It’s a great time to be in the market for a pickup. Manufacturers have gone to great lengths to improve their trucks’ ride, interiors, and exteriors. With so many pickup trucks out there, how do you decide which truck is right for you?
The first factor to consider is new versus used. The needle is pointing to buying new if your budget can justify it. As CarGurus.com Used Car Price Trends shows, used pickup prices are up 7.79 percent year over year. (Only used convertibles and vans show larger increases.) New pickup prices haven’t demonstrated a similar increase. PickupTrucks.com reports, “…some U.S. dealerships are offering extended financing packages and huge discounts on half-ton and heavy-duty pickups. In some cases there are more than $10,000 in discounts on specific vehicle configurations and trim packages; the 2015 Ford F-150 is one example.” That means you’re going to find offers on new pickups that you won’t on used models.
However, you might have to work your budget numbers to see how much truck you can afford. Don’t commit to a 7-year loan if you can avoid it (for a truck, car, or SUV). You’ll end up paying significantly more over the course of your loan if you take longer to pay it back.
CarGurus can help you find a used pickup once you establish your price parameters. Plus you can quickly spot the great deals, fair deals, and high prices right away. As a side note, in my research for this article, I found lots of great, good and fair deals on Ford F-series trucks from 2010 to 2015.
Further research from PickupTrucks.com also seems to indicate that GM trucks are white hot right now. GMC and Chevrolet have year-to-year percent increases in sales of 20.8 percent and 18.4 percent. The F-series pickups are down 8.9 percent, while Ram sales are relatively flat. That could explain why there are strong incentives from Ford.
Okay, now that we know new makes more sense than used, you have to consider how much truck you actually need. Be brutally honest with yourself. A friend of my dad’s bought a pickup truck for dump runs. He put 600 miles on it the first year. He didn’t need a pickup truck.
Ask yourself what you’ll use the truck for. Is it just you? Then you don’t need a Crew cab. Not going to be towing with it? Skip the V8 and buy a V6 model instead. Don’t pay for power you will rarely use.
Also, be honest with yourself about how good a pickup driver you are. Buy all the safety bells and whistles if you’re a novice. This is especially true if you plan to pull a trailer. For example, Ford recently introduced Pro Trailer Backup Assist. It works by letting the customer steer the trailer with a control knob while the truck steers its wheels and limits vehicle speed.
Finally, consider the climate where you live. All-wheel drive will not put a serious dent in your fuel efficiency, but it will help you avoid dents in your pickup when the weather turns foul. An empty pickup can make handling a challenge when roads turn icy.
Shopping for a truck this weekend?
Bring along CarGurus’ mobile app to help check prices, find good deals, and research cars on your smartphone.