Trucks are the most practical type of vehicle out there, no matter what you plan on using it for. While loaded new models are now well past $50,000, you don't have to spend that kind of money to get one that will suit your needs.
The best used 4x4 trucks under $5,000 will likely be older vehicles with higher mileage. A search on various auto listing sites like Autolist yields plenty of results for four-wheel drive used trucks under and around $5,000, with age ranges are generally from 2006 and older and mileage creeping close to 200,000.
Let's take a look at some of the best-used trucks for less than $5,000.
1. Nissan Frontier
The Frontier is a reliable, no-frills pickup that Nissan has made since 1997. This long production time means there are plenty of used models that are for sale under the $5,000 price point. You’ll need to choose from the crew and extended cab. The SE, LE, and PRO trim packages come with four-wheel drive and the 261-hp 4.0-liter V6 engine.
You will be able to tow up to 6,500 pounds with this truck. You will also have the option of either an automatic or manual transmission. The fuel economy is 19/23 mpg, which is slightly lower than other pickup trucks in its class.
2. Toyota Tacoma and Toyota 4x4 Pickup
This compact and midsize pickup truck retains its value better than almost anything else on the market, and this makes it challenging to find these trucks for under $5,000. However, you may have some luck with the older and high mileage models. While this would be a cause for hesitation with other trucks, this is not the case with the Tacoma. You can easily drive them for hundreds of thousands of miles when properly maintained.
For the most reliability and the best quality, look for a truck that has not been used for off-road driving. Vehicles used off-road have often taken a beating and are not in the best condition. The 4x4 model of the truck comes with a V6 engine capable of towing up to 5,000 pounds.
3. Ford F-150
The Ford F-150 has been America's best-selling truck and vehicle for a long time. The amount of F-150s sold means that there are plenty around in the used market. Focus on the older F-150 models for the most affordable price point.
This work truck comes in rear-wheel, all-wheel, and four-wheel drive. There are also several engine options, including a 4.2-liter V6, a 4.6-liter V8, and a 5.4-liter V8. You can also find some models with a diesel engine. The most powerful F-150 models can tow up to 9,500 pounds.
4. Ford Ranger
The Ford Ranger made a triumphant return in 2019 after taking an eight-year hiatus. For the best deal on your Ranger, look for one from the first production period from 2007 to 2011. Skip the XL trim as this does not come with four-wheel drive. The XLT and Sport trims have a 4x4 version that comes with a 4.0 liter V6 that produces 207-hp. Be prepared to shift; the transmission is a five-speed manual.
The V6 engine is important if you want the higher towing capacity of 5,800 pounds. Combine this with the simple and straightforward interior, and the Ranger pickup truck is perfect for getting work done.
5. Dodge Dakota
The Dodge Dakota held the distinction of being the largest midsize truck available during its span from 1987 to 2011. Although Dodge no longer makes the Dakota, there are plenty of them in the used market, including 4x4 models.
While it came with both a V6 and V8, the better and more powerful option is the V8. This is especially true if you plan to do a lot of hauling and towing. It can tow up to 7,250 pounds with 302-hp, making it a top performer in its class.
6. Chevrolet Silverado 1500
The Chevy Silverado would never be described as a flashy pickup, but they are durable and reliable work trucks. The Silverado 1500 first appeared in 1999 and has gone through four generations. It has remained popular because of its comfortably smooth ride, attractive body styling, and above-average fuel economy.
Several engine options are available, including a 195-hp 4.3 liter V6, 295-hp 4.8 liter V8, and 315-hp 5.3 liter V8. This will give you a towing capacity of 4,400 to 7,500 pounds.
7. Ford F-250
If you need a more substantial pickup truck than an F-150, then the heavy-duty F-250 may be the way to go. This heavy-duty work truck is a part of the Super Duty lineup that also includes the F-350 and the F-450.
While this workhorse of a truck has several engine options, look for one with the 6.0 liter V8 diesel engine. It is known for its reliability and powerful towing ability. It has a towing capacity of 30,000 pounds.
8. Ford Explorer Sport Trac
The Sport Trac was a somewhat under-the-radar vehicle made by Ford between 2001 and 2010. It appeared at first glance to be a Ford Explorer and was built on that chassis. However, it was designed with a pickup bed specifically for this model. The Sport Trac had four doors and a full-size row in the back seat. It was a pretty roomy vehicle and was generally reliable as well.
You will be able to choose from the XLT and Limited trim packages. Both come in either 4x2 and 4x4 options with either a 4.0 liter V6 or a 4.6 liter V8. This will give you either 210- or 292-hp. The V8 has a towing capacity of 6,800 pounds.
9. Dodge Ram 1500
The Dodge Ram was and is one of the most capable pickups around. For a long time, they were well-known as pure work and utility trucks, but in the early 2000s, they began transforming the interiors into something more luxurious. If you are looking for a 4x4 version of the Ram 1500 under $5,000, then you will likely be looking at models older than about 2006.
The 1500 stands out because it comes with the most trim packages that include a 4x4 option. This gives you the greatest flexibility when looking for your used truck. For the most towing capacity, look for the Laramie and SLT four-wheel-drive models. They will give you 7,000 to 8,000 pounds of towing capacity.
10. Chevrolet Avalanche
Despite Chevy discontinuing production of the Avalanche in 2013, this truck is sought after by some buyers. This workhorse of a pickup truck ranks in the top for used trucks because it combines a comfortable ride with impressive functionality that many other trucks from its generation lack.
While you probably will not be taking it off-road, it is perfect for towing and commuting. The folding rear midgate turns the Avalanche into the swiss army knife of trucks. The V8 engine produces 320-hp that is capable of hauling 1,400 pounds and towing 8,100 pounds. Look for an LTZ model that comes with four-wheel drive.
11. Chevrolet Colorado
You will find Chevy Colorado models dating back to 2003. Early versions were compact trucks, while the second generation received an upgrade to a mid-size pickup truck. There are two-door regular cabs, four-door extended cab, and four-door crew cab body styles. Look for a Colorado that sports a V8 engine and you will be able to tow up to 6,000 pounds.
For the best deal, the simple Work Truck model will give you a bare-bones truck. If you are willing to spend a bit more, then the LT, 1LT, and 2LT can offer you more features and accessories.
12. Honda Ridgeline
Ridgelines are unique among trucks because they're built on a unibody platform like a crossover, rather than the body-on-frame setup of nearly every other truck on the market. This gives the Ridgeline a much smoother ride and significantly more interior space than other midsize trucks.
You will find two groups of Ridgeline models. The first set is from 2006 through 2014. The second generation began in 2017 and is still in production today. Focus on Ridgelines that are older to find one that is under $5,000.
The Ridgeline is a smart buy because they are safe, have several nice features, and reliable performance. The early models come in one crew cab body style with three trim options, RT, RTS, and RTL. Powering the Ridgeline is a 3.5-liter single-overhead-cam V6 engine that produces 255-hp and 19-20 mpg. It comes standard with a five-speed automatic transmission.
13. Toyota Tundra
The Tundra’s massive size and powerful 5.7-liter V8 engine make it a workhorse of a pickup truck. This full-size truck generates 381-hp and 401 pounds of torque at 3,600 RPMs. You will be able to tow up to 10,300 pounds and carry a payload of up to 1,650 pounds.
What makes the Tundra desirable is its best-in-class interior. The seats are large and cushioned without being too soft. There is tons of room and you will love the visibility. The Limited package has luxurious features like leather seats, adjustable seats, and an upgraded audio system. The Tundra DX will give you the best deal as the base model workhorse edition with a fabric upholstered bench seat, manual crank windows, and vinyl floor covering.