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Why Are Pickup Trucks More Expensive Than Cars?

We all want to get the best bang for our buck. 

So, when we buy the more expensive version of something, we want to ensure there is a reason behind the price. 

Thus, let’s discuss whether trucks are worth their higher price tag. 

For the most part, pickup trucks are more expensive than cars because they are much larger, and all that extra material costs additional money. Trucks are also currently huge sales draws, so dealerships often markup truck prices more than other vehicles. 

In this article, I will discuss why pickup trucks are more expensive than cars as well as how much more costly they are. 

Then, I’ll detail the resale value of cars and trucks, whether it’s better to buy a truck or a car, and why pickups are getting more expensive.

4 Reasons Pickups Are More Expensive Than Cars

A blue pickup vehicle parked in front of the trees on a road.

When it comes to vehicle prices, there are a few reasons that pickups tend to be more expensive than cars.

1. Trucks Are Larger

Probably the most apparent reason trucks are more expensive than cars has to do with size. 

Just take a look around any parking lot, and you will see that pickups are some of the biggest vehicles around. 

And all those extra materials that go into making trucks so large affect their price. 

But exactly how much bigger are trucks than cars? 

And is the dollar amount per pound actually equal, or do trucks still cost more in this respect?

Well, the average base light pickup truck weighs 4,000 pounds (1,814 kg), while base model heavy-duty trucks are typically 7,500 pounds (3,402 kg). 

Meanwhile, the typical sedan weighs 3,500 pounds (1,588 kg). 

Regarding price, most pickup trucks have a base model that goes for between $30,000 and $40,000, while heavy-duty pickups cost $40,000 to $50,000 for the base model. 

A base model sedan usually costs between $20,000 and $25,000. 

Thus, a sedan costs about $7 per pound, while a truck costs around $5 to $10 per pound. 

Therefore, trucks and sedans do cost about the same per pound.

2. Trucks Have More Powerful Engines

For the most part, vehicles with more powerful engines cost more money. 

And trucks almost always have more powerful engines than cars. 

For example, the engine in the 2023 Toyota Tundra has 348 hp. 

Meanwhile, the 2023 Chevrolet Malibu’s engine only has 160 hp. 

This difference is quite significant, and it’s expressed in the prices, as the 2023 Tundra starts at $36,965 while the 2023 Malibu begins at $24,700. 

Of course, horsepower isn’t the only reason these vehicles have different prices, but it is a contributing factor. 

3. Trucks Are More Popular

According to Forbes Wheels, light trucks are now outselling cars at a three-to-one ratio. 

With this astounding popularity, pickups are now some of the biggest sales draws in the automotive industry. 

And when an item is hot, people are willing to pay a higher price to obtain it. 

Thus, dealerships often markup trucks more so than they do cars.

4. Trucks Are More Reliable

Since manufacturers have to make trucks durable so that they can withstand rugged terrains and manage heavy loads, they tend to be quite a bit more reliable than cars. 

For instance, truck engines and transmissions are less complicated than those in cars, meaning they’re less likely to break and easier to fix. 

Thus, trucks last longer than cars. 

In fact, the average truck will make it about 50,000 miles (80,467 km) farther than the typical car. 

How Much More Do Trucks Cost Than Cars?

Now that we’ve discussed why trucks cost more, let’s actually look at how much more trucks cost than cars. 

As such, here are some of the base model prices for the most popular trucks in North America:

  • 2023 Ford F-150 – $34,085 to $41,030
  • 2023 Toyota Tacoma – $27,250 to $28,080
  • 2023 Ram 1500 – $37,410 to $40,110 
  • 2023 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 – $35,600 to $41,300 
  • 2023 Toyota Tundra – $36,965 to $39,015
  • 2023 GMC Sierra 1500 – $36,400 to $42,100

For comparison, below are the base model prices for the most popular sedans in North America: 

  • 2022 Honda Civic – $22,550 
  • 2023 Toyota Corolla – $21,550 
  • 2022 Honda Accord – $26,520 
  • 2023 Nissan Altima – $25,290 
  • 2023 Chevrolet Malibu – $24,700 
  • 2023 Toyota Camry – $25,945

Now, to round everything up, we can determine that the average base truck costs around $36,612, while a base sedan is about $24,425. 

So, on average, a truck costs about $12,187 more than a sedan.

Do Pickup Trucks Have a Higher Resale Value Than Cars?

An old car with a For Sale sign on its windshield.

If you’re torn between buying a pickup or a car, you may want to consider resale value. 

And common knowledge says that pickup trucks hold their value better than cars. 

But is this true?

Actually, cars hold their value a little better than trucks. 

Typically, cars lose 41.6% of their value after five years. 

In the same period, a truck will typically lose 44.1%. 

So, although the difference isn’t huge, you could potentially lose out on money later if you buy a truck. 

Is it Better to Buy a Truck or a Car?

Comparing trucks and cars is kind of like comparing apples and oranges. 

Some people just prefer one over the other. 

Or they need to have one instead of the other. 

Basically, what I’m saying is you can’t make apple pie with an orange, and you can’t haul heavy loads with a car. 

Thus, whether you should buy a truck or a car really depends on your personal situation. 

Generally, I believe you should only buy a truck if you need or really want one. 

And I say this mainly because trucks tend to be more expensive, as they cost more to buy, get lower mpg, and don’t hold their value as well as cars. 

Also, trucks, especially large trucks, can be quite challenging to drive in crowded places or on narrow roads and can be a pain to park. 

However, if you want a powerful engine, the ability to tow, and low maintenance costs, you should go with a truck. 

Why Are Pickup Trucks Getting More Expensive?

Three pickup trucks parked in the parking lot.

There are several reasons that pickup trucks have gotten more expensive over the past few decades, but the main ones have to do with popularity and technology. 

You see, prior to the 2000s, people saw pickup trucks almost exclusively as work vehicles. 

However, over the years, more and more people have bought them as family cars. 

This rise in popularity has sent the price of pickup trucks skyrocketing. 

Additionally, now that many people use their pickups as their daily vehicles, they want them to have the same technology found in new cars. 

And with more technology comes a higher price tag. 

Bottom Line

Pickup trucks have steadily gotten more expensive over the years to the point that they typically cost about $12,000 more than the average car. 

However, despite the price difference, buying a pickup truck is still the best decision for many people.

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