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5 Trucks That Don't Cost Big Bucks

Third-cheapest 2014 truck: Ram 1500 Regular Cab Tradesman 4x2
MSRP:
$25,805

Redesigned in 2013, the Ram 1500 is Edmunds' No. 1 pick this year among full-sized pickup trucks.

Clarke says the model offers top-notch ride quality, while "everything looks and feels very new and current."

"The Ram 1500's cabin is very quiet and refined," he says. "There was time when you had to settle for a rough and unrefined ride if you bought a truck, but that's no longer the case."

Base Ram 1500s come standard with a 305-horsepower V-6 engine, rear-wheel drive and an automatic transmission that produce a good 17 mpg/city and 25 mpg/highway in fuel efficiency.

Second-cheapest 2014 truck: Toyota Tacoma Regular Cab 4x2
MSRP:
$18,985

This popular midsized truck has far less bed space and engine power than its larger rivals, but boasts a smaller price tag and longer list of standard amenities.

For instance, the entry-level Tacoma comes standard with a four-speaker stereo, a CD player, touchscreen controls, a Bluetooth system and iPod/USB connectivity -- items that often cost extra on competing trucks.

And while base Tacomas have just manual transmission and a 159-horsepower four-cylinder engine -- puny by truck standards -- the model does offer an impressive 21 mpg/city and 25 mpg/highway.

"The Tacoma is big enough to offer a great deal of utility, but small enough so it doesn't feel unwieldy on the road or in the parking lot," Clarke says.

Cheapest 2014 truck: Nissan Frontier S King Cab 4x2
MSRP:
$18,850

Like the Toyota Tacoma, the Nissan Frontier is a popular midsized truck that has a smaller size -- but tinier sticker price -- than what a full-sized pickup offers.

"The Frontier is another strong pick that's enjoyable to drive and has a cabin that's a really pleasant place to be," Clarke says.

He adds that the model offers surprisingly good off-road abilities despite the fact that base Frontiers come with manual transmission and just a 152-horsepower four-cylinder engine. Entry-level models also include few amenities, lacking even air conditioning and a stereo unless you add an optional Preferred Package (list price: $1,200).

On the plus side, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rates the base Frontier's fuel efficiency at a solid 19 mpg/city and 23 mpg/highway.

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