Trading Prius for Cheap Pickup, What to Buy?

trading prius for cheap pickup truck

I want to trade my Prius for a pickup truck, what should I buy?

One of our readers, Stewart, has been involved in a car crash that has totaled his Prius. He’s fine, thankfully, but his car is in no shape to be driven anywhere. He’s using this situation as an opportunity to purchase a pickup truck. The only thing setting him back is his limited budget. So, what are his options for a decent pickup truck that’s reliable and cheap? Let’s find out!

Stewart’s Situation

Stewart says that his Prius was wrecked when was in an accident recently. He’s focusing on the silver lining, which is his dream of owning a pickup truck. Unfortunately, with his limited budget, he can only spend $5000 on a new truck. His criteria are based on his basic needs and not on any additional luxuries. He’s mainly looking for something reliable that can help him carry out his daily tasks in his home state of Arizona. Four doors are ideal for him as he has a kid who will ride with him sometimes.


  • Budget: $5000
  • Location: Arizona
  • Every day drive?: Yes
  • Looking for: Reliable, cheap, pickup

Expert 1

This isn’t the first time we’ve received readers with complaints about their vehicle. In fact, it’s all too common for someone to be unhappy with their current car. At least in Stewart’s case, he gets to be rid of his Prius, which may not be a bad car but doesn’t exactly fit his personal taste or needs.

Now, my first instinct is to recommend a Nissan pickup. I’ve personally owned them and they’re pretty good for the money. Nissan Frontier’s in particular can be found for very little money and not much mileage on them. A 2004 Nissan Frontier would sit right at home with Stewart with its V6 engine and its four-door cab. However, while the Frontier is a decent and reliable pickup, it doesn’t exactly qualify as a dream pickup.

Toyota 1991 pickup

What Stewart needs is something that screams vintage Arizona that can make up for all those times he cruised down in his Prius. There are many candidates for a pickup truck like this. However, for his budget and needs, the Toyota 1991 pickup comes to mind. This pickup comes with a five-speed manual transmission and a decently sized cab, though without 4 doors.

The best thing about a ’91 pickup is how tough it is built. You can get one used for $3500, drive it to hell, fix it up and resell it for a profit.

Expert 2

nissan 1998 pickupWhile crashing the car wasn’t the most ideal situation, the great thing here is that Stewart lives in Arizona, a place that’s well-renowned for its used pickup truck market. Even better, reliable Japanese pickups seem to be in great abundance here. The perfect weather of the Grand Canyon State means that many people will often sell them in good condition without any rust. Finding a used truck in a good condition shouldn’t be too hard for $5000.

It’s hard to go against the above advice for a Toyota. They’re very reliable and all too common. The only thing to look out for is price since the demand has increased a bit. Just as an alternative suggestion, I would advise that Stewart goes for a Nissan Hardbody pickup. You can find several from the 80s and 90s that are still functioning properly. Anything below 150-160k on the mileage is ideal. While most of these won’t have four doors, they do have an extra jump seat in the back for your kid to sit in. All in all, you’re likely to get a pretty good deal on one of these trucks.

Expert 3

Living in Arizona is definitely a plus here. There’s so much variety and abundance of pickup trucks here that you won’t even have any trouble. You can go down the street with $5000 in your hand and go home with a decent pickup that will be more than enough to suit your needs. In fact, it’s the sheer number of options here that might end up being your biggest hurdle.

This is why I’m a bit puzzled why my colleagues have just recommended Toyotas and Nissans. Don’t get me wrong, they’re great trucks all around. But when you have so many options on your doorstep, why not go for something more?

Mitsubishi Mighty Max

Two of the options that come to my mind are the Isuzu Pickup and the Mitsubishi Mighty Max. These are very underrated trucks that don’t get a lot of attention and for no good reason since they’re excellent trucks. They are affordable and can go toe to toe with any Toyota or Nissan out there.

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