2009 Ford F-150
David Cooper/Getty Images

The Ford F-150 has been one of the top-selling models in the United States for decades. It’s not just the most popular full-size pickup truck out there; it’s the most popular vehicle sold in the U.S. That means good things for potential buyers of a used Ford F-150.

[Check out our used car listings]

There are a lot of options on the used market that provide dozens of available versions of the F-150, and there are a lot of data available to help shoppers make decisions.

All of the used Ford F-150 trucks ranked by U.S. News & World Report from 2009 through 2014 fall into the same generation. However, that doesn’t mean every year of this truck is the same. A midcycle refresh for the 2011 model year added some new engine options to the lineup, including an efficient turbocharged V6. Shoppers on a tight budget might find themselves limited to earlier models simply due to age and condition, rather than the trucks’ actual design or features. Focusing your search on earlier F-150 models isn’t such a bad thing, though. In fact, of all the used F-150s in our rankings, the 2009 F-150 scores higher than any of the other used F-150s that we have studied. Scoring in the U.S. News & World Report used vehicle rankings is based on a number of factors, including safety test results, reliability data from J.D. Power and Associates, and critics’ reviews from when the vehicle was new. Used vehicles are then ranked by score within their vehicle category, year, and price bracket.

[Check out our used car rankings]

The used full-size pickup market offers a dichotomy not found in any other vehicle segment. On one end of the spectrum are vehicles that are purchased as work trucks and are run hard every day – pushed to their limits of towing, hauling, and off-highway performance. On the other end are vehicles that are lease returns. They’ll generally have lower miles and complete maintenance records, will have rarely (if ever) left the pavement, and will have beds that look like they’ve never carried anything more damaging than a mattress from the warehouse club. Finding an off-lease F-150 at a good price is the best of all worlds, and as a bonus, many lease return trucks are higher-trim models that have depreciated faster than their lower-trim siblings.

2009 Through 2012 Models

The 2009 through 2012 model years of the Ford F-150 are ranked on our site amongst other full-size trucks with average sales prices of less than $25,000. The F-150's ranking varies over this timeframe, from the top spot in 2009 down to No. 5 in 2012. The Toyota Tundra actually ties with the F-150 for the 2009 model year, but newer Tundras are lower in the rankings. Newer models of General Motors’ full-size truck offerings, including the Chevrolet Silverado, the Chevy Avalanche, and the GMC Sierra, perform better than the F-150 in the rankings. The 2012 Ram 1500 is in the top three.

[Check out our Ford F-150 page]

Safety ratings are strong for these used Ford trucks. From 2009 through 2012, the Ford F-150 earned mostly four-star and five-star ratings on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tests. The F-150 also earned a Top Safety Pick rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in every year but 2010. These safety scores are consistently better than those earned by General Motors’ competitors, although the Toyota Tundra does similarly well. The tests used to generate the safety ratings change from year to year, so ratings from one year aren’t necessarily comparable to those from other years.

The 2009 version of the Ford F-150 scores above average for dependability on the J.D. Power scale. Reliability is average for the 2010 and 2011 F-150 trucks, and slips to below average for the 2012 model. However, the F-150 redeems itself somewhat in terms of performance. Critics praised the F-150’s performance during these years, both before and after the 2011-model-year updates to the engine lineup. The 2009 and 2010 models were praised for towing capacity and off-road ability. For model years 2011 and 2012, critics noted that, in addition to providing plenty of power, the new engine lineup provided great fuel economy, especially the EcoBoost V6.

2014 Ford F-150
Ford Motor Company

2013 and 2014 Models

For 2013 and 2014, the last model years of the Ford F-150’s 12th generation, the truck stayed mostly the same, but average sale prices climbed above $25,000, moving the trucks to a different category in our used vehicle rankings. There is a three-way tie for first place among the 2013 versions of the GMC Sierra, Ram 1500, and Toyota Tundra, pushing the 2013 Ford F-150 to fourth place, even though its score is just behind the first-place winners. The F-150 has a high critics’ rating and the highest safety score of the four, but falters when it comes to reliability. The 2014 F-150 also earned a close fourth-place ranking in our 2014 full-size pickup rankings, after the Ram 1500, Chevy Silverado, and GMC Sierra. Despite its high safety score, the F-150 had the lowest reliability score and the lowest critics’ rating of the group.

The 2013 Ford F-150 earned a Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS and a mix of four- and five-star scores from NHTSA. Though the 2014 version of the truck earned identical results in both sets of crash tests, it did not get the IIHS’ Top Safety Pick designation that year.

According to J.D. Power and Associates, the 2013 Ford F-150 offers above-average dependability. The scores are based on consumer surveys after three years of ownership, which means the 2014 F-150 is not yet old enough for an official score. However, J.D. Power predicts that the 2014 F-150 will eventually earn an average score.

These used Ford trucks earn identical performance scores for 2013 and 2014, keeping them competitive with models from other brands. Reviewers who drove the trucks when new generally agreed that all versions of the Ford F-150 provided strong performance, even the base models, which have a 302-horsepower 3.7-liter V6. However, most critics suggested that the optional and more powerful engines are a better buy for people who have heavy-duty towing or hauling needs. Though a late-model used Ford F-150 truck should be a good choice for potential buyers, some older models offer higher reliability scores as well as lower prices.

Ford Rangers
Bloomberg/Getty Images

The truck was fully redesigned for 2015, but that’s too recent to be considered here. You can see a full review of the redesigned F-150 on our new car page.

The F-150 might be Ford’s best-loved truck, but it isn’t Ford’s only truck on the used market. The Ford Ranger is a compact pickup that was discontinued in 2011; thus, the only model years that we currently ranked are from 2009 to 2011. The Ford Ranger fares poorly in our used truck rankings for these years, falling mid-pack or lower compared to other used compact pickups at the same price point. That’s largely because the competition provided better performance and a better value. A used Ford Ranger might still be a viable option for some shoppers because average prices are low, and these years of the Ford Ranger do provide one very competitive attribute – strong dependability ratings, according to J.D. Power and Associates.