If you're part of the statistical majority of American drivers, you haven't graced a new vehicle showroom in the better part of a decade. If that's the case, you probably dropped between $25,000 and $35,000 on your last new car, which is probably now worth about $10,000. If you've been considering a new truck or SUV, you'd better have just gone to your yoga class, or had a spa treatment, because you're probably going to experience a case of sticker shock when you walk into a showroom.
Need more evidence? The Chevrolet Suburban, which had a starting MSRP of $37,600 in 2004, is now $48,295, including destination. Granted, the new model is much more refined, powerful, and better equipped than it was a decade ago. The inflation-adjusted MSRP of the new model is not radically out of whack with what it should be, coming in at around $46,733. But that's just the starting price. If you want a nicely equipped LTZ 4x4 with all the bells and whistles, you're looking at more than $74,000. Don't believe us? Go configure one for yourself online. If you really want to go for broke (literally) and step up to the Cadillac Escalade, you're looking at more than $92,000 for a well-equipped long-wheelbase ESV.
It may seem like we're just picking on GM for its new SUVs, but it's really industry-wide. It goes without saying that anything with a European nameplate on it is going to command a hefty sum. But we're not just talking about SUVs. Truck prices too have reached eye-popping levels. A Ford F-350 Platinum dualie with the Power Stroke rolls off the lot at $67,905.
OK, so not everyone is going to go bananas with the option sheet, or pick the fanciest model on the lot. But good luck trying to find one of the "one at this price" models. A little more than a year ago, a test of two reasonably equipped but fairly basic V-6 4x2 ½-ton trucks had both models with an MSRP of around $36,000. Although plenty comfortable, both models lacked navigation, leather seating, and a passenger-side power seat. A full-boat Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn with the EcoDiesel will easily top $60,000.
In theory, these models start in the mid-$20,000 range, and yes, most now include remote locks and air conditioning as standard. Power windows are still theoretically optional on most base models, but the vast majority of trucks on lots are equipped with them. We’re old enough to remember the ads for the Mazda B2000 "Sundowner" trucks for $5,895. Those days are long behind us. The starting price for a 2WD Toyota Tacoma four-cylinder is $18,985 for a regular cab, if you can still find one. The configuration will be dropped for the 2015 model year, likely raising the base price to more than $20,000.
Many a water-cooler conversation has taken place around the office pining for the "good old days" when trucks were cheap and basic. Sure, if you're committed to finding a bargain-basement price, and you're not afraid of sacrificing some amenities, you can get a new truck for less than $30,000. But if you want a reasonable equipment level, and you want a crew cab, you're looking at a starting price of around the low-to-mid $30,000 range, and into the $40s for a nicely equipped example. A "cowboy Cadillac" model will run well into the $50k+ range.
GM hasn't announced prices for the new Colorado and Canyon yet, but we hope they'll be a decent value. We know realistically, a loaded-up Canyon or Colorado Crew Cab 4x4 with the diesel is going to easily run $35,000+. We're OK with that, as long as you can get a 4x2 I-4 for around $21,000 and not feel like you got taken to the cleaners. What do you think? Have truck and SUV prices gone crazy, or simply kept up with the times?