2014 “Cheap” Truck Roundup: Less Is More
Are the days of only getting the options you need over?
Are the days of the short-bed, standard-cab V-8 full-size truck with a minimal trim package gone? While it may be presumptuous to assume the answer is yes, it's becoming more difficult to get that ideal "stripped truck" perfect for customizing and off-roading. This truck, which used to be the norm and would've had a huge presence on dealership lots in the 1980s and '90s, has become more of a needle in the haystack as manufacturers increase trim packages and standard and available luxury options. Ram, for example, has 11 model options, from the Tradesman work truck to the luxurious Laramie Limited. Chevy has seven, and Ford has 10, including the Raptor. If the window sticker doesn't tell you, how will you know where one trim ends and another begins? Today, unlike in the '90s, you can't even get a 1/2-ton truck work with a manual transmission. Trucks have come a long way since then.
The customizer's- dream truck is out there, but the demand for the well-dressed, bells-and-whistles pickup over the basic, uncomplicated truck means you might have to search more diligently. Generally speaking, more engine (V-8) gets you "more" truck, which is what most customers now demand. Finding "less" truck -- a stripper -- with "more" engine seems counterintuitive to the general consumer, and, thus, we see less demand. Case in point: A brand-new standard-cab short-bed V-8 "stripped" Chevy Silverado had to be shipped from Arizona to California back in January 2007, making it the first truck of that configuration in the state. Since that was seven years ago, we decided to find out what kind of base model, V-8 "strip" work truck we could build for 2014 model year full-size pickup trucks, from the manufacturers' websites.
The 2014 Chevy Silverado starts at $25,575 for the 2WD Regular Cab, standard box 1WT, which features the 4.3-liter EcoTec3 V-6, with six-speed automatic. This trim should include power door locks and available power windows. Upgrading to the 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V-8 ($1095) brought the total to $26,670. Adding 4WD (equivalent to $2845) brought the grand total to $30,610.
The 2014 Ford F-150 XL has a starting MSRP of $24,445 for a regular cab, 6.5-foot bed, 4x2, 3.7-liter V-6, six-speed automatic transmission truck. Selecting the 5.0-liter V-8 FFV engine added $1000 to our XL build and brought it to $25,445. (In order to get the 6.2-liter, we'd have to have at least an XLT SuperCab.) Four-wheel drive added $4640 for a total of $30,085.
The 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 regular cab, standard box 2WD truck with the 4.3-liter EcoTec3 V-6 and six-speed automatic starts at $26,075. Upgrading to the 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V-8 ($1095) brought the total to $27,170. Four-wheel drive costs $3940 for a grand total of $31,110.
The 4x2 standard bed 2014 Nissan Titan S King Cab with the 317-hp, 385-lb-ft 5.6-liter V-8 starts at a base price of $29,270. Opting for a 4x4 Nissan Titan brought our price tag to $32,120.
The starting MSRP for the 2014 Ram 1500 is $24,385 for a Tradesman 4x2 regular cab 6-foot, 4-inch bed truck. Luckily, there's an option to delete the spray-in bedliner to save $325. The standard Tradesman powertrain is the 3.6-liter V-6 with the eight-speed TorqueFlite 845RE and 3.21 rear-axle ratio. We can actually save $640 by deselecting this standard option and selecting the 5.7-liter V-8
Hemi ($1150) with the six-speed automatic transmission (-$1840) and 3.92 rear-axle ratio ($50). (The build tool prevents you from selecting incompatible options.) Overall, our powertrain and bedliner deletion saved us $965 over MSRP, bringing our total for a brand-new 2014 Ram 1500 Hemi to $23,420. Adding four-wheel drive to our Tradesman cost $3760 and brought the total to $27,180.
The 2014 Toyota Tundra starts at $25,920 for a Regular Cab 4x2 long bed with the 4.0-liter V-6 mated to a five-speed automatic. The system wouldn't let us select a 4x4 in this exact configuration, or the 5.7-liter V-8. We could get the 4x4 4.6-liter V-8 in the SR double cab for $30,905. In order to get the 5.7-liter V-8, we'd need to select the SR5 with a total of $30,965. The 4x4 version comes in at $34,015.
Of these "virtual builds" we did, the best choice and best bang for the buck seems to be the Ram 1500 with the Hemi. Plenty capable on- and off-road, it was the cheapest truck to build, certainly less costly than the other trucks not equipped with a V-8.
While we are able to build these configurations on the computer, the real challenge is finding them on a dealership lot. The websites don't indicate how many are actually so configured. Depending on where you are, actually finding a truck on a dealer lot might or might not be difficult. It is possible that a higher trim could be more readily available and comparable in price. Of course, deals and discounts could play a role in your decision as well.
Brace yourself for the sticker shock of today's "cheap" new work truck. Welcome to 2014.