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New 2021 truck starting prices soar! Several add $3-$6k in 2 years

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Trucks like, this 2021 Chevy Silverado LT crew cab, have seen a price increase of $3,600 over just the last two years. Inflation accounts for about $160 of that increase. (Photo courtesy Chevrolet.com)

These days it seems everything is getting more expensive, and new vehicles are no exception — especially with 2021 truck starting prices. While luxury truck prices seem to grab the most attention, looking at the base model pricing during the last two years will certainly surprise you.

It certainly shocked us.

Digging into 2021 truck starting prices

Doing some deep diving into starting MSRP (manufacturers suggested retail prices) for each of the five full-size truck makers, we see a startling trend. Not only are new truck prices getting higher across the board, destination fees have increased as well.

For the chart below, we scoured old press releases, used the third-party website CarGurus.com and then went to each of the manufacturers websites to build and price each of the different cab/bed and trim levels. Where possible, we tried to get the base price for a standard bed, 2WD model to compare apples to apples.

There are some caveats to the chart including an all-new Ford F-150 making its debut in 2021, replacing the older model — meaning you’d expect those prices to climb.

Also, the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra have seen a host of improvements and more standard equipment, pushing their prices higher — although they did can their AFM system due to the semiconductor shortage and rebating buyers a whopping $50. While this equipment is nice, adding thousands to the base price for the “more affordable models” is not so nice.

To their credit, they did cut their 3.0-liter Duramax diesel price down by $1,500 in September of 2020, but you have to wonder how much profit they made before making the price drop.

The Chevy Silverado comes with more standard equipment on the more “affordable models,” but it comes at a steep price increase. (Screenshot media.Chevrolet.com)

What’s really crazy about Chevy’s pricing is this 2019 press release for the new model truck, at that time, which proclaims, “The 2019 Silverado LT crew cab has a starting at MSRP $700 less than today’s truck …”

Fast forward to 2021 and this new truck runs $3,600 more than it did in 2019! So much for that lower price.

The big shocker is the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, which saw a $900 increase in the past year! Reading the 2020 press release, it says, “2020 Ram 1500 powered by the new 3.0-liter V-6 EcoDiesel engine with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $­­­­­­36,890 for the Tradesman Quad Cab 2WD, plus $1,695 destination ($38,585).”

The picture below shows the 2021 Ram 1500 Tradesman, 2WD, EcoDiesel we priced out today on RamTrucks.com.

We used the build and price tool on May 12, 2021, for this Ram 1500 Tradesman, 2WD EcoDiesel. This truck saw a $2,595 increase in price in one year. Yep, one year. (Screenshot Ramtrucks.com)

You tell us: Does a nearly $1k increase in price year over year seem right to you?

The Nissan Titan, new for 2020, saw big increases across the board. The truck didn’t really have anything truly groundbreaking for their new models to justify the increase with only a new transmission, moonroof and updated grille leading off the changes.

This is a summary of the pricing from 2019 with a $1,395 destination fee. (Screenshot Nissan media website)

This is the pricing today without the $1,695 destination fee. Pretty crazy this configuration is now $6,500 more, and for what? (Screenshot Nissanusa website)

Finally, the Toyota Tundra saw some big prices increases for certain models, and all it has really gotten for “improvements” is software for the infotainment system in the form of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Oh, and they dropped the transmission cooler. Seems like it should be cheaper with these changes, but it’s not.

Editor’s Note for the chart below: All pricing listed includes destination fees. We called out destination fees at the bottom of the column for each truck maker, so you could see what they are. We only listed 2021 destination fees if they changed. Also, we used the following abbreviations: RC=Regular Cab, DC=Double Cab, CC=Crew Cab. Furthermore, because marketing makes all our lives more difficult, we used the DC abbreviation for King Cab, Quad Cab and Extended Cab versions from various automakers because, you know, they’re all the same thing.

Brand/Model

2019 Pricing2021 PricingPrice DifferenceEngine
Chevy Silverado
RC Work Truck$29,795$30,995$1,2004.3L V6
DC Work Truck$33,695$34,510$8152.7L Turbo
CC Work Truck$36095,$36,910$8152.7L Turbo
DC Custom Truck$36,095$38,195$2,1002.7L Turbo
CC Custom Truck$38,495$40,595$2,1002.7L Turbo
DC Custom Trail Boss (4x4 Only)$40,995$43,395$2,4004.3L V6
CC Custom Trail Boss (4x4 Only)$43395,$45,795$2,4004.3L V6
DC LT$38,395$41,995$3,6002.7L Turbo
CC LT$40795,$44,395$3,6002.7L Turbo
DC RST$40,295$46,295$6,0002.7L Turbo
CC RST$42,695$45,595$2,9002.7L Turbo
DC LT Trail Boss (4x4 Only)$47,395N/A - Discontinued
CC LT Trail Boss (4x4 Only)$49,795$53,195$3,4005.3L V8
DC LTZ$44,495N/A - Discontinued
CC LTZ$46,895$51,095$4,2005.3L V8
CC High Country$54,495$55,595$1,1005.3L V8
Destination fee $1,595 Destination fee $1,695$100
Ford
RC Base XL$28,155$30,635$2,4803.3L V6
RC Base XLT$34,160$36,745$2,5853.3L V6
DC Lariat$42,200$46,890$4,6902.7L V6
CC King Ranch$52,690$58,025$5,3355.0L V8
CC Platinum$54,920$60,805$5,8855.0L V8
CC Limited$67,135$72,520$5,2053.5L V6
Note: 2WD modelsDestination fee $1,695
GMC Sierra
DC SLT$50,300N/A
CC SLT$50,000$50,890$8905.3L V8
DC SLE$41,100$42,805$1,7052.7L Turbo
CC SLE$43,500$45,195$1,6952.7L Turbo
DC Elevation$43,600$45,295$1,6952.7L Turbo
CC Denali$58,300$59,995$1,6955.3L V8
RC Base Sierra$29,600$31,295$1,6954.3L V6
CC AT4$53,200$54,895$1,6955.3L V8
Note: All models listed are 4x4, base bed lengthDestination fee of $1,695
Nissan TITAN
DC SV 4x4$41,575$45,415$3,8405.6L V8
CC PRO-4X 4x4$48,105$52,085$3,980
CC SL 4x2$49,735$56,325$6,590
CC Platinum Reserve 4x4$58,785$61,075$2,290
Destination fee $1,395 Destination fee $1,695$300
Ram
DC Laramie$42,335$43,775$1,4403.6L V6
DC Rebel (4X4 only)$46,340$48,365$2,0253.6L V6
DC Bighorn $37,341$39,085$1,7443.6L V6
DC Tradesman$33,340$34,490$1,1503.6L V6
CC Tradesman $36,140$37,340$1,2003.6L V6
CC Bighorn$40,040$41,760$1,7203.6L V6
CC Laramie $45,035$46,625$1,5903.6L V6
CC Longhorn (CC only)$53,035$54,475$1,4403.6L V6
CC Limited (CC only)$55,535$58,545$3,0105.7L HEMI V8
DC Tradesman 2WD$38,585$39,485$900EcoDiesel
Note: All models listed, unless otherwise specified are 4x4 Destination $1,645 Destination fee $1,695 $50
Toyota Tundra
DC SR$37,435$38,320$8855.7L V8
DC SR5$39,145$40,360$1,2155.7L V8
DC Limited$45,430$47,035$1,6055.7L V8
DC TRD PRON/A$48,775N/A5.7L V8
CC SR5$41,565$42,615$1,0505.7L V8
CC Limited$47,295$48,900$1,6055.7L V8
CC Platinum$52,125$53,540$1,4155.7L V8
CC 1794$52,125$53,540$1,4155.7L V8
CC TRD PRO$54,525$54,645$1205.7L V8
Note: All 4X4 modelsDestination fee $1,595

Incentives on new 2021 truck prices play a role

Now, everybody knows you don’t pay MSRP for a new truck if you can avoid it. There always seems to be a deal.

For example, the 2021 Chevy Silverado LT crew cab we talked about earlier has some hefty incentives right now on Chevrolet.com.

The discounts and rebates on this 2021 Chevy Silverado LT crew cab look pretty good UNTIL you consider this truck is priced at $3,600 more than it was just 2 years ago. Sure, you are still netting a lower price, but it isn’t that much lower in reality. (Screenshot Chevrolet.com)

If you look at the deal above, you’d think you are saving $6,000 off the retail price, and that’s a STEAL! 

But that’s not the reality.

The reality is you are really only getting $2,400 off on the truck after you consider it was already marked up $3,600 from just two years ago. It is like Walmart putting something on sale at 50% off, then taking it off sale, moving it to clearance, marking it up to the original price and putting it on sale for 65% off.

Who are they really fooling?

The bottom line on 2021 truck starting prices

While some of the cost increases can be explained by more standard safety equipment as well as new features, the fact is the prices are far outside the realm of common sense. For example, factoring in inflation at 3.73% since 2019, that means if you spent a $100 back then, you’d spend $103.73 today.

That math simply doesn’t equate to a starting MSRP in the thousands more.

The reality is with the hot truck market, constrained inventories and more technology in trucks, consumers can expect to pay more and more (and more) for a new truck. Longer loan terms, higher payments and more expensive payments are the future for a while.

And that’s not going to be a good thing for anyone.

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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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