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  • Cheapest Full Size Trucks for 2020

Cheapest Full Size Trucks for 2020

New Full Size Trucks for Under $30,000: Pros and Cons

Jan 17, 2020
In this age of maximum—maximum luxury, accessories, parts, products, packages, add-ons, and technology—I set off on a quest to "build" (via manufacturers' configurator tools) the cheapest full size trucks on the market today and then investigate the possible pros and cons of such trucks.
Don't get me wrong. I love me a luxury pickup truck and quite frankly, something certainly comes alive inside when you're behind the wheel of an every-box-checked machine. Others look at you differently; you look at yourself differently. But, at the same time, wouldn't there just something nostalgic, almost refreshing about the prospect of driving off into the sunset in a bare-bones, "stripper" truck? Isn't there something appealing about new full size trucks for under $30,000? Wouldn't it remind you of simpler times, of that first truck you owned in high school? Wouldn't it be fun? Wouldn't it be fulfilling to be content without (possibly) breaking the bank? I think so, and I'm bound to believe there's at least someone else who agrees.
With that in mind, I visited the configurator tools of the Chevrolet, GMC, Ford, Ram, Toyota, and Nissan websites with the specific goal of building the cheapest full size trucks for 2020 possible. Now, to understand "cheap" as inferior would be a great mistake, as these trucks are as completely safe, reliable, and functional as their upscale brethren. They're just more economical because the have "less content." Translation: they're badass. (Side note: these are the types of trucks that often have best-in-class numbers exactly because they aren't weighed-down with all the options. However, we'd need to ditch the standard engine, add specific tow packages, change the gear ratios, etc.)
I worked through the configurators to build these cheap full size trucks, dictated by choosing the least expensive offering each step of the way. That meant single cab (except for the Quad Cab Ram and Double Cab Toyota), two-wheel drive, baseline trim, base engine (3.3L, 3.6L, 4.3L, 5.6L, 5.7L), base transmission (6-,7-, 8-speed) no add-ons, steelie wheels (17-, 18-inch), no packages, no equipment groups, no appearance packages, no accessories, and no upgrades. No frills. If I could choose a prettier color or bonus trinket along the way with no extra charge, I did. What I ended up with was half a dozen gloriously marvelous and financially-prudent full size trucks for right around $30,000.
Note that manufacturers' definitions of base trucks varied. About half of the cheapest full size trucks included power windows and door locks, for example, while others didn't. Also, the numbers below are only estimates and subject to change.

Six New Cheapest Full Size Trucks for 2020 for about $30,000

Photo 2/7   |   2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 2WD Regular Cab Long Bed WT
2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500
2WD Regular Cab, Long Bed WT
4.3L V-6 (EcoTec3), 6-speed automatic transmission
$25,895 ($28,300 + $1,595 (destination) - $4,000 (cash allowances))
Photo 3/7   |   2019 GMC Sierra 1500 2WD Regular Cab Long Box Sierra
2019 GMC Sierra 1500
2WD Regular Cab, Long Box Sierra
4.3L V-6 (EcoTec3), 6-speed automatic transmission
$26,445 ($29,600 + $1,595 (destination) - $4,750 (cash allowances))
Photo 4/7   |   2020 Ford F150 4x2 Regular Cab 6 12 Box XL
2020 Ford F-150
4x2 Regular Cab, 6-1/2' Box XL
3.3L V-6 (PFDI), 6-speed automatic transmission
$29,340 ($28,495 + $1,595 (destination) - $750 (incentives))
Photo 5/7   |   2020 Ram 1500 4x2 Quad Cab 6 4 Box Tradesman
2020 Ram 1500
4x2 Quad Cab, 6'4" Box Tradesman
3.6L V-6 (24V VVT eTorque), 8-speed automatic 850RE transmission
$31,840 ($32,145 + $1,695 (destination) - $2,000 (various cash/rebates))
Photo 6/7   |   2019 Nissan Titan 4x2 Single Cab S
2019 Nissan Titan
4x2 Single Cab S
5.6L V-8 (DOHC 32-valve), 7-speed automatic transmission
$32,285 ($30,690 + $1,595 (destination))
Photo 7/7   |   2020 Toyota Tundra 2WD Double Cab 6 5 Foot Standard Bed SR
2020 Toyota Tundra
2WD Double Cab, 6.5-foot Standard Bed SR
5.7L V-8, 6-speed automatic transmission
$34,895 ($33,575 - $275 (SR Work Truck Package) + $1,595 (destination))

Pros and Cons of Cheapest Full Size Trucks for Under $30,000

Pros:
  • Cash and a handshake: In lieu of healthy down payments on premium luxury pickups, you could theoretically pay cash and own these base trucks outright.
  • No payments, no guilt: Your financial advisor would approve.
  • No frills: The "less-is-more" rule applies. Some people don't want all that extra stuff.
  • Manual features: Keepin' it manual for the do-it-yourself nostalgic value: rollup windows, manual door locks, manual mirrors. Back in the day, there was even this thing called a manual transmission. Too far?
  • Modern technology: Safe, reliable, and functional. Brand new is still brand new!
  • Cost of ownership: Less expensive to insure, probably?
  • Perfect for customizing: Why pay for upgrades when you're going to ditch them, anyway?
Cons:
  • Sticker shock, still: It may be cheap for a fullsize truck, but that's still a ton of money. Buying new is just not an option.
  • Does not meet needs: Too much sacrifice in non-negotiable categories. Many truck owners require larger cab sizes for family use, upgraded engines for towing/hauling (or a diesel half-ton), and four-wheel-drive.
  • Expectations: Doesn't spark any passion, nostalgia, or happiness because it doesn't meet expectations for what a vehicle should be. If you feel it's a "piece of ****" because it doesn't have leather like your Benz, then that's not good.
  • Availability: Do they even exist? Can configure and can actually buy are two different things. These trucks could be really hard to actually find.
  • Factory offerings: Truck manufacturers offer really cool customization options and packages straight from the factory that you'd miss out on. May resent the plane Jane nature of a no-frills full size truck.
  • Peer pressure: Yours doesn't look as nice as your neighbor's pickup.
What do you think? Do the pros outweigh the cons of these cheapest full size trucks? Or is the answer somewhere in the middle of a bare-bones truck and a top-of-the-line truck?

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