By on November 6, 2017

2018 Chevrolet Silverado Centennial Edition

So diverse are the trim levels available in a modern pickup truck, it wouldn’t be shocking to see automakers begin offering a “Scotsman” edition, complete with three-on-the-tree shifter, for buyers accustomed to eating beans out of a can. On the other end of the ladder, surely “Limited,” “Platinum,” and “Tungsten” fall short in the luxury trappings offered within their leather-trimmed cabins. Buyers clearly need a wood-panelled humidor for their stogies.

Suffice it to say that automakers are making the purchase of a pickup truck more appealing than ever, and in October, buyers did their duty. October 2017 was a boffo month for light truck sales, with every full-size truck line recording rising year-over-year sales in the United States. Unfortunately, but not all that unfortunately (according to accountants, anyway), buyers offered a raised middle finger to mid-size pickups sold by those same automakers.

Ford F-150

How well did trucks perform last month? The perennial frontrunner, Ford’s F-Series, saw sales climb 15.9 percent compared to October 2016. Over at General Motors, the Chevrolet Silverado posted a 6.8-percent sales boost, and its GMC Sierra twin rose 25.5 percent, year-over-year.  Of the Detroit Three, only the Ram line came close to falling behind last year’s tally, posting a 0.7-percent sales gain. (Note: October 2017 featured one less selling day than the same month last year.)

Of the Japanese full-sizers, Toyota’s Tundra climbed 5.1 percent, while Nissan’s Titan line grew its volume to 29.3 percent, helped along by the addition of the huskier Titan XD.

Surely this is reason for smiles all around, no? Not when you factor in midsize truck sales. In the U.S. last month, every model save for one recorded a year-over-year sales hit. Are couples having more children, or has the generous incentives offered on full-sizers simply tipped buyers into a larger vehicle?

2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, Image: General Motors

Whatever the motivation, buyers stayed away in droves. The class-leading Toyota Tacoma saw its sales fall four-tenths of one percent. The positively ancient (but cheap) Nissan Frontier fell 2.3 percent. Still, fall was even greater at GM. There, sales of the Chevrolet Colorado declined 5.6 percent, with the volume loss not entirely recouped by a 2.7-percent increase in sales of the slower-selling GMC Canyon.

The unibody, front (or all-wheel) drive Honda Ridgeline saw the worst sales decline of the bunch, sinking 19.6 percent.

North of the border, the news was much the same. Canadians took to pickups in even greater numbers in October, with the F-Series line growing a whopping 30 percent, year-over-year. GM Canada saw Silverado sales climb nearly 60 percent, with Sierra volume climbing 32.8 percent. For Ram, it was a slightly more disappointing month north of the border than south, with its Canadian sales sinking 3.2 percent. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles can take solace in the fact that Ram sales are still up 14.4 percent in the Great White North, year-to-date.

The Japanese offerings, which sell in far fewer numbers than in the U.S., also took a sales hit in Canada. Titan sales fell 21.9 percent, year-over-year, while Tundra volume shrunk 10.3 percent.

2017 Honda Ridgeline

Canucks are an odd bunch, traditionally taking to smaller vehicles with less trepidation than their southern neighbors. This stereotype bore out in October. Whereas Americans turned their backs on mid-size trucks, the same segment saw significant growth above the 49th Parallel.

Colorado sales climbed 32.2 percent. The Canyon did even better, rising 59.4 percent. Compare that to the 2.4 percent increase enjoyed by the current sales front-runner, the Tacoma. However, the largest rise in popularity was made possible by history buffs flocking to Nissan dealers, resulting in the Frontier’s volume ballooning by over 91 percent.

Still, for all the midsize enjoyment occurring in Canada last month, Honda’s oddball Ridgeline couldn’t find any new suitors. Sales of the little truck headed in the exact opposite direction, falling 14.2 percent.

Depending on which side of the border you’re on, new truck buyers like their trucks either big, or big and less-big. Few of them, it seems, like their trucks unconventional.

[Images: General Motors, Ford, Honda]

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43 Comments on “Truck Buyers Made a Choice in October (and Chose the Bigger One)...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    The current engine offerings on the GM & Toyota midsize trucks are annoying, the Frontier is old, and the Ridgeline is super niche.

  • avatar
    MrGrieves

    Incentives on full size trucks are bananas, especially Silverado & Sierra (at least what I’ve seen here locally.) My guess is a lot of people come onto the lot looking for a midsize truck and see rebates for larger ones and are swayed.

    • 0 avatar
      maui_zaui

      I’ve actually been shopping for a truck and noticed you can get a loaded full sized for the price of a higher trim midsize. For example, I’ve seen several 2017 Ram Rebels 4×4 anywhere from $37-$40k. Similar prices can be found with the Silverado and less so with the F150s. In the meantime, Toyota and Honda are wanting $40-44k on the higher trim Tacomas and Ridgelines. Sorry, given these prices, I’ll take the 1/2 ton any day over a midsized truck. Given the numbers sold, most customers probably felt the same. Hopefully gas prices stay low, lol.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        “Hopefully gas prices…”

        I’m sure that sells a lot of midsizers. The assumption they only run a “midsize” fuel tab. It’s around “fullsize” depending on the configuration.

        If midsize pickups are 9/10s the size with 9/10s payload/tow capacity, why not 9/10s the power so you don’t have to keep the throttle mashed?

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      This has always been the conundrum for mid-size trucks. Because fullsizers are offered with such sizable discounts, they can be bought for around the same price with not much if any fuel economy penalty. Given the value proposition, most buyers will go for the more truck per dollar. That’s what killed the Dakota and kept the Ranger out of the market for so long. The expansion in the market has carved out a space for smaller than fullsize pickups for the Vulpines of the world but they’ll never reach the popularity of the fullsize juggernauts.

  • avatar
    srh

    I finally bought an F-150 yesterday, after a few weeks of looking seriously and a few months of looking casually. Well, by “bought” I mean ordered. Because the vast proliferation of body styles and trim levels means that it’s extraordinarily difficult to find what you want on the lot.

    My requirements were, I think, quite sensible. Mostly base, but with leather. 18-inch wheels. Crew-cab, 6.5 foot bed and, ideally, the 5.0L V8 (willing to compromise on that one). I manually searched most Ford dealers within several hundred miles, including two large metro areas (Portland and Seattle). Finding a truck like the above /without/ the $2000 “Chrome Appearance Package” and $1100 20-inch wheels was nigh impossible. There were a few out there, but they had their own several-thousand dollars of extra options.

    I’ve bought many a truck in the past, but never had this hard of a time getting what I wanted. They are willing to deal… I got the $61,000 MSRP down to $52,000 + title/registration, which was about where I wanted to be, but am now wracked with doubt about whether I should have tried for another $1000.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Congrats on the new truck.

    • 0 avatar
      vvk

      Just curious, are these Canadian dollars or US?

    • 0 avatar
      Ryannosaurus

      Good call on not compromising on the 6.5 ft bed. I had the same problem and decided to go with the 5.5 ft bed because I could find one in stock. At least once a month when loading my truck I regret that decision.
      I was unsure if I made the right call going with with the 2.7 turbo, but am quite pleased with how it turned out. Averaging 22 mpg over 40k miles, with lots of heavy loads and family driving duty in between (no commuting miles). The 2.7 had plenty of power even when pulling a dump trailer loaded with scrap metal!

      • 0 avatar
        srh

        I owned a 2013 Raptor. I loved that truck but I just could not handle the 5.5 foot bed.

        I would have favored the 2.7, but unfortunately it’s not available in the CC 6.5 foot bed. My order is for the 5.0, but I’m only 55% sold on that. 45% of me wants to change to the 3.5. My belief is that the 5.0 will be lower maintenance, but I’ve not heard of many issues with the ecoboost, and the potential for higher mileage and better performance for only $600 or so is enticing.

        That 22MPG you’re seeing is amazing. That’s better than I get in my Focus RS.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I’d like to own another truck..I even entertained the thought of storing the Mustang for the winter, and buying a truck. As much as I prefer the 8ft box reg cab 4X4, I do understand the limitations of such a configuration.

    My vehicle of choice right now would be a moderately optioned Sierra/ Silverado double cab 6.5 ft box. Up here, north if the 49 th, I’m looking at the low 50 K CDN range (out the door price).

    The Canyon comes within $2 K of the price VS full size.

    A truck just doesn’t fit into my life right now, so I won’t buy either. If I was going to buy, I would go with the full size without hesitation.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I’m sincere when I ask this question. I don’t want to pi$$ off the Honda crowd..Truth be known, a Honda would be the only Japanese vehicle I would ever consider buying.

    Question …Is the unibody Ridgeline really a truck ?

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Maybe, but whatever it is, nobody really wants one evidently.

    • 0 avatar
      Carrera

      Depends how you personally define truck. You define it as a 7000lbs towing vehicle with the ability to go mudding in the weekend…probably not. You like to move some couches and refrigerators 1-2 year, buy mulch at HD, plants, some bags of fertilizer, get out of slippery situations, tow a 3000-4000 trailer, then may be yes. The first generation was a bit more of a truck if only just in looks. Now, really it is just a Pilot with a bed. I like to call it “IL Pilotino”

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Unless their size is a real problem where one lives, the argument against a full size pickup is pretty weak. The price and fuel economy differentials between it and the midsize are just not that great. And, if fuel economy is paramount, the 3-liter diesel in the Ram 1500 is unbeatable (until someone puts a similar engine in one of the mid-sizers; even then the difference won’t be that great).
    Much to my surprise, I have to say that, by every measure, my GMC Sierra 1500 has been an impressive vehicle. Only the second Detroit branded vehicle I have owned in my 45 years of vehicle ownership (the first was a 1984 Jeep Wagoneer) and the first pickup truck (although I learned to drive in an International pickup when 1 was 14).

    • 0 avatar
      srh

      The interesting thing is, the same calculus tends to favor 3/4 and full-ton pickup trucks over their half-ton brethren.

      I can find a similarly equipped F-250 for lower MSRP than an F-150 (for some definition of “similarly equipped”), and the incentives are often better. It’s very easy to start out looking at a mid-size Colorado and suddenly find yourself wondering if the better half would have any problems parking an F-250 CC. Of course being a gentleman I’d get the 6.75′ bed to make life easier for her.

      The difference there is fuel economy; while mid-size to half-ton you /may/ lose 1 or 2 MPG, stepping up to a 6.2L in a Superduty drops you another 4-5. But with my recent purchase I figured it would take several years before that difference in mileage would equalize the price of the trucks.

      (The other difference, and I know this having owned several 3/4 – 1-ton trucks in the past, is the cost of consumables…, but it’s harder to factor that in at purchase time).

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        That is interesting, but for me that would be choosing the entirely wrong tool based on cost alone. If I didn’t need the 3/4ton capability, I’d gladly pay more for the F150 or midsizer and enjoy it far more day in and day out.

        Moving up to an F250 from the F150 carries an enormous penalty in driving characteristics that isn’t incurred when you move from a mid-size to a F150. The steering ratio slows down so it feels like spinning the tiller on an ocean liner, the turning circle grows, the ride goes all buckboard, the 6.2L feels like a lethargic lump with hoarse & hoary NVH above about 3000 rpm. Icky, tiring daily drivers, these are work trucks and they need to be worked to be appreciated.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Half tons at least let you forget you’re not driving a comfy lifted towncar or muscle car 4X4 for long stretches at a time, depending on how equipped and or driving/load situations. God bless whoever invented them!

        Most parts of the world are really missing out, whether they realize it or not.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Shocked I tell you at the sales decline of the Ridgeline….As discussed and predicted on this site about a year ago. The new generation Ridgeline sold great out of the gate as the previous gen Ridgeline owners were ready for a replacement. And now that they are done replacing their worn out Ridgees we have found what the actual market for this rig is; and it is not much.

    I noticed a Colorado in the return line at National last week. I am hoping I can score one here soon for a rental so I can see what the fuss is all about. It is really hard to get around the fact that the CC Silverado in 1 LT trim with cloth, back up camera, 5.3 ltr, 4×4, and 10k on the hood is an exceptional value for a new car/truck. Easy 15 years of trouble free motoring at decent mpg with tons of versatility for the whole family.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    The current crop of full-size American pickups is exemplary…with the possible exception of the aging Ram. They just do everything well that vehicles that can tow and haul that much should be expected to do.

    The current crop of mid-sizers is just not that great – they all get so-so fuel economy relative to their much more capable full size counterparts, or they have lousy torque at low RPM, or both. The exception is the 2.8L TD in the new Colorado/Canyon…Edmunds is testing one now.

    • 0 avatar
      maui_zaui

      In addition to that, there also isn’t much of a size advantage with midsizers anymore. People used to buy them for the smaller size and “easier to park” ability, but the current crop have grown and are not too far off from their 1/2 ton counterparts. The difference in size is noticeable when you look at any of the midsizers today vs the last gen Ford Ranger or older Tacoma. I do like that Chevy offers a diesel Colorado/Canyon, but their prices are well into full-size territory in which I couldn’t justify the premium.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    I can go for months without seeing a Titan on the road. I’m amazed that Nissan keeps it in the lineup. I know that without the Titan they would also probably lose the Armada, but they’re not that popular either.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    The only surprise is the little GMC.

    The Honda is doing exactly what I suspected, they have burned through the pent up demand created when it wasn’t available.

    The Colorado is suffering from a similar malady but the Ranger is to blame too. The Ranger had been the most preferred choice for commercial fleets. In its absence they waited for the GMs and then for the most part gave up and went with what had been their #2 choice all along. Now that the Ranger is not that far away we have the same thing going on, with commercial fleets trying to make what they have last until the Ranger shows up. Depending on the pricing the Ranger will recapture many of its old customers while others will go with the Frontier.

    Of course everyone (from down under) will claim that the presence of the Ranger revitalized the less than full size market. The fact is that it is first killing the market as people wait for it and once it does hit the showrooms it will be satisfying pent up demand for the first 18-24 months.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    Looks like the new Silverado in the title picture must have run a red light (notice the green arrow is illuminated, which means a red for opposing traffic from the direction the new truck is coming from).

    • 0 avatar
      MrGrieves

      If that photo was meant to be in the South, then he has stopped in the middle of the street to talk to his cousin (the older truck) about where they are going to eat dinner (the midday meal.) The conversation won’t end until the light goes through at least 3-4 complete cycles.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      It’s just a Chevy glamour shot. Notice the drivers are stopped and leaning towards open windows BS’in it up? No doubt they had the streets closed off for the poser pic. And too notice the highly non DOT tint on the Silverado’s windshield?

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        The wheels on the Silverado are blurry. It was moving when the picture was taken.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          Trucks pose carefully for the glam shot 1st, then wheels get “blurred” in photoshop editing. This scene could be “viewed” either way, “action” or stopped (chatting) by the viewer at a glance, not necessarily studying it.

          Both trucks are too close to the double yellow to be just traffic passing by in opposite directions. Well done otherwise, and probably $100,000+ spent on production, cops, permits etc. Not a casual “shot” by any means.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    The only truck I’d want is a regular cab short bed. Unless I want one in white, that’s a special order.

    And the rebates are stacked against my choice. The money is so fat on crew cabs that they’re effectively cheaper than regular cabs.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    A used 2016 4 cyl diesel Colorado is the same money or more than a used 6 cyl diesel Ram..comparably equipped. I find that crazy.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    And with his crackdown on fellow House of Saud members, Prince Mohammed bin Salman has shrewdly lit a fire under oil prices. There will be many tears from these purchasers as they visit the pumps over the next few years.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Or all those wells the Frackers capped as prices tumbled will get reopened and an administration that is more friendly towards domestic exploration will open more land and offshore areas for production. Additionally big defense will rake in the profits supplying both sides in a Saudi-Iran conflict and ensure both sides production capability is weakened further strengthening the US’s position. I like playing the “What If” game too!

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Alberta born and raised and I’ve never owned a pickup truck, WTF?

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    Even though we traded in our Luxury Brown Ram Big Horn in June for the Pacifica, we want the Ram back. Indeed, the minivan does get eleven more miles per gallon, but I should have thought among the lines of:
    The RAM had two years left on the current $369 per month lease -$8,856.
    The Pacifica has a new 36 month lease at $499 (some inequity with the RAM trade, of course)- $17,964.
    In a mathematically amazing sense, I missed the fact that we had over $9,000 to spend on fuel if we kept the truck anyway!
    Even though we had 23,000 miles on the truck in just one year, I now realize that most truck values decline rapidly, then hold steady and then actually rise in the last two years.
    So we are going to make double payments on the Pacifica and order a new 2018 Harvest Edition Ram. Leases are best in the spring anyway. . .
    Plus we have to get the 2018 Challenger GT in F8 green as well. Our 2016 Plum Crazy SXT Challenger is going to a State Department employee in Washington D.C. in February.


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