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Pickup trucks are ubiquitous the world over. However, nowhere runs trucks quite like America. 11.6 million new pickup trucks were sold last year alone. And, due to the many production issues, this number was actually down from years previous. Why are Americans so in love with trucks? I’m sorry to be the one to say this; you probably don’t need a pickup truck. 

Construction workers setting a heavy piece of equipment in the bed of a half-ton Ford pickup truck.
Ford F-150 XLT | Ford

Let’s start by saying that there is no question that many people actually do need pickup trucks. Farmers, ranchers, construction workers, handypeople, and most other agricultural or labor professions certainly use these utility vehicles. But, for the rest of us playing like farmers, do we really need a pickup truck?

If you’ll excuse the assumption, I feel like if you were to ask 100 pickup truck drivers if they needed their pickup truck, most would say they did. This is nothing more than a feeling based on anecdotal evidence. 

Either way, the pickup truck sales figures prove that most pickup truck owners don’t need them; they just want them. 

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with wanting a pickup truck. Hell, I want a bunch of them myself. However, much like a dirt bike or a racecar, only a very select few need one of these vehicles. It’s almost solely saved for those who drive these things professionally. The same goes for pickup trucks. 

Generally speaking, the archetypal American sees themselves as a sort of cowboy (person) that values freedom and individuality above most else. Whether or not you live in the suburbs of Connecticut or on the top of some mountain in Montana, that fierce desire to be our own masters carries through into the pickup truck desire. 

Trucks are utility vehicles above all else. The utility pickup trucks offer easily translates to many as “freedom.” Given the rising costs of fuel and the pickups themselves, maybe it’s time we take a long hard look at whether or not all of us need a pickup truck. 

Pickup trucks are expensive

This 2022 Ram 1500 TRX Ignition Edition costs over $100,000.
2022 Ram 1500 TRX Ignition Edition | Ram

As noted by Gear Patrol, pickup trucks have made tremendous progress over the past few decades. Along with trucks being huge and fancy now, the chip shortage delayed vehicle sales by years, in some cases. Hell, Ford had a fleet of unfinished trucks big enough to see from space.

Before the pandemic, the average price for a new pickup was around $50,000. That hurts. But these days, we are creeping past $60,000. 

Pickups will kill you at the gas station

a vintage red pickup truck parked at an old timey gas station
Red Dodge pickup parked in front of a vintage gas station in Santa Paula, California. (Photo by: Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Despite the current cost of fueling up your full-size pickup truck these days, trucks have made tremendous strides in becoming more efficient over the years. Funnily enough, some of the most popular trucks today are GM, RAM, and Nissan, which are some of the few left still using the beastly V8s. Although hybrid powertrains are more powerful and more efficient, many truck buyers still believe the big-displacement V8 is what they need. 

For instance, the new Tundra had a massive efficiency boost which is still only 18 mpg. Hell, the Ram TRX only gets ten mpg in town. How can that possibly add up as a good daily driver with gas over $5 per gallon in some parts of the country? 

Trucks are insensibly expensive to buy and to drive unless you need them for work. 

Why are trucks getting bigger? 

Black Ford Super Duty pickup truck parked on a jobsite with all four of its supercab doors open.
2018 Ford Super Duty Supercab | Ford

We have seen some truly huge trucks in the past. F-350s have always been huge, but today, just an average truck can push the same weight class and length as an F-350. Part of the reason for this growth spurt is the amount of safety gear included in trucks today. I guess that isn’t all bad. However, trucks also seem to be mostly four-door SUVs with a bed on them. 

Even in America, many towns and older cities can barely accommodate the incredible size of modern pickups. Even driving the GMC Canyon AT4 around NYC earlier this year was a trick. Some of the streets and damn-near every parking garage were too small to navigate with any grace. 

Pickup trucks really aren’t that practical

Maroon 2022 Jeep Wagoneer, the only SUV that can tow 10,000 pounds, towing a boat
2022 Jeep Wagoneer | Jeep

If you get really objective about what pickup trucks offer, the list gets pretty small. Trucks are good for hauling, towing, pulling, and looking cool. That’s really about it. 

I’m from Alabama, so saying this hurts, but it’s true. Pickups really aren’t that great for off-roading. Modern trucks are even worse. For one, they are too big. Many trails are narrow and require tight, squirely turns. Modern pickups are long, wide, and heavy, making off-roading harder. 

Trucks also kind of suck in the snow. The lack of weight in the rear often makes traction hard to come by. Again, trucks are big and heavy; once they get sliding, there’s not much you can do to stop them. 

Should you buy a pickup truck?

Probably not. I mean, look. The people who need a pickup truck know for sure all the issues laid out here and will buy a truck despite them. The majority of the people buying the tens of millions of trucks sold every year don’t do is look objectively at what they need and then look to see what a truck actually offers. Instead, they say, “yeah, but I could pull a trailer if I get one and move lumber, even though I don’t build stuff.” 

So, y’all still want a pickup truck? 

Yeah, that’s what I thought. Me, too.


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