Is Now a Good Time to Buy a Pickup Truck?

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Ford will soon reveal an all-new generation of its full-size F-150 pickup truck. While it may not be a total redesign as the 2015 model which incorporated aluminum body panels for the first time, everything on the truck will get a serious revamp. The 2021 Ford F-150 goes on sale later this year.

As the undisputed sales leader among all vehicles, the new F-150 arrives at an auspicious time—some call it the Golden Era of the Pickup Truck. Shoppers have 13 models to choose from in mid- and full-size trucks as well as a myriad of cab, bed, and powertrain configurations. You can pay as little as $22,495 for a base 20202 Chevrolet Colorado to well over $60,000 for Super Duty versions of the Ford F-Series.

Pickup truck sales sizzle

So far this year, pickup truck sales have been fantastic despite the turmoil from the COVID-19 shutdown.  In a market down 23 percent through May, pickups are down only 7 percent. Midsize trucks—think Ford Ranger, Toyota Tacoma, Chevy Colorado, etc.—and their larger full-size brethren—Chevy Silverado, Ram pickups, Toyota Tundra, etc.—are shining bright in an otherwise dismal market. In fact, in April, pickup trucks outsold traditional sedans for the first time ever.

Pickup trucks are useful tools but changing consumer tastes and more car-like amenities have really boosted their acceptance as daily drivers.  Consider the interior appointments of a Ram Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab. Light Mountain Brown leather all over the place, with ventilated front- and rear seats. Dual-pane sunroof. An available 19-Speaker Harman Kardon® Premium Sound. Adaptive cruise control. Blind-spot monitoring. All that. Or consider the sheer breath-grabbing look of the Jeep Gladiator Mojave or the fact you can buy a full-size Ford pickup that delivers nearly 30 mpg on the highway if you have a light foot. This is a Golden Era.

Practicality counts

But, it’s not just comfort and convenience that’s driving pickup sales. A side effect of COVID-19 is more interest in outdoor activities like camping and biking. Sales of bicycles, trailers, boats, and other outdoor equipment are strong with stocks in short supply. All these activities along with increased road trips instead of flying to vacation destinations have further fueled interest in pickups.

Even if you owned a pickup truck before or are looking to take the plunge for the first time, keep in mind that the prices you encounter will be higher than those shopping for traditional cars. In May, according to an estimate by the Kelley Blue Book data team, the average full-size pickup cost $51,240. Mid-size trucks, fortunately, are far less at $36,482, just below the industry average for a new vehicle.

Shift in pickup truck incentives

With manufacturers shutting down production for two months this spring, inventories of popular models may be tight. On the other hand, there are some deals to be had if you know where to look.

Earlier this spring, manufacturers were running 0-percent, 84-month finance deals across their entire lineup. These incentives help lower monthly payments by both their 0-percent rate and the extended terms. However, given the strength of pickup truck sales, those deals were pulled back. There are still some 0-percent 72-month as well as other cash offers and discounts, some nearing $10,000. But these deals tend to be on 2019 models or vehicles like the 2020 Ram 1500 Classic, which is essentially the previous-generation Ram still in production.

Class of 2021: All the New and Redesigned Cars, Trucks and SUVs

While the traditional half-ton full-size pickup market is dominated by Ford, Ram, Chevrolet, and GMC, buyers should also consider the Toyota Tundra or Nissan Titan. Both are good choices, although neither has been able to make a dent in the full-size pickups segment. But that doesn’t mean the products are vastly inferior. To the contrary. Both are excellent vehicles that are sure to satisfy. Be aware: Toyota is short on inventory; Nissan Titan inventory is plentiful, so the deals will be commensurate with supply.

The midsize truck market, with the return of the Ford Ranger and addition of Jeep Gladiator, is more competitive thanks to a wide range of makes that even includes Honda with its Ridgeline. As a result of that the variety of models, incentives tend to be easier to find among these vehicles.

 More: 10 Best Truck Deals  

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