Super size my truck: Why are modern day pickups so outrageously large?
The first American pickup trucks debuted in the late 1910’s, when Chevrolet and Dodge Brothers started manufacturing trucks. Ford did not start building its own truck until 1925, when they introduced a Ford Model T with a truck bed in the rear. Back then, a pickup truck served only one purpose: to be a workhorse for the working man.
It is nearly a century later and not only are pickup trucks still around, but country music artists have written songs about them. Pickup trucks are seen as an American cultural stereotype in other parts of the world, having become an American symbol, like baseball and apple pie.
The big four automakers — Ford, Chevrolet, Chrysler, and Toyota — have each redesigned their trucks for the 2014-2015 model lineup in the U.S. market. Since the early 2000’s, American trucks have seem to be getting larger, taller, and wider with each new design. Why?
The big daddy of the Silverado truck family is the 3500HD model, which offers up to 23,000 pounds of towing capacity and a nearly 8,000 pound payload. The muscle comes from the 3500HD’s engine, which puts out 397 horsepower and 765 lb-ft of torque. To put that into perspective, a Peterbilt 348 model dump truck has a base diesel engine that only develops 260 horsepower and 660 Ib-ft torque. It is so powerful that you need a commercial license to drive it.
The argument among truck enthusiasts is whether or not older model trucks can keep up with their newer, “better” counterparts. This video shows a truck-tug-of-war, which is exactly what it sounds like, between a vintage Chevy Silverado HD truck and a late model Chevy Silverado 4×4.
Even with all its modern technology, the newer truck can’t seem to pull the much older version of itself. Meanwhile, the vintage Chevy doesn’t break a sweat pulling its newer version. This proves that older trucks are not weak in comparison to their newer siblings, but why are older trucks smaller in comparison?
Trucks are getting super-sized because average truck buyers are not just construction workers, ranchers, and boat haulers, anymore. Now, suburban families are buying trucks, and automakers are taking notice. To match these buying trends, modern trucks are vastly more luxurious, offering the comfort of a four door sedan. Trucks are starting to need more room inside them to fit leather seats, DVD players, GPS, sunroofs, and any other comfort that a Cadillac or Lincoln provides.
Automakers are catering to two different kinds of truck buyers with one full package vehicle. The modern pickup truck has become a vehicle that can not only take kids to school, but tow the school itself, if needed.
Whether this is just a design phase in the pickup truck evolution or the new norm is hard to predict, but we can say that modern day pickup trucks are built with a potential that is rarely used to its max on a daily use.
Do you think pickup trucks are getting too big for the road? Tell us what you think, or find me on Twitter @jesusgreaser and chat with me about it.