Work and play doesn't have to mean throwing money away.
Here's a fun automotive fact: Not only are trucks the best selling vehicles in America, but they are also the slowest depreciating vehicles in America. The average depreciation over five years for road vehicles as a whole is 49.6 percent, and, with the average transaction price on a new vehicle being $38,259; a couple of percent can make all the difference when it comes time to move on and sell. For the light-duty truck segment, the average amount of initial value held onto is 57.3%, depreciating by 42.7%. Five isn't a random number as the average amount of time a new vehicle purchaser keeps their investment is between five and six years. So, if you want to buy a truck with retaining as much value as possible in mind, here are the ten trucks that should depreciate the least.
Not all trucks have been on the US market over five years, so we have to go with carefully calculated predictions. The mid-size truck segment is back in fashion, and the Ford Ranger is taking advantage of that with strong sales. While the Ranger has been on sale elsewhere while it took a break from the US market, it's still going to have to prove itself here in Ford's homeland for reliability. It's only had a year so far, but the hard data will come in over the next couple of years, and it should start competing with the top dogs on this list.
The Ford F-150 depreciates much more than people generally expect, losing as much as 46.5% of its value on average. The sheer wealth of F-150 trucks on the road doesn't help, but it still comes in 3.8 percent lower than the overall average. According to Ford, the typical transaction price on an F-150 is $46,700. 3.8% of that doesn't sound like much, but if you sell that Ford truck on the five-year mark, you're looking to keep around an extra $17,740 of your hard-earned money on average.
Nissan's full-size truck is far from the biggest seller in its segment. However, the Titan's reputation for reliability, hefty build quality, and strong engines means it's always in demand on the used market. Mostly, we suspect that's down its use as an actual work truck for people that rely on their vehicle day in and day out. Not only does it have all the hallmarks of a good work truck, but it's inexpensive to maintain and keep running.
The Ram 1500 pickup is second only to the F-150 in sales, so there's plenty on the used market, and that's likely keeping it lower on this list. However, the latest generation was released in 2019, and the Ram 1500's interior is now second to none in the truck market. For that reason, we expect Ram's light truck to start climbing a few places on this list over the next five years. Assuming the average stays the same, that would mean a well-equipped Long Horn model with the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 priced at $43,700 would depreciate at around $19,700 over five years. If you sold it then, it would have cost you $3,940 per year to drive plus fuel, insurance, and all the other costs of running a vehicle on the road.
While the GMC Sierra 1500 is mechanically identical to the Chevrolet Silverado, it lives in the premium truck bracket. The interior is certainly a nicer place to spend time in, which helps its used market desirability. The even more luxury tilted Denali trim will likely hold its value the longest, and it won't hurt to have either the 6.2-liter or 5.3-liter V8 option box ticked as well. The Sierra's 43% depreciation is still below the truck average, but GMC claims the average transaction price on a Sierra 1500 Denali is $62,000, which means an average of $26,660 depreciation over five years.
The Jeep Gladiator is a new player on the block, so 42% is a market prediction. At the time of writing, the Gladiator has almost been in production for a full year. Given how well the Jeep Wrangler holds its price, it wouldn't be a surprise if the newly crowned king of off-road trucks starts heading up the list once the long term data starts arriving. The aftermarket is already strong, and that's a good sign for those that invested early.
The Chevy Silverado actually boasts a better depreciation rate than the more costly GMC Sierra 1500. There are more Silverados on the roads, but its reliability reputation is everything for a truck that, more often than not, has its work boots on. The Silverado, like the Sierra, also boasts available innovative towing technology along with a wide range of engine options and trim levels. That means all Silverado's won't be equal when it comes time to sell them on, so choose your engine and trim level wisely.
The Chevrolet Silverado isn't just the king of towing capacity, the 2500HD and 3500HD are the heavy-duty truck kings of resale as well. Logically, part of that reason is that there is that not many people need to tow more than 35,500 lbs, so there's little need to upgrade and put the trucks on the used market. If they do need to haul more weight, then the upgrade path is a more agricultural one from there. The Silverado's heavy-duty brother from another mother, the GMC Sierra HD also has comparable resale value.
The mid-size Nissan Frontier is a weird bird in the truck world. It has gone mostly unchanged since its introduction in 2004. Nissan has sold over a million Frontier trucks in the US as people just keep on buying them. It's a simple, inexpensive, no-frills workhorse, and therein lies its value. If you have a business that needs its trucks to carry equipment over many miles every day of the year, then the Frontier is an excellent tool for the job. By inexpensive, we mean you can order a V6-powered King Cab SV model and add the Value Truck Package for a total of $28,905. If you drove it for five years and kept it tidy, it would cost you around $2,280 per year to drive before interest and running costs.
The Honda Ridgeline is another anomaly in the truck industry. Macho-leaning truck enthusiasts will point to the fact it doesn't have a traditional body-on-frame design as a weakness. However, the Ridgeline isn't designed for towing big loads or be battered consistently on a construction site. It's the useful family lifestyle vehicle most truck owners actually need, even if it's not the colossal vehicle they want. The fact that the Ridgeline is not a massive seller in the truck segment but enough people understand its purpose and appeal means that its one of the better trucks to invest in with depreciation in mind.
Like Nissan's Frontier, the Toyota Tundra has been around a long time in its current generation. The engineering isn't fancy, and it's not lightweight like a Ford F-150, but it will hold its price better. It's 35.9% depreciation curve over five years makes it the fourth-least depreciating vehicle overall if you pull all the segments together. Keeping it high on the list is its mechanical simplicity and ability to do basic truck things without complaining. Most of all, its reliability is why people are willing to pay for a used Tundra as they know it'll just keep on going long after more expensive trucks gasp through their last miles.
Even without the resurgence of interest in mid-sized trucks and its cult-like following, the humble Tacoma would likely still top this list. Its ability to thrive in any conditions, its legendary reliability record, and just how damn useful it is while still being economical to drive and maintain makes it a highly desirable work and play vehicle. In the larger scheme of things, the Tacoma's 32.0% depreciation rate over five years is only surpassed by the Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited, but it's far more useful. It doesn't matter which way you cut it either, the Tacoma rules in previous and predicted price retention studies.
Our math says that if you treated yourself to a Tacoma SR5 in double-cab format and a 5-foot bed, optioned the V6 engine and Technology Package, then you currently would pay MSRP of $33,780. It would depreciate by around $10, 800 over five years, which sounds a lot, but, in reality, it would cost just $2,160 per year to drive plus interest and running costs before selling it.