When you start shopping for a new truck to replace your current vehicle, you probably look for the latest and greatest models. After all, few drivers want to own last year’s pickup trucks. You want all of the latest features, innovations, and benefits. And you can search online to discover the newest trucks from every automaker.

But there’s something you likely don’t know. From year to year, truck models change very little. Typically, the newest trucks from the latest model year are actually very similar to last year’s models. You can search online to compare last year’s models to the newest pickup trucks.

Knowing this fact could help you save a lot of money on your next new truck. If you take the time to compare last year’s models with this year’s new releases, you could score an incredible truck with all of the latest features without paying a higher price, all by simply choosing last year’s model. And you’ll still get a brand-new truck.

Here’s why it isn’t always a smart idea to buy the current model year when you’re looking to save money on a new truck.

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Buy Last Year’s Trucks, Get the Same Features for Less

If you think the latest model year trucks are the most up-to-date trucks available, you’d be right. But there’s a catch. Often, the latest and greatest versions are nothing more than the very same vehicle as last year’s model with a few minor changes and a higher price.

Automakers release new models of their pickup trucks every year. But while these new models are highly advertised, there’s very little that’s actually new about them. The trucks themselves aren’t really updated, aside from a few new features or small design changes.

According to AutoTrader, automakers only refresh or overhaul their trucks every six years. That’s because automakers use what’s called the “model cycle,” or a six-year cycle that determines when it’s time for each truck to get a fresh look or a total redesign.

Here’s how it works:

  • Year 1 and Year 2: A truck remains exactly the same, with no changes at all.
  • Year 3: A truck gets a minor, subtle update. This might mean a few adjustments to the exterior design, the addition of new technology, or a new paint color.
  • Year 4 and Year 5: No changes are made.
  • Year 6: A truck gets a complete redesign. It’s updated from the inside out, with new styling, a new interior, and a swath of new features. Everything from the engine to the taillights can be changed.

So, based on this cycle, there are only two years where trucks are changed. If you buy a truck that’s in year 1, 2, 4, or 5, you’ll get a truck that’s completely unchanged from the previous model year. If you purchase a truck that’s in year 3, you’ll see only minor updates and changes. And that means you’re paying more for a brand new vehicle when you could get a discount on an almost identical truck from last year.

Dealerships Always Need to Get Rid of Last Year’s Trucks

If you’re shopping for a new truck, you can take advantage of the low prices, special offers, and incentives that auto dealerships offer on last year’s models.

Dealerships always need to make room on their lots, as new vehicles arrive all year long. And often, they have last year’s models still sitting on their lots. The longer a new “old” pickup truck from last year sits unsold, the more likely a dealership is to lower its price and sell it at a discount. And that’s great news for savvy shoppers.

Take the Chevrolet Silverado, for example. If you wanted to buy a new Silverado, you’d likely choose the 2020 model, which sells for around $57,100. But if you buy the 2019 Silverado instead, you’d be able to get a brand-new truck for much less – the 2019 model sells for around $43,505. That’s a nearly $15,000 price difference.

The same is true for the Ram 1500, another popular pickup. While the newest Ram 1500 from the 2020 model year sells for approximately $44,380, the 2019 truck sells for $39,601. That means you could save almost $5,000 just by choosing last year’s model.

Additionally, AutoTrader notes that incentives and discounts can increase if a truck is in the last year of the six-year cycle. If a pickup truck is about to get a complete overhaul, or it’s getting discontinued altogether, you might see even better deals and steeper discounts.

Always Do Your Research Before Buying

Now that you know buying the latest and greatest truck isn’t always the smartest financial choice, you’re ready to save money on your next truck. But before you begin checking out last year’s models, make sure you do your research.

Every dealership offers something different. And many dealerships now advertise their latest offers online. That means you should take the time to search online and compare different deals, offers, and incentives. You can search for seasonal sales and clearance events, which often happen right before the next model year is about to be released. Do your research, and you could save thousands of dollars on a new truck.