Nobody is even pretending that they are for work anymore. Whenever I write about pickup trucks being used as urban family haulers, I get buried in comments about how “these are working vehicles.” How they are needed on the farm and the job site. I do not doubt that this is true for many people, though I am not certain that working men and women need a 750-watt sound system and active noise cancellation.
But that’s not what is driving the market. Now Mike Colias of the Wall Street Journal confirms it: pickups are now luxury vehicles. In recent years, Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler introduced trucks at price points well into the luxury-vehicle territory, offering plusher interiors, more powerful engines, and premium options like massage seats and touch screens the size of small TVs. Some trucks are even priced above $75,000, making them more expensive than certain luxury cars.
One customer who bought a $52,000 Ram Laramie enjoys “a yawning sunroof, heated second-row seats and a video feed that provides a 360-degree aerial view of the truck’s surroundings.” “I particularly love the surround cameras to park this beast,” said Mr. Newlon, a 49-year-old small-business owner from southwest Ohio. One might note that he wouldn’t need cameras if he could actually see the cars around him when he was parking. The trucks are a hit with the car makers because a 25 percent duty protects them on foreign-made trucks, so there is really not much competition.
And when you read the comments, it is clear that many buyers are pleased with them: My 6-seater 2015 F150 Supercrew Lariat is the best luxury car I have ever owned. And that includes my previous Mercedes, BMW, Cadillac, and Lexus sedans. In another article, Dan Neil reviewed a Ford F150, who claims that it sparks joy because he is going through Kondo-mania and can haul all his stuff to the flea markets, donation centers, and landfills. This is a $77,000 truck with a few options: This thing was extra-fancy—power-deployed running boards; twin-panel moonroof; powered rear window with defrost; touch screen infotainment and navigation; towing package (optional); 22-inch polished aluminum wheels; heated leather seats all around, bartender—and it was fast.
Yes, some people need pickup trucks for work. Some people have a boat or trailer to pull. But “two-tone leather upholstery, heated/ventilated/massage front seats, touch screen navigation with Bang & Olufsen audio, two-panel moonroof”? I don’t think so. I do not begrudge anyone their fun. But because these were work vehicles, they are exempt from safety standards that protect pedestrians and kill at three times the passenger cars rate. Now that they are not working vehicles, they should meet the same safety and fuel efficiency standards as any other car.