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Truck Trends That Need to Go Away

2014-2018 Chevrolet/GMC 1500 with lift kit

Taste, especially in trucks, is intensely personal. My general policy is, as long as it’s not hurting anyone, go for it. But some trends are objectively bad. Bad because they take away from what the vehicle was supposed to do, and replace it with something worse. In that spirit, we present five truck trends that need to go away, please.

Going Chrome

Chrome-wrapped pickup
Chrome-wrapped pickup | CentralWrap

Justin Bieber’s infamous Fisker Karma may not have started this trend, but it’s a good example. Chrome on a vehicle is not bad in and of itself. And as a cyclist and motorcycle enthusiast, being visible is absolutely vital.

But there’s staying visible, and there’s blinding everyone around you. Also, all that shiny chrome is going to be a headache to keep clean. No way you’re going off-roading with it. Not to mention how hot it’ll get on a sunny day. Keep it tasteful, and don’t go nuts for the shine.

Matte Paint

Matte-painted Chevrolet Silverado
Matte-painted Chevrolet Silverado | Powers Swain Chevrolet

Matte paint, in the right circumstances, can look extremely cool. But for a pickup truck? It’s an extremely impractical truck trend.

Disclaimer: I previously worked as an automotive paint engineer. Because of non-disclosure agreements, I can’t get too detailed, but I was involved in matte paint testing. Please note, the issue is matte paint, not a matte wrap. Wraps are easily replaced in case of damage, and relatively inexpensive.

Matte paint is neither. If a matte-painted body panel gets scratched or has insect guts baked on it, it cannot be easily repaired. Repainting and polishing, the usual body shop repair method, removes the matte effect. If you damage a matte-painted body panel, you are replacing that entire panel. Not really practical for a hardcore off-roader.

Luckily, if you still want the matte look, there is powder-coating (what Icon uses for its FJ series). Similar visual effect, but significantly more durable.

Enormous Lift

To be fair, suspension lift kits are necessary in certain scenarios. Demanding off-road trails, especially when racing, require larger tires and increased suspension travel. Therefore, a truck’s suspension has to be lifted and its components adjusted so everything fits and works well. The higher ride height also leaves a space cushion so anything underneath the truck doesn’t get smashed on rocks. Even so, lifting a truck up raises the center of gravity, and makes tipping over much easier. There’s also a steering phenomenon called ‘death wobble’ that can occur at high speeds.

Unfortunately, what are often seen running around the hard scrabble of suburbia are trucks with body lift kits. All that does is make it harder for someone to get into their seat. Higher ride height is great for sighting trail lines; not so great for parking at Starbucks. All those frame and suspension components sticking out in the open also ruin fuel economy. And because body lift kits don’t significantly modify the entire suspension, you’re left with a high center of gravity and poor ways of dealing with death wobble.  

This truck trend is just not worth it.

Baja Racer in the ‘Burbs

2017 Ford Raptor
2017 Ford Raptor | Reddit

It’s amazing that trucks like the Ford Raptor or Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison are available from the factory with warranties. These are extremely capable machines that deliver great fun off-road. They also command a price premium—trucks like these may be someone’s dream machine. And like any other dream machine, like a Lamborghini or custom Harley, people want to show them off. Nothing wrong with that, in theory.

But in the city? Potholes may be getting ridiculous, but they don’t require a race-prepped Raptor to navigate. Trucks are hard enough to park in urban environments without all those fender flares and mods widening the footprint. They’re cool and all, but it’s just too much.

Ludicrous LEDs

2015-2017 Ford F-150
2015-2017 Ford F-150 | Oracle Lighting

Look, I grew up with the Fast & Furious films. I get it. Done properly—or properly over-the-top—LED strips & under-glow still draw the eye.

The problem with doing this to a truck comes back to utility. Sticking a thousand LEDs to a lifted Gladiator screams, “This will never see dirt!” Yes, people buy trucks for non-utilitarian purposes. As with any other vehicle, trucks make statements. But showering a truck with light just sends the wrong one.