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  • The Driver’s Seat: Trucks Are Too Expensive

The Driver’s Seat: Trucks Are Too Expensive

The Driver’s Seat

Dec 11, 2018
Photographers: Jason Gonderman
Allow me to sit on my metaphoric porch and shake my cane at the neighborhood kids, because what I need to say will have me sounding like that crotchety old man everyone knows and loves. Trucks have gotten too damn expensive. There, I said it.
As you’ll see later in this issue, we had a $75,000 ½-ton in our Pickup Truck of the Year test. Let that settle in for a minute. Adding insult to injury, the average price across the whole field of eight ½-ton competitors was more than $64,000. I’ll concede that that’s MSRP and nobody pays the sticker price except Hank Hill. But even being incredibly generous, you’ll probably only knock about $4K off, even with the best negotiating skills.
Photo 2/5   |   Boy, $36,000 sure went a lot further in 2007 than it does today. Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do now but reminisce on the glory days.
If those prices seem bad, try pricing out a 1-ton. You can easily run an F-350 up to $90,000 by selecting Platinum trim and dual rear wheels. Disgustingly, Ford’s configurator bases the estimated monthly payment on an 84-month term. That’s seven years with a payment over $1,000 a month. Gone are the days of the standard five-year car loan, apparently.
When I was young and dumb, I went out and bought a brand-new truck. It was an ’07 Ford F-150 SuperCrew in FX4 trim with the 5.4L V-8 engine. While not quite top of the line, it was a very well-equipped truck. Sticker price was just a touch over $36K, and I walked out the door paying far less and financed with no interest. Even with inflation, that’s just a shade over $42,000. Now, 12 years later, an equivalent new truck would set you back about $60,000. Sure, a lot has changed in that time, but it’s difficult to fathom a price jump like that.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for free enterprise, companies earning a profit, and letting the market dictate the price. I just can’t help but wonder if another crash is looming, much like it did in 2008 when dealers couldn’t give away the same pickup I’d just bought, even with a $10K discount on the hood. Like I said, grumpy old man shaking his cane.
Photo 3/5   |   Unfortunately, at the time of writing this, a traditional Monroney label isn’t available for the $75,000 F-150 Limited that we had on our Pickup Truck of the Year test. However, at almost $70,000, the F-150 Lariat FX4 was a darn close second.
What can we do about this besides grin and bear it? For starters, we can keep our old trucks longer. I recently picked up a crew-cab, four-wheel-drive ’02 Silverado 2500HD for the paltry sum of just $3,800. Sure, it needed an engine and the interior was showing wear, but the body was perfectly straight, the paint in great shape, and the price right. The LB7 Duramax diesel engine can be replaced for between $4,000 and $10,000, depending on your level of mechanical aptitude. Worst case, this leaves me with a $14,000 truck that will potentially last for another decade.
Sure, not everyone is going to find such a steal of a donor. But they don’t have to. These trucks are in people’s driveways already. So before heading out and buying a new truck with a payment the size of a decent mortgage, consider refreshing the one you already have.
Photo 4/5   |   Don’t worry, given the current subject matter at hand, the irony of towing a $3,800 truck home with a $60,000 truck is not lost on me. You may recognize our ’02 Silverado from a couple previous columns, but you’ll be seeing a lot more of it here shortly.
We’ve done a poor job of encouraging this in the past, and I apologize for that. Going forward, we at Truck Trend are going to show more ways to keep your older truck on the road while injecting a bit of fun along the way. We’ll take a look at refreshing worn suspension components, updating aged interiors, adding fun and functional exterior accessories, and whatever else we happen upon along our journey. While we can’t promise to be everything for everybody—we frankly don’t have enough parking spots at the shop—we’ll try our best to encourage and enlighten. And don’t worry, we’re not going to stop reporting on new trucks and SUVs, either.
That’s the end of my rant. The price of new pickups keeps going up, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it except keep our old trucks on the road a little longer. And to everyone who got the King of the Hill reference, you’re my people.
Photo 5/5   |   The thought of a $1,326 per month payment for seven years almost makes me sick. I’m sure it makes sense for the business owner who needs an F-450, but I sure see a lot of them running around with empty beds and no trailers.