Top 5: Best First Trucks for Under $5,000 (Video)

Buying a first car is a big decision for a lot of people to make. In many cases, a truck makes a fantastic first vehicle. It is relatively easy to work on, inexpensive to buy and fix, and very practical for moving people and stuff around. However, there are lots of different options to pick from when choosing a first truck, so Andre and Nathan broke down the top 5 best first trucks for under $5,000.

Chevy S10 ZR2


The Chevy S10 ZR2 came with a 4.3L Vortec V6 which made 180 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque. The ZR2 package came with a number of upgrades from the standard model including a 4 inch wider track, a 3 inch lift, fender flares, upgraded suspension and off-road tires to help make this vehicle extremely capable off road. Decent examples can easily be found for under $5,000.

Jeep Comanche

Effectively a Jeep Cherokee underneath, this two-door compact pickup came with multiple bed lengths, multiple AWD systems and a choice of engines. First was a 2.5L inline four cylinder which made 130 horsepower. Alternatively, you could get a 4.0L straight-six which made 190 horsepower. Either way, you were left with a vehicle that had great off-road potential and practicality as a truck, which can now be had for less than $5,000.

Nissan Hardbody (D21)

The Nissan Hardbody was produced from 1985 until 1997. It had the option of a standard or extended cab, plus the option for a six or seven foot bed. Engine options included a 2.4L four cylinder which was largely considered indestructible, making 106 horsepower. If you wanted a little extra kick, you had the option of a 3.0L V6 which made 153 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque. The off-road capability and reliability of this truck have made it a great option for people looking to buy a useful compact truck on a budget.

Toyota T100

The Toyota T100 was produced from 1992-1998. It came following Toyota’s successful venture into the compact truck market when the company decided to take a crack at full-size pickups. However, it ended up being a bit smaller than a full-size and a bit larger than a compact truck, giving it some issues early on. Many people avoided this truck for some time due to its tendency to rust, but if you can find a clean one, it makes a great first truck. Especially considering you could buy one with a supercharged 3.4L V6 engine that made 260 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque.

Ford F-150 (10th Generation 1997-2003)


There is a number of reasons that this truck took the number one spot, but as Andre pointed out, one of the biggest reasons is simply the sheer volume in which it was produced. Hundreds of thousands of these were made, in a wide variety of configurations. You had a choice of a 6.5 foot or 8 foot bed, standard, extended, or crew cabs. You could get a V6 or a V8 and there was even a manual option. These trucks are very rugged and reliable and, due to their enormous production figures, very easy to find for less than $5,000. Hence, why they make such great first trucks.

Bonus: Chevy K10 (Big Green)

1985 chevy k10 big green engine swap

Of course, we like to include a bonus, and this one was actually somewhat easy to come up with. As many of you know, we have a 1985 Chevy K10 Pickup which we call Big Green. Roman purchased this vehicle, in running condition, for $5,000. It has little rust and ran quite well when we bought it. Of course now we have put quite a lot of money into this vehicle. However, the point remains that you can purchase a full-size pickup for roughly $5,000, should you need something a bit bigger than the options we mentioned above.

Be sure to watch the full video for further explanations of our choices here. Also be sure to comment below what you all think of this list, and if you have any other good suggestions for a first truck under $5,000.