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You don’t have to be a car enthusiast to know that pickup trucks are not only top-selling vehicles on today’s market, but they are among the most expensive vehicles as well. Maybe too expensive? Many Americans aren’t happy about the rising cost of trucks.

The survey says …

Last year in the U.S., Ford sold over 900,000 pickups from its F-Series. This segment made up 2,944,395 sales. According to Motor Trend, that’s an increase of roughly 122,000 trucks sold over the previous year. So truck sales are good, right? Not so fast.

Car-buying website CarGurus surveyed truck owners to determine how they felt about today’s trucks, pricing, quality, and value. According to the survey, 68% of truck owners believe their trucks are overpriced. Over 80% of survey participants over the age of 45 agreed with this statement.

Of those who took the survey, 48% percent of the owners don’t think trucks are of the same quality as they once were. 17% of respondents even said they aren’t likely to buy another truck next time. Of those saying they wouldn’t buy a truck next time they shopped for a new vehicle, 37% said they plan to try a crossover or an SUV; 35% anticipate switching to a sedan.

Brand loyalty and rising prices

Are increasing prices testing loyalties to brands? According to CarGurus, yes, they are. 70% of the truck owners surveyed said they’d try another brand if their preferred brand upped its prices by $10,000. That’s up from last year when 64% said they’d switch brands. 

How is loyalty among the brands? 41% of Toyota owners said they wouldn’t contemplate buying any other truck. Chevrolet only had 28% percent pledging this sort of loyalty while only 27% of Ford owners made that claim. So, are trucks’ rising prices simply turning loyal customers cold? 

Not just high prices

Truck owners who participated in the survey weren’t just put off by high prices in the truck segment. A startling 42% mentioned that fuel economy was another concern they had in today’s market. About 47% of buyers said the fuel economy would make them reconsider their buy.

CarGurus’ data pertained to top-level questions. It didn’t offer data on, for example, how many owners were considering switching to midsize trucks from full-size trucks. Such information would provide a more complete picture of the market. With truck sales up over the last year, there’s also the chance that the results of their survey don’t represent the entire U.S. 

Another contributing factor pushing up the cost of trucks, aside from luxury materials and creature comforts, is the dramatic increase in included technology.

It might be something as simple as a touchscreen to access the infotainment system. It might be complex like Chevrolet’s super-advanced cylinder deactivation system. It all adds up when it comes to price. Only about 54% of buyers fully support how much technology their trucks include.

CarGurus Director of Consumer Insights Madison Gross explained that the rise in truck prices has caused many loyal customers to not only reconsider a favored brand but in many cases reconsider buying a truck at all. These truck enthusiasts have loyalty to truck brands. It’s on automakers and dealerships to realize that loyalty isn’t enough.

In the future, we hope CarGurus expand its survey. How does the data translate across truck categories? Is technology more important to a F-150 owner than a RAM 3500 HD? Does brand matter more to the owner of a full-size truck than to the owner of a midsize model? More data on the opinions of truck owners would be helpful in this rapidly-changing landscape.