Three Used Half-Ton Trucks With Excellent Engines on Their Starting Trims

February 9th, 2024 by

One of the more prominent used trucks for sale near Dayton, a white 2021 Chevy Silverado 1500 High Country, is shown towing a boat.

The engine is the heart of a pickup truck, and everyone knows the importance of a muscular heart. Modern truck manufacturers have branched out a great deal from the simple, stripped-down worker vehicles we used to associate pickup trucks with. There was a time when pickups were primarily driven by construction workers and farmers, but now, with luxury trims, off-road trims, performance trims—you name it—the truck world is changing, and we sometimes hear complaints about it being hard to simply find a great work truck with an excellent engine.

It can seem like many manufacturers have dedicated their best powertrains to their upper trims. However, if you’re looking for used trucks for sale near Dayton, we can easily show you a handful of pre-owned models boasting terrific engines under the hoods of their starting trims. You don’t have to spring for leather seats and 14-speaker sound systems to get a great engine; with half-ton trucks being so popular for their versatility as both great work vehicles and everyday drivers, we’d like to discuss three used half-ton trucks with starting trims that boast, in our opinion, solid engine options.

The 2021 Silverado 1500 WT’s 5.3L EcoTec3 V8

We’ll start things off with the classic and always popular Chevy Silverado 1500. It’s hard not to love this highly configurable and reliable model and its base trim, the WT, offers plenty of terrific standard features while staying at a wallet-friendly price point. A 2021 model will get you great infotainment and safety features, several cab and bed configurations and the always-durable frame you can count on from a Chevy.

So let’s talk about engines. Our favorite for the WT is not the standard but actually an available powertrain, which would be the 5.3L EcoTec3 V8 with Active Fuel Management. We like that the powerful V8 is available already with the base-level trim since it’s not uncommon for pickup manufacturers to reserve these heftier engines for higher trims—and, it’s simply a great engine.

The V8 gets you the power of, well, a V8, obviously. What isn’t as obvious is that it doesn’t come with a major fuel economy sacrifice, and that’s thanks to Active Fuel Management. This is a General Motors technology that helps powerful engines get fuel economy comparable to their smaller siblings.

Active Fuel Management is also called Cylinder Deactivation, because that’s exactly how it works; when drivers don’t need all the power of the V8, the system deactivates half of the cylinders, cutting fuel injection to those to boost fuel economy. It’s a great feature to have for customers looking for a vehicle that can serve as a daily driver but has the power they need at job sites. In fact, the system can boost fuel economy by 12% when on. Then, when you demand more power, like when accelerating or hauling, the system automatically activates all of the cylinders again.

While many might think this engine comes at a premium, GM has managed to create a simple design for it that doesn’t call for many extra parts, so it delivers power and fuel economy at an affordable price.

A red 2021 Ford F-150 XL is shown towing a boat across a bridge.

The 2021 Ford F-150 XL’s 3.3L Ti-VCT V6

The 2021 F-150 is a terrific pre-owned truck for anyone looking for a great value-per-dollar ratio. The F-150 is a top-selling pickup truck and also offers great configurability, much like the Silverado 1500.

We admire the standard engine on the starting trim—the XL—which is a 3.3L V6 engine. This engine (like all engines for this model year) is paired with a ten-speed SelectShift automatic transmission with Progressive Range Select and selectable drive modes. Progressive Range Select gives you the option to lock out upper gears in the shifting range. (This can come in handy when you’re maxing out your payload abilities or towing on a grade.)

Another great feature of this engine is the Auto Start-Stop Technology. It works by automatically shutting off the engine when you come to a full stop, like at a red light or stop sign. Then, when you press on the gas, the engine automatically comes back on. Drivers who spend a good deal of time in the city like this feature because it improves fuel economy and reduces emissions.

The 3.3L V6 achieves a power output of 290 hp and a torque rating of 265 lb-ft. It can tow up to 8,200 lbs in Regular Cab configurations with either the 6.5- or 8.0-foot bed and two- or four-wheel drive. Choosing the SuperCab with the 6.5-foot bed in two- or four-wheel drive will also unlock these towing abilities.

There’s one more cool thing about this engine: it’s a flex-fuel. What that means is that it’s designed to accept a range of gasoline and ethanol blends; this can range from 100% gasoline to 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. Having this ability can mean producing fewer greenhouse gasses, and it can even boost performance.

A black 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 is shown towing a trailer.

The 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 Pro’s 2.7L Turbo High-Output

Now we land at another General Motors truck, the 2022 GMC Sierra 1500. Drivers love this GMC because of its many options in terms of style and powertrains. This is another one with a starting engine that we like, which is the standard 2.7L Turbo High-Output that you get with the base-level Pro trim.

Don’t let the fact that it’s not a V6 or a V8 throw you off, as this turbo engine can tow up to 9,400 lbs with the conventional hitch on a Regular Cab option with two-wheel drive. Many drivers love that this affordable and fuel-efficient powertrain brings such hefty towing abilities, making it an ideal everyday vehicle and work truck.

With a power output of 310 hp and torque rating of 430 lb-ft, it’s no wonder this engine packs such a punch when tackling major jobs. The EPA estimates it to get 20 MPG combined, or 19 MPG in the city and 22 MPG on the highway. It’s not a fuel economy superstar, but it gets the job done for driving around town.

The 2.7L Turbo High-Output also has stop-start technology, like the Ford F-150, helping you boost fuel economy in stop-and-go conditions and reduce emissions. Plus, it has the same Active Fuel Management system as the Chevy Silverado 1500 thanks to its shared parent company, General Motors. It really pairs the best of both worlds of the F-150 and the Silverado 1500, with objectively more attractive styling.

Find Your Perfect Truck and Powertrain at McCluskey Chevrolet

Are you looking for a great deal on a used truck that’s up for the challenges of your work days? We have you covered with a huge assortment of pre-owned models from the names you trust. We work hard to bring in a variety of trims and models covering the range of powertrains offered—even from older generations.

Our team will show you options that fit your specific needs and budget. We know everything about the engines idling beneath the hoods of the models we bring in, so if you have questions about towing abilities, fuel economy, payload, and more, we have answers. You’ll love the huge selection of options and competitive prices here. Come pick up your perfect truck today!