Trucks Aren’t Getting Cheaper: Why We Need the Ranger

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2015 Ford F-150

Trucks keep getting more and more expensive! Trucks used to be a tool to tow a trailer or work on a construction site, but now often perform the role of the family car. Buyers demand creature comforts like satellite radio and leather seats. That’s one of many reasons for the price increase. But even base prices have soared.

Just look at the 2015 F-150. The $25,420 F-150 XL is as bare-bones as it comes. The base XL is a regular cab with a non-turbo 3.5L engine and 2WD. Sure, it’s made mostly out of aluminum, but that’s still a lot of money. If you are an option box checker like me, expect to pay almost $63,000!

Trucks make money for manufacturers. Ford pickups have been the number one selling vehicle, not just truck, in the United States since I was in diapers. They pack profit margin into their trucks because they make very little on the cars they sell.

If you decide you want one of those cheap ones, good luck finding one on a dealer lot. Unless you special order it, don’t expect seeing many dealerships carrying them. Dealers like selling cars with options.

2015 Chevrolet Colorado

Now look at Motor Trend‘s Truck of the Year. Surprisingly, it’s not the Ford F-150. Rather, it’s the Chevrolet Colorado. If you read their article on why they chose the truck, one thing keeps popping up. It’s the price.

The Crew Cab they tested stickers at $23,300. For over $3,000 less, you can get similar features, a more manageable size truck, rear seats, and an interior that doesn’t feel as cheap as it is. Before you flame me, put yourself in the position of a fleet buyer. Which would you get?

ford ranger 600

The death of the Ford Ranger made us all sad. The fact that you can’t get it in the United States, even though they still make it for the rest of the world, frustrates many. I think we have no one else to blame but ourselves.

When Ford axed the Ranger, they probably asked themselves if people would switch to a different brand, like Toyota or Nissan, for our truck needs. They then determined that we wouldn’t. We’d rather keep buying Fords and buy a truck that’s more than what we need than switch brands. I think the proof is in the sales; F-150s are still flying off of dealership lots.

I think Motor Trend‘s award is a referendum on expensive trucks. The new F-150 is plenty likable. That new 2.7L EcoBoost is a peach of an engine and the use of aluminum really is a forward-looking approach. But Chevrolet came along with a different offering; a back-to-basics truck with sensible options. Yes, you can still load a Colorado up with lots of goodies, but I don’t expect fully-loaded ones to be the primary sellers.

2011 Ford Ranger

People will continue to demand luxury trucks with lots of features. The cabin of a 2015 F-150 is a nice place to be, especially in Platinum trim. It’ll practically drive itself while massaging your back the entire way. But the success of the Colorado means there is still interest in a smaller, more sensible truck. Ford is missing out by not offering consumers an option. Yes, you could say the Transit Connect is better for work because it has enclosed storage, but really they need to bring here what we all want; a new Ford Ranger.

And we want it now.

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Chad Kirchner is a regular contributor to Corvette Forum and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other auto sites.

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