The pickup market is booming in 2018. Although we’re about a decade removed from an oil and gas crisis then sent consumers scrambling to buy a Toyota Prius or another hybrid vehicle, Americans are now running the other direction to sweep trucks, SUVs and crossovers right off the lot.
Even Ford, which manufactures North America’s most popular truck in the F-150, sees and is acknowledging this trend, as the company has announced it will stop manufacturing all passenger cars, except for the Mustang.
That doesn’t mean the boomerang back to trucks is irresponsible. Pickups have come a long way in 10 years, particularly with regard to better gas mileage, lasting quality and cabin technology that makes them all the more accessible. If you’re in the market for a new truck, here’s what to look for in one of the hottest markets on the highway.
1. Don’t Settle for Poor Mileage
The full-size gas guzzler is a machine of the past, as the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra can all reach 20 miles to the gallon and beyond with powerful, high-tech six-cylinder engines. There’s still the V8 option for drivers who need more towing and hauling capacity, but experts say the average consumer should strongly consider these more economic engines.
Mid-size trucks, such as the Toyota Tacoma and Chevrolet Colorado, are also more economic choices, as they weigh significantly less and require less fuel to drive on the open road. These are great options for single drivers, who aren’t moving their family across town and don’t need the extra cabin size.
2. Get the Bells and Whistles
What would have been intriguing options 10 years ago are now standard on many truck models. Remember when stock tires barely classified as rubber? Consumers caught on to cost-cutting stock tires, and now trucks come equipped with wheels featuring reputable brands.
The Ford Raptor, for example, is sold standard featuring BF Goodrich KO2 off-road tires. With that in mind, don’t settle for cheap tires on a new truck, and make sure they feature a dependable all-terrain tire from a brand you know and trust.
3. Utilize Apple CarPlay & Android Auto
Some manufacturers (we’re looking at you, Toyota) just haven’t gotten the memo: everyone wants Apple CarPlay or Android Auto in their new vehicle. For those unfamiliar, it’s an interface that essentially puts your smartphone’s home screen and favorite apps right onto the screen of the infotainment center.
Since most proprietary systems are buggy, laggy and feel ancient, systems like CarPlay and Auto are a godsend for drivers who just want to play music off their smartphones or check Google Maps. Additionally, in an age where texting and driving is prevalent, CarPlay and Auto are a huge advantage in keeping drivers’ eyes off their phones and on the road.
4. Know Whether to Off-Road or Not to Off-Road
That is the question. There’s good news for everyone, however, as winners appear on both sides. If you want a truck that can tear up the trail, off-roading features like four-wheel drive, high clearance and grippy tires are available on most new trucks without breaking the bank.
On the other hand, if off-roading isn’t of interest to you, a mid-size pickup that does not include those features is rather inexpensive. For example, the Chevy Colorado starts at $20,500, without all those added options.
It’s a Great Time to Buy a New Truck
It may be a seller’s market for trucks in 2018, but it’s still a great time for consumers to buy a pickup. Now that the market is moving away from sedans and toward larger vehicles, it means trucks are manufactured and perform at their best and will only realize further enhancements in the years to come.