About Those Prices of New 4x4s


ead­ers of­ten send us emails and mes­sages lament­ing the high prices of new 4x4s. The high­est con­cen­tra­tion of cor­re­spon­dence usu­ally fol­lows our SUV and Pickup Truck of the Year test when folks read how much each 4x4 costs.

The first time I was shocked at a car price was in 1978. My friend’s dad earned a good in­come man­ag­ing a large fac­tory, and he bought his fam­ily a new, fully loaded ’78 Chevy Caprice Clas­sic. It was two-tone blue and had those fancy wire hub­caps. If I re­mem­ber cor­rectly, the car’s sticker price was in the mid$8,000 range, which to the 15-year-old me

Rwas an un­be­liev­able amount of money for a car. In 1980, one of my friends bought a used ’79 Pon­tiac Trans Am. Black, T-tops, loaded. If I re­mem­ber cor­rectly he paid around $10,000 for that car. I dug the car, but it was an ob­ject les­son on the cost of be­ing cool. But my fu­ture brother-in-law’s sil­ver, reg­u­lar cab, longbed ’82 Chevy Scotts­dale 4x4 pickup with a 6.2L diesel and a man­ual trans­mis­sion was the most shock­ing. He bought it new, and it stick­ered for well over $12,000. At the time, my se­nior year in high school, all I could say was, “yikes!”

Prices of 4x4s have con­tin­ued to climb, and we’re see­ing non-dualie 4x4 diesel pick­ups break­ing a sticker price of $80,000. It seems like most well-equipped 1⁄2-ton trucks are stick­er­ing for over $50,000. For some buy­ers this isn’t a prob­lem, as il­lus­trated by all the new pick­ups run­ning around. But for oth­ers, this puts a new truck out of reach. For­tu­nately, there are op­tions.

It’s said that the Nis­san Fron­tier is the least ex­pen­sive 4x4 pickup avail­able in the U.S. at the mo­ment. I went to the Nis­san USA web­site and used the “Build” tool to con­fig­ure a noop­tion ’18 Fron­tier SV 4x4 King Cab. The price came out to $28,835 in­clud­ing des­ti­na­tion charge. For that price, the truck is equipped with a six-cylin­der en­gine and a five-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. Not bad for a brand­new truck that has a de­cent tow rat­ing (6,510 pounds) and cargo ca­pac­ity (1,360). It doesn’t cost much more to bump up to the crew cab ver­sion. Ac­cord­ing to Nis­san’s web­site, that price is $29,815 in­clud­ing des­ti­na­tion charge. Both prices are pretty in­ex­pen­sive nowa­days in the new-truck world.

Want a new full­size truck with all the off-road good­ies but don’t want to pay a lot? Here’s one for ya. Re­cently I had the chance to drive a ’17 Ram 2500 Trades­man with the Power Wagon Pack­age. It wasn’t a Power Wagon per se, but an en­try-level 3⁄4-ton Trades­man truck with all the Power Wagon good­ies like lock­ing dif­fer­en­tials, Warn 12,000-pound winch, skid­plates, front dis­con­nect­ing sta­bi­lizer bar, and more. Yeah, Ram lets you simply add the Power Wagon Pack­age and get the goods without go­ing full-zoot for a Power Wagon. The base price of the 4x4 Trades­man was $38,545, and the Power Wagon Pack­age added $7,950 (this pack­age also re­quired the ad­di­tion of the 6.4L Hemi en­gine at $500), for a to­tal sticker price of $48,315 in­clud­ing des­ti­na­tion charge. That saves you a few thou­sand dol­lars com­pared to the base Power Wagon price. Of course for this price you won’t have what most peo­ple would con­sider all the bells and whis­tles, but in the wheel­ing com­mu­nity you will in fact have all the bells and whis­tles. The truck was just as amaz­ingly ca­pa­ble off-road as a reg­u­lar Power Wagon. In­ter­est­ingly, it didn’t have any of the Power Wagon badg­ing, so it was all stealthy and stuff.

As the prices of new 4x4s climb, some of us who want to own one will need to com­pro­mise. I know I will. One of the op­tions is to forego op­tions. Per­son­ally, the car­pet and floor mat delete and the man­ual-shift T-case lever in the Trades­man didn’t bother me one bit.

|>This is the ’17 Ram 2500 Trades­man crew cab 4x4 with the Power Wagon Pack­age that we had some trail time with in Ne­vada. It may not have what most peo­ple con­sider all the bells and whis­tles, but it had all the func­tional good­ies of the Power Wagon,...

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