Detonation: Not Getting Any Cheaper
In December 2016, I had the privilege of being a member of the group that evaluated new trucks for Truck Trend’s annual Pickup Truck of the Year award. The weeklong exercise took us to different parts of California for a variety of tests and on a road trip to Las Vegas, Nevada, during which each truck’s fuel economy was measured. The primary assignment over the course of the week was to critically analyze every aspect of each rig to give a valid, impartial ranking.
I’m not going to spoil the fun by giving any hints about the trucks or how they measure up against each other; you can find that out in Truck Trend magazine or online at trucktrend.com. I will say that it was a varied field, and for the PTOY award, trucks are not judged against each other as much as they’re ranked against trucks in their same category.
All the trucks we tested were very nice in their own respect, and every one of them did the job it was designed to do. I was glad two of the pickups tested were diesel-powered, because this raised the excitement level for me. Getting the opportunity to drive two new powerful, luxurious, state-of-the-art oil-burners—and put them through their paces—doesn’t happen too often. I found that despite their high load-capacity ratings, the diesel trucks’ nice amenities, good road manners, and comfortable ride are definite improvements over the older pickups I’m used to driving. But, when I was told how much they cost, I got sticker shock and realized the technology and plush ride come at a price (more than 60 grand). As nice as owning a new truck would be, they are definitely out of my price range, and I imagine many other people’s budgets as well.
Across the board, I feel pickup trucks have gotten very expensive. This is especially true of the high-end models in the $80,000-plus price range. I understand that if there wasn’t a market for luxury hay haulers, manufacturers would not continue building them. But when did they start costing the same as a nice luxury car or higher-end sports car? I understand new pickups are nice with all the bells and whistles (the comfy heated seats and rocking infotainment centers are cool), but it is still a truck centered on working, hauling, and towing. Don’t get me wrong, I know everything has gone up in price and continues to do so, but what happened to there being a nice, affordable new truck?
In the grand scheme of things, the price of a “basic” midsize or fullsize is not too bad— especially when you consider the cost of everything from milk to concrete continues to go up. But buying a small truck or a ½-ton doesn’t always cut it, even if it has a diesel powerplant. Many of us feel we need a fullsize truck with a ridiculous amount of power just for doing such mundane things as towing our toys on the weekend. But when a new ¾- or 1-ton truck with a diesel engine has you spending enough money to buy a house in some areas, it is hard to fathom.
When you consider the cost of a new diesel-powered pickup, I totally get why clean, used rigs are so expensive and continue to hold their value. There are likely some of you who, like me, see the value in taking the money that could be put toward a new ride and investing it in an older model. Revitalizing a used truck gives a person the ability to customize it to his or her liking. You can make it something that performs well and will look nice, without breaking the bank. And, not having a monthly payment might even help fund future modifications, because there will always be something else to do or improve upon.
I’ve got to say, the new trucks are really nice and if you are in a position to buy one, I’m happy for you—maybe even a bit jealous. But I will be doing my part to keep older trucks rolling on down the road.