Ranking the 5 Best Large Pickup Trucks Under $30,000 (Used)

2016 Ford F-150 6 photos
Photo: Ford Motor Company
Ford F-150Chevrolet SilveradoNissan TitanRam 1500 ClassicRam 1500
What was once mostly a work (construction site) or farming (hauling) tool is today considered one of the most enticing vehicle sectors of the automotive industry – the sprawling pickup truck.
These light-duty trucks – vehicles with an enclosed cabin and a rear featuring a cargo bed with low walls and no roof – have quickly evolved in a matter of decades and are now mostly bought for lifestyle purposes. Those range from tailgating parties to hauling your tiny home/boat/camper van – or just about anything else that can help you live out the adventures of a lifetime while still out on the open road. Today, there are even more reasons to keep the truck lights on – as the novel sector of EV pickups can help you with your electricity needs when the situation arises.

But we are not here to talk about pickup trucks that get purchased for their looks, their creature comforts, their V8 or EV power, and not even for their off-road chops. Those are good for the folks who can afford something along the lines of a 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning, an EV pickup truck that now has an MSRP of $55,974 instead of $39,974 like the original 2022MY! Or for people who do not mind spending big on the largest heavy-duty hauler out there, such as a 2023 GMC Sierra Denali 4WD turbodiesel V8, which kicks off at no less than $87,345.

Instead, let us put aside the bonkers $84,555 2023 Ram 1500 TRX king of the dune-bashing and rock-crawling pickup trucks along with its 702-hp supercharged V8 engine for a second and try to be reasonable. As in, let us talk about the large pickup trucks that one can purchase for less than $30k, for example. Well, considering all that has been going on with the world as of late – not just the automotive industry – no wonder that we cannot go anywhere near the new vehicle retail market, let alone the EV pickup truck sector.

As such, instead of dreaming of the 2023 model years for the Ford F-150 (and Lightning), Chevy Silverado or GMC Sierra and Hummer EV, Ram 1500, Rivian R1T, Toyota Tundra, or Nissan Titan, we now have to slightly lower our expectations toward the used car market’s better deals. As such, with even the 2023 Ram 1500 Classic above our threshold (with a starting MSRP of $30,695), it is time to get back to the traditional ways of using the truck for more work and less partying. No worries, though, as we have some quick suggestions that might feature a nicer blend of the two. So, without further ado, let us start with the list.

5. Ram 1500 Classic

Ram 1500 Classic
Photo: Ram
Although both the 2022 and 2023 model years are too expensive for our $30k taste, going slightly below the 2020s – the 2019MY is a good pick, for example, because it seems that online traders favor them over the regular Ram.

Sure, you are going to have to contend with a fourth-generation Ram pickup instead of the latest iteration, but do not feel like you took a hit – we noticed there are quite a few options that will fit many different needs, both in Classic Tradesman and Classic Express attire.

4. Ram 1500

Ram 1500
Photo: Ram
If you are willing to search a bit more through the listings of various used car retailers or online aggregates, maybe luck will be on your side, and you could land the newer fifth-gen Ram 1500 from the same pre-2020 model year era but without too many additional miles on the odometer. I saw some 60k to 80k miles listings (96k to almost 129k kilometers) and you could even play with the trims a bit if a Tradesman is not to your liking.

So, how about a Texas-based 2019 Ram 1500 Bighorn, does that sound good with 69k miles on the odometer and a $28,998 price (excludes $449 for shipping)?

3. Nissan Titan

Nissan Titan
Photo: Nissan
The Japanese automaker’s pickup truck, named after the Titans of Greek mythology, is not exactly enjoying great sales these days, so maybe it will turn into a collectible if Nissan decides to send it on its merry way toward the retirement home after the 2024 or 2025 model year.

Meanwhile, anyone could stand out in the full-size pickup truck crowd by way of selecting the quirkiest option possible. And no worries, we quickly found a Nissan Titan below the $30k threshold – but these are few and far in between, so better act quickly if you really want one on the driveway.

2. Chevrolet Silverado

Chevrolet Silverado
Photo: Chevrolet
According to the General Motors brand, the Chevy Silverado was the number one best-selling retail full-size pickup truck in 2022 – but we all know that everyone has a different ranking system or source when it comes to arriving on top of their rivals. Well, that still gives them a sense of pride, and not even used 1500s are easily attainable – unless you choose to go down to the bare bottom and snatch the base Work Truck.

In return, we found quite a few 2021MY options and most of them had very low mileage on the odometer – even as little as 16k miles (less than 26k kilometers). In turn, if you are willing to go back to the K2XX third-gen Silverado, we also found the late model year options to be worthy of attention, though you do have to trade the low-mileage dreams in return.

1. Ford F-150

Ford F\-150
Photo: Ford

And, of course, we could not have concluded a large pickup truck list without the ubiquitous F-Series coming out on top. 46 years as America’s best-selling truck and going strong, the F-Series is always an option. Albeit, for the time being, the latest (and arguably greatest) fourteenth iteration is still out of reach if you do not want to pay more than $30k – so the thirteenth gen will have to suffice, for now.
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Editor's note: This article reflects the subjective opinion of the author and is only meant as an aid in researching the purchase of an used pickup truck. Images in the gallery are for illustration purposes and do not reflect the actual listings of potential truck units.

About the author: Aurel Niculescu
Aurel Niculescu profile photo

Aurel has aimed high all his life (literally, at 16 he was flying gliders all by himself) so in 2006 he switched careers and got hired as a writer at his favorite magazine. Since then, his work has been published both by print and online outlets, most recently right here, on autoevolution.
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