There are plenty of high-performance cars and crossovers with stickers at $100,000 or more, but that kind of pricing has never been applied to the most utilitarian — and American — of all automobile types: the humble pickup.
Ford's introduction last month of an ultra-luxury trim version of its medium-duty F-450, which it calls the F-450 Limited, comes within a stone's throw of that rarefied price.
The truck has a loaded-out price of $94,455, including delivery. Add in sales taxes and fees, and the total crosses the six-figure threshold.
Meanwhile, Ford won't be alone in probing the upper limits of pickup prices. Fiat Chrysler is right behind with a pair of Ram trucks and General Motors is expected to bring out an F-450 competitor. This $100,000 Ford must be some overly enthusiastic marketing shot, right? Another lame Lincoln Blackwood exercise.
Only it's not. Ford is not merely adding leather seats and various other genteel appointments to a standard truck, and then jacking up the price. It is adding value. Indeed, the Blue Oval's heaviest hauler can pull 15 tons.
Unlike expensive luxury sedans and sports cars, pickups are more than just a means of personal transportation. They must be useful tools, first and foremost, and at this price point must be capable of towing huge amounts of cargo and traversing almost any distance in comfort.
Designing such utility is a significant and costly engineering challenge — it is one thing to be able to pull the equivalent of more than a dozen huge draft horses up a hill, but it is quite another challenge to ensure that the driver can stop that load on the downhill grade.
The trend toward trucks priced like a Mercedes-Benz S-class was inevitable and has been niftily managed by the Detroit 3 — a segment they continue to dominate years after Toyota and Nissan jumped optimistically into the large pickup fray. It's a segment they rely heavily upon to keep their books awash in rich, black ink, and one they defend with extreme vigor.
Detroit's automakers have discovered that extreme capability is a luxury consumers are willing to pay for in a big way. In an era when all you hear about are the electrified and autonomous vehicles of tomorrow, it is good to see companies creating real value and appeal in the pickup of today.