The Real Reason Trucks Are so Popular

In recent years, the pickup truck and SUV segment has grown exponentially. In this Roadshow video, the host goes into a bit of history and explains why sedans are becoming a thing of the past. Pickup trucks are a roaring and rugged offering in today’s market. As they say in the video, “pickup trucks and SUVs are just more fun.” But why? Here’s the real reason why pickup trucks and SUVs––and crossovers too––are so popular.

A 2019 Subaru Forester crossover SUV
2019 Subaru Forester | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

It’s obviously not for improved fuel economy or more nimble maneuverability that people are switching over to pickup trucks and SUVs in such abundance. In fact, trucks are pricier, heavier, and––almost as a rule––far more thirsty. But it turns out that the capability of a truck or SUV trumps all that for most Americans.

Two Ford F-150 trucks next to an assembly line
Two Ford F-150 pickups sit along side the assembly line at the Kansas City Ford Assembly plant | Larry W. Smith/Getty Images

Trucks are nicer than ever

Back in the 80s and 90s as the truck segment began to really gain traction, these vehicles began to evolve. Slowly they became easier to drive and began boasting more luxurious interiors––without sacrificing utility. Today, certain trucks are easily just as luxurious as cars. So people are buying more trucks because they have to sacrifice very little in order to make the switch.

Not everyone can afford a car and a truck. So they opt for the truck because of the capability it lends to life. If your hobbies are boating or camping––even off-roading––then a truck or SUV just makes more sense. You can go out and haul toys, get muddy, and escape, then hose the beast down and drive it to work on Monday.

Pickup truck and SUV sales are crushing the sedan segment

According to the Roadshow video, in 2000 sedans made up about 40% of sales in the auto industry. Today, that number has declined to around 18% with no increase in sight. Sure, it may level off and stay steady in the coming years. However, it is nigh impossible that we will see the rise of sedan sales any time soon––if ever.

In 2020, the SUV segment makes up a little over 50% of new car sales. Pickup trucks alone comprise around 20% of new car sales. That means that pickup trucks and SUVs account for roughly 70% of every new car sold in 2020 so far.

The Detroit three––GM, Ford, and FCA––really exemplify this demise of sedan sales. These companies have all but completely dropped the sedan for the crossover, pickup truck, and SUV. Truck and SUV sales for these three massive car companies make up around 84% total.

The great crossover takeover

Because crossovers offer similar fuel economy and driving agility to cars, drivers sacrifice almost nothing when they switch from a sedan. In addition, crossovers provide better ground clearance and increased cargo space. Most of them offer the option for all-wheel drive as well.

Honda's largest of its crossovers the Pilot on display at an auto show.
Honda Pilot | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

The 2020 Toyota Tundra Beats the Ford F-150 in 1 Important Area

Crossovers are, essentially, large cars. They are built the same way with a unibody formation. Pickup trucks and SUVs, on the other hand, are made with a. body on frame. The manufacture is cheaper and the profit is higher. Plus, this opens the possibility for more interchangeable parts which allows for more configuration options.

Trucks for passion

So it makes sense that so many people want to move up to something bigger like a pickup truck, SUV, or even crossover. For most, the things they care about doing in their free time are far more easily facilitated if you have a truck. Larger and more capability means more possibilities. For most people, that’s the real draw of a truck.