I have been working as a valet for a little over two months now and it has given me the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a variety of cars, from a clapped out Honda to the latest Tesla. It puts me in a unique position of having a job where I get to pedal around the latest leather wrapped computers on wheels of the future and then coming home to tinker with the retired kings of the road from yesteryear. I’m constantly comparing modern cars to cars of the past and naturally I have some opinions. For this article the main focus will be on modern pickup trucks and how they are too big. I am not talking about trucks that have been jacked up on aftermarket steroids and used to crawl over Mother Nature’s face on weekends, I mean factory showroom trucks from Ford, GM, Toyota, and Dodge.
Back in 2011, I was cruising around town when I stopped at the local GMC dealership to see what my old 97’ truck would fetch in a trade-in, just for kicks. After the ego crushing news that my pride and joy would only catch $1,000 in trade-in value I walked back to my truck that was staged next to a 2008 model GMC Sierra. The truck was the newer counterpart of mine, silver, crew-cab, only 11 years newer. Having the sisters parked side by side it was clear to see that the newer model was taller, longer, and wider than mine. I took a photo and went about my day, but over time I have noticed that pick-up trucks are getting bulkier every new model and I cannot understand why.
I think this all started in 2007 when the Toyota Tundra was designed to compete with the big boys in the truck industry. Since then it seems it has become the new trend of bigger is better. The new 2014-2015 models are road mammoths barreling down the interstates of America. Some of my friends say it is because they have more payload and towing power needed for heavy duty jobs. Living in Texas you see plenty of heavy duty trucks hauling and pulling trailers for the oil fields or just because it is the Texas lifestyle to have a big truck. That makes sense but a truck’s torque comes from its drivetrain not from its size so what does making a truck bigger have to do with it being able to tow a trailer? My neighbor’s 1998 Dodge Ram can go wheel to wheel with these new trucks in a tug-a-war, while still being able to fit in a parking space without feeling like your trying to park a military spec Humvee.
I’ve driven them all, Tundra, Duramax, Super Duty, and Ram, and they all have the same problem, their exhausting to drive. Although comfortable to sit in, being in the driver seat you cannot see where the hood ends or clearly see the dimensions of the vehicle. I find myself using the, “force”, when parking these big boys or relying on their backup cameras since I can’t see the corners of the truck. The interiors are also becoming a problem as auto manufacturers are trying to turn trucks into really big cars. Remember when you could order a manual transmission with your pick-up? Now most of them have automatic lever on the floor which makes me feel like I’m in a minivan, or worse, a knob on the dash that makes you feel like your changing radio stations instead of selecting reverse. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve accidently switched on the windshield wipers instead of changing gears because the shifter is on the dash instead of on the steering column.
Now I understand why they do this, to make them for comfortable and easier to drive therefore appealing to a wider target audience, but when does a truck stop becoming a truck and start becoming a bloated sofa that will rarely use its full payload potential. I do not see the point in making these trucks so big, or making them feel like a car.