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When you buy a truck, you’re not just buying a vehicle to drive, you’re buying its function and capabilities. But as trucks get more capable and more modern, are pickups becoming too expensive for the average American? We’ll take a look at how expensive a truck really is and whether or not trucks will soon be out of the reach of the middle class.

Are trucks expensive? The average price of pickups

While automakers have been trying to keep trucks as affordable as possible, owners are paying for more than just an empty bed and towing capabilities. Today’s trucks must be more functional, durable, and comfortable than ever to impress buyers.

Logically speaking, bigger and better typically results in a higher purchase price. According to PR Newswire, prices of vehicles are continuously increasing across the board and truck prices are no exception. The average price of a mid-size pickup truck in September of 2019 stood at $35,332. But a full-size pickup truck now costs an average of $50,837. 

Why trucks cost so much

As if the average price isn’t high enough, truck prices can vary greatly. Depending on the truck’s brand and configuration, trucks can carry heavy price tags of up to $100,000 or more.

As you’d expect, the price of a truck generally increases with its size and capabilities. Mid-size trucks can cost as low as $20,000, but are smaller and feature lower payload/towing capacities. Heavy-duty trucks, on the other hand, will come with the most impressive towing and payload capabilities, but also the biggest price tag. Standard full-size trucks typically fall somewhere in the middle.

But the expense of a truck isn’t just based on its size and towing capabilities. Today’s trucks come equipped with a slew of technology, like infotainment screens, cameras, and suites of safety tech. Today’s trucks are also more fuel-efficient than ever before, meaning stronger investments in a truck’s powertrain.

Can the middle class afford trucks?

According to recent research performed by the Pew Research Center, roughly 52% of the American population sits within the middle class. But what is the middle class? As seen on CNBC, the middle class is defined as “adults whose annual household income is two-thirds to double the national median.”

The “median household income for the nation has been increasing every year since 2013,” according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But even with that increase, the data collected from 2018 estimates that the real median household income in the U.S. stands at only $61,937 per year.

This takes into consideration a large variation in income by state, however. There are 13 states, as well as the District of Columbia, which report an average income of more than $70,000, but six states report a median household income of less than $50,000. With these numbers, it’s easy to see why fewer and fewer people are able to afford trucks.

Tips on affording a truck

Though there has been an increase in median income, most Americans are generally spending way more than they should on vehicles. Just because you can manage the payments every month, doesn’t make buying an expensive truck a good financial choice.

According to, there are a few tips for not only finding a truck that’s more affordable but also works out the best for your finances in the end. For starters, do not finance a truck loan for more than four years. If you cannot make a down payment at purchase of at least 20%, the truck is too expensive. Lastly, it’s most advisable that your total monthly vehicle expenses should not exceed 10% of your gross income.