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.
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.
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. Here’s how it got to be that.