Many of today’s new pickup trucks have abandoned their workaday roots and become true luxury vehicles, even costing upwards of six figures with all the options. But while the top-end models offer a rare combination of creature comforts and hauling capabilities, there are still some workaday trucks you can get on the cheap—if you’re willing to sacrifice niceties like heated and cooled leather seats, fancy touchscreens, and self-parking features, that is.
How cheap is cheap? We’ve selected the least expensive version of each pickup truck on the market and ranked them from highest base price to lowest. Click through for the most basic 2021 (and 2020) trucks you can buy today, as well as some tips for how to configure each truck for its lowest MSRP. (You might be surprised by the number of trucks still available with vinyl seats.)
2021 Nissan Titan | $38,145
Configuration: S trim level, extended cab, 4×2
Although the Nissan Titan is technically a direct competitor for the domestic full-size trucks, its lineup looks quite different—even more so lately as Nissan has eliminated many variants such as the regular-cab and XD models powered by a Cummins diesel engine. The 2021 Titan is now available only in extended-cab and crew-cab forms, and only with a 5.6-liter gasoline V-8 engine. The base model is decently equipped, unlike the basic work-truck versions of Ford, Chevy, and Ram trucks, and thus costs quite a bit more.
2021 Jeep Gladiator | $35,060
Configuration: Sport trim level, 4×4
The Jeep Gladiator is the Wrangler of trucks, literally. Based on Jeep’s iconic off-road SUV, this four-door pickup has many of the same rock-crawling abilities and bears the important distinction of being the only convertible pickup you can buy. Though Jeep recently added a diesel engine option, the cheapest way to get a Gladiator is with the standard 3.6-liter gasoline V-6. The base model, called Sport, has a six-speed manual transmission.
2020 Honda Ridgeline | $35,020
Configuration: Sport trim level, FWD
Honda recently showed a refreshed 2021 version of the Ridgeline, but pricing is not yet available for the new model. We don’t expect it will change too much from 2020, which starts off with the Sport trim level. The previous base model, called RT, was discontinued, which caused the price to rise significantly. The Sport does have a fair amount of standard creature comforts that are optional on other bare-bones mid-size trucks to justify its price, and it also only comes in crew-cab form. Front-wheel drive and a 3.5-liter V-6 are standard, and all-wheel drive is optional.
2021 Toyota Tundra | $34,995
Configuration: SR trim level, extended cab, 4×2, with Work Truck package
The current generation of the Toyota Tundra has been around for a long time, and will likely be replaced soon. But while we’re still stuck with the old truck, the cheapest way to get it is the SR trim level in extended-cab form, which isn’t all that cheap. A V-8 engine is standard, as opposed to the V-6s seen elsewhere in the full-size segment, and you can order a Work Truck package that drops the base price by a bit. It supplants the standard cloth upholstery with industrial-grade vinyl seats and removes the power function from the door locks.
2021 Ram 1500 | $33,940
Configuration: Tradesman, Quad Cab, 4×2
The Ram 1500 was new for 2019 and is our favorite of the full-size pickups. We even awarded it a 10Best trophy for 2020. In its most affordable form, you get an extended-cab Ram Tradesman with rear-wheel drive and a V-6 engine. There’s no regular-cab model available. If you’re looking for a cheaper Ram, you can step back in time to the old model, which Ram currently sells as the 1500 Classic, found elsewhere on this list.
2021 Ford F-150 | $30,635
Configuration: XL trim level, regular cab, 4×2
The Ford F-150 is the perpetual winner in the pickup-truck sales race, and it has been redesigned for 2021. The new design isn’t all that different, and you won’t benefit from many of the truck’s most interesting new features when you choose a stripper model like the XL regular cab seen here for just over $30,000. And even though there’s a new F-150 hybrid available, getting an F-series on the cheap requires settling for a carryover engine, a naturally aspirated 3.3-liter V-6, and rear-wheel drive.
2021 Ram 1500 Classic | $30,145
Configuration: Tradesman trim level, regular cab, 4×2
The cheapest new Ram pickup you can buy is not really all that new. What Ram calls the 1500 Classic is the previous-generation truck that FCA is still building and sending out to dealerships and fleet customers. While it’s not as snazzy as the newer-generation Ram that debuted for 2019, it is a decent value and offers lower-priced models such as the regular-cab Tradesman model you see here.
2021 GMC Sierra 1500 | $29,295
Configuration: base trim level, regular cab, 4×2, package discount
GMC’s Sierra is effectively identical to the Chevy Silverado, except for the way it looks. The two trucks share engines and configurations, and are only separated by styling and trim differences. The GMC is a bit more expensive to start in its regular-cab form with a 4.3-liter V-6 engine. (The base price listed here includes a $2000 package discount which may have some stipulations.)
2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 | $28,195
Configuration: WT trim level, regular cab, 4×2, package discount
Chevrolet earns the title of the cheapest full-size pickup in the land, although it may be on a technicality (the base price listed here includes a $2000 package discount which may have some stipulations). Regardless, the cheapo Chevy Silverado is a far cry from the loaded crew-cab High Country models that can cost more than twice as much as this sub-$30,000 sum. This regular-cab model in Work Truck trim doesn’t have much flair, and it makes do with rear-wheel drive and a 4.3-liter V-6 engine.
2020 Nissan Frontier | $27,885
Configuration: S trim level, extended cab, 4×2
The Nissan Frontier has given up its title of the cheapest pickup truck, and it’s all because of a new engine. Nissan dropped the base four-cylinder engine and manual transmission for 2020 and all models now come with a new 3.8-liter V-6 engine, which raises the base price considerably. While a Frontier could previously be had for under $20,000, the new one slides in at just under $28,000. We use “new” as a relative term, as the truck that this new engine resides in remains old. A redesigned 2022 Frontier is on the horizon, however, and should arrive next year.
2021 GMC Canyon | $27,355
Configuration: Elevation trim level, extended cab, 4×2, rear seat delete
GMC has eliminated the most basic versions of the Canyon pickup, causing it to rise significantly in price. It now starts with the Elevation trim, which is better-equipped than the previous SL model and looks a little cooler to boot. It’s still mechanically similar to the Chevy Colorado, coming standard with a 2.5-liter inline-four and rear-wheel drive. It’s also available with a hidden discount in the form of the rear-seat delete option, which drops the base price by $240.
2021 Chevy Colorado | $26,155
Configuration: Work Truck trim level, extended cab, 4×2, rear seat delete
The Chevy Colorado is less expensive than its GMC twin, the Canyon, but not as cheap as it used to be due to some changes for 2021. The base trim has been eliminated and the models now start with the Work Truck version, which accounts for a few thousand dollars added to the bottom line. It comes with rear-wheel drive and a 2.5-liter inline-four. Deleting the rear seats drops that base price by $240, but Ford and Toyota still offer cheaper takes on the mid-size pickup.
2021 Ford Ranger | $26,015
Configuration: XL trim level, extended cab, 4×2
Due to some pricing and equipment changes among its competitors, the Ford Ranger has leapfrogged mid-size trucks from GMC, Nissan, and Chevy to become the second-cheapest truck on the market. The Ranger made a comeback recently, although owners of old Rangers will be surprised by the uptick in size. Fortunately, it still offers the familiarly humble models such as the XL extended-cab, which doesn’t have any frills by today’s standards. While Ford used to offer a $240 discount by selecting a rear-seat delete package, the removal of the jump seats is now a no-cost option, eliminating those potential savings.
2021 Toyota Tacoma | $25,610
Configuration: SR trim level, extended cab, 4×2, with Utility Package
Toyota’s Tacoma has perhaps the best reputation in the small-pickup segment, having built its name on reliability, affordability, and no-nonsense capability. For 2021, the affordability angle is perhaps its most compelling, as it’s now the least expensive pickup truck you can buy, bar none. That’s thanks in part to the available Utility package that slashes $1715 from the base price in exhange for removing the rear seats, sliding rear window, and the paint from the bumpers and other exterior trim pieces. Honestly, we don’t mind the spartan look of the base Tacoma.
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