Our Picks for Top 5 Used Trucks

July 16th, 2021 by

A red 2020 Ford F-150 off-roading on a dirt road in the desert

Americans have been using trucks since the early 1900s, and they have come a long way since the early models built for cargo transport. We still use them for hauling, but now we also buy them for comfort on long drives when towing or having to travel long distances for work. Today’s trucks offer a wide range of technologies to help make towing and hauling easier, and each of the top five picks we list here can be optioned with either rear-wheel or four-wheel drive. For our drivers seeking used cars in Durham, here is our list of the top 5 used trucks.

#1. Ford F-150

Ford is one of the original truck makers, dating back to the earliest days of the company more than 100 years ago. Now, the F-150 holds the record for being the number one in sales since 1977. When you need a truck that can handle hard work, the F-150 will serve reliably. The most recent generation of F-150 trucks includes the years 2015-2020 when it received a complete redesign that didn’t change much of its outer appearance but lost several hundred pounds of weight with an aluminum construction to replace heavier materials.

Trucks tend to offer a dizzying number of options to personalize the capability and size, and the F-150 13th generation had a choice of several different engines, cab sizes, and bed lengths. Maximum towing capacity in 2015 started out at around 12,200 pounds with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine equipped in a truck with a regular cab. This capacity has been upgraded in later years to a max of 13,200 pounds with the same engine.

Available features to assist with towing included a Trailer Tow package or Dynamic Hitch Assist, and upper trims included a trailer brake controller. The option of a 360-degree rearview camera is part of the safety equipment available, which can guide during parking, hitching a trailer, and pulling out of a parking space. Other safety features like a Blind Spot Monitor with Cross-Traffic Alert and Forward Collision Warning can assist with mitigating or preventing accidents. Technology in the 2015 F-150 is less intuitive than the other model years of this generation when the SYNC 3 infotainment system was installed. Conveniences like remote start, Adaptive Cruise Control, and even a parking assist feature are all available during this generation.

#2. Chevy Silverado 1500

The Chevy Silverado emerged in 1999 as one of two successors to the popular C/K line of trucks and is now in its fourth generation as of 2019. This most recent generation gained a new appearance with a redesigned front fascia and sculpted sidewalls and utilized improved high-strength steel for its body structure which reduced its weight. Six powertrains were available in 2019, which included a turbodiesel as its most capable and the turbocharged inline-four engine with the most payload capacity. However, the V8 engine comes with technology to shut down cylinders when not in use to save on fuel. The towing capacity of up to 12,200 pounds can be achieved with the 6.2-liter V8 engine and a double cab, which can only be equipped starting with the LTZ trim.

For easier towing, Chevy offers excellent technology like a new trailering app with checklists and testing lights before getting on the road, plus a theft-prevention system that sends an alert if someone attempts to gain access to or unhitch your trailer. Safety technology like Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert make traveling with a trailer safer, especially on the highway. Trims can range from the basic work truck with the option of easy-to-clean vinyl floors and seats to leather upholstery and luxurious conveniences like a powered tailgate and multi-angle camera system for views surrounding the truck. Expect Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for smartphone connectivity, along with SiriusXM subscription options and standard OnStar capability.

Front view of a bright blue 2020 Ram 1500 parked under an overpass

#3. Ram 1500

Like Chevy, the Ram 1500 received a recent redesign to bring its newest generation up to date starting in the 2019 model year. While other trucks have made a name for themselves with towing capability and toughness, Ram trucks have risen in the ranks by paying attention to ride quality and interior comfort combined with increasingly capable powertrains. For 2019, the Ram 1500 was highly praised by truck enthusiasts for its luxurious interior, and the infotainment system is considered one of the most user-friendly in the industry. Like most trucks, the Ram 1500 has several engine options, from the standard Pentastar V6 to powerful V8 choices. Towing capacity tops out at 12,750 pounds with the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 engine with a quad cab.

Praise for the interior has been awarded due to the Ram truck’s high-quality materials and active noise cancellation, which makes the cabin quiet in the way you would expect in a luxury sedan. Ride quality reduces the typical jarring you find in most trucks by incorporating a spring suspension in the rear. This can be upgraded to the optional air suspension for an even smoother ride.

Towing technology includes trailer reverse guidance and a cargo view camera, among several other options which can be added even to the entry-level models with a package. Safety tech like the 360-degree Surround View Camera and adaptive LED headlights help make driving easier with such a large vehicle. Conveniences like the RamBox built-in side bed storage or the available Harman Kardon audio system make this truck both organized and a premium buy.

#4. Toyota Tundra

Even though the Tundra is only in its second generation, which dates back to 2007, this truck is well known for its reliability and longevity. A redesign took place in 2014 to refresh the Tundra that changed the appearance of the front grille and rear tailgate, among other attributes, to update the styling. In comparison to other trucks in the same segment, the Tundra offers only three powertrain options, with the 4.0-liter V6 being the standard and the 5.7-liter V8 engine being its most powerful. With the 5.7-liter, a Tundra can tow up to 10,200 pounds with the proper configuration.

Towing equipment included in a package offers a tow/haul mode, trailer brake controller, and upgraded heating and cooling systems to keep the engine running at its optimal temperature. Trailer sway control helps improve overall stability when towing, and other safety equipment that comes standard includes Smart Stop technology and brake assist to electronically slow the truck to mitigate or avoid an accident.

In 2018, Toyota added a suite of safety features as standard, including a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection and Lane Departure Alert. Conveniences like Bluetooth and the infotainment system are standard since 2014, and in 2017 the inclusion of remote keyless entry and heated side mirrors are standard. The available JBL audio system offers buyers a premium sound system, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility show up in 2020 models.

Front view of a tan 2020 Nissan Titan parked in an industrial alleyway.

#5. Nissan Titan

The most recent redesign of the Nissan Titan was produced for 2017 models and refreshes its appearance with an enlarged grille and updated headlights, as well as sidewall shaping. Engine options are limited to two until 2018: the standard 5.6-liter V8 or the 5.0-liter turbodiesel V8. After 2019, Nissan only offers the 5.6-liter gas engine. Maximum towing capability comes in at only 9,390 pounds, though the XD variant can tow over 11,000 pounds when properly equipped. The available trailering package includes extendable towing mirrors and a trailer light check system, but standard equipment like tow/haul mode and trailer sway control were included.

Technology is one of Nissan’s strengths, both for safety and convenience. Available Blind Spot Warning and rain-sensing wipers could be found dating back to 2017 models, as well as NissanConnect capability for emergency services or features like WiFi. In 2019, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto became standard equipment, and a Fender audio system was made available for upper trims. Numerous clever cargo options like under-seat and in-bed lockable storage are available across the lineup.

Get a Truck That Can Handle the Job

When you need a truck for towing or hauling, each one of our top five choices can handle the job. Whether you need a truck for work, recreation, or personal preference, each of the trucks featured in this list can provide the power, cargo space, and technology to make your jobs simpler.