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Are Pickup Prices Really Up 61 Percent? Deep Dive Look


A recent report in the WSJ says the average truck price has grown a staggering 61 percent in the past decade. Combining this with a story last year in the Detroit Free Press talking about the median income for buyers has grown and you have to wonder how a Country Boy can survive. We take a closer look at work truck pricing and the average sticker price for new trucks to figure out what’s going on.

Work Truck Base Prices Rise?

While prices have certainly risen overall on pickups, the base work truck has thankfully stayed about the same.

We did a little shopping on the leader in work trucks – the Ford F-150. According to Ford.com, a 2019 Ford F-150 XL Reg Cab starts at $28,155.

Now, we have been fooled in the past on manufacture’s sites since it does seem like a bait and switch is going on. We mean, just because you can build it, does it mean you can find it on dealer lots. This lead us to Cars.com to see if it actually does exist. Turns out they do.

Next, we did some digging into what a base F-150 was priced at 10 years ago and fortunately KBB.com had a great snippet of information.

Ok, so base price was $22,000 and now it is $28,155. This means prices have grown $6,155!!! Not so fast. What does inflation have to say about this price difference. Heading over to U.S. Inflation Calculator we learn the price increase is much less.

This means, base work trucks have grown in price by about $2k which really isn’t too bad considering today’s work trucks come with a variety of standard safety equipment and offer more creature comforts than the work trucks of old.

For example, the base F-150 now comes standard with Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking, Rear View Camera with Dynamic Hitch Assist, Airbags including side curtain, Roll Stability Control with Curve Control (reduce roll over accidents) and better fuel economy.

The 3.3L V6 replaced the old 4.6L V8 bringing fuel economy up from 15/20 to today’s 19/25 without sacrificing very much power (290/265 HP/LB-FT torque for V6 vs 292/286 HP/LB-FT torque for V8).

Are Country Buyers Being Left Behind By Rising Prices?

It used to be pickups were only for rural, country folks or commercial companies. Those people who needed to haul hay, horses, deliver goods or take their pickup hunting were the primary demographic. However, rising pickup prices are pushing those buyers out of the market according to new data.

The data does confirm the growing price on pickups and does make one wonder how rural folks can still afford them considering rural incomes haven’t been growing as quickly as urban incomes according to a 2017 Rural Economic Study.

“Median household income is substantially lower in rural areas than in urban areas, although this shortfall may be mitigated by differences in the cost of living,” the study points out. “Since 2007, rural median income has averaged 25 percent below the urban median.”

While the cost of living differences certainly help make up the margin in growth, the flip side is the key vehicle of choice – a pickup – has seen its base sticker price grow much faster ala the 61 percent increase story making the media rounds.

Adding to the problem is the growth in income levels for the average truck buyer. This next series of charts doesn’t bode well for say a corn farmer who has seen commodity prices stagnant, equipment and seed prices rise along with property taxes.

The synopsis from these charts is simple: the average truck buyer now is much wealthier than the old farm truck buyer of yesteryear.

What is the Truth?

The conflicting data could drive you mad trying to figure out what is going on with base work truck prices basically stagnant, yet the average sticker price has grown substantially. It is all about luxury trucks.

Look back on the screenshot from KBB. We will put it below.

Notice something? Yup, the top end 2009 Ford F-150 runs over $45,000. Today, the average median price for a pickup is $44,000 – just a little less than the top end. This median price is what people are willing to spend on the new trucks. Don’t blame them, blame the automakers for building trucks filled with features consumers crave over!

Tim Esterdahl

Automotive Journalist Tim Esterdahl has been a lover of trucks and SUVs for years. He has covered the industry since 2011 and has pieces in many national magazines and newspapers. In his spare time, he is often found tinkering on his '62 C10 pickup, playing golf, going hunting and hanging out with his wife and kids in Nebraska.

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  1. Michael Shultz June 4, 2020


  2. Bret Tidwell April 5, 2021

    I have stopped. I si ply can’t afford even a used f-15” now. I’ve been looking at 2006-2009 f-150 Kong ranches. Clean trucks with 180,000 miles consistently add prices stoking $16,000. Use 2015’s with 75,000-120,000 run $38,000-$45,000. Best price I can get on a new king ranch is $65,000. In 2006 I bought a new Kong Ranch for $42,000. That truck is now $68,000.

    Yes there are newer feature but king ranch to king ranch … there is massive inflation.


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