Here’s Why Most Pickup Truck Buyers Ignore Manufacturer MSRPs

Pickup manufacturers like to brag about the low MSRPs of their full-size light-duty trucks. But here’s the truth: the advertised prices are for such a stripped-down pickup that most buyers limited to that price would opt for a mid-size truck instead.

What is the cheapest full-size truck in 2023?

The MSRP automakers advertise for a pickup often refers to two-door, 2WD truck with the absolute base engine. According to Edmunds, the 2023 Ford F-150 XL starts at $36,380. The Silverado 1500 Work Truck has an MSRP of $37,395.

Ford's render of its entry-level full-size half-ton F-150 XL work truck trim which has the lowest MSRP.
2022 Ford F-150 XL | Ford Motor Company

At the time of writing, Ford is advertising its F-150 MSRP as $33,695, and Chevy has its Silverado listed at $36,300–before dealer markups, destination fees, and other closing costs such as registration.

The Ram pickup truck is a bit more complicated to price. The automaker only offers its fifth-generation Ram 1500 as a four-door with an MSRP of $37,410. Edmunds claims you’ll pay at least $38,295 for the 2023 model. Ram still builds its fourth-generation truck–mostly for sale as a fleet vehicle–with a regular cab. It has yet to list a 2023 model of this work truck, but you can still order a 2022 Ram 1500 “Classic” starting at $31,445.

Like Ram, Toyota is only building the latest generation of its Tundra with four doors. Edmunds lists the 2022 Toyota Tundra SR’s starting price as $37,645–with a double cab and 6′ bed. Toyota is listing its 2023 MSRP as $36,965, so we’ll have to wait and see what surcharges apply.

These prices are all much higher than they were in 2022: Ford, Chevy and Ram all advertised one stripped-down truck for less than $30k. But as manufacturing costs rise, all these automakers have been forced to let go of the $30k price point.

Is an entry-level full-size truck worth it?

It’s incredible that automakers can afford to offer a full-size pickup truck for under $40k. But at that price point, the capabilities of these trucks will be severely limited.

A render of Ram's 1500 Classic work truck with a regular cab and no chrome.
2022 RAm 1500 Classic | Stellantis

For example, the Ford F-150 XL comes with a 3.3-liter V6 that makes 290 horsepower and can tow a maximum of 8,200 pounds–when optioned with the right equipment. It has 2WD and just two doors. You can upgrade every aspect of the truck but will have to pay extra to do so. The Ram 1500 Classic is similar: power comes from the 305-horsepower Pentastar V6, and the base price includes a regular cab and 2WD powertrain.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with these trucks, especially if you only want 2WD and one row of seating. They have the presence of any other full-size truck, as well as lots of room in the bed. But there’s a reason many buyers are opting for midsize pickup trucks instead.

Midsize trucks might offer more value than entry-level full-size pickups

The Ford Ranger Lariat tremor midsize pickup truck parked for a promo photo in the middle of an off-road trail.
Ford Ranger Lariat Tremor | Ford Motor Company
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Let’s take a look at the Ford Ranger. Edmunds puts its MSRP at $27,895–and that’s with a small back seat. You can also option this midsize pickup truck to tow up to 7,500 pounds with the base 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine.

Edmunds estimates that the 2023 Chevrolet Colorado will start at a similar price: $28,000. Its 2.7-liter turbocharged engine makes 237 horsepower and 259 lb-ft of torque. It can even tow up to 7,700 pounds.

The low MSRPs of some full-size light-duty pickup trucks are tempting. But for capabilities such as 4WD or a high towing capacity, you’ll end up paying a lot more. If you are attached to this price point, you may actually find the midsize trucks built by the same manufacturers are a better option.

Next, find out whether midsize pickup trucks are actually cheaper than full-size.