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Drive across America, and you’ll see every type of vehicle on the road. But one kind that massively outnumbers the rest is the pickup truck. So, why do Americans love trucks so darn much? They’re big, gas-guzzling haulers. But they’re also the ultimate symbol of American values — a cross between work, play, and lending a hand.

The truck’s farm-to-market independence

The 2023 Ford F-150 towing a trailer
2023 Ford F-150 | Ford

To understand America’s love of trucks, you must know where the U.S. came from. In the early 1800s, when many Americans were farmers, the dream was simple: a land so big and so rich with fertile soil that every family could have their own farm. Of course, homesteads aren’t free.

It took a lot of hard work to produce food and then take the excess to market. The first pickup truck equipped the common farmer — 35% of the population in the early 1900s — to haul a thousand pounds of produce instead of a few hundred. Add headlights, and the workday extended into the night.

The pickup may be a glorified wheelbarrow, but it was the best thing that ever happened to American independent homesteading.

America paves the highways

Once every farm had a truck, roads were the next logical option. Unlike Europe, already paved with narrow cobblestone and brick roads, America had a chance to do it “right” for a new era of transportation. We built our roads wide, straight, and gloriously flat to cross the open countryside.

Trucks could travel at high-speeds with produce that no longer spoiled on the way to market. Without pickups, we may not have so many wonderful paved highways crisscrossing every shipping path in the nation.

You may think the pickup truck’s popularity would fade as the percentage of farmers decreased. But Americans have not forgotten the value of having a multi-purpose vehicle. In America, entrepreneurs are a respected group. What’s the single most utilitarian vehicle for providing local services? The truck.

From landscapers to electricians, a large percentage of pickup trucks you see today are sporting company logos. They’re still working but not for produce. In fact, high-end trucks were even considered exempt during days of vehicle luxury taxes.

Trucks combine utility and luxury

A family getting ready to take a trip with the 2023 Chevy Silverado
2023 Chevy Silverado | Chevrolet

Trucks have since seen more than a few luxury upgrades. They have four doors and extended cabs to transport the whole family. They have USB chargers and BlueTooth connectors, touch-screen interfaces, and drive-assist software because why skimp when it comes to your pickup?

Americans own pickups because they are the ultimate union between the things we love most: utility and freedom. You can race or “mud” your pickup.

You can start your own business or move your entire home with a full bed and a trailer hitch. Heck, you can pitch a tent in the bed and go truck camping. Pickup trucks embody the American dream.