Whether you’re buying a truck to haul your weekend toys or transport tools to the job site, you want one that fits your budget. Some trucks can be expensive when you add big, powerful engines and upscale features to them. Since trucks tend to have worse fuel economy than cars or crossovers, the cost of fuel can start to add up. There is a truck out there for you, though, regardless of your price range.
Compact Pickup Trucks Less Than $20,000
If you want to spend less than $20,000 for a new truck, shop compact pickups. These trucks are the smallest on the market, but most are capable enough to tow jet skis or four wheelers. Spend about $18,000 and you’ll get a very basic compact pickup. That means you’ll get a four-cylinder engine, a three-seat regular cab, two-wheel drive and few interior features. Most compact pickups come standard with only the most basic features, like air conditioning and an AM/FM radio.
If a base model compact pickup doesn’t come with enough standard features for you, you can outfit your compact truck with a five-seat extended or crew cab, V6 engine, four-wheel drive and interior features like power door locks, power windows and Bluetooth connectivity. Be careful when you start looking at options. A fully-loaded compact pickup truck can easily cost as much as a full-size truck, especially in crew cab configuration with seating for up to six.
Take the Toyota Tacoma, for example. It starts at about $17,500 and comes standard with a three-seat cab, two-wheel drive, a four-cylinder engine and a CD stereo with Bluetooth. But when you spring for a double cab, four-wheel drive and opt for the Limited package, the Tacoma’s price can climb to more than $36,000. Suddenly, this affordable little truck isn’t so affordable any more. For that kind of money, you can get a more capable full-size pickup truck.
Full-Size Pickup Trucks $23,000 and Up
A basic full-size truck starts at about $23,000, but most can be equipped to cost $50,000 or more. Most models have a standard V6 engine, rear-wheel drive, a regular cab and a very basic interior with vinyl seats and few standard features. If you want an extended cab, which will add a small back seat, expect to pay $2,500 to $5,000 more -- and that’s before you add powertrain options like a V8 engine or four-wheel drive. If you want a full-size back seat, you’ll need to get a crew cab. Getting a crew cab usually adds about $5,000 to $9,000 to the truck’s base price.
Interior packages on pickup trucks run the gamut from utilitarian work trucks to near-luxury vehicles. The base GMC Sierra 1500 starts at slightly less than $24,500, but if you go for the top-of-the-line Denali trim, you’ll pay $47,000 or more. For that money, you get the most powerful V8 offered in the Sierra 1500, heated leather seats, a crew cab and a Bose stereo. Go for the base Work Truck trim, and you get a basic regular cab truck with little more than an AM/FM stereo.
Heavy-Duty Trucks $29,000 and Up
As much as full-size truck prices vary, heavy-duty truck prices vary even more. And like full-size trucks, you can get a heavy-duty truck that’s built just for work, or you can get something more luxurious. A basic heavy-duty truck starts at about $29,000. The price increases significantly when you start adding diesel engines and other performance and interior options.
For example, a base two-wheel drive regular cab Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD starts at $29,300. It has a standard 6.0-liter V8 engine, an AM/FM stereo and air conditioning. But if you want a 6.6-liter turbodiesel engine, you’ll spend about an extra $7,200, plus $1,200 for the diesel-specific transmission.
Luxury Trucks $50,000 and Up
Nearly every automaker offers a luxury trim for their full-size and heavy-duty pickups. A fully-loaded Ford F-150 Limited starts at about $50,000 and can be optioned to cost more than $55,000. That gets you a crew-cab pickup with four-wheel drive, a maximum trailer towing package, navigation, leather-appointed seats and a rearview camera. Opting for the Ram 3500 HD in its most luxurious Limited trim with a 6.7-liter Cummins Turbo Diesel engine, navigation system and rear camera starts at about $56,000.
The most expensive truck on the market is the Cadillac Escalade EXT. It starts at about $63,000, though it can cost close to $74,000 depending on the trim and options you choose. It’s a sport utility truck, which means that it’s an SUV with a pickup bed, so it can’t tow or haul as much as a competing full-size or heavy-duty truck. Still, you can’t beat the Escalade EXT’s level of interior luxury or bold exterior styling.
Clearly, truck prices vary quite a bit from about $17,000 to $70,000. But if you know what kind of performance and features you want, you should be able to find a truck that fits your lifestyle and your budget.