Gear Trucks

The Cheapest Full-Size Hunting Trucks of 2023

Our expert rates new full-size hunting pickups based on their value
The 2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 WT.
The 2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 WT is one of the best values for hunters. Chevrolet

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The rising cost of new pickup trucks is not a secret. So, unfortunately, the cheapest new trucks out there are not actually cheap. In many cases, a base model trim carries a sticker price that is double what a new truck cost 20 years ago. The reasons for that are many, and thanks to inflation, hunters looking for a budget option this fall are going to struggle to find a pickup with a price tag under $40,000 unless they want a single cab or they’re willing to search for a used pickup truck. But if you have the financial means to afford a new truck, there are some options that are better than others for 2022. Here is a look at the most “affordable” trim levels from every major manufacturer, and a list of features included with each vehicle. I think there is one truck that stands above the rest (which I will detail later), but you can decide which 4×4 makes the most sense for how you hunt.

Rules of the Game

As with any game, rules dictate winners and losers, so it only makes sense to lay out some parameters defining which automaker makes the best entry-level trim. New full-size pickups are not cheap, but to keep costs down, all entries must have an MSRP under $45,000 (not including fees or discounts). Each truck must be a 2022 half-ton with four-wheel drive, an extended cab, a 6.5-foot bed, the base trimline, and the base powertrain (engine and transmission combo). Only new generation trucks will be considered.

With those formalities out of the way, each truck will be scored in seven categories. Tier 1 includes price, off-road features, and max payload; Tier 2 consists of horsepower, torque, max towing capacity, and maintenance and repair. To weigh  each category’s importance, all Tier 1 scores will be doubled, and Tier 2 scores will be multiplied by 1.5. After multiplication, all seven categories will be added together to determine each truck’s final score.

Except for off-road features, all categories will be scored on a scale of one to six with the highest scoring truck receiving six points for that category and the lowest receiving one. For off-road features, each truck will receive one point for every factory-installed off-road upgrade (skid plates, A/T tires, locking differentials, etc.).

Meet the Cheapest Full-Size Hunting Trucks of 2023

Automakers in Detroit and across the Pacific entered this fray with some competitors clearly more invested in this contest than others. In total, six half-tons entered the arena, but only one came out on top. Each truck was priced in July of 2023 without incentives, delivery fees, dealer markups and other price adjustments affecting the MSRP, and each is scored using the criteria outlined above.

Chevrolet Silverado 1500 WT

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The Silverado 1500 WT comes with a turbocharged 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine that, when paired with the eight-speed automatic transmission, puts out an eye-popping 310 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque. Despite the four-banger, the Silverado turns in impressive numbers, and even though the base four-cylinder doesn’t qualify for Chevy’s Z71 off-road package, a little bit of creative configuring turns out a decently capable off-roader. On the flip side, turbocharged engines can be a pain to fix should the need arise. As configured, this truck includes:

  • 2.7L Turbo I4 with 8-speed automatic
  • 3.42 rear axle ratio
  • Single-speed transfer case with Terrain Mode
  • 17-inch wheels with LT265/70R17C all-terrain tires
  • Automatic locking rear differential
  • Work Truck Package
  • Work Truck Value Package (Convenience and Trailering Package combo)
  • Bed LED lighting
  • MSRP: $43,430

Ford F-150 XL

The F-150 is the most economical.
Ford's F-150 is the most economical option on this list. Ford Motor Company

The F-150 XL is the best priced offering in this competition. While it does have a handful of towing packages available, the Ford lacks basic off-road essentials, such as skid plates, when equipped with the base 3.3-liter V6. Like Chevy and GMC, a dedicated off-road package (FX4) is only available with an engine upgrade, barring it from this competition. That said, the F-150 XL does offer respectable payload and towing numbers when equipped with the optional 3.73 rear axle. The V6 and 10-speed automatic combine to generate a paltry 290 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque, the lowest numbers in this competition. As configured, this truck includes:

  • 3.3L V6 with 10-speed automatic
  • 3.73 rear axle ratio
  • Electronic locking rear differential
  • Two-speed transfer case
  • 17-inch wheels with 265/70R17 all-terrain tire
  • Class IV Trailer Hitch Package
  • XL High Equipment Group
  • XL Power Equipment Group
  • MSRP: $41,505

GMC Sierra 1500 Pro

The GMC is more expensive than the Chevy.
The GMC is much the same truck as the Chevy, but the price tag increases dramatically with more options added. GMC

On paper, the Sierra 1500 Pro differs little from the Silverado WT, but the GMC’s base MSRP and available options diminish its potential as a value purchase. Like its corporate twin, the Sierra pro puts out impressive powertrain numbers, especially for a four-banger. Sadly, GMC’s off-road package is completely off-limits for the base engine with the four-cylinder as are skid plates. While the Sierra Pro does manage to do decently well in the equipment department, its price tag balloons a bit faster than the Chevy. As configured, this truck includes:

  • 2.7L Turbo I4 with 8-speed automatic
  • 3.42 rear axle ratio
  • Single-speed transfer case with Terrain Mode
  • 17-inch wheels with LT265/70R17C all-terrain tires
  • Automatic locking rear differential
  • Pro Value Package (Convenience and Trailering Package combo)
  • Heavy-duty air filter
  • MSRP: $44,230

Nissan Titan S

The Titan has a powerful engine.
The Titan has a powerful 5.6-liter V8 engine. Nissan

The Titan S generates more tons of power and torque thanks to its 5.6-liter V8 and nine-speed automatic tranny. Four hundred horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque paired with a two-speed transfer case offer a solid off-road foundation, but the S version sports minimal skid plates and lacks the option for either all-terrain tires or a locking/limited slip differential. Yes, you could take it off road, but stay on tame trails to avoid getting stuck and/or footing expensive repair bills. Mismatched off-road features combined with a higher price tag prevent the Titan S from being a great value purchase. As configured, this truck includes:

  • 5.6L V8 with 9-speed automatic
  • 3.69 rear axle ratio
  • Two-speed transfer case
  • 18-inch wheels with P265/70R18 all-season tires
  • Open rear differential
  • Tow hooks
  • MSRP: $43,990

Ram 1500 Tradesman

The Tradesmen is meant for work but doubles as hunting truck.
This work truck doubles nicely as a hunting 4×4. Dodge

The Tradesman was designed with blue collar workers in mind, but it doubles well as a hunting truck. The optional Off-Road Group, electronic locking rear diff, and 3.55 rear axle ratio provide tons of off-road capability without inflating the final price tag too much. On the other hand, the 3.6-liter V6 produces low power, torque, payload, and towing numbers compared to the other contestants. The Off-Road Group also forces buyers to forgo vinyl seats in favor of cloth, and disappointment for those who like easy cleaning. As configured, this truck includes:

  • 3.6L V6 with 8-speed automatic
  • 3.55 rear axle ratio
  • Electronic locking rear differential
  • Two-speed transfer case
  • 18-inch wheels with LT275/65R18C A/T tires
  • Tradesman Level 1 Equipment Group
  • Off-Road Group
  • Class IV hitch receiver
  • MSRP: $43,210

Toyota Tundra SR

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The newest generation Tundra SR is built with certain end users in mind, but budget-conscious outdoorsmen do not seem to be one of them. While this truck wins the price battle, the tradeoff is that it skimps on tires, limiting its potential. It also lacks the option for full-time four-wheel drive, and oddly, Toyota completely omitted tow hooks for all 2022 Tundras. The SR is one of the most affordable trucks on this list, but its lack of key off-road features will frustrate hunters looking for a hassle-free experience. As configured, this truck includes:

  • 3.5L Twin Turbo V6 with 10-speed automatic
  • 3.31 rear axle ratio
  • Limited slip rear differential
  • Two-speed transfer case
  • 18-inch wheels with 245/75R18 all-season tires
  • SR Tow Package
  • TRD front skid plate
  • TRD performance air filter
  • MSRP: $41,755

Japanese vs. American Trucks

A breakdown of how the trucks scored.
The author's scoring chart. Brian Smyth

Making decisions based on stereotypes is a quick way to get yourself into hot water, but every so often, the pigeon fits perfectly into the pigeonhole. While Japanese truck manufacturers put out some impressive pickups, their relative newness to the American market has resulted in some notable blind spots. On the other hand, American automakers seem a bit better equipped to meet penny-pinching hunters. Still, we’ll let the numbers speak for themselves:

  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500 WT: 58.5 points
  • Ram 1500 Tradesman: 58 points
  • GMC Sierra 1500 Pro: 52 points
  • Nissan Titan S: 46.5 points
  • Ford F-150 XL: 45.5 points
  • Toyota Tundra SR: 45.5 points

Read Next: Is the Toyota Tacoma a Real Hunting Truck?

Crowning the Champ

After configuring each truck for this competition, I quickly realized that the Chevy and Ram pickups would be duking it out for the top spot. In all honesty, though, I did not expect such a close competition. With half a point separating these two sub-$45,000 pickups, I found myself with a virtual tie.

When equipped with the off-road group, The Tradesman blows its competition out of the water with 10 factory-installed off-road upgrades. The Ram’s max payload dips 355 pounds under the Silverado, and the 1,490-pound towing gap decisively tips the scales in Chevy’s favor. On the flip side, the Ram’s naturally aspirated (i.e., non-turbo) V6 should be much easier to maintain and repair over the long haul compared to GM’s turbocharged inline four. The Ram also has a nicer interior than the Chevy.

While neither truck qualifies as the ideal hunting truck, I feel the Ram 1500 Tradesman manages to generate the best bang for the buck for most hunters at a respectable $43,210.