Used Cars: 3 Used Late Model Diesel Trucks Under $20k

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HeaderThe lightweight diesel powered trucks of today are one part high-torque road tractor, one part luxurious family wagon, and one part convenient pickup-truck. They are equipped with high-powered, clean burning, quiet turbocharged diesel engines that are much better suited for the demands of towing and hauling than comparable sized gasoline engines. Combine superior towing power through torque, with increased fuel efficiency and you have a “win-win” situation. So, having the good sense to purchase a late model, used, diesel powered light-duty pickup for all of your work and play requirements makes you look like a “borderline genius.”  Using a used car website like to help you locate your diesel truck catapults you over the border line and into “certain genius” territory.


Here is a detailed look at three of the most popular late model used light-duty diesel pickup trucks on the market, for under $20k:


2010 Ford F-350 Super-Duty

fordThis entry is the “big-brother” of the best selling vehicle in North America for the last 40-years. It can be found in regular cab, extended cab, or crew-cab body configurations. The extended cab version (known as a Super Cab) is equipped with a set of rear-opening rear doors and the crew-cab model is outfitted with four full-sized doors. Super Cab and crew-cab models are available with a short (6.75-foot) bed or a long (8-foot) bed, while regular car models are available with long bed only. Rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive models are also available, along with dual rear wheel models for added towing and hauling capacity.


The F-350 with diesel engine is offered in three basic trim levels; the XL is an entry level work truck with air conditioning, 17-inch steel wheels, vinyl seating surfaces, telescoping trailer tow mirrors, and a very basic two-speaker AM/FM audio system. The XLT package offers upgraded 18-inch chrome wheels, cloth seating surfaces, full power accessories, keyless entry, power and heated extendable trailer tow mirrors, a 40/20/40 split front bench seat, integrated trailer brake controller, rear privacy glass, tilt steering column, cruise control, a four-speaker audio system with CD player and auxiliary audio jack, and a center armrest with a built-in storage bin. Regular cab trucks are available with XL and XLT trim, only.


Cabelas is a very popular national retail chain that specializes in outdoor gear and apparel. They are also the inspiration for the third trim level available on the four-wheel drive F-350. The Cabelas trim level has all of the features of the XLT, and adds FX-4 type upgraded off-road hardware, including heavy-duty Rancho shock absorbers, limited-slip rear differential, manual shift transfer case, and protective skid plates. It also offered a leather wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, a numeric keyless entry pad, power adjustable front seats, tilting and telescoping steering column, metallic interior trim accents, fog lamps, a protective anti-slip bed mat, dark gray exterior trim, and running boards.


The top-tier Lariat trim package offers all of the items listed with the XLT package, with 18-inch alloy wheels (17-inch for duallies), leather passenger seating, wood grain accented interior trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, rear parking sensors, and an auto-dimming rear view mirror. Other option packages include a Harley Davidson package (which is not offered with a diesel engine) or the impressive King Ranch Edition, which has a western theme with two-tone paint and split saddle leather seating surfaces. The King Ranch is equipped with all of the items included in the Lariat trim level.


The engine is a 6.4-liter turbocharged diesel V8 that makes 350-horsepower and an outstanding 650 lb.-ft. of torque. Transmission options include a six-speed manual or five speed automatic.


2010 Dodge Ram 3500

dodgeThe Ram 3500 is available as a regular cab, a crew cab, or a Mega cab. The regular cab is offered with a long bed only, while the crew cab has your choice of a long or short bed. The Mega cab has the same overall wheelbase as the crew cab with long bed, but features a short be and a longer more spacious cab. Regular cab Ram 3500s are available in SLT ot ST trim levels, only and the Mega cab is SLT or Laramie, only. All Ram 3500s have dual-rear wheels with the exception of the short bed crew cab version. All are available in rear-wheel or four-wheel drive variations.


The work truck ST trim level lists 17-inch steel wheels, a split folding front bench seat, vinyl seating surfaces, air conditioning, cruise control, tilt steering column, and a six-speaker audio system with a CD player as standard equipment. Regular cab models have manual windows but crew cab trucks with ST trim have power windows. SLT trim adds chrome wheel simulators, chrome exterior accents, full power accessories, cloth seating surfaces, keyless entry, heated side view mirrors, and a sliding back glass. Upgrading crew cab and Mega cab trucks to the Big Horn package adds a set of fog lamps, LED quad headlights, leather wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, integrated trailer brake controller, and an auto-dimming rear view mirror.


The top-rung Laramie trim level adds dual-zone automatic climate control, power adjustable pedals, leather seating surfaces, power adjustable driver’s seat with memory feature, rear parking sensors, polished alloy wheels, under body skid plates (on 4 X 4 models), remote start, sunroof, a navigation system, rear seat DVD entertainment system, and a nine-speaker audio system with Bluetooth capability and iPod interface.


The engine is a turbocharged 6.7-liter Cummins inline six-cylinder diesel that generates 350-horsepower and an astounding 650 lb.-ft. of torque. Transmissions are a six-speed manual gearbox, as standard equipment on most models, or an optional six-speed automatic. This is the only light-duty vehicle to offer a diesel “Jake-Brake” exhaust brake for added security when towing heavy loads over steep terrain. Properly equipped, this truck is rated to tow 17,600-pounds.


2010 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD

chevyThis is the only three-quarter-ton truck on the last, so it is not offered with dual rear wheels but it does come in three body configurations: regular cab, extended cab, and crew cab. Regular cab trucks were sold only with the long bed but the extended cab and crew cab are available with your choice of the long or short bed. Rear-wheel drive is standard equipment but four-wheel drive is offered as optional equipment. Top-tier trim levels offer electronically controlled on-demand four-wheel drive systems but the baser trim levels offer a traditional floor-shifted transfer case design.


The W/T (Work Truck) trim level offers AM/FM stereo, tilt steering column, air conditioning, vinyl seating surfaces , rubberized protective flooring surface, 16-inch steel wheels, split-folding front bench seat, and a trip computer. The LT package adds full-power accessories, a CD player, cloth seating surfaces, a leather wrapped steering wheel, and tinted windows.


Extended cab and crew cab trucks are offered with the LTZ trim level that adds a locking rear differential, alloy wheels, leather seating surfaces, a heavy-duty trailering package with receiver hitch and integrated electronic trailer brake controller, automatic windshield wipers, remote start, upgraded interior trim with wood grain accents, dual-zone automatic climate control, fog lamps, and power adjustable heated front seating. An upgraded audio system with rear audio controls, steering wheel mounted controls, Bluetooth connectivity, and iPod interface are also part of the LTZ trim level. A power sliding moon roof, power-sliding back glass, rear parking assist, power folding side view mirrors, and/or power extendable trailer tow mirrors are also offered as optional equipment.


The Z71 off-road package offers skid plates, off-road suspension, larger stabilizer bars, EZ lift tail gate, running boards, power adjustable pedals, and r ear seat DVD entertainment system on the 2010 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD.


The 2010 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD is powered by a turbocharged 6.6-liter Duramax diesel V8 engine that delivers a class leading 365-horsepower and 660 lb.-ft. of torque paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.

S.M. Darby

S.M. Darby

I am a freelance author with over 25 years of experience as a professional, ASE certified automotive technician and shop owner, muscle car enthusiast, avid street racer, and classic car restoration specialist.