Buying a used truck is a wise choice to save on the purchase price (the average new truck topped $50,000 last year) and bypass high depreciation which can result in an upside-down auto loan. Buying used also opens up the market and allows you to comparison shop from dealerships, online used car sites, CarMax, and private sellers. On the flip side, buying a used truck means you're more likely to run into mechanical issues that will require repairs. To help you select a reliable truck that will serve you for years, we'll look at the winners of the J.D. Power Dependability Awards for 2020 in the mid-size, full-size, and HD pickup segments.
How Dependability is Measured
To give shoppers more confidence in their used vehicle purchase, J.D. Power conducts an annual dependability survey to measure the level of defects, malfunctions, and design flaws experienced by vehicle owners. The quality and reliability category focuses on problems experienced by owners and has proven to be an excellent predictor of long-term durability. For 2020, 80,000 verified owners of 3-year-old vehicles were questioned about problems they experienced during the preceding 12 months. Rated out of 100 points with a higher score indicating fewer problems, the quality and dependability score covers the entire vehicle from the engine to the infotainment system.
Most Dependable Mid-Size: 2017 Nissan Frontier
Sure, there's a shiny new 2021 Nissan Frontier on the horizon, but buying a used Frontier is still a smart choice. The Frontier earned the highest J.D. Power Dependability score for 2020, beating out mid-size competitors like the Honda Ridgeline, Toyota Tacoma. The 2017 Frontier scores 81/100 points overall and 85/100 in the Quality and Reliability category. In addition to reporting the fewest problems, owners of the 2017 Frontier liked the ease of getting in and out of the truck, the smooth transmission, and its forward visibility. Some of the complaints included vehicle maneuverability, dashboard styling, and uncomfortable 2nd-row seats.
The 2017 Nissan Frontier is available with a base 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 152 horsepower and 171 lb-ft of torque. Those looking for more power should consider buying a model with a 4.0-liter V6 that makes 261 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque. While most mid-size trucks have grown over the years, Nissan has kept the Frontier's small size which appeals to many shoppers.
2017 Honda Ridgeline (81/100)
2017 Toyota Tacoma (80/100)
2017 Nissan Frontier Average Price: $18,998 - $27,995
Most Dependable Full-Size: 2017 Ford F-150
If you can do without the bells, whistles, and "Max Recline" front seats in the all-new 2021 Ford F-150, buying Ford's half-ton truck used will save you both money and headaches. The Ford F-150 claims the top podium spot for dependability according to the J.D. Power awards. Owners of the 2017 F-150 had the fewest issues with their trucks' powertrain and tech in the last year of ownership, earning it an impressive overall score of 85/100 and a Quality and Reliability score of 84/100.
The most popular features according to F-150 owners include the navigation system, strong acceleration, and the styling of the gauges and instruments. The more problematic features include seat material quality, rear visibility, and heating and cooling. The 2017 F-150 has four engine options from a base 3.5-liter V6 for 282 horsepower and 253 lb-ft of torque, to the 450 horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 twin turbo in the Ford F-150 Raptor.
2017 Toyota Tundra (84/100)
2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 (84/100)
2017 Ford F-150 Average Price: $12,950 - $33,945
Most Dependable HD: Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD
Heavy-duty trucks are made for tough jobs like towing and hauling, so dependability is arguable most important for this size segment. The 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD comes out on top in the overall J.D. Power dependability category with a score of 85/100 and a Quality and Reliability score of 82/100, followed closely by its sibling, the GMC Sierra 2500HD.
In addition to its first-place finish for J.D. Power's Dependability Awards, the Chevy Silverado 2500HD earned the equally prestigious title of Web2Carz 2017 Truck of The Year thanks to its comfortable and spacious cabin, excellent infotainment, and smooth ride. When looking for a used 2017 Silverado 2500HD, shoppers will encounter one of two engines: a 6.0-liter V8 for 360 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque or a 6.6-liter V8 turbo-diesel for 445 horsepower and 910 lb-ft of torque which is plenty for towing, hauling, and daily driving.
2017 GMC Sierra 2500HD (84/100)
2017 Ford F-250 (81/100)
2017 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD Average Price: $23,995 - $33,400