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Before there was the GMC Sierra 1500 Denali and Ford F-150 King Ranch, manufacturers thought luxury trucks needed to come from luxury brands. These luxury-branded pickups were an attempt to get folks who expect a premium feel from their ride to purchase a truck. But in 2023, while luxury trucks are thriving, none come from luxury brands. What happened?

What happened to luxury pickup trucks?

Luxury pickup truck models are not gone; they just don’t come from luxury brands. In the early 2000s, brands like Lincoln and Cadillac were turning out trucks. Cadillac had the Escalade EXT that came with four doors and is based on the Chevy Avalanche. Meanwhile, there is the first luxury truck, known as the Lincoln Blackwood. It’s based on the Ford F-150. 

Want to know how big of a flop the Lincoln Blackwood is? Lincoln only sold it in the United States for the 2002 model year. In 2002, Ford sold over 800,000 F-Series trucks. Meanwhile, Lincoln managed to move about 3,000 units of the Blackwood. 

A Cadillac Escalade EXT owned by Dwyane Wade is a luxury-branded truck.
Cadillac Escalade EXT | Gregory Bojorquez via Getty Images

At first, the Cadillac Escalade EXT did pretty OK for itself. But its sales also dipped enough to justify cancellation after just two generations. In 2006, Lincoln tried to make another luxury truck with the Mark LT, but it met a similar fate to its predecessor. 

People like luxury trucks, not luxury-branded trucks

From my experience with trucks and truck owners, folks do seem to appreciate comfort and some premium features. In 2023, multiple pickup trucks offer air suspension and massaging seats. 

The problem seems to stem from the badge that’s on the front. Folks want trucks from companies that are known for making trucks. The brands include Ford, Chevy, Toyota, Nissan, and others. 

A Lincoln Blackwood is a luxury truck based on the Ford F-150.
Lincoln Blackwood | Ford Motor Company via Getty Images

According to Cox Automotive, the average transaction price for a new truck in 2021 was nearly $60,000. And it does not look like that figure has dropped since then. $60k is getting well into luxury car prices, but instead of a Cadillac badge on the front of a pickup truck, people are getting the Chevy bowtie. 

Although these expensive trucks are not luxury-branded, they can still be considered luxury trucks. When I drove the 2022 Toyota Tundra Capstone, it felt like a Lexus in disguise to be perfectly honest. Of course, the Capstone trim is on the extreme, as it features nearly everything a new Tundra can. 

Why is the value of trucks so high?

Trucks are built to be tough and last a long time; because of that, they usually command a higher price than other vehicles. Even used trucks can cost more than you would expect, especially if it is a well-regarded model like the Toyota Tacoma. 

A 2023 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro can be an expensive new truck.
2023 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro | Eric Boman, MotorBiscuit

Although we have lost luxury-branded pickup trucks, we certainly haven’t lost the type of pricing that they come with. Some of the best-selling vehicles in the United States are trucks. So it doesn’t seem like the premium is driving consumers away.

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