Versatility, capability, and reliability are highlights of the models CR members said they’d buy again
By Benjamin Preston
Pickup trucks have been among the most popular models on the U.S. market for years now. The popular platform, which was more oriented toward utilitarian buyers in decades past, has long exhibited the cushy features that consumers like in passenger cars and SUVs.
Because pickups have been in vogue for so long, you’re very likely to find a lot of good ones for sale as used cars in the 10-year-old range. Consumer Reports searched through models from manufacturers including Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Ram, and Toyota to find the best, most satisfying used trucks for you.
Keep in mind that a model that was new a decade ago can be a great value as a used truck. But don’t expect to find the active safety features—forward collision warning (FCW), automatic emergency braking (AEB), and lane departure warning (LDW), among others—common on newer vehicles. See how the model you’re interested in buying performed in crash tests done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration when it was new by checking the model page at CR.org/cars.
There are many used pickups to choose from. To help guide people in their selection, we balance our own extensive testing with surveys in which we ask CR members to share their experiences with their cars. Many cars beguile when new, but will they hold that charm after several years of ownership? Reliability, comfort, and ease of use of the controls play a big role in how someone regards a vehicle over time.
We combed through our data to find the 2012 models most people said they would buy again, including those of all sizes and seating configurations in the sedan, SUV, minivan, and pickup truck categories. In the truck category, we picked models known for strong reliability and decent fuel economy relative to most trucks, models that are the most likely to provide years of relatively trouble-free service.
If you’re a Consumer Reports member, the list below is available to you. CR members also have full access to the results of our Annual Auto Surveys; first-drive reviews of the newest cars, SUVs, and trucks; our full road-test results; and exclusive ratings for each vehicle we buy and test.
If you’re not a CR member, click below to become one to access the list and all our exclusive ratings and reviews for each vehicle we buy and test. Joining also gives you full access to exclusive ratings for the other products our experts evaluate in several categories, including electronics and home appliances.
2012 Honda Ridgeline
Unlike most pickups, which are ladder-framed trucks, the 2012 Ridgeline uses a car-based, unitized body structure. That does a lot for its ride and handling, and could be appealing to buyers who want the utility of a truck but aren’t willing to compromise on comfort. Although not a serious off-roading or towing rig, the Ridgeline of this era nonetheless acquitted itself well on CR’s off-road test hill when new. It’s also rated to tow up to 5,000 pounds and has a flexible tailgate that opens vertically or horizontally and a lockable, watertight storage hold at the bottom of the bed. Compared with other truck owners, Ridgeline owners reported high levels of satisfaction and particularly liked its smooth ride and versatility.
2012 Toyota Tacoma
Changes come slowly to the Tacoma, which is good if you consider its reputation for rugged off-road capability and bulletproof reliability. The 2012 model is known for these qualities and features a smooth, powerful V6 engine that gives the truck strong acceleration and a 6,400-pound towing capacity. In short, it’s a real truck, even if it’s smaller than the full-sized models. Owners said the Tacoma is a great value, offering a lot of utility for the money.
2012 Toyota Tundra
CR’s testers liked the 2012 Tundra’s beefy 5.7-liter V8, as well as the truck’s generous interior storage options. Built to compete with Detroit’s big trucks, the Tundra offers big-truck capability but with the added bonus of Toyota’s legendary reliability. In CR’s satisfaction survey, owners reported liking the Tundra’s power and handling, and the fact that it could tow and haul heavy loads with ease.
Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2022, Consumer Reports, Inc.