Are trucks America’s new luxury status symbol?

June 14, 2022

Isaac Marchionna had always been a loyal SUV owner until three years ago he upgraded his Toyota 4Runner to a Ford F-150 Raptor—a massive truck with 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque, reports ABC News.

Marchionna, who lives in Oregon, originally bought the $72,000 pickup to go off-roading in the Baja California desert. He soon realized that the Raptor had all the creature comforts he sought in a daily driver.

“It’s aggressive and can bomb through a desert … but drives like a big car, handles very easily and is a very plush ride,” he told ABC News. “Just a pleasant driving experience around town.”

Trucks have definitely become the “it” U.S. vehicle, according to Ivan Drury, a senior manager at Edmunds. They now come equipped with features that once made luxury vehicles stand out. Plus, towing capabilities and bed size have increased in the latest generations.

“Automakers are adding everything—heated and ventilated seats in the front and rear, 360-degree cameras, adaptive cruise control,” Drury told ABC News. “Trucks make your life easier and are more practical than an SUV.”

Sales of trucks have exploded in recent years. They account for 20% of the U.S. automotive market, up from 13% in 2012, according to Edmunds data. Prices have also skyrocketed: the average transaction price of a truck in 2005 was $29,390. Today, consumers are spending $54,564 on average, though trucks can easily top out at—or exceed—six figures.

“I used to think spending $50K or $60K on a truck was outrageous. Now there are $100K pickups,” Tony Quiroga, editor-in-chief of Car and Driver, told ABC News. “Automakers keep producing models that are more and more expensive and there doesn’t seem to be a limit to the appetite.”

When General Motors opened reservations for its $112,595 GMC Edition 1 Hummer EV pickup last October, all units were sold out within ten minutes, the company said. The Hummer’s three electric motors and battery pack produce 1,000 hp and 1,200 lb-ft of torque. The truck’s engineers and designers, however, paid as much attention to the interior and ride quality as the insane performance numbers.

Inside are crisp graphics on two large screens and multiple storage cubbies to hold items. GM said 70% of drivers who made a reservation are new to EVs.

“The way we’ve executed this truck … anyone could drive this,” Brian Malczewski, lead exterior designer of the Hummer EV, told ABC News. “All my friends and family just loved it, regardless of gender.”

Indeed, ABC says, automakers have made trucks so attractive to nontraditional owners—roomy cabins, massage seats, 14-inch screens—that a growing number of families and women are choosing them over SUVs as their primary vehicle, said Andre Smirnov, managing editor at Trucks are no longer utilitarian vehicles with two doors and a flatbed, he pointed out.

“They’re more capable off-road, more maneuverable … and some have noise cancellation,” Smirnov told ABC News. “A truck 20 years ago would rattle and be loud. Now it’s as quiet as a whisper inside.”

He added, “A pickup truck lets a person or family have the ability to do anything or go anywhere. Trucks can absolutely be a status symbol.”

Research contact: @abcnews