10 Best Trucks to Get for 2023 (Under $50,000)

2023 Nissan Titan 57 photos
Photo: Nissan
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With millions of vehicles sold each year, North America is the world’s largest market for pickup trucks. That would have one believe the offering is extremely diverse in terms of both companies and models, but that'd be wrong.
The American pickup segment is dominated by the usual suspects GM, Ford, and Ram, with the occasional Japanese machines falling through the cracks. But other than these big names, and a couple of newcomers that are yet to make a dent, there’s not much to talk about.

Today’s end-of-the-year list focuses on ten of the most impressive trucks now available for under $50,000. Don’t expect, though, to find something exotic in here because, as said, a limited number of companies play this game well enough to have survived, and their products are very well known.

Just like its main competitors, Chevrolet has been a maker of pickup trucks since, well, pretty much forever (1918, if you want to split hairs). In doing so, it established itself as one of the most reliable makers of such vehicles, and that helps partially explain the success the Bowtie is experiencing.

The present lineup of Chevy trucks comprises just three models, showing the undivided attention the carmaker is giving to this very lucrative American segment: the Colorado, Silverado, and Silverado HD. Two more are on the way, the Silverado EV and the Silverado HD refreshed for the 2024 model year. Because of its price, the Colorado was included on our 5 Trucks You Can Still Get for Under $30,000 list earlier this week, so on this one, only the Silverados have a spot.

2023 Chevrolet Silverado

2023 Chevrolet Silverado
Photo: Chevrolet
Born in its current form in 1999, the Silverado is the go-to model for people looking for a decently priced truck with capabilities that would suit the needs of most Americans. Available for the 2023 model year from $36,300 (not including destination charge), the truck is offered in two- and four-wheel drive, five cab and bed configurations, and no less than eight trim levels, with the top of the range ZR2 more than doubling the price of the entry-level.

The engine choice is diverse as well, starting with the 2.7-liter turbo, going through the 3.0-liter Duramax and 5.3-liter EcoTec3, and topping off with the 6.2-liter EcoTec3.

Just a few of the many options we listed above fall under the $50,000 limit we set for the purposes of this piece, namely the Silverado in two-wheel drive, in WT and Custom trims and rocking the 2.7- or 5.3-liter engines. On the 4WD front, only the WT with the same engine choices does that.

2023 Chevrolet Silverado HD

2023 Chevrolet Silverado HD
Photo: Chevrolet
The heavy-duty variant of the Silverado can also be had for under $50,000, in the most basic of configurations, of course. Described by Chevy as the “strongest, most capable Silverado HD ever,” it is also the most expensive truck the company presently offers, kicking off at $41,500, destination charge not included.

The HD comes in two variants, the 2500 and 3500. The former has 18,510 lb (8,393 kg) max trailering capabilities, while the latter almost doubles that at 36,000 lb (16,329 kg). Animating these monsters are two engines running on gasoline and diesel, respectively, and both are sized at 6.6 liters. The 2023 Chevrolet 2500 HD comes in five trim levels, while the bigger sibling, in just four.

2023 Ford F-150

2023 Ford F\-150
Photo: Ford
For many people, the undisputed leader of the pickup truck segment in the American market is Ford. It, too, in the business of making such things since forever (one year before Chevy, even), the Blue Oval became famous in recent times thanks to the F-Series, or more specifically the F-150 half-ton. But Ford, too, offers a hardcore truck (it calls it Super Duty) and, unlike Chevy, it already has an electric truck on the market, although that one will not make this list because it sells for well over $50,000.

The highly respected and highly successful moniker arrived on the market in 1975 and has remained the leader of its segment year after year. The most recent incarnation, the 2023 model year, comes in eight distinct models to choose from, only two of which, the XL and XLT, are priced below our threshold, at $33,695 and $41,800, respectively.

Both variants of the entry-level truck come in a 4x2 configuration and are powered by the same 3.3-liter V6 engine (to be fair, the offering is much richer across the rest of the range).

2022 Ford Super Duty

2023 Ford F\-150
Photo: Ford
The hardcore variant of the F-Series is not exactly here yet in refreshed form for the new 2023 model year, but that doesn’t rob its appeal. In fact, when it comes to the 2022 incarnation, there’s a big warning on Ford’s website reading, “due to high demand, the current model year is no longer available for retail order. Limited inventory may be available at selected dealers.”

When the new one gets here, though, it will arrive with the proven capabilities of its kin, meaning best-in-class everything, from towing (30,000 pounds for the conventional 6.7-liter diesel) to horsepower (500 hp for the 6.7-liter diesel).

The Super Duty comes as the F-250 and F-350 and is available in 18 different configurations. Just one, the F-250 XL regular cab, is priced below our threshold, at $43,960, not including destination charge. This one comes with a 6.2-liter engine running a 10-speed transmission.

At the time of writing, no images of the 2023 truck are available, although we do not expect many visual changes to make their way to the new model year.

2023 GMC Sierra 1500 and 1500 HD

2023 GMC Sierra 1500 HD
Photo: GMC
Having gone hand in hand with Chevrolet for a long time, GMC is now something of a copycat for the Bowtie brand (the Hummer EV notwithstanding). Its main trucks are rebranded and slightly modified versions of the Chevrolet ones, meaning the GMC Sierra and Sierra HD are basically Silverados in new clothes and slightly more expensive.

The Sierra 1500 retails from $37,200 for the Pro trim, but can go as high as $82,200 for the Denali Ultimate. Of the eight versions available, only the Pro falls under the $50,000 threshold, and for that, it offers a 2.7-liter engine rated at 310 hp -  there’s an optional 5.3-liter V8 on the table for good measure.

The equivalent of the Silverado HD with a GMC badge can only be had in five trims, with the Pro and SLE matching our criteria for pricing at $42,200 and $49,000, respectively, destination charge not included. Both are powered by 6.6-liter Duramax engines tied to Allison 10-speed automatic transmissions, and come as either the Sierra 2500 HD or the Sierra 3500 HD, with the latter going well above the limit we set.

2023 Honda Ridgeline

2023 Honda Ridgeline
Photo: Honda
The Japanese from Honda are known for a lot of things stateside, but pickup trucks are not necessarily part of the list. Yet, there is a machine these guys make in such a configuration, called Ridgeline.

First made in 2004, the moniker now has a pretty solid fan base, and sells as a “truckload of capability” for a starting price of $38,800. That gets you the Sport trim, but the other three, RTL, RTL-E, and Black Edition, all retail for under $50,000 as well.

All use the same 3.5-liter V6 rated at 280 hp, but offer increasingly more and better technologies and fittings as you move up the ladder. The numbers that matter in the case of a pickup are, of course, those pertaining to towing, and in the case of the Ridgeline they read a modest, but not at all bad 5,000 pounds (2,268 kg).

2023 Jeep Gladiator

2023 Jeep Gladiator
Photo: Jeep
Until the arrival of the revived Gladiator two years ago, America’s favorite maker of off-road machines had nothing to offer in this segment. The newcomer changed all that and quickly proved to everyone that a pickup truck can have off-road abilities just like a Wrangler.

The off-roader with a bed out back is currently selling in the U.S. starting from $38,775 and offers not-too-shabby characteristics: 7,700 pounds of towing (3,492 kg), 1,710 pounds (776 kg) payload, and a ground clearance of 11.6 inches (29 cm).

There are nine Gladiator variants to choose from, and all but three, namely the Rubicon, Mojave, and High Altitude, are priced below the $50,000 threshold. For reference, the entry-level is the Sport, powered by a 3.6-liter V6 engine tied to a 6-speed manual transmission.

2023 Nissan Titan

2023 Nissan Titan
Photo: Nissan
Although not as visible in the pickup truck segment as the GM brands or Ford, the Japanese from Nissan are making their best to leave an impression on the American market with not one, but three pickups. We’ve already discussed the entry level, the Frontier, as part of our under $30,000 list, but the other two, the Titan and Titan XD, both fit nicely our under $50k list of trucks.

Introduced in 2003, the nameplate is now extremely important for the Japanese presence on the North American market, and as such, pricing has been set at a competitive $39,700 for the Titan and $47,340 for the Titan XD.

Coming to this list as one of the best-looking trucks in their class, the Titans are powered by a monstrous 5.6-liter engine rated at 400 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque. No less than 17 variants are on the table between the two, the most expensive of which is the $65,070 Titan XD Crew Cab Platinum Reserve.

2023 Ram 1500

2023 Ram 1500
Photo: Ram
If you’re in the market for a pickup produced by a company that does nothing else (except for the occasional Fiat-based vans), the Ram is the go-to choice. The carmaker has no less than five models selling under the $50,000 mark, namely the 1500, 1500 Classic, 2500, 3500, and the funky but useful Chassis Cab. There is also the Ram TRX, but, at $83,890, that’s well over our set budget.

It’s the Ram 1500 we’re interested in for this list, as it’s the least expensive of the bunch, coming in at $37,090 while also being more than capable of holding its ground when faced with competitors.

That amount of cash will land you the Tradesman trim (seven others are offered, with the Tradesman HFE and Big Horn still falling under the price limit), which is a 4x2 ($40,890 for the 4x4) running one of four engines (a 3.0-liter, one 3.6-liter, and two 5.7-liter HEMI choices) and one of three eight-speed automatic transmissions.

2023 Toyota Tundra

2023 Toyota Tundra
Photo: Toyota
As the number one carmaker in the world for many years in a row, Toyota has a rather flimsy presence in the truck segment, with the Tacoma targeting the budget-minded folks and the Tundra, the ones looking for a bit more performance.

The Tundra is the one getting our attention today, but not the i-FORCE MAX that sells for $54,000. The regular Tundra is more reasonably priced at $36,965 for the entry-level SR, even if, granted, the top-of-the-line capstone has an over $75,000 sticker.

The cheapest Tundra of all is equipped with a V6 engine and 10-speed transmission, and is rated at 358 hp. It can tackle the roads under the power of either two or four wheels and can tow a maximum of 11,175 pounds (5,068 kg).

Unlike when looking for a truck under $30,000, it’s clear the $50k limit gives one a lot more options, even without reaching said limit. It’s likely many of you will be looking for such a ride in the year ahead, so here’s to hoping this little list of ours will help you get better oriented in this rather rich segment.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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