When you think about pickup trucks, don't imagine a dirty jalopy sitting at a construction site. These days trucks are closer in feel — and price — to luxury sedans.
Just consider the Icon FJ45, a military-style long-bed truck hand built by Jonathan Ward and company in Los Angeles. Ward, a former Land Cruiser restorer and special-projects consultant for Toyota, left to start his own company after Toyota produced the FJ Cruiser — a vehicle he felt wasn't true to the model. Now Ward focuses on building trucks with what he calls "classic styling, modern performance and timeless utility." The Icon truck's starting price? $120,000.
"There is not a single piece of plastic on that truck," says Mike Levine, editor of Pickuptrucks.com. "Everything is metal, and it's coated in Defense Department-quality materials. It is an indestructible truck if there ever was one."
The FJ45 has a V8 engine that gets up to 450 horsepower, an optional biodiesel-compatible turbo-diesel 4-cylinder engine and sport suspension package that comes with nitrogen-charged remote canister shocks, limiter straps and hydraulic bump stops.
Next to an FJ45, the $48,190 GMC Sierra 1500 Hybrid and $47,995 Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson Edition sound downright cheap, but they're still two of the most expensive trucks for sale this year.
To create this list we asked Cars.com to compile a list of the most expensive model-year 2011 pickup trucks in the country. Trim levels and special-edition versions could count toward price, but upgraded add-ons did not. We considered only pickups, not SUVs or commercial trucks, and took into account the manufacturer suggested retail prices, not incentives, discounts or destination charges.
The second-most-expensive truck in the country is the Cadillac Escalade EXT Premium Collection, which boasts a list price of $69,465. It's got all the accoutrements a worker (or weekend DIY warrior) could hope for: leather seats, premium satellite sound, Bluetooth capability, retractable running boards, a rear-seat entertainment system with 8-inch DVD screens and a huge power-tilt sunroof. There's even a heated steering wheel and remote start for those cold mornings on the farm.
Heavy-duty trucks dominate the list's top spots, including the $62,375 Ford F-450 King Ranch, $55,145 GMC Sierra Denali 3500HD and $50,645 Ram 3500 Mega Cab Laramie. The "heavy duty" distinction can significantly affect the price of a pickup truck, according Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports' head test driver, adding thousands of dollars to an already high MSRP.
Is the cost worth it? Not necessarily. Heavy-duty trucks often test poorly in performance criteria because of their immense size, which means they handle and brake much worse than their light-duty counterparts. And the more technology built into a car, the more potential that a gadget goes wrong: Trucks have some of the highest costs of ownership of any vehicle on the market today.
"There's kind of a sweet spot in the middle," Fisher says. "The (stripped-down trucks) don't do well, but the loaded ones often have stuff like navigation systems that can screw up the controls."
In this case, at least, money may get you little more than a shiny badge, Bluetooth connectivity and leather seats. Of course, after a long day at the job site, creature comforts like those make all the difference.
© 2012 Forbes.com