Talking Trucks Tuesday: What Influences Your Buying Decision?

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By G.R. Whale

Automotive journalists are asked all the time for advice on what type of vehicle folks should buy: new or used, purchased or leased, etc. Some heed our advice; others ignore us until we say what they want to hear — no point letting reason or facts get in the way.

Ford recently announced F-150 production cutbacks to balance its "days supply," an industry practice that measures inventory against demand. Manufacturers consider 60 days' supply or less good. The most sales data from Automotive News (subscription required) put the Ford F-Series at 101 days, the Chevrolet Silverado at 87, the GMC Sierra at 114 and Ram at 81; unfortunately, numbers for Nissan (62 days) and Toyota (41 days) include all "truck" data, meaning crossovers and SUVs along with pickups. Mid-size pickups are doing much better than full-size pickups, but small vans are doing much worse than the larger models.

Those days of supply often correlate with factory incentives. For the October time frame that Automotive News' data covers, 2017 model cash rebates ranged from $250-$2,250 for Ram, $300-$2,000 for Ford, $500-$1,500 for GM, up to $2,500 for Nissan and zero at Toyota; you can roughly double those amounts for 2016s.

Industry analyst Black Book (subscription required) says annual average depreciation for full-size pickups is now 12.4 percent compared to 3.1 percent a year ago and "small" pickups are depreciating at 8.9 percent compared to 2.9 a year ago. The retention rate for full-size pickups peaked in 2013 when they retained 66 percent of their value; they still are among the best retention values, but expect used values to come down.

Now that you know about the money, it's time to research pickups. Beyond brand experience, friends' recommendations, forums, published tests and reliability data, and some people look to Consumer Reports' (subscription required) 2016 Ratings & Pricing Guide — even if its methods don't consider ease of modification. For 2016 CR recommended just one pickup or commercial van; not surprisingly, it was the Toyota Tundra.

So what's important to you when buying a truck? Is it the truck, the deal, the depreciation, others' opinions or something else? Let us know in the comment section below. image by Mark Williams; graphic by Paul Dolan



Price price price


in that order currently for a used truck. Hence I ended up most recently purchasing a 2009 Honda Ridgeline. I have owned these trucks in the past:
1988 Toyota Pickup V6 4x4 std cab/box 5 speed
2001 Ford F150 King Ranch Supercrew 5.4 V8 4x4 w/ off road package
1991 Ford F150 XLT I6 5 speed reg cab/box

Truck that fits the needs for what I am going to be doing with it.
No other truck comes close to my Power Wagon for towing heavy loads off road.

For a Truck

Reputation/Reviews/Experience (gotta last past 10 years and 150 preferably 200K with 0 issues before 150 and only minor to 200)
Needs vs Wants


For a Car

Performance / Economy
Reputation/Reviews/Experience (gotta last past 10 years and 150 preferably 200K with 0 issues before 150 and only minor to 200)
Needs vs Wants

1. Price
2. Reliability
3. Safety
4. US made!

When you have $60,000 MSRP's for a truck that only cost $30,000 to manufacture it should not be a surprise so see 12% annual depreciation.

@nperry. exactly why I now buy used, get a 2 year old low mileage truck, still have warranty left and lots less money since the depreciation hit already took place. No more new trucks for me, waste of money.

1.) Payload
2.) Available 8' bed
3.) Range/Fuel Tank Size/Fuel Economy
4.) Towing capacity
5.) Corrosion warranty/prevention and materials of construction
6.) Manual transmission is a huge plus
7.) Reliability
8.) Price

Do I even need to say it?

1) Size
2) AWD/4WD
3) Performance
4) Economy
5) Color
6) Extended cab (not crew)

• By now, every reader here knows I think today's American pickup trucks are too big. This includes every member of the mid-sized pack, though they're in some cases barely acceptable.
• Where I live, some form of 4WD is needed for handling winters which have been known to dump snow as early as November and as late as April with at least one major storm of 12" or more. Add to this the frequent trip to the in-Laws with a dirt driveway and a moderate incline to reach a paved road along with certain "unimproved" shortcuts to the nearest highway and you can see the need.
• Also considering where I live, at least a reasonable level of acceleration and agility are needed Part of this is managed through driving a smaller-sized truck which also means you can get away with a smaller engine. Typically 175-200 horses is enough for the need when your truck weighs 1,000# less than a full-sized model.
• Adding the smaller size and the lower horsepower means the economy *should* be pretty good. Highway mileage of 30+ should be eminently possible if the design is suitably aerodynamic.
• I'm sick and tired of today's monochromatic market. The vast majority of cars and trucks are white, grey, red or black (or close enough to black as to make little difference.) Yes, the vehicles I own each are one of these colors but that is far more due to taking what was available as compared to ordering like I did my previous two new-car purchases. I plan to paint my existing truck away from its stark, white coloring to something more of either a Burnt Orange or a Mahogany Brown with metal flake highlight. What used to be called 'metallic' paint.
• As for crew cab, I simply have no need for it but I do want more room in the cab for carrying packages and gear out of the weather than a standard cab offers.

Say what you will about my choices but I will remind you that I'm not a sheep to follow the flock. Rather, I'm a fox that chooses to go his own way and live his own life, not somebody else's.

1. Truck actually has ground clearance to go on the farm/offroad (knocks out the GM half tons)
2. Durability (knocked out the aluminum F-150 and sadly the new Super Duty's for me. Too many people with aluminum issues cracking and taking major damage, also knocked out the GM half tons due to the shake that GM can't fix)
3. Reliability
4. Value
5. Resell value (knocks out Ram)
6. Aftermarket support for modifications (lift/bumpers/customizable options)
7. Fuel tank size ( I will not purchase another truck with only ~26 gallon fuel capacity)

My choices:
My personal truck is a 2016 Toyota Tundra Platinum 5.7/4x4 ($52,000 MSRP), I think it has a $750 rebate when I went to purchase it. Walked out the door with it for $48,000 fully loaded up as a Tundra can be.

My farm truck is a 2007 reg cab/long bed 2500HD classic WT (6.0 Vortec/NV4500 5 Speed manual/4.10 gears with cloth seats, vinyl floors and cruse control). Basically plain-Jane and I think the MSRP on it back in 2007 was $28,850.00. Walked out the door with it for $23,500.00 brand new in 2007. I think it has ~60,000 hard farm miles on it and all I've had to replace so far is one CV axle due to a ripped boot.

Hopefully GM doesn't screw up the HD GM trucks like they have done to the half tons with various issues they can't seem to fix. I'll be in the market for a new HD farm truck here soon.

It must be a full size truck and must have a Multilink Rear Coil or Air Suspension and a HEMI. Otherwise, I don't prefer any brand.


2016 Tacoma 4x4 SR $26,000, daily driver.
2010 Tacoma 4x4 SR5 $25,000, still own and drive.
2005 Tacoma X-Runner $23,000, sold, went out of racing it.

A 4-cylinder non-diesel (does not work well in northern states) that can actually off-road!

Ground clearance and solid approach, break-over and departure angles that can be improved on.

Stout reliability on and off-road!

No wonder I continue to buy Toyota trucks!

1.) Capability/ Reliability (tie): has to be able to do what I need done, when I need it done, does me no good if it is in the shop
2.) Features at a given trim level: I want my truck purchase to be one transaction, no going around to 5 other shops to get a new radio, wheels and tires that dont suck, leather seats (people go on about how all they need is cloth, but honestly, cloth is harder to keep clean, easier to damage/stain/ruin, and it just screams cheap, if it is a true work truck get vinyl, otherwise leather is a waaayyyyy better investment). Most of the mid level packages like the SLE/LT, XLT etc. seem like good value until you price one out that has everything you want in the truck. You are still left with a mid level trim package that cost within maybe $1000-2000 of a SLT/LTZ/Lariat, and those will have better resale value and be a better truck all around.
3.) Price, yeah it takes a back seat to the previous two but I still have practical limits.
4.) Fuel economy/cost of ownership: If I find two different trucks that meet all the previous criteria, I absolutely will chose the one that gets better gas mileage/ costs me less on the road.

Last of my concernes is Brand, I really shouldnt even have this one here, brand loyalty is a good way to get trapped into over paying/ settling for a truck that isnt exactly what you need/want

1. Fit in my garage first (no point having a $60000+ truck baking in the sun)
2. Safety
3. Reliability
4. Options
5. Looks & design
6. Price

American made
Mid-size or smaller
gas mileage

I would like a Colorado ZR2 to replace my GMC Canyon, but I do not want all the bells and whistles, just give me a good radio, heater/ac, heated and cooled seats and cruise control, period....

Must be at least a 3/4 ton with a hemi, vortec, or cummins, regular cab , 8ft box, low level trim without all the driver nannies and safety crap to cause problems, don't care about color. Lol

In my 40 years of driving have never had Chevy motor or tranny fail yet..

I only buy new nowadays and keep it for ten years or more..

jar of Rust check undercoating before winter does wonder to keep it rust free so far..

Have 08 Silvy thats been trouble free all these years..

My next vehicle will be electric,,Tesla most likely..unless GM makes hybrid electric truck..

Wow look at those low hanging plastic air dams on the front...already saw one on new 2017 f150 all mangled at gas station

1. Resale value. I've only lost an average of $1k/yr on the three Ram CTDs I've sold (2003, 2011, 2006).
2. Length of Warranty. Have only needed it twice for fairly minor stuff with my three previous Rams plus my current one, but it's nice to know it's there.
3. Dealer service experience. Will they take care of me if I need #2?

What a great question for all to respond too.

1) wants and needs.

2) I have to have heated seats.

3) I also have to have 4wd.

4) Reg cab/shortbox for a full size.Extended cab/long box for a midsize.

5) color selection,interior/exterior

6) whatever brand has the above,at the lowest price.

( I am not brand loyal )

Standard length box, extended cab and 4x4 are mandatory.

1. Engines. A motor designed for trucks and used in trucks, not every vehicle in the lineup (pentastar). And makes peak power down low not peak hp at 6400 rpm.

2. Lack of features. Vibrating seats when traffic approaches or chimes, and talking computer is out of the question. Simpler interior is what I look for. Bare bones.

3. Looks.

4. Capability. Not really a concern, I've only come across one halfton that fails capability. Ram 1500 payload squats too easily with a heavy old school sled or patio stones.

My requirements of use are highway commuter, hold all my tools and equipment for the job site, get me around on the job site. Get my quad and sled to the trails, get around in the trails on weekends. Then less often things like dump runs, purchasing furniture, cutting down Xmas tree to moving.

Need it to make my living and allow ease of recreational activities. PIus am the kind of guy who won't borrow a pickup to move I'd rather own one.

So my last purchase was a new 2015 silverado 1500 WT v6 4x4. Cheap to buy, cheap to run (fuel economy), cheap to maintain (oil changes) for a new full-size truck, simple to use, less things to go wrong compared to higher trims and good looking ( blacked out WT). Big fan of manual transfer case. I wish it was manual trans. Truck is gutless compared to any of large v8's these days or even ecoboost or hemi but it serves its purpose as a truck.

Ford got newer trucks then GM and they have higher incentives. The AL wonder trucks must really suck HAHA!

Reputation of the local dealer
Knowing the dealer will treat me fair after the sale
Respected technicians that work for the dealer
Kindness and respect for the salesmen at dealership

I love my local dealer but I admit I am not in love with the brand of truck he sells and I own but the dealership makes up for that.

*Domestic parts content/final assembly (my gmc 60% / USA)
*warranty (my 2015 gmc 100k 5 years )
*smooth on and off-road (no vibrations yet 23k miles)
*bed tech, power outlets, dividers, lights, built in tool box on sides (I wish mine had these).
*turning radius (mine is good)
*price! (I scored 11k off of 41k sticker)
*resell value
*not having to bring it in with issues under 50k miles (even little stuff like headlight moisture)

four things I always rate highly

1. versatility
2. utility
3. reliability
4. brand

some things I never consider

1. initial price
2. color
3. fuel economy
4. status

Five Factors, in order:

1) Manual Transmission, MT (read: MANUAL TRANSMISSION!!);
2) Crew Cab;
3) Long Bed (Min. 6 feet);
4) Prior Reputation (reliability, etc);
5) Price.

Don't care about America-vs-Foreign debate (since all vehicles use parts from everywhere and get assembled everywhere nowadays). But the Kogod School of Economics has an analysis of % American made, for those who are interested: the results may astound!
Don't care about 4WD for my purposes. My view is that unless you REALLY need 4WD for intense off-roading, you are wasting purchase money; will be having higher repair and maintenance issues; and be reducing fuel mileage. Yet I live in a deep winter snow-state. But with an MT; weight in the back (50/50 distribution); and decent winter tires, my past trucks have been almost unstoppable: I have NEVER gotten stuck.



thanks for mentioning manual trans. Some of today's electronically controlled auto trans are pretty amazing, but the stick wins.

I lived in the midwest growing up and drove a ton of commercial miles and never once got stuck. Put in a lot of hours on tractors too.

Never got stuck. The clutch is your friend! Learn it, love it.

I dont understand why some of you say resale is a factor, dont you feel bad when you pay 30K for a truck and put 130K miles on it and its worth 5k?

-reliability - will it break down on me
-durability - is it going to fall apart or rust out in a few years
-other peoples comments - real people that i interact with and not fanboys like on here
-lean very heavy to american made - if they ever made a good solid truck out of the tundra i might look at it
-used to have hauling on my list but all trucks are pretty good in this field except maybe the ram 1500 due to its coil springs
-lean heavy to the previous brand i owned if it was a good truck, but always look at the competition
-options the truck has

Resale Value

=Toyota Tundra. All others suck.

1. Reliability
2. 3/4 ton so if I want to haul a few rocks, concrete blocks, or a load of manure, gravel, firewood or anything else besides dried leaves, it won't be overloaded.
3. 4wd

That leaves a choice between the near identical Silverado or Sierra 2500 twins with the 6.0 liter gas engine.

For me I drive usually 10-12 years and try to always get 250,000 miles + on them.
End of a model run, longest time without major changes to most everything = least issues or bugs.
As loaded as I can find, helps wanting to keep it a long time.
#1 Reliability
#2 Fuel economy
#3 Capability
1 Ton long box, 4X4 Crew cab
Last year was a GMC for me a couple of years from now maybe a Ford, sorry but never a Ram, I had one which was no good after 60,000 miles.




Quality built



Multiple platforms

All of which are conviently wrapped up in either of the GM mid or full size twins.


As I review the preferences that everybody listed above, they are all over the map! It is difficult to find a single, overwhelming dominant thread, although "price" and "reliability" seems to have appeared in the lead position more than others.

It makes me understand how difficult it must be for truck manufacturers to hit the "sweet spot" for everybody.


Hello the answer for me is : It has to be American Made. Ram, Ford and Chevy only.

"Truck that fits the needs for what I am going to be doing with it."


Consumer Reports rated the Ram 2500 the worst truck on the market.

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