Used Truck Showdown: Which Generations Reign?




Have you been seeking a used pickup? Well, even though you may be unsure of what nameplate to pursue, you're already headed in the right direction. Customers will find a considerable savings on used trucks over new trucks, and often times, these pre-owned models will prove to be just as capable as the new counterparts.

You'll now have to zero in on a particular model, which can be easier said than done. Seemingly every used dealership is now flooded with pickup trucks, making the buyers decision rather difficult. Fortunately, there are three major trucks that stand out from the pack: the Chevy Silverado 1500, the Ford F-150, and the Ram 1500. Drivers can expect muscle, cargo room, and safety features from each of these nameplates, regardless of the year.

While you may not be all that worked up about the model year, there are still several generations of these nameplates that stand out in particular. Let's take a look at each of these three trucks, and we'll guide you towards the generation you should be pursuing...


Second Generation (2011-2014) Chevy Silverado 1500



We're cheating a bit on this one, as we're only focusing on part of the Silverado 1500's second generation (this version of the pickup started back in 2007). Throughout this specific four-year model run, the brand released some of the most versatile rides in the nameplate's history. Perhaps that's why the vehicle won multiple awards, including the 2011 Motor Trend Truck of the Year.

Drivers had the option of choosing between multiple engines options throughout the near-half-decade. The 4.3-liter Vortec 4300 V6 engine was one of the more common options, with the system pumping out 195 horsepower and 260 pounds-feet of torque. These engines (as seen below) ended up getting more elaborate and powerful over the years:

  • 4.8-liter Vortec 4800 V8: 302 horsepower, 305 pounds-feet of torque
  • 5.3-liter Vortec 5300 V8: 315 horsepower, 335 pounds-feet of torque
  • 6.2-liter Vortec 6200 V8: 403 horsepower, 417 pounds-feet of torque

A number of transmission options were offered throughout the second generation of the Silverado 1500, including the four-speed 4L60-E automatic, the four-speed "2-Mode Hybrid transmission" CVT (Hybrid), and the six-speed 6L80 automatic transmission. Drivers could opt for two- or four-wheel drive capabilities, and there were also a number of different body styles to choose from.

There's little mistaking these specific Silverado 1500s (along with the other second generation models) with older versions of the pickup. The body was completely revamped, including the frame and the exterior, and the interior was also modernized. Best of all, the nameplate has consistently earned high safety marks from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

How common are these Silverados? Well, you shouldn't have much problem finding these pickups on a used dealership, as Chevy sold at least 400,000 Silverados a year between 2011 and 2014. Best of all, the Silverado 1500 is an incredibly affordable option for those seeking a used truck. At Miami Lakes Automall, buyers should be able to find one of the trucks for less than $20,000. That's a considerable savings over the $27,000 price tag of the 2016 models.


12th Generation (2009-2014) Ford F-150




Realistically, you'll be happy with your used Ford F150 regardless of the model year. Customers have confirmed this sentiment for decades, as the nameplate has been the best-selling vehicle in the United States for more than 30 years, and it's been the best-selling pickup for even longer.

The 12th generation of this beloved pickup first hit lots in 2009, and that particular version of the truck lasted until 2014. Overall, the vehicle saw several exterior revamps, including the addition of the three-bar grille and the lighter chassis (thus improving efficiency and safety). Like any popular pickup truck, there were also a number of different body designs that a customer could have opted for.

The 2009 Ford F-150 was equipped with one of three engine options: the 4.6-liter two-valve V8 (248 horsepower, 294 pounds-feet of torque), the 4.6-liter three-valve V8 (292 horsepower, 320 pounds-feet of torque), and the hulking 5.4-liter three-valve V8 engine (320 horsepower and 390 pounds-feet of torque). These engine options were either paired with the brand's six-speed automatic transmission or their four-speed automatic transmission.

2011 saw the introduction of the 3.7-liter Ti-VCT V6 engine, which pushed out 302 horsepower and 287 pounds-feet of torque. Over the next several years, a handful of additional engines were available:

  • 5.0-liter four-valve V8: 360 horsepower, 380 pounds-feet of torque
  • 3.5-liter four-valve EcoBoost V6 engine: 365 horsepower, 420 pounds-feet of torque
  • 6.2-liter two-valve V8: 411 horsepower, 434 pounds-feet of torque

The vehicle has generally been commended for its safety features throughout the years. The nameplate has consistently earned the best possible "good" rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, while the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has continued to award the pickup with perfect five-star ratings.


Fourth Generation (2009-present) Ram 1500



Sure, not every single model released during this current-day generation would be considered a "used" truck. After all, you're probably not going to find a used 2016 Ram 1500 lying around a dealership's lot. However, the six previous model years are a perfectly reasonable target for those seeking an affordable pickup.

The fourth generation Ram 1500 was first unveiled at the 2008 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and it quickly made a name for itself. The nameplate was named Motor Trend magazine's Truck of the Year for both the 2013 and 2014 model years.

Part of the reason for this popularity was the inclusion of the 'class-exclusive' manual transmission, which started popping up in 2011 Ram 1500s. Furthermore, the consistent changes (whether they were applied to the exterior style or the interior comfort/technology) continually made customers return to the nameplate time and again.

There were a number of engines offered throughout the past several years, including:

  • 3.7-liter V6: 215 horsepower, 235 pounds-feet of torque
  • 4.7-liter V8: 310 horsepower, 330 pounds-feet of torque
  • 5.7-liter HEMI V8: 390 horsepower, 407 pounds-feet of torque
  • Upgraded 5.7-liter HEMI V8: 395 horsepower, 410 pounds-feet of torque
  • 3.6-liter Pentastar V6: 305 horsepower, 269 pounds-feet of torque
  • 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6: 240 horsepower, 420 pounds-feet of torque


The best attribute of each of these specific generations is their age. Many of these pickups are no older than four or five years old, so used buyers should be able to rely on the trucks for several more years. Partner that logic with the incredible price tag, and there's really no reason why you shouldn't be pursuing a used truck.