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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."

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"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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