CarGurus Investigates the Disappearance of Affordable Pickup Trucks

The affordable pickup truck is disappearing. Where did it go—and is it ever coming back?

Truck Prices on the Rise

Trucks are getting more expensive. More specifically, used full-size trucks are getting more expensive. We looked at CarGurus data and found the average price of a used full-size truck in 2015 was $27,937. Compare that to 2018, when the average price sat at $32,562, which is a 16% increase. Interestingly, while used midsize trucks also saw a price increase, it was on a smaller scale: The average price from 2015 to 2018 increased by only 3%.

The higher prices aren’t without cause. Higher-priced trucks can include larger infotainment systems, like the 2019 RAM 1500, or heated front seats and a heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel, like the 2019 Ford F-150. You’ll also get better safety technology with these upscale models: You can get blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert and a tailgate camera for the F-150 and hill-start assist and trailer-sway dampening for the RAM 1500.

Yet shoppers may not be willing to pay those higher prices. We polled 1,650 CarGurus shoppers and found that price was the biggest factor when considering purchasing a truck—making it more important than payload, towing capacity, or additional luxury touches. Shoppers who want a good deal, of course, can look for used trucks on CarGurus. For shoppers who want to get the most bang for their buck with a new truck, they may want to set their sights on midsize trucks.

The Future of Affordable Trucks Is Midsize

Shoppers who are interested in used midsize trucks have plenty of options, including the Toyota Tacoma, Chevy Colorado, and Honda Ridgeline. More models are also on the horizon. There’s the 2019 Ford Ranger, coming back by popular demand next year, and Jeep’s long-awaited 2020 Gladiator, which debuted at the LA Auto Show. There’s even a new all-electric midsize pickup truck from Rivian, the 2020 R1T, which will likely be more expensive than its midsize competitors, but boasts a 400-mile all-electric range. And Hyundai confirmed that it’s going to be making the Santa Cruz, a crossover truck, as soon as 2020. The affordable full-size truck may be disappearing, and we don’t see any signs of it coming back. But there are still plenty of reasonable options in midsize trucks.

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