Not only that, but the Tacoma is thought to be one of the more affordable off-roading vehicles, making it a win-win on every level.

Since being introduced onto the market in 1995, the Tacoma has become a top-selling truck nationwide. Being such a long-lasting and durable truck, it’s fairly easy to find a used Tacoma; just expect the prices to be a little higher than average. Because of its popularity and reputation for being such a great off-roader, the Tacoma tends to retain its value more than competing trucks do. And, while the Tacoma has several trim packages aimed at off-roading, the base model itself is lighter than most of its competitors. This makes the Tacoma trail-ready, rather than the heftiest option for towing and hauling.

Being such a long-lasting vehicle, it’s hard to point out one year that is significantly better than the other. And, finding a Tacoma that fits into your budget should be doable, depending on what you want out of a truck. If you’re looking for newer features and technology, choose a 2016-2018 model. Features in these models, like parking sensors and a blind spot monitor, keep passengers safe so you can enjoy thrill rides to their fullest.

The Dodge Ram 1500

A recognizable face, the Dodge Ram 1500 is a great choice for those looking for a user-friendly full-size truck. The Ram 1500 is known to offer drivers excellent performance, along with a roomy and comfy cab. It’s more than capable of handling everyday tasks, including towing, hauling, or simply commuting around town. It’s known for smooth, satisfying driving habits and powerful towing capabilities—8,070 lbs in the 2018 model, for example.

Affordability is a standout feature of the Ram 1500. Not only does it offer several engine choices, which vary by year, but it has affordable, easy to acquire replacement parts. This makes maintenance on a Ram 1500 quick and simple.

Starting in 2013, the Ram 1500 underwent a redesign. With a new transmission system, redesigned front, and smart tech updates, the 2013 Ram was considered one of the highest-ranking trucks of that year. So if you’re looking for a good truck at a very low price, this might be a good place to start your search.

A red 2021 Ram 1500 is shown from the side while being used to move mulch at a construction site.

GMC Sierra

Need to pull double duty between work and family? The GMC Sierra is an excellent full-size truck to check out. It offers a solid ride with smooth handling. The Sierra is a functional, no-nonsense truck known for its great reliability and power. It’s also considered user-friendly thanks to its ample tech and infotainment features. Now in its fifth generation, buying a used GMC Sierra gives buyers plenty to choose from when it comes to model variety.

The 2014 redesign gave the Sierra not only more cabin space, but also a much quieter driving experience—a much-appreciated feature on a long drive. Refined cabin details are well-regarded, such as fine leather upholstery in upper trims. (Buying used is a great way to enjoy the luxurious Denali trim without breaking the bank.) Plus, if you’re looking to use your truck for hard work, a recent model with a V8 or diesel engine can offer over 10,000 lbs of towing power.

If you’re still unsure which truck to buy, there’s no rush. Take your time and conduct thorough research on a few models you think might fit your needs. The 5 trucks I’ve highlighted above are just a small handful of some of the best-selling, longest-lasting trucks on the market—each with its own strengths and weaknesses.