Value is the name of the game when it comes to buying your next vehicle. Going into your purchase you’re more or less resigned to the fact that you’ll have to pony up a pretty penny, but if you find the perfect ride at a great value, there’s an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction that replaces that initial twinge of remorse knowing you’re parting with a chunk of change. We know that feeling and understand that feeling first hand, which is why we’ve compiled our list of the top five pickup trucks under $28,500.
2014 Nissan Frontier
- For the price, the 2014 Nissan Frontier offers a great balance between comfort and practicality. The dashboard and interior cabin controls are basic, yet very functional, despite perhaps lacking the ultra high-quality, sturdy feel you may come to expect from a pickup of its ilk.
- Depending on the trim level you settle on, the notable driving benefits of the Frontier will vary. For those that prefer the 2.5-liter four-cylinder option, you’ll receive a lift in fuel economy getting between 19-21 mpg combined. Meanwhile, the 4.0-liter V6 earns strong marks and offers superior acceleration and towing capacity compared to the four-cylinder option.
- Though the rear seats offer somewhat limited legroom, the Frontier offer an enjoyable ride whether you’re on city streets or taking it off-road.
- Says Edmunds: “The 2014 Nissan Frontier is a solid pick for a midsize pickup truck, thanks to its brawny V6 engine, surprisingly good ride quality and, in Pro-4X trim, superb off-road capability. Toyota has it beat on rear-seat accommodations, though.”
2012 Toyota Tacoma
- In government crash testing, the 2012 Tacoma performed rather well across the board, earning an overall safety rating of four (out of a possible five) stars, including five stars in side impact testing.
- If you’re someone who doesn’t plan on hauling or towing heavy loads or are trying to save some coin at the end of purchase, the 2.7-liter four-cylinder option will provide everything you need from this truck. However, the Tacoma’s four-cylinder engine isn’t appreciably more economical at the fuel pump, and of course doesn’t offer the same level of physical aptitude compared to the V6.
- While one wouldn’t go as far as to call the Tacoma’s interior “fancy,” the room it provides for its passengers ranks as the nicest in its segment.
- When it was new, the 2012 Toyota Tacoma was named Motortrend’s Best Compact Pickup Truck.
2012 GMC Canyon
- The Canyon offers a solid build and eye-catching looks, and 5.3-liter V8 models are available to those who prefer that kind of muscle in a compact truck package.
- When properly equipped, the V8 version of the Canyon can tow up to 6,000 pounds, though fuel economy hovers around 16 mpg combined for this particular trim. For four-cylinder regular and crew cabs, fuel economy bumps up to 21 mpg combined.
- In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) testing, the Canyon received disappointing marks in side-impact protection, earning the lowest rating of “Poor.”
- Says Edmunds: “The 2012 GMC Canyon looks sharp and offers good light-duty pickup truck value. But in just about every other area, it doesn’t measure up to its competition.”
2014 Nissan Titan
- For a vehicle that comes with the hauling power of the Titan’s V8 engine, the Titan has earned high marks for its surprising level of maneuverability and visibility.
- In terms of comfort and interior design, the Titan is more functional than fancy. While it comes equipped with a suitable array of tech features, including Bluetooth audio connectivity and text-to-speech messaging, the Titan’s cheap-feeling plastic materials leaves something to be desired.
- Fuel economy is also not the Titan’s strong suit, as two-wheel-drive Titans average 15 mpg combined, where as four-wheel-drive models check in at 14 mpg combined. These are fuel economy numbers that are below average for a full-size truck.
- Says The Car Connection: The 2014 Nissan Titan performs well, but no longer competes with the rest of the segment in many respects.
2013 Chevrolet Silverado 1500
- Featuring light (within reason) precision steering and a relatively forgiving suspension, the 2013 Chevy Silverado 1500 is pleasant to drive and offers as comfortable a ride as can be expected from a full-size truck.
- In government crash tests for safety, the Silverado earned an overall score of four (out of five) stars, and took home the top score of “Good” for frontal-offset crash protection and a second-best score of “Acceptable” in side-impact testing.
- While the interior design and special features won’t thrill you, the Silverado adequately meets the needs of work-only owners who value durability above all else.
- Says Edmunds: “Despite an aging design, the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is a strong contender in the full-size pickup segment thanks to its wide range of body styles, capable performance and good highway manners.”