Rise Of The Luxury Truck - The Driver’s Seat
Creature Comforts Everywhere
Originally, pickups were a tool, born out of necessity and intended for a life of indentured servitude. They were loud, rough, and generally unsophisticated. Trucks hauled loads and towed trailers. They sat dirty, dented, and rusted. Plain and simple, if you were driving a truck, you were doing some sort of work with it. At least that’s how people used to think.
Then, a funny thing happened: Manufacturers began loading trucks with luxuries that were normally found only in sedans, like air conditioning, carpet, and power windows. And once this happened, pickups remained in this space for several decades—straddling the fence between work and play.
Now we’re starting to see another shift. Sure, you can still order stripped-down base models (order forms still list options for vinyl seats and floors, crank windows, manual door locks, and steel wheels), but good luck finding one so equipped. Pickups are headed in the direction of full luxury, and you’re more likely to see rows upon rows of leather-clad premium rigs on a dealer’s lot.
Wander through a Ram lot and you’ll see a slew of Laramie, Laramie Longhorn, and Laramie Limited trucks. Ford offers the King Ranch and Platinum models, Chevy has the High Country, and GMC offers the Denali. If you’re more into imports, Toyota brings to the table the Tundra 1794 edition. And they aren’t limited to any size truck, either. These high-end pickups can be found from midsize all the way up to 1-ton and beyond.
I recently had the chance to hitch a trailer to and go for a drive in a ’15 GMC Sierra 2500HD Denali, and it turned out to be quite the pleasurable experience. For this latest update to the HD lineup, GM spent a lot of time focusing on the user experience. The trucks are quieter than they have ever been, both inside the cabin and out. Road and engine noise is significantly reduced, and the Denali trim package provides a level of interior quality that at one time could only be had in Cadillac’s Escalade.
GM certainly is not dabbling alone in this luxury truck market (as I mentioned earlier). I’ve also had the chance to slide behind the wheel of a ’14 Ram 2500 Longhorn for a bit of trailer hauling. Ram has the unique distinction of being the first pickup brand to make the Ward’s 10 Best list for interiors, and the reason why is clear the moment you sit inside one. In my opinion, the current Ram interior is the best in the heavy-duty segment (in the upper-level trims, anyway).
I won’t exclude Ford or Toyota either, as driving the Platinum-trimmed F-150 just about lulled me to sleep (stop the angry letters—it didn’t actually almost put me to sleep), and the 1794 Tundra may as well be branded Lexus.
Why does any of this matter, you ask? Pickups are now competing with luxury SUVs for market share and winning over customers who would have never previously considered owning a truck. What this leads to is a stronger truck market with more—and better—options for us down the road. I am beyond excited to see where the pickup market goes next!
The trucks are quieter than they have ever been, both inside the cabin and out.