Trucks aren’t about beauty. But there are beautiful trucks. Trucks aren’t about comfort. But a comfortable truck is a better truck. Trucks are about work. And a truck that can’t work isn’t much of a truck.

Evaluating the greatest used pickup of all time requires a clear-eyed evaluation of how well a truck can be used to get things done. All the other things that matter a little, only matter a little. Working matters a lot.

Finding the greatest half-ton pickup means ignoring big one-ton duallies, and even heavy duty ¾-tonners. The half-ton pickups are trucks like the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, Ram 1500, Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan. Full-size trucks that are also used as everyday drivers and family haulers. They are the heart of the North American market.

The greatest used half-ton pickup truck of all time is beautiful, is comfortable, but most importantly, it works great. First, though, let’s understand why pickups rule North America.

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The now iconic 5.0-liter V8 equipped “Fox body” Mustang, whether in plain Jane LX or gussied-up GT form, has seen its stock rise quite a bit in recent years. We like these frisky, squared-off “Box body” ponies as much as the next car buff. But these days it’s getting increasing tough to find one that hasn’t been ridden hard and put away wet, modified in questionable taste, or priced too optimistically.

On the other hand, the Fox’s successor, the ’94 to ’98 Mustang — known to pony car fans by its “SN95” internal factory moniker — is, in GT form, something of a dark horse that is currently an outstanding value.

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It’s no secret that we’re fans of the Mk6 generation Volkswagen Golf. In our model-specific buying guide, we say that anyone “looking for one car that’ll do it all” for under $15,000 should look no further than VW’s popular hatchback, which manages to balance performance, economy, refinement, and even reliability with surprising grace.

At the time, we stopped short of recommending any of the turbodiesel, or TDI, variants. That’s not because they aren’t good cars. On the contrary, VW’s punchy turbodiesel engine pairs quite nicely with the Mk6 chassis, making for an efficient and fun-to-drive all-rounder. However, in the wake of VW’s emissions scandal, aka “Dieselgate,” there was too much uncertainty about how the the TDI models would be affected to give them a solid thumbs up.

But in recent months, the Dieselgate dust has begun to settle, bringing some important new factors to light — factors which have caused us to revise our stance. Dramatically.

In fact, we now believe that VW’s TDI models represent one of the best used car buying opportunities to come along in years.

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Imagine a spirited drive along your favorite road in a top-down roadster. The scenery rushes past, and there’s nothing but sky above you. With nicely weighted steering and near 50:50 weight balance, the chassis becomes an extension of your fingertips, while your feet coax beautiful arias from the smooth-spinning inline six under the hood.

It’s no pipe dream. Thanks to the magic of depreciation, this fantasy, in the shape of the E85 generation BMW Z4, can be yours for less than $10,000.

And considering that buys you a premium German roadster with some of the best powertrain options ever offered in a BMW, we think it represents an outstanding buying opportunity in today’s market.

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Toyota’s 1992-1996 Camry is the greatest used car ever. Here’s how it got to be that.

Paint fades, that new car smell wafts away, upholstery wears, and dings and dents are inevitable. Great used cars don’t avoid those indignities, they wear them as battle scars. They’re indomitable and intrepid; reliable and resilient; and cheap to keep on the road. A great used car has an aging nobility to it. So, the greatest used car of them all is the 1992 to 1996 Toyota Camry.

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You can’t help it. You’re captivated by the sleek styling, the open top, the storied heritage, the rumbling V8 that shoves you back in the seat. Let’s face it. You’ve got Corvette Fever.

You’ve also got a budget ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 — a relatively modest outlay that nevertheless gains you access to three different generations of Chevrolet’s iconic sports car, spanning 30+ years and a wide variety of styling, engineering, and performance options.

Here we give you the lowdown on these: the C4 (Corvette, 4th generation), C5, and C6. With values that rise in lockstep with their successive iterations, each generation has its own unique set of pros and cons. Picking the right one can be a difficult choice.

But not to worry. No matter how badly you’ve got the fever, we’re here to help you find the cure.

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Many shoppers who’re thinking about buying a used car fret about vehicle reliability, and these qualms aren’t without merit. Relative to a new car, a used vehicle is more likely to need work under the hood earlier in the ownership experience. And the older the used car, the greater the likelihood of a significant repair bill. 

So it’s no surprise that reliability is often the number one consideration for shoppers in the used car market.

An excellent resource in this area is J.D. Power. Every year, this company surveys more than 80,000 verified owners of three-year-old vehicles. The survey focuses on the type and number of problems these car owners have experienced with their daily drivers within the previous 12 months. The models with the lowest number of reported problems get the highest scores. 

If you’re looking for a used vehicle that’s both affordable and reliable, Klipnik is here to help. We’ve sorted through the data to uncover seven excellent used vehicles that lead the pack in dependability, all while costing less than $10,000. 

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According to data gathered by the U.S. Department of Transportation, on average, American drivers add 13,476 miles to their odometers each year. With that much driving, it’s easy for fuel costs to leave a notable dent in the pocketbook.

A vehicle’s gas mileage plays a crucial part in this equation. Mileage can vary dramatically from model to model, even among those within the same vehicle category. For this reason, Klipnik recommends taking a hard look at fuel economy if you’re considering a vehicle purchase.

With that perspective in mind, we’ve put together a list of five impressive used vehicles that offer superior fuel economy. Different buyers have varying requirements when shopping for a vehicle, so in addition to its gas mileage, we’ve included each model’s pros and cons to help you decide if it’s the best choice for your needs.

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If you think you need to pony up big bucks for a new car in order to get all of the latest safety features, think again. We’ve identified five great used family vehicles that deliver safety in spades — and for as little as $10,000.

Safety is a prime consideration for most car shoppers, and it’s not surprising when you consider the statistics. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there were 34,439 fatal motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2016 alone. Scary stuff. A vehicle’s safety performance can make the difference between life and death in many accident scenarios.

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Suppose you’re looking for one car that’ll do it all. Slip into compact spaces with ease. Accelerate and handle with grace. Fit four adults and their luggage in a well-appointed interior with little apparent cost-cutting. Command the road at highway speeds. Let’s throw in 30 MPG fuel economy for good measure.

Now suppose you’re looking to spend $15k or so, and the cheaper the better. If you’re thinking about new cars, don’t waste your time. Even the cheapest new car on the lot will likely surpass the $15k threshold, and the only boxes it’ll check are the ones pertaining to parking and fuel economy.

But for the same money or quite possibly far less, you could have a sixth-generation (Mk6) Volkswagen Golf. Step up to the 200-horsepower GTI version if you’re feeling frisky; it’s in your price range too. As the final Golf built in Germany before VW shifted to a more global (read: cost-conscious) product strategy, the Mk6 arguably represents the pinnacle of Volkswagen’s small-car engineering.

Thanks to the magic of depreciation, a gently used specimen can now be yours for pennies (okay, quarters) on the dollar, promising years of delightful motoring with hardly any age-related drawbacks. Continue reading