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We love trucks. Not only do we love trucks, we love big trucks. The problem is, until very recently, big trucks mean low gas mileage. There are also some safety concerns surrounding these mammoth trucks. The fear isn’t for the drivers of the big trucks but for everyone else. These dangers are real. However, the needless size increase is starting to change thanks to one giant shift in the truck world; electric powertrains. Pickup trucks are getting bigger. But for the first time, it’s for a more engineering-focused reason than simply a cab that offers family friendly accommodations. 

A red 2023 Toyota Tundra pickup truck parked atop a rock pile.
2023 Toyota Tundra Limited | Toyota

Why are pickup trucks getting bigger? 

Trucks are getting bigger because of a few factors. One of the biggest reasons they are getting bigger is because we buy the big ones. You can’t blame the manufacturers for selling us the stuff we want to buy. However, the more direct answer is that all vehicles are getting bigger due to new technology, style trends, safety, and EV powertrains. 

Along with many other factors, trucks grew to accommodate our families. Somewhere in the last 20 years, pickup trucks went from fairly barebones work vehicles to roomy, luxurious, five-seater SUVs with beds. You’ll see pickup trucks in carpools lines as often as anything else. Trucks can now fit rear-facing car seats, luggage, toys, backpacks, and whatever else you might have put in a crossover or even a minivan in years past. 

Trucks are massive today. They are. There is no getting around it. For example, a Tundra 20 years ago was roughly 218 inches long, 75-79 inches wide, and 71-72 inches tall. Today a 2023 Toyota Tundra truck is about 234-253 inches long, 80 inches wide, and 78 inches tall. That’s over a foot longer and about 10 inches taller than the Tundras of yesteryear.

The fact is, pickup trucks are growing at a slower rate than any other segment. Not only is the rate of growth smaller, but full-size pickup trucks are also dropping weight and large V8s left and right. The Ford F-150 and Toyota Tundra have both begun to move away from V8 in lieu of V6s and hybrid engines. 

Trucks aren’t the only vehicles getting bigger

According to Gear Patrol, trucks are shouldering the blame for our inefficient automotive trends. The truth is, it’s not just trucks that are getting bigger; it’s all vehicles. One of the best examples of this cross-segment growth is the Honda Civic. The current Civic model has gained over 1,300 lbs since its first generation. To put it in perspective, that is a 78% growth. Its wheelbase has also grown by 21.1 inches. When you compare this growth to pickup trucks, it’s clear that the sedans are growing in greater proportions than pickup trucks. 

Gear Patrol goes on to explain that even sports cars have caught the chunk. The BMW M3 has had to stretch its belt due to a 25% weight increase and about a foot longer in the wheelbase over the years. 

As we mentioned before, this fluffing up of our vehicles is due to a variety of reasons, but one of the biggest is safety standards. Gear Patrol points out that if you drive one of these smaller, lighter cars from 30 years ago, you’ll notice far less material between you and the other cars. 

Cars and trucks are only going to get bigger

Ford F-150 Lighting orders are open, even without a reservation.
Ford F-150 Lightning | Ford

The reality is until there is a massive breakthrough in battery technology, our cars, trucks, and SUVs will only continue to grow as more EVs hit the road. EV powertrains are quite heavy. Until we learn how to get more from a smaller battery, EVs will require large, heavy batteries in order to accommodate the range most consumers expect. 

Modern trucks are probably too big. However, it’s not fair for us to lump all of our automotive-driven issues on the heads of trucks. Trucks are merely following the trends laid before them.