Turns out, the sky is not the limit for pickup prices.
A survey published last week by used-car shopping site CarGurus found rising price sensitivity among truck owners, with more than two-thirds of respondents calling today's pickups overpriced. Among buyers 45 and older, that proportion shot up to 80 percent. And nearly half said trucks aren't made as well as they used to be.
Brand loyalty is also surprisingly fluid, the study's authors said, with more than a third of Ford and Chevy buyers saying they would consider the rival brand for their next pickup purchase; Toyota owners were the most loyal, but also the most inclined to defect from pickups altogether.
The survey of more than 1,000 current and former pickup owners found 70 percent would switch brands if prices for their preferred make rose $10,000, up from 64 percent a year earlier — sobering news for pickup brands that have been testing the limits of premium options and pricing to pad their truck profits and offset weakening sales of sedans.
"While truck owners still have strong brand and category loyalty, the challenge for car manufacturers and dealerships is that loyalty is increasingly less reliable as a driver of sales," said Madison Gross, director of consumer insights at CarGurus.
Seventeen percent of those surveyed said they probably won't buy a pickup the next time around; among those who had already picked something else, more than a third chose a sedan.
Sales of pickups are up 1.2 percent this year through February (based on Automotive News Data Center estimates of General Motors' results); full-size pickups are off 0.7 percent. Last year, pickup sales grew 4.3 percent to 2,944,393 vehicles.