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If you’ve been on an American road in the past 20 years, you’ve likely noticed something. And that is, pickup trucks seem to be getting bigger and bigger. These behemoths are wide, tall, and overall just plain large. Compare a mid-size truck from 2023 to a full-size truck from the 1990s; you’ll probably be a bit confused about what the full-size model is. So, how and why have trucks become so big?

Are trucks bigger than they used to be?

There’s no getting around it; trucks are bigger than they used to be. Whether it be a Ford F-150, Toyota Tundra, or even a Chevy Colorado, compare these pickups to the past, and there is clearly some substantial growth. 

A Toyota T100 shows how small trucks used to be.
Toyota T100 | IFCAR

According to Consumer Reports, the answer to why trucks are so big is simple. It’s what consumers want to buy. These vehicles have huge profit margins for auto manufacturers. So, it makes sense to give folks something that they will actually purchase. Even if bigger often means less efficient and more expensive. 

The 2023 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro shows how big mid-size trucks have gotten
2023 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro | Allison Barfield, MotorBiscuit

The Ford F-150 is the best-selling vehicle in the U.S.

Despite its growing size, according to Axios, the Ford F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle in the United States for over 40 years. And a reflection of the F-150 shows an interesting trend with modern trucks. 

The first-gen F-Series trucks had a layout that is 36% cab and 64% bed. That makes sense, in the past, trucks were work vehicles. So you would want to have emphasis placed on the bed for utility purposes. 

Today’s F-150 has flipped that on its head. Now, it’s 63% cab and 37% bed. In fact, most new trucks you can buy today will likely have four doors. And in some cases, a long bed is actually limited to certain trims. 

Pickup trucks have gotten heavier

Despite advancements in things like aluminum materials, trucks have gotten heavier. According to Springer Nature, the weight of trucks has increased by 32% between 1990 and 2021. Now, trucks are not alone in this weight gain. Things like safety regulations and other factors are making vehicles heavier across the board. 

A red 2023 Ford F-150 tows a trailer as Edmunds Top Rated Truck
Ford F-150 | Ford

But, because trucks are so high up, they can be more dangerous when it comes to accidents. And more weight does not help with that. 

The Chevy C20 might be a lighter truck than modern options, but it lacks safety features.
Chevy C20 | Bull-Doser

Thankfully, most new trucks do come with some legitimate safety technology. This tech includes things like 360-degree cameras and pedestrian detection. But a tool is only as effective as the person wielding it. At the end of the day, it’s important to make sure the driver is paying attention to what is surrounding them. 

Why do Americans love trucks?

In the States, we have a love affair with pickup trucks, for better or worse. Trucks offer utility and a sense of freedom that other vehicles just don’t offer. Even if most truck owners do not actually do truck stuff. 

Side view of new silver 2023 Ram 1500 TRX pickup truck, highlighting how much a fully loaded one costs
2023 Ram 1500 TRX | Ram
Related America’s Love Affair With Trucks Might Not Be Founded in Necessity

America’s Love Affair With Trucks Might Not Be Founded in Necessity

Even with the arrival of electric vehicles, trucks are not going anywhere. Most truck manufacturers have or have plans to introduce EV pickups. So, you can still get a rugged vehicle even if it doesn’t have a V8 under the hood.