Like much of the rest of the country, we've also fallen in love with great pickup trucks. They're often as roomy and as fancy as luxury cars, and you know they can take a beating in terms of utility and taking to the road less traveled. They're still the hottest segment in the automotive industry for good reason. They're good for the working man/woman, outdoor adventurers, and yes, even families. But pickup trucks can also get pricey, climbing close to six figures.
As of September, the average price of a new car in America was $45,031. Yikes! Now, you can get a great pickup truck for less than that. Here are five of the best pickup trucks that we outfitted in the manufacturer configurators that come in at less than the price of a new vehicle in 2021.
2022 Ford Maverick Lariat Supercrew (Luxury Package) - $34,370
The Maverick is a brand new model for the automaker, and it's a smart move by Ford. Not only is the base price a low $20k, but the Maverick also boasts a hybrid powertrain that gets 42 mpg in the city! What? That's right, the little truck is incredibly efficient. The bad news is that it's almost sold out already, having just debuted in showrooms.
We configured the Maverick in Supercrew trim with the following standard and optional features to bring it in well under the $45k mark, including the freight charge. The base Maverick is powered by a 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine, and the Hybrid mill mates a 2.5-liter four with an electric motor.
2.5L Hybrid Engine Automatic Continuously Variable Transmission, Cyber Orange (Tri-Coat Metallic), Ford Co-Pilot360, Lariat Luxury Package, 18" Black Painted Wheels, Truck Bed Lighting, Bed Extender, Spray-In Bedliner, Trailer Hitch Receiver with 4-pin Connector, Full-Size Spare Tire, Desert Brown ActiveX Bucket Front-Seats, All-Weather Floor Liners, Carpeted Floor Mats, Power Tilt/Slide Moon Roof, Console Vault $390, B&O Premium Audio with 8-Speakers, SYNC 3, SiriusXM, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.
2022 Toyota Tacoma 4x4 Double Cab (TRD Off-Road) - $43,898
The Tacoma isn't the most advanced pickup truck out there since it hasn't been redesigned in a few years, but it is a solid pickup truck that has a cult following. Its reliability, off-road capability, as well as its handsome pickup truck looks, make it an attractive buy. The TRD trim levels provide additional ruggedness and unique aesthetics that set them apart from the lesser trims. Standard safety features are also excellent across the board thanks to Toyota Safety Sense P with Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and Automatic High Beams.
We configured the Tacoma TRD Off-Road trim Double Cab and 5-foot bed with the following standard and optional features to keep it under the $45k mark. All Toyota Tacomas have the same 3.5-liter engine with a standard 6-speed manual transmission:
Army Green paint, Black Leather upholstery, Premium Package (Double Cab M/T), 10-Way Power Adjustable Driver's Seat, 4-Way Front Passenger Front Seats, 16" Machined Contrast Alloy Wheels, Electronically Locking Rear Differential, Multi-Terrain Monitor with Camera, Multi-Terrain Select with Crawl Control, Smart Key System with Pushbutton Start, Bed Extender, Bed Mat, Blackout Emblem Overlays, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, TRD Front Skid Plate.
2021 Ford Ranger XLT Supercrew 4x4 (Tremor Package) - $44,285
We just drove the Ranger with the Tremor package, and it changes the pickup from a mediocre one into a truly excellent pickup truck. The way we configured it with the roomy Supercrew configuration, you get pretty much everything you want in a rugged pickup truck.
We outfitted it in XLT trim and the awesome Tremor package that changes the way it looks and drives. The XLT upgrades the engine to the 270-horsepower 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The Tremor Package levels up the suspension and tires, giving the Ranger a much better driving experience than stock. We configured it with the following equipment:
Tremor Off-Road Package, Technology Package, Tough Bed Spray-in Bedliner, Remote Key Fob with Tailgate Lock, Reverse Sensing System, Perimeter Anti-Theft Alarm 17" Magnetic-Painted Aluminum - Tremor Wheels, Electronic-Locking Rear Differential, Power Glass Sideview Mirrors, 17" Off-Road LT 265/70R17 A/T Tires, Vinyl Bucket Front-Seats with Miko Suede Inserts, Dual-Zone Electronic Climate Control, Tray Style Floor Liner, Carpeted Floor Mats, , Auto-Dimming Rearview Mirror,110V AC Power Outlet and Two USB Ports, Leather-Wrapped Steering Wheel and Shifter, Adaptive Cruise Control Six Upfitter Switches, AM/FM Radio with 6 Speakers and Navigation, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, SiriusXM, SYNC 3
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz (Limited AWD) - $41,495
What can we say about the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz that hasn't already been said by just about every car critic out there. It looks sporty and unlike any other truck out there. It's not a body-on-frame hauler like the rest of the trucks on this list, but it can handle mild off-road duties with its HTRAC All-Wheel Drive system. While it might not have the longest bed length at just over four feet, it's enough space to toss in luggage and outdoor gear. The interior is one of the nicest found in any truck at this price, and the upgraded 277-horsepower 2.5-liter turbo engine is gutsy and responsive.
We jumped into the Santa Cruz online configurator and selected the top-end Limited trim that comes standard with all-wheel drive and leather. Here are the features we selected, and we were able to come in at quite a bit less than that $45k threshold.
Ice White paint, Dark Gray Leather w/ Orange Accents, Cargo Package, Integrated Tonneau Cover, Dual C-channel Adjustable Utility Track, 115V power outlet, Power Sunroof, Proximity Key with Pushbutton Start, Lockable Under Bed Storage Compartment, Multi-Function Tailgate, Carpeted Floor Mats, Mudguards, Heated/Ventilated Front Seats, Heated Steering Wheel, Adaptive Cruise Control, Remote Engine Start, 10.25" Color Touchscreen with Navigation and Traffic Flow, 10.25" Digital Instrument Cluster, Rearview Monitor with Dynamic Gridlines, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Bose Premium Audio.
2021 Chevrolet Colorado 4x4 Supercrew (Z71 Package) - $44,570
The Colorado might not be the newest truck here, and it's likely to get a redesign for the 2023 model year, but the Colorado is nonetheless an excellent small pickup truck that's worth its salt on the pavement, as well as off-road. Not only does it offer up to 7,000 pounds of towing capacity, but it's also quite good as a daily driver thanks to the big Supercrew cabin. We also opted for a more rugged setup with the Z71 and the Trail Boss Package.
We configured the 3.6-liter V6 Colorado with everything we thought it needed and still slid in just under that magic $45,000 mark. Here are all the features we selected, including those that came standard with the Z71 and Trail Boss Packages.
Sand Dune Metallic paint, Jet Black Leather-appointed seats, 17" High gloss Black aluminum wheels, 17" all-terrain blackwall tires, Red recovery hooks, Black tailgate decal lettering, Black Colorado emblems, Front 1" Leveling Kit, Performance Front Skid Plate, Performance Mid Skid Plate, Safety Package: Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Bed Guard Package: Rubber bed mat, Tailgate liner; 3.42 rear axle ratio, Trailering Package, Chevrolet Infotainment 3 Plus System with 8" diagonal HD color touchscreen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Wireless Charging, All-weather floor liners.