The first thing to know about finding the best used 4x4 trucks under $5,000 is that, in most cases, you will be looking at older vehicles with higher mileage. With that said, it's essential to know which pickup trucks had the highest reliability and were able to keep running beyond 150,000 miles and even beyond 200,000 miles in some cases. A search on various auto listing sites yields plenty of results for four-wheel drive used trucks under and around $5,000, but age ranges are generally from 2006 and older and mileage creeping close to 200,000. Let's take a look at some reliable 4x4 used pickups for less than $5,000.
1. Nissan Frontier
The Frontier is a reliable, no-frills pickup that has been made by Nissan since 1997. Some of the options available over the years included king cab, extended cab, two different bed lengths, V6 engines, and a supercharged option. While it's pretty easy to find an older Frontier under $5,000 if you look at two-wheel-drive models, it's a bit harder to find them in four-wheel-drive. However, it's not impossible. One example found showed a 2001 crew cab 4x4 with a V6 and automatic transmission. The price was just under $5,000, and mileage was reasonable at 143,000.
2. Toyota Tacoma and Toyota 4x4 Pickup
The Tacoma 4x4 is only just starting to have models dipping down towards $5,000. This truck has long been known to have very high resale value as was the basic Toyota 4x4 pickup before it. The latter vehicle has almost reached classic status and can be challenging to find in its original form. Many of those models have rebuilt or replaced engines. If you're looking for inexpensive 4x4 Tacomas, you'll be looking at late '90s models in most cases. An example of what you might find is a 1996 Tacoma Xtra Cab with a four-cylinder engine, automatic transmission and 200,000 miles for $4,700. Whether Tacoma or basic pickup, the small Toyota trucks were known to be very good off-road and very reliable at high mileage.
3. Ford F-150
The Ford F-150 has been America's best selling truck and vehicle period for a long time. The amount of F-150s sold means that there are plenty around in the used market. As usual, finding a good 4x4 version can be tough, but if you look at models at roughly model year 2000 and older, there are some available. For example, a 1999 Ford F-150 Super Cab Lariat 4WD with a V8 engine and 213,000 miles could be had for just a few dollars under $5,000. These trucks were known to run for a long time, and there are even 1990s models priced under $5,000 with less than 200,000 miles.
4. Ford Ranger
The Ranger went off the market in America for eight years before returning in 2019, but it was a popular truck for a long time in the 2000s, 1990s and even earlier. Finding an older 4x4 Ranger priced under $5,000 is easier to do than some of the other models listed. An example truck found was a 1999 super cab with automatic transmission, air conditioning, V6 engine and 173,000 miles for $4,200. Another example is a 1998 XLT 4x4 automatic with a V6 and 190,000 miles for $4,500. The vast majority in this price range are 1990s models with relatively high mileage.
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. You'll generally be looking at vehicles older than 2006, but examples found included vehicles with V8 engines, club cabs, crew cabs, models with air conditioning, and both manual and automatic transmissions. Prices ranged from about $2,000 for trucks with over 200,000 miles and then right around $5,000 for trucks with mileage in the 150,000 range. Many of the examples found were in the 2000s and very good condition. The Dakota may be one of the best bets in finding a 4x4 model in the 10-year range for around $5,000.
6. Chevrolet Silverado 1500
The Chevy Silverado would never be described as a flashy pickup, but they're durable and reliable work trucks. They came in a wide range of options over the years, including different cab sizes, bed lengths and engine types. When looking for a used Silverado, you'll likely be looking past 2005 examples and at some higher mileage options. One example found on an auto listing site was a 2000 model 4x4 Silverado with a V8 engine, extended cab, automatic transmission and 197,000 miles for $4,000.
7. Ford F-250
If you need a more substantial truck than an F-150, then the heavy-duty F-250 may be the way to go. It's a little harder to find 4x4 models under $5,000 for this truck, but they are out there. An example of a good find is a 2005 F-250 Super Duty extended cab with an automatic transmission and 180,000 miles for $4,800. As with most of the trucks on this list, expect higher mileage and possible restoration projects. The example listed had minor body damage and a branded title due to theft. Remember that not all branded titles are automatically bad. If you can find out why the title was branded, then you might land on an outstanding deal.
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'll likely be looking at the earliest models of Sport Tracs for a price less than $5,000. A few examples found included leather seats, air conditioning, V6 engines, automatic transmissions, and mileage between 150,000 and 200,000, for just under $5,000.
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're looking for a 4x4 version of the Ram 1500 under $5,000, then you'll likely be looking at models older than about 2006. Some of these vehicles may have some restoration potential as well as higher mileage. One example is a fair condition 2006 Ram 1500 4x4 with a V8 engine, crew cab and 145,000 miles. Another example is a 1999 Ram 1500 quad cab 4x4 with an automatic transmission and 186,000 miles on the odometer.
10. Chevrolet Avalanche
A similar vehicle to the Sport Trac was the Chevy Avalanche. It was produced between 2001 and 2013 with a mostly SUV look from the front and then a small pickup bed in the back. However, it was a bigger vehicle than the Sport Trac, being built on GM's long-wheelbase chassis. Some very clean examples of this truck can be found on auto listing sites. One such example is a 2002 Avalanche with a Z71 off-road package, plus a V8 engine, automatic transmission and 187,000 miles for $4,500. Most likely you won't find anything newer than 2002 at the $5,000 price range.
11. GMC Sierra 1500
The Sierra was and is mechanically identical to the Chevy Silverado, but it typically does not and has not sold as well as the Silverado. That makes it a bit more challenging to hunt down this particular truck, but it might be an option if you come across one while looking for a Silverado. Most of what's available appear to be older than examples from 2000 and typically has high mileage at over 200,000. One example found was a 1996 model with an automatic transmission, 4WD and 166,000 miles on the odometer for just under $5,000.
12. Chevrolet S-10
The S-10 was made between 1981 and 2004 in North America, and so it has long departed the new market. It has the distinction of being the first compact pickup that was domestically constructed by the Big Three American automakers. Some of them are still available in the used market, including 4x4 models. An excellent example of what you might find is a 1996 V6 S-10 4x4 with an extended cab and 174,000 miles for $2,500.
Compact Off-Road Options
If you're primarily looking for 4x4 vehicles and aren't as concerned about it being a pickup truck, then you might also consider compact SUVs made for off-roading like the Jeep Wrangler, Ford Bronco, Chevy Blazer and Jeep Cherokee XJ. The Bronco and Blazer have been out of production for quite some time, and you'll likely be looking at 1990s examples, and even 1980s models with high mileage or rebuilt engines. However, there are still plenty of them floating around. For the Jeep Wrangler, the TJ continues to hold its value with many of them even about $10,000 or more and especially if the mileage is on the lower side. The generation before the TJ was the YJ, and it was produced between 1987 and 1995. Good examples of these can easily be found under $5,000, though you may be looking at some four-cylinder engines and higher mileage. Similarly, the Jeep Cherokee XJ was a popular off-road vehicle, and many high-mileage '90s models can be found under $5,000. The good thing about the XJ and YJ is that the 4.0 inline-six engines were well-known for being bulletproof.