The SUV and the pickup truck are quite simply America’s favorite vehicles.
There’s no other car type that sells better than these two, and the gap seems to be widening with more people taking up crossover SUV vehicles.
Some even wonder if compact and sedan cars really have a future in this increasingly SUV and truck-oriented market.
This article answers the question “Are SUVs Cheaper Or More Expensive Than Trucks?”…
Are SUVs Cheaper Or More Expensive Than Trucks?
When looking exclusively at the price of trucks and SUVs, you’ll find that SUVs cost more than trucks overall. The average mid-size SUV and truck are about the same cost at $32,000. It’s when you go larger, however, that the disparity becomes apparent.
The average large SUV or crossover costs $60,000, whereas for trucks at the full-size bracket they normally cost $46,500 on average.
There are other factors that come into play, however, such as insurance, registration, and other running costs.
Sticker prices for SUVs and trucks have a lot of overlap, and the averages can be somewhat misleading.
The main thing to remember is that there is such a range of both types of vehicles available.
The Ford F-150, for instance, America’s favorite pickup truck, starts at $29,250 for the base model but then ranges up to $64,145 for the top F-150 Raptor model.
In between, there are dozens of trim levels and other variants.
The same is true for SUVs, with cheap SUVs between $22,000 and $30,000 being in the “crossover” range, but going all the way up to luxury full-size SUVs which start at $65,000 or more.
The sheer range and variety make it hard to pin down which are genuinely the cheapest or most expensive.
Overall it seems that in terms of pure buying price an SUV just about on average costs more than a pickup truck, especially with many more high-end options that are available within the scope of SUVs when compared to pickup trucks.
In terms of financing, you can expect your monthly payments on an SUV to generally be higher than that of a truck unless you’re purchasing a smaller crossover SUV, in which case the truck will be more expensive.
Insurance costs tend to be higher for trucks than they do for SUVs on average.
While the two averages are quite close, owners of trucks should fully expect to pay marginally more than their SUV-owning counterparts.
The main reason for that is the manner in which trucks are often used, as work vehicles.
An SUV that is to be employed in a working or off-road capacity would also cost more than the average in insurance, but the likelihood of a truck being used for some professional or other riskier capacity (transporting raw materials, tools, or other heavy goods) makes it a more expensive insurance proposition overall.
SUVs are mostly used as family vehicles and for commuting purposes.
In other words, their use doesn’t fall much outside that of a typical family sedan.
What’s more, the powerful frame of most SUVs makes them more durable, and thus less of a risk to be totaled.
Trucks are heavy-duty and strong as well, but given that they more frequently are used in higher-risk environments such as construction sites, for example, they are generally regarded as the greater insurance risk.
In the US, there isn’t any kind of unified road tax as there is in other countries such as the UK, but there are similar mechanisms for regular payments made annually for vehicle ownership.
The most common form is the annual or bi-annual registration, the cost of which varies from state to state.
The mechanism for collecting this fee is also different across the states.
In some states, such as Colorado and Utah, the cost of annual registration is measured according to the weight of the vehicle, which places both pickup trucks and SUVs ahead of the curve compared to the likes of sedans and compact cars.
Most SUVs weigh between 2,000 and 6,000lbs. Trucks, on the other hand, range from 6,000 to 8,000lbs on average. That means that a “light” truck is often the same as a “heavy” SUV.
In those states where weight is the key defining factor, SUVs are usually cheaper than trucks.
If on the other hand, the state is like Michigan and registration is based on MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price), then the truck once again has some advantage.
Another situation with registration is the levying of an additional property tax against cars. These are typically based on the current value of the car.
In Arizona and California they have such taxes.
A typical rate would be starting at around 2 percent of the value and then scaling down to less than a percentage of the current estimated value.
Not all states have these additional rates, however.
The different rules of each state make it hard to pin down objectively whether a truck or SUV would be more expensive.
Largely, it comes down to individual policies. Weight favors the SUV, MSRP favors the pickup truck.
For maintenance cost, the advantage does on average go to the SUV.
This is mostly because of the huge influx of different brands of SUVs from Europe and Japan that have made the sector a lot more reliable.
The likes of Toyota Highlander, for instance, as well as the reformed Ford Explorer and similar SUVs that have taken a lead from successful European designs for efficiency and reliability, have helped to make SUVs much more dependable.
Trucks, on the other hand, continue to be dominated by less-reliable American brands overall.
Toyota makes a pickup, the Tundra, but even Toyota struggles to match the reliability and efficiency of its SUVs such as the Rav4 and the Highlander.
Pickup trucks are also more frequently used in heavy-duty lifting and carrying, and often off-road and on construction sites which increases wear and tear compared to most SUVs.
Expect to pay just $800-1500 on new and used SUVs through the year.
The starting point on new trucks is still around $1,000 and will range to $1,600 on average for used models and often more, depending on the truck.
Parts for trucks are expensive and more components get worn and easily broken in the more heavy-duty environments that they are taken to on a regular basis.
When looking at costs of repairs, these are usually lumped together with the overall maintenance rating, but repairs are defined as the ‘unexpected’ maintenance that falls outside of the vehicle’s typical maintenance schedule set by the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer).
What can you expect in this realm from pickup trucks?
You might expect to pay nothing in the first year or two, which is why the difference between new and used SUV/truck maintenance and repair is so different.
SUVs and trucks, like other vehicles, tend to enter the realms of greater maintenance and repair risk the older they get.
Entering year 3 is particularly risky as warranties are expiring, and more components will need servicing, updating, replacing, and repairing.
Overall, the pickup truck once again is at a disadvantage, primarily because of the greater likelihood of it being in riskier situations in which breakdowns and other difficulties can occur.
The cost of accessories for both SUVs and trucks is very hard to measure as an average. It depends entirely on how the vehicle is used and by whom.
A family with an SUV who frequently tow small trailers, or who pack up the car heavily for regular road trips and vacations, will spend more on accessories like tow hitches, roof rails, roof-based storage, floor protectors, cargo nets, and more.
These things generally come as standard with many trucks.
Additional truck accessories may feature tow cables and light bars, but they aren’t exactly “typical” to the common truck driver/owner.
Owners of SUVs are therefore more likely to spend more on accessories because the normal SUV setup isn’t geared towards offering them.
Trucks come with most of these features built into the rear flatbed and the cabin interior. The need for additional purchases is therefore reduced.
For trucks and SUVs, the lines between their tires are quite fuzzy.
What exactly constitutes an exclusively SUV tire? And for a truck? Even those in the industry can’t define it, which is why many so-called truck tires are sold in SUV sizes of 19-21”.
Overall, truck tires are perhaps larger, more likely to exceed 20 inches. Many SUVs nowadays are smaller and run on the same tires as some sedans.
This is why it’s hard to know which are genuinely more expensive.
When looking at the entire vehicle range, SUVs are probably cheaper when it comes to tires by virtue of the fact that there are so many different kinds of SUVs compared to trucks.
Even smaller trucks need big tires, and big trucks use even bigger tires. As we mentioned, many modern SUVs can use similar tires to large sedan cars.
SUV owners can expect to pay on average $200 per tire, and owners of trucks can expect to pay $250 per tire.
The most important fact is that despite advances in technology, SUVs and trucks are both real “gas guzzlers,” even those that are deemed “efficient” for their sector pale in comparison to some of the sedans on the market today, especially hybrid sedans.
Having said that, now there is an increasing number of hybrid and plug-in hybrid SUVs and truck vehicles.
Ford and GMC are even coming out with their own all-electric models like the F-150 electric and the GMC Hummer EV, to name but two.
As regular gasoline or diesel models, you can expect to get very poor gas mileage.
For SUVs, the average is about 18-25mpg in the city and on the highway respectively.
That’s marginally better than the average truck mileage, which is about 17-21mpg in the city and on the highway respectively.
Both new and used trucks and SUVs can expect gasoline bills each year to reach $2,000 or more, which while putting trucks on the more expensive step, places them all in a similar band/category overall.
When it comes to depreciation and resale values, trucks manage to outperform their SUV counterparts when we look at the bigger picture.
While in the first couple of years, depreciation between the two models is comparable, it’s when we get to the used area that SUVs don’t keep their value as well.
Luxury SUVs can typically retain value quite well, but the reason trucks do better overall is the continued solid demand for all kinds of trucks, compared to just mixed demand in SUVs, high demand for some, lower for others, as well the perceived greater utility of trucks.
A truck can be a working vehicle that helps you in business, much more so than an SUV can. They, therefore, have greater intrinsic value.
Overall Comparison Table
|Average Yearly Cost||New SUV (USD)||New Truck (USD)||Used SUV (USD)||Used Truck (USD)|
|Registration||8 – 225||8 – 225||8 – 225||8 – 225|
|Maintenance & Repairs||806||1000||1500||1600|