By on December 31, 2010

Mass SUV consumption may have been weaned over to car-based Crossovers, but pickup trucks are still hugely popular and a major challenge for automakers facing steep increases in government CAFE standards.The average 2010-model American pickup truck weighs nearly 5,000 lbs, making it some 22 percent heavier than its equivalent ten years ago. Thanks to that weight gain, average pickup truck efficiency has improved by a paltry two percent since 2000. This year, the fleetwide light truck fuel economy standard was 24.9 MPG, but by 2016 light trucks will need to average about 30 MPG to comply with already-set CAFE increases, and could face another sharp increase by 2025. As a result, it seems that the era of cheap pickups may be coming to an end. Though the Detroit automakers say hybrid and plug-in drivetrains will help, it’s clear that more than anything else, trucks need to lose weight. That’s where things start getting expensive…

A Reuters report [via Automotive News] quote Ford and GM truck guys as saying they’re exploring some radical approaches to the pickup truck’s weight problem. After all, you don’t cut 500-1,000 lbs out of any vehicle without making some tough choices.

[full-size truck development boss Rick] Spina said GM aims to shed 500 pounds from its trucks by 2016, and by the early 2020s might need to cut as much as 1,000 pounds per truck.

Using blown-in foam instead of a cheaper, but heavier, pad to buffer noise in certain areas of the vehicle could become more commonplace, Spina said.

Meanwhile, Ford is looking closely at a magnesium alloy frame for the next generation of its F-150 pick-up truck, two people familiar with the matter said. Ford is also looking to use aluminum for the body panels of the F-150, they said.

By moving away from traditional steel, Ford could shave about 800 pounds off the truck, one person said. The comments were made privately because the information is not yet public.

Ford declined to comment on its specific product plans.

GM is also exploring the use of aluminum and magnesium for the frames of future models of its Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks, Spina told Reuters.

The obvious result of this kind of radical attempt to drag pickups into the modern era: prohibitive costs, of course. Pickups have long been (and yes, continue to be) a crucial (if not the crucial) profit center for Detroit’s automakers, commanding high prices for relatively low development costs. With the coming CAFE hikes, necessary adaptations like hybrid and plug-in drivetrains as well as these exotic alloy-based frames are going to vastly increase both the development and production costs of large pickups, essentially ending a decades-long love affair between American consumers and their big trucks.

Reuters didn’t get a quote  on the costs and effectiveness of the kind of mass reduction that’s being envisioned, but a look at the National Research Council’s data on the subject shows that, for a V8 powered truck, a 20 percent mass reduction (cutting 1k lbs from a 5k lb truck), will result in an average 12 percent improvement in fuel economy, at a cost of $2,625 per vehicle. Now, that’s a very rough estimate, but by the NRC’s calculations, a 20 percent mass reduction is equivalent to about half the cost of converting to a clean diesel engine (which yields a 30 percent efficiency improvement). Add a 20 percent mass reduction to a clean diesel with an integrated starter-generator stop-start system (or a two-mode hybrid gas engine) and the incremental costs will be around $15k per vehicle compared to a modern V8-equipped pickup. If that doesn’t grab Truck Nation’s attention, nothing will.

The irony of all this is the fact that, just as Detroit starts looking at giving full-sized pickups a crash diet, the ranks of compact pickups are thinning as the American automakers allow the segment to wither on the vine. As full-sized and heavy-duty pickups become increasingly more expensive due to CAFE-necessary weight reductions and efficient drivetrains, it’s easy to see consumers flocking back to compact pickups, which will require fewer expensive technologies to reach CAFE compliance. But with classic nameplates like the Ranger (and less classic ones like the Colorado/Canyon) dying off after years of neglect due to cannibalism from cheap full-sized trucks, Detroit would apparently rather keep the trucks big and expensive than offer a cheaper, more practical alternative.

Eventually full-sized trucks, with their magnesium-alloy frames and advanced powertrains, will become a purely professional purchase, bought only by those who use them for work or by the wealthy (especially when gas prices eventually become more compelling than even CAFE standards). Hopefully, rather than putting all of their development money into desperately trying to keep full-sizers a favorite of the mass market, Detroit will eventually begin to offer a wider range of smaller pickups. It’s just too bad there’s no sign of this happening anytime soon.

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163 Comments on “The Full-Sized Future: Trucked By The High Cost Of CAFE?...”


  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    I was going to say that Detroit will have to REDUCE the size of their big trucks downward some too if they want to shed some of that weight but I agree, they  need a wide range of sizes from small Ranger/S-10 size models to the larger F350 series for those who need crew cabs for professional use, but they don’t need to be so huge as to not fit in  many parking garages, that, to me is just much too big IMO.
     
    I drive the Ranger and find it a nice size as trucks go.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Smaller is definitely the way to go, but GM & Ford don’t want to tell people this. I think we’ll see the Ranger-sized minitrucks come back sooner rather than later.

      The other thing that we could see is more structural unibody up front, for the obligatory maxi-crew cab.

      Certainly, for “proper” fully-enclosed SUVs, they’ll move to unibody with a subframe for towing.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    I wonder what the crash test results would be if someone dusted off the tooling for a 1972 Chevy 1/2 ton, moved the gas tank to a safer location, gave it a safety cage around the cab, driver and passenger air bag, and crumple zones.  That size and ground clearance would be fine with me.  The bed would actually be low enough to get stuff into.

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      My neighbor has an 88 F-150 he bought new, his son has had it t-boned twice and both times nearly totalled. It’s been fixed like new and he keeps on driving it. He likes it because its not huge even though its a longbed, standard cab. the new F150s are too big for him, and I agree, all the new trucks are too tall, too long and too wide.
       
      His old ’88 puts in an honest days work with the 300 I6 and a 5 speed manual. and no doubt will probably be the last truck he owns, since it has 160,000 miles on it and he’s 70.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      The Ranger has basically been the same chassis since it came out. It seems that besides changing some sheet metal all they did was add airbags to make it pass crash tests. I don’t see why this couldn’t be done with the full size trucks.
       
      I agree that the older trucks seemed more normal. The current penis compensating behemoths cannot be more useful for a contractor or anybody else that works with them than the older stuff. If I’m filling the bed of my truck with something, I like being able to reach the bed. On the current models, the bed seams a story up, and you need a latter to get in. Some of the upscale models actually have fold down steps so that people can get in.

    • 0 avatar
      rocketrodeo

      The Ranger has basically been the same chassis since it came out. It seems that besides changing some sheet metal all they did was add airbags to make it pass crash tests.

      I agree. Other than the all-new sheetmetal (’93), new interior (’96), new frame (’98), new suspensions, both 2wd and 4wd (also ’98), RSC and 4-wheel discs (’10) and all new engines, it’s easy to see that it’s really the same truck. After all, the box dimensions are still the same. All those grille changes aren’t fooling anybody.

  • avatar
    BMWfan

    As a result, it seems that the era of cheap pickups may be coming to an end.

    From what I have seen, pickup trucks have not been cheap in a long time. Anything with a decent equipment level is at least 40k, and more like 50 if you want 4wd and all the bells and whistles. The days of the personal pickup , without a reason are coming to an end, and the cowboys that are all hat and no cattle will have to move on. It was a fad, that in my opinion, lasted way too long.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      BMWs as non police car/taxis is a fad that lasted way too long. Yes, I’m all hat and no cattle as you described so yeah, pickups are a luxury/fad to me… but then both you and I can get around in a Yaris. You first.

    • 0 avatar
      Apollo

      “It was a fad, that in my opinion, lasted way too long.”

      Fads are, by nature, not long-lasting. Trucks are a long-standing expression of American cultural preferences. You might as well call country music or fried chicken a “fad.”

      I too am a BMW fan – I own a 3 as well as an F-150, and they are both unneccessary for my lifestyle but I like them both. Before BMW fans start casting stones at truck owners for driving unneccessary vehicles, I think a trip to the local Bimmer dealership is in order. If you can look at the size and inefficiency of any car on the lot and believe that any of them is practical compared to a Sonata, you’re better at rationalizing than I am.

      We drive Bimmers because we like driving Bimmers; the same is true for truck drivers. Rather than making moral judgments about others’ vehicle preferences, let’s first recognize that if it becomes a political battle to punish people for driving unneccesary vehicles, truck drivers significantly outnumber sports car drivers. I support the right of every American to buy a 3-ton pickup with eight feet of ground clearance and enough power to tow a dozen horses up a mountain at interstate speeds, because doing so will protect my right to buy a car capable of safely doing 110 on a 45 mph curve.

    • 0 avatar
      ihatetrees

      @ Apollo
      I support the right of every American to buy a 3-ton pickup with eight feet of ground clearance and enough power to move a pull a house from its foundation, because doing so will protect my right to buy a car capable of doing 110 on a 45 mph curve.

      I’ve always thought state licensing standards, via vehicle weight, were the place for controlling needless overuse of pickup trucks and SUVs. That a driver can go from a Focus to an Excursion with the same license makes no sense.
      Of course, the phrase “State Driver’s License Standards” is very close to an oxymoron.

    • 0 avatar

      Apollo – well said.
      While a truck will never be as efficient as a small compact, I’m glad to see automakers making these incremental gains in efficiency and emissions reductions while keeping the core about what we love about cars.  For example, it amazes me that the new Mustang V6 can achieve 300hp on 87 octane *and* get 30mpg.
      Since I don’t commute nowadays, the breakdown of why I own a car has shifted towards fun and away from utility.  I think I’m also a man of too many car-tastes too.  I like my 06 xB, but also love my buddy’s 01 F-250.  Oh, and what can I say, I’ll always have a soft spot for country music and fried chicken.

    • 0 avatar
      BMWfan

      @DenverMike,

      I too had a personal pickup, but it was like …back in 1980, and I quickly realised how impractical it was. The inefficiency of your mode of transportation will some day dawn on you, as it did me. BTW, my BMW get 32 on the highway, and the mid 20′s around town. Can you say that about your truck? I didn’t think so. Your argument seems to hate just because I can afford to own and maintain a BMW, my argument was simply to point out that the personal pickup is a wasteful mode of transportation. If you have a use for your pickup, well then you need it,. and you have the right vehicle. By your own admission, you do not have a use for a truck. If you want to drive that type of vehicle, it is your choice, and I am a firm believer in choice. I do however think that your choice will prove to be a regrettable one when you are faced with $150 fillups that last you a week.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      BMWfan,

      You make a good point about your fuel mileage vs. mine but I have no hate for people that can afford to pay more for their mode of transportation/form of expression. I mean it doesn’t matter how expensive fuel gets, I can cover it. Do you hate me because I can afford that? MY F-150 is wasteful at the pump. Your BMW was wasteful at the purchase. We are more alike than you realize. Besides, I’m not a victim of urban sprawl and it may take you 3 trips to the Home Depot to bring home sod, ground cover or whatever. You’ve never seen a car with plywood or a mattress on it’s roof, going down the road with the driver and passenger holding on to it?

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      You can have your cake and eat it too. Nicely efficient car and a 4×8 or 5×9 utility trailer to tow behind it for those occasional Lowes/dump runs. Works great! And at least for me, the trailer is $25 every other year to register, no insurance needed, no inspections, takes up WAY less space than a truck and a whole lot less maintenance. Unless you have a farm, even a 1/2 ton truck is killing flies with nuclear weapons for the average suburbanite.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      krhodes1,

      Yeah, I could get by with Yaris plus a utility trailer. My dogs would hate it? Anyway, it’s nice to have the available cargo area at the ready, at the drop of a hat. No fuss, no anything. Whether it’s emergency storm prep, damaged fence, whatever. You could say it’s a luxury you hardly ever use or need. Like insurance. Or a shot gun. Clearly I’m in it more for style plus I can go anywhere (up to a point), hunt/fish/camp/hike/move/4×4/mountain bike/swapmeet… with ease and comfort. I don’t do all those things but I have the option. Options my friend. How often to you use your car’s trunk to full capacity? Back seats?

  • avatar
    Brian P

    I have a dead simple recommenation: Lower the suspension!
     
    A two-wheel-drive Silverado has an enormous clearance between the axle and wheels, and the chassis and bodywork, and can probably be lowered 4 to 6 inches without compromising anything AND while making the truck a whole lot easier to load and a whole lot easier to get in and out of.
     
    Now, where’s my commission.

    • 0 avatar
      zenith

      Look at the height ,tailgate-to-ground ,on a 50s or 60s pickup and you’ll see that the old ones were far more utilitarian. I recall seeing ads for the Jeep pickup in which Kaiser proudly proclaimed that they had a much lower ride height than 4wd Fords and Chevies.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    Dan, the fuel tanks in the full sized trucks of those years were in pretty much the safest place possible. Right behind the seat, totally impervious to front-rear end collisions. And pretty much impossible to rupture from a side collision due to the fact that the rear part of the cab was one of the strongest points of the body.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      My future father in law has one and although I’m inclined to your argument that location always gave me the willies.

    • 0 avatar
      zenith

      And in States with odd-even gas rationing in ’73 where you couldn’t get gas even on “your day” if you had more than 1/4 tank, I could just reach behind the seat  and go “instantly empty”.

  • avatar
    SVX pearlie

    Interesting that Ford is starting with a (flammable) magnesium frame. I hope they do a bunch of “wet” crash testing before they release them, because nothing is going to kill the Ford truck brand faster than another Pinto barbecue fiasco.

    • 0 avatar
      MrIncognito

      Elemental Mg is flammable, magnesium alloys are not.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Maybe you won’t be able to light it with a cigarette lighter, but trust me, a decent heat source will be capable of lighting it. A co-worker of mine almost set off a Stratus because he thought the rear strut mount was aluminum and was trying to heat up a nut with an acetylene torch to get it out of the car. It wasn’t until it flashed that we realized it was a magnesium alloy. It is also the reason these particular mounts started disintegrating when exposed to the elements.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Probably depends on the alloy.  I have a magnesium alloy bicycle frame, after I had a friend chase the threads on the bottom bracket we took the shavings and put a torch to them.  It was pretty disappointing, no big flare up, they just kind of smoldered.

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    let’s be honest: full size trucks are really overside trucks. A 10 year old F-150 is about the size of a modern Tacoma. A modern F-150 is about the size of a 10 year old medium duty commercial cab/chassis. The size of these things has gone well beyond rediculous, and they exist soley becuase of CAFE loopholes. It’s about times these relics went the way of the McMansion.

    The cheapest way to make these trucks 20% lighter and more fuel efficient? Make them 20% smaller. If you need to tow eleventy billion pounds, Buy a commerical class vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      dastanley

      I’ll sound like a broken record with this, but a few months ago, I saw an F-450 dually extended cab (not sure the type of engine) taking up 4 spaces at the local Walmart.  One soccer/cowboy/rodeo mom sitting inside doing her lipstick in the rear view mirror.  In a town just saturated with non-commercial F-250s and diesel Rams, many with lift kits and modified exhaust, hauling nothing but air, the F-450 is apparently raising the bar yet again in the “my dick is bigger than yours” arms race. 

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Simplest solution: Kill CAFE. Let the domestic automakers make what sells. If someone comes up with a better mousetrap or if fuel prices adjust upwards consistently, the domestic automakers have no choice but to compete.
     
    CAFE as it exists now has all but killed the competitive domestic car, no matter what size. Since light trucks have been regulated less than cars, they have managed to be a product that the domestics can still make money on.
     
    Once the automakers are forced to produce and sell the equivalent of a F150 Prius for a large percentage more than what it would cost if were not so heavily regulated, they’re doomed.

    • 0 avatar
      sitting@home

      A better solution; kill the Chicken Tax. The domestics make what generates them the most profit because they are impervious to competition from foreign made trucks. The construction/retail/farming sectors in every market around the world seem to get along fine without 5000 pound trucks, but for some reason every plumber, pizza boy and farm hand needs a Quad Cab, AWD, V8 leather-lined behemoth in the US. Without predators to weed out the weak, sick and useless, evolution gives us the Dodo … and with the Chicken tax in place Detroit gives us just the same.

    • 0 avatar
      ihatetrees

      Simplest solution: Kill CAFE….
      Once the automakers are forced to produce and sell the equivalent of a F150 Prius for a large percentage more than what it would cost if were not so heavily regulated, they’re doomed.

       
      Many market friendly economists agree with you. But the domestics and the UAW know this, so CAFE won’t be killed.
      The political environment may allow for a relaxation. Normal Democrats, like Joe Manchin (who famously shot the Cap and Trade Bill in an ad), would surely tag along.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @sitting: I think if that were true, Nissan and Toyota would have a larger presence in full size pickup trucks in the US. They’re built here so they avoid the chicken tax. Honestly, I don’t know why the Japanese makes don’t have more penetration of the market; or are they intentionally keeping their distance? I would have thought that Toyota would have captured more of the market by now.
       
      Off the top of my head, I can’t think of other foreign trucks that are the same size as the US ones. I know VW has the Amarok in South America, but I think that’s the size of a Dakota or (US) Ranger. The “international” Ranger that you see in South Africa or Australia (and we don’t get here) looks to be the size of a F150 from 20 years ago (but I can’t convert metric to SAE quickly in my head).
       
      Even if the chicken tax were eliminated, the trucks that make sense in other markets like Asia or South America may find it hard to compete against the ‘be all do all’ trucks we make here. Hypothetically speaking, if you can get a nice F150 for $20K or a nice Frontier for the same price, which would you take? Most of us would probably take the F150, all things being equal. I think that’s why Mahindra is having cold feet entering the US, it’s conceivable the domestics could lower their prices to make a compelling value proposition.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      geozinger,

      Give the Toyota and Nissan enough time and they will take over the light truck market including the 3/4 tons/1 tons. Theirs is more of a desidedly gradual course, fearing any backlash. The same way the Japanese took over the US car market. Gradually. Yes, they are keeping their distance intentionally. Medium duty Hinos are Toyotas but why not just call them ‘Toyota Industrial Trucks’? (OK, TIT would be an unfortunate acronym. Got it!) Or UDs ‘Nissan Commercial Trucks’? Or Fusos ‘Mitsubish Trucks’? Because it’s a devious, calculated plan to take over in the US without the backlash.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @Denver: Well, if it’s a calculated plan, it’s very devious. Devious in this interpretation that it deviates from a common sense plan to grow market share. I would say that the light truck market (not counting the UDs, Fusos & Hinos) is heavily dominated by the domestics, including the remainder of the small trucks. I would hazard a guess to say that the reason why the domestics have concentrated so heavily on value pricing the ‘standard’ sized trucks is to repel the Japanese makes, too.
       
      Whether or not we like the size and presence of the current domestic trucks, the automakers have done a good job making their offerings very desirable. Seriously, there’s a reason why F150′s outsell most everything else in the US market. Much like the Camry, if Ford wasn’t doing something right, the sales numbers wouldn’t be there…

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      geozinger,

      Agreed on the value aspect especially. You can get an XLT F-150 SuperCab 4X4 with the 32valve 5.0 for around the base price of the top Accord. Hell yeah it’s a great value! Plus you can get the base 2WD with the optional 5.0 for a $1000 more and are not forced to get a package of unwanted crap like ‘power everything’, as you would with a car.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Denvermike -
       
      Why would you assume that Toyota or Nissan would take over the full size truck market?  Ford, GM, and Chrysler can, and do, engineer and build vehicles that compete very well with the current foreign offerings.  The Camcords still rule the roost in car sales because of negative feelings for previous inferior Detroit offerings, not because they are better right now.
      When it comes to full size trucks, the offerings from Ford and GM have always been better than anything that has come out of Japan.  The Tundra is a great example of how Toyota can completely miss the mark.  The frame and bed flex when under load, the interior is an ergonomic mess, and the fuel economy is awful compared to other full size pickups.  Ford and GM never lost the full size truck and SUV business because they never built poor vehicles in those segments.  The Japanese are no better at building quality vehicles than the US automakers are, the US automakers just fell asleep at the wheel for so long and stopped trying that we’ve forgotten how great the passenger cars from Detroit can be.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Nullomodo,

      I didn’t mean they would take over anytime soon. Slowly they will take over, is what I’m predicting… and I’m not the only one. The take over of the car market didn’t happen overnight, right? What’s your theory, that they haven’t put a 3/4 ton on the market, good or bad, after how many years of small trucks? I mean, yeah they missed the mark with the current 1/2 ton offerings but maybe that’s part of their evil plan. ;)

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Denvermike -
       
      My point is that the imports took over the passenger car market because Detroit pretty much gave up on it chasing truck and SUV profits.  The D3 made some major mistakes in traditional cars, and allowed the imports to make some inroads.  Rather than fight back with better cards to beat off the Japanese, Ford, GM, and Chrysler just threw whatever the lowest cost solution they could find at car buyers, and focused on making the best trucks and SUVs they could.
       
      Now that they realize that the car market is important Ford and GM are both eating away marketshare from Toyota and Honda.  The big difference in trucks is that Detroit has never given up on them.  I’m sure the imports will make some inroads, but I don’t see them ever taking the full size truck and SUV market over.

    • 0 avatar
      rocketrodeo

      Denvermike:
       
      The US manufacturers excel at building full-size light duty pickups for the same reasons that Honda and Toyota excel at compact sedans: They’ve been doing it for a very long time, they intimately understand what their customers want, and each new vehicle is a more refined version of the previous one, hewing to a very clear vision of what that vehicle should be, and do.  No clean sheet designs throwing out what came before it, like American manufacturers have done with small cars (think Vega, Monza, Cavalier, Cobalt, and Cruze), and like what Toyota has done with pickups (see T100, Tundra 1, and Tundra 2).  Ford, GM, and Chrysler have a 55-year head start on Toyota and Nissan. I don’t look for them to close the gap anytime soon.

    • 0 avatar
      SherbornSean

      Perhaps in the place of CAFE, we could have a law that says that for every MPG below 30 that your pickup gets, the owner needs to attend that number of funerals for soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.  At the funeral, the pickup truck owner will be forced by law to tell the dead soldiers’ mothers that their child didn’t die in vain, but rather to secure fuel for their god given right to drive a pickup to and from their jobs at McDonalds.
       
      Would that work?

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      SherbornSean, how about a law that you can’t use oxegen when you breath? Like that idea? Shut up about war for oil and all that, this is a car website not Daily Kos. We get most of our oil from this hemisphere anyway so you made a totally worthless stupid comment.

    • 0 avatar
      dastanley

      SherbornSean:

      This USMC veteran fought in the Gulf War 90-91 for…oil, of course.  It wasn’t because America has any great love for Kuwaitis.  However, I volunteered to serve my country in the 80s and 90s, knowing full well that a war could break out, what with the cold war, the USSR, and Reagan/Bush Sr.  I understood the risks.  Nobody forced me to join.  I’m sure that the troops today in the Army and USMC knew the risks when they signed on the dotted line.  I hate that we have to take any casualties at all, but that’s a fact of war.  Now, back to cars.

    • 0 avatar
      SherbornSean

      dastanley,
      Thank you for your service.
       
      I am hopeful that my tongue-in-cheek suggestion only reminds people about the real costs of their quote unquote freedom to haul 10,000 pounds of air on the way to Walmart to buy diapers and milk.
       
      But you are correct.  We’re here to talk cars.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    I understand what your’e saying, Dan. I remember having that feeling at first, sitting directly in front of all those gallons of fuel. But it really is pretty much the safest place that the tank could be, unless of course you had a big leak and lit a cigarette. But those tanks NEVER rusted because they were protected from the weather.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC

      Perception is a funny thing, isn’t it?  On the other hand, most modern cars have the fuel tank right under the back seat- which also happens to be a very well protected place for it.  You probably sit closer the fuel than if you put a jerry can full of gas under a chair or under your bed at night…  makes for a neat mental picture for next time you set up a car seat in the familymobile or put a baby to sleep in a crib!
       
      I’m with Dan and Moparman- my left brain understands that the old sidesaddle tanks were OK but my right brain still cringes at it.

  • avatar
    h82w8

    Lighter weight would certainly help, but it’s no panacea. I drive a 2006 Tacoma 4×4, 4.0L V6 and auto trans. The truck weighs right around 4k lbs…bantamweight compared to contemporary full size pickups.
     
    I get 13-15mpg around town, depending on the time of year (winter at the low end, and if I have to use 4wd much I’m easily into the low 12′s or worse). On the interstate at 75-80mph, 15 tops. Downhill with a tailwind at lower highway speeds, maybe 17. I reckon these numbers are no better, and probably in some cases worse, than the latest porked-out V8-powered 1/2 ton trucks from Ford, Chevy and Dodge.

    • 0 avatar
      Halftruth

      Interesting, my 04 Dakota with V6 5 spd constantly gets 19-20 in mixed driving and weighs about 5-ish K lbs. I am surprised your mileage is so poor. Is that what it was rated for?

    • 0 avatar
      mazder3

      There has to be something wrong with your Tacoma. My thirteen year old 5.2 4×4 Ram gets those exact numbers while landscaping (ie many short trips and towing an equipment trailer).

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      You’ve got too much weight, it pushes too much air, has too much engine (an old design, at that), and an inefficient transmission.
       
      My ’84 Toyota pickup was a stripped-out base model, 4-cylinder, manual, 2 wheel drive, no power anything. It weighed around 2700 lbs and used around 9 L/100 km (26 mpg US), and that was a carbureted engine.
       
      Friend of mine has a 2010 Ranger, stripped-out base model, 4-cylinder, manual, 2 wheel drive. It’s pretty good on gas, too.

    • 0 avatar
      jandrews

      Nothing wrong with his Tacoma. I also own a 4.0L powered 4×4 Taco. 2009. Double Cab.

      It’s a big fucking truck (4300lbs from factory) which is why it has a big fucking V6 in it. Let’s face it, 4.0L is a monster displacement for a 6. You might as well consider this thing V8 powered, Toyota just opted to do it with less cylinders. I see about 16mpg around town, 18 or 19 on the highway. Granted, I am lifted and running oversize tires. This has probably killed a couple MPG. Toyota implementing their 4.6L V8 in the Tacoma would probably HELP mileage, but they don’t want to cannibalize V8-driven sales of the Tundra to guys with tiny penises that won’t consider anything without a v8 badge.

      The simple fact is that modern full-size pickups are absurdly bloated, mid-size pickups are moderately bloated, and compact pickups don’t exist any more.

      My Tacoma is almost the same weight as a mid-90s F-150 and has about the same amount of engine in its 6 as those trucks did in their V8s (more, depending on which engine).

      TTAC isn’t perfect but one thing they consistently get right is that modern American vehicle designs are too big. Necessary for the ever fattening population here in the states? Maybe. But neither obesity epidemic (the cars or the people) is tenable long term.

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      My 07 Suburban gets those same numbers and I’m dragging around an additional ton of leather and steel.

    • 0 avatar
      h82w8

      That’s my point….my comparatively light-weight Tacoma is no gas miser. Far from it. Have owned it since new, keep it maintained and those are the mileage numbers I’ve experienced. Toyota’s 4.0L V6 in this truck is simply not a very fuel efficient motor. Puts out plenty of grunt, though.

    • 0 avatar
      cdotson

      My 2002 Ram 4×2 quad cab, short bed 4.7L V8 w/ 5speed weighs right about 5500 lbs empty and I get a constant 18-19mpg overall.  Been getting 18 lately due to cold, last summer got 19 because gas was cheaper and I drove faster, but during the near $4 gas a couple summers ago I was just a few tenths shy of 20mpg average.  I drive about 60-70% highway and the rest suburban.
       
      My take is that 19mpg is just about none worse than any other vehicle I require which would swallow 3 car seats and cargo for a long weekend (minivans are no paragon of efficiency as my extended family’s four Odys and multiple Chrysler vans have not cracked 20mpg on a long-term average, plus Panther-types don’t really do any better).
       
      Yeah, pickups can and should be smaller.  My  88 Ramcharger looks like a toy next to my 2002 Ram, but it was built on the 1/2 ton chassis of the era (which honestly, weighs exactly the same or ~100lbs less as my newer pickup and gets worse mileage thanks to TBI 5.2 and non-lockup 3spd auto).  Keep the rear seat width at 62 inches minimum and sufficient headroom for tall folks.  They could definitely be lower to the ground, plus channeling the cab a bit more over the frame wouldn’t hurt.  Now that even 4wd trucks have dispensed with solid front axles I doubt much utility would be lost by converting to independent rear (witness 05+ Expeditions, which tow well according to my bro-in-law) or DeDions that would allow a lower frame height with the redonkulous wheel sizes that I doubt will go away (really, what’s wrong with 16s on a truck?  Mine requires 17s to clear the brakes for what reason?).  Lower trucks without excessive width reduces frontal area, which went up nearly 10 square feet around 10 years ago.  Huge increase for aerodynamic drag, plus much could be done to decrease drag coefficient, especially if the trucks get lower to the ground.

    • 0 avatar
      jandrews

      True about the 4.0L putting out plenty of push. It may drink gas, but it does what you expect for a thirsty engine.

  • avatar
    eddie.willers

    Ya know…I never could understand why the Yankee vehicle makers couldn’t take a leaf or two from the Euro-playbook as and when needed.
     
    Land Rovers have ALWAYS had aluminum alloy body panels to save weight and offer corrosion resistance. Euro-engines are also generally of much smaller displacement and, hence, higher efficiency/economy.
    Diesels are the way to go over hybrids, no?
     
    Why then has the US market not offered these things?

    • 0 avatar
      Stingray

      A loaded fully loaded European light commercial vehicle will barely get along its way when the road becomes steep. A 2.8 or 3.0 lts diesel engine with 130-170 HP may be more efficient on fuel, but it will take forever to move a 4 ton cargo.
       
      En cambio, an F-350 or C3500, with 300+ HP will easily take that and cruise comfortably at 140 km/h with power to spare. With A/C.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      Land Rovers got Aluminium body panels because that’s what was available in the immediate post-war era when they were developed. The light weight and corrosion resistance were a bonus… and a mixed blessing. Unnoticed rust on the steel frames has led to a lot of Land Rover failures, and galvanic corrosion is always a threat.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Land Rovers are a lot more expensive than most fullsize pickups.  The entire point of the post was that adding lightweight features like aluminum body panels might help efficiency, but they will increase the cost to the buyer.
       
      Smaller engines are accepted in Europe because people are used to them.  We are still have the horsepower wars going full bore in the US.  We like our vehicles big, and with plenty of power.  As long as gas remains relatively affordable, we’d rather take more power with the same efficiency than a lot more efficiency with less power.
       
      California has killed any chance of the US adopting euro style diesels.  California emissions states have ridiculous rules for diesels that make it virtually impossible for a cost effective diesel engine to meet them.  The obvious solution is for the federal government to bitch slap CA and tell them that they can’t make their own rules for emissions – they have to accept the federal guidelines, and have us align our guidelines more similarly to Europe’s.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @Nullo: The whole issue with CARB setting it’s own set of rules regarding emissions has always bothered me. I get the concept of states rights, but I think the government should stick to one set of rules, and fight the balkanization of these statutes. As you note, it’s actions like these that prevent us from getting some very good hardware.
       
      Tail wagging the dog…

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Geo -
       
      The CARB madness doesn’t just end with what vehicles/engines we can have access to in the US.
       
      Being located in south Florida, my dealership does a lot of business with snowbirds who want to buy a car down here, but register it in their home state.  Since Florida isn’t a California Emissions state, we aren’t supposed to order California Emissions vehicles (although CA emissions vehicles can be legally registered in FL).  However, someone wanting to buy a car down here and register it in PA can’t just pick any car on the lot, they have to look for the one that says ‘CA Emissions’ on the sticker, or ’50 State Emissions’.  They can buy a brand new Fusion 4 cylinder, which is a very eco-friendly car, and not be able to register it at home because of some arcane rule in the CARB books that California and the other CARB states have adopted but the rest of the country hasn’t.
       
      Automakers are now having to build vehicles that meet both the federal emissions rules and the CA emissions rules (which unfortunately, the CA rules aren’t a subset of the federal rules) at a greater cost to everyone.  So thanks to the voters in CA, everyone in the rest of the country has to pay more for their car.

  • avatar
    thx_zetec

    I don’t understand.
    “The average 2010-model American pickup truck weighs nearly 5,000 lbs, making it some 22 percent heavier than its equivalent ten years ago”
    I agree that modern trucks seem to be much heavier.   What I don’t understand is why we need expensive, exotic technology to get back to the weight of ten years ago.   It is not like a ten year old F150 is made out of carbon fiber, moon-rock and unobtainium.
    I realize that safety is more of a concern, but I think that part of the problem is that people want huge pickups simply because they are huge.   Ford’s motto for F150 should be “Quantity is Job1″
    So we’ll end up with people buying extremely expensive, un-necessarily giant pickups made of carbon fiber?
     

    • 0 avatar
      Halftruth

      Excellent point, I’ve always wondered why an F-150 of old has ballooned to what used to be a F Super Duty.. My neighbor just picked up an 08 F150 and this thing is HUGE with the lousy gas mileage to go with it. Maybe it’s that huge grill.. :)

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    My every day  driver is an 07 Ram 1500 2 wheel drive with the 4.7 engine and 5 speed auto. I believe the EPA highway rating is 21 for this truck. I normally average 21-22 on the highay with the cruise set between 65-70.

  • avatar
    newfdawg

    For the past decade or so truckmakers have been engaged in a game of “mine’s bigger than
    yours” and I don’t see that they are any more capable than trucks were back in the 70′s and 80′s.
    It’s time for a downsize.

  • avatar
    RGS920

    Full size trucks won’t be dramatically effected by CAFE because “light trucks” encompass not only pickup trucks but also SUV and CUVs.  Let’s take Ford for example.  The F150′s average fuel economy is below the CAFE requirements.  However, the Ford Escape and new explorer are above the cafe requirements so it all averages out.  Ford will continue for a long time to make hulking F150s that the US buyer wants while increasing the fuel economy of SUVs and CUVs where mpgs are a major consideration for a buyer. 

    I am actually waiting for a car company to build a 10,000 pound SUV or Pick-Up truck because that vehicle would be exempt from CAFE requirements.  The definitition of “light truck” only includes vehicles less than 10,000 pounds.  For example, when the H2 first came out, GM built the H2 Hummer so that it purposely weighed more than 6000 pounds.  At the time the H2 was made, light trucks were by definition vehicles that weighed less than 6000 pounds.  No one back in 1970 when the Cafe law was written imagined non-commerical vehicles weighing more than 6000 pounds.  GM showed them!

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      Actually in many states the larger trucks are already categorized as commercial vehicles. Here in FL it kicks in at 7,000 pounds. My ’01 V10 2500HD Ram crossed the line, although the only real impact was tag renewal in December instead of my birth-month and a slightly higher tag fee. I suppose the impact is different in other states. Somewhere up around 10,000 pounds you’ll get into a basic CDL requirement…

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Trucks like the HHR and PT Cruiser also help average things out. That is a loophole that needs to be closed.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    I’m not sure why full-size light trucks are routinely attacked/vilified by the press when mid-size SUVs and small trucks quietly get the same or worse MPG.

    • 0 avatar
      BMWfan

      @ DenverMike

      While I disagreed with your previous statement, (see above) I have to agree with you here. Considering how much smaller the “new” crossover unibody CUV’s are, they should be getting much better mileage than they do.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      BMWfan,

      As I said below, small/mid-size SUVs/trucks are oversized for their tiny engines. Small engines are economical to a point. Ask too much from them and they become worse pigs than V8s. Properly matching SUVs to HP&torque vs. total load equals efficiency/economy. That’s what’s missing from the equation. If it takes mid-size SUVs with small V8s, then let’s be real about it, politics aside.

    • 0 avatar
      BMWfan

      @ DenverMike,

      I have to agree with your post above. I think we are more alike than different. I sure do hope you are around with your truck if I ever come sliding through Colorado and end up in a ditch. I also hope that I am around if you ever break down on the East coast and need to get somewhere in a hurry! I wish you and your family the best for the New Year! BTW I actually HAVE seen someone in my area carrying a mattress on their roof! Wasn’t pretty! LOL Be well.

    • 0 avatar
      h82w8

      I hear ya. My ’06 Tacoma 4×4 V6 is a case in point.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      BMWfan,

      Yeah, thanks, have a safe New Years Eve and a great 2011+. Best wishes.

  • avatar
    geo

    Funny how Ford brags in their ads that they don’t need a group of “donut-eaters” in a focus group to tell them how to build their F-150.  Yet they designed it according to a focus-group mentality — e.g. the “more room, more power” mantra.  What focus group is going to say that there should be less room and power, and more manoeverability and efficiency?  It’s time leadership stopped deferring to the stinky focus group masses (who thought the Aztek was great) and led for a change.

    The ’97 to ’03 F-150 was just fine (did anyone complain about the size being too small?).  And you could grab things from the bed without a ladder. The ’04 was a thousand pounds heavier . . . why? So Ford could say they were the biggest? This reminds me of Dems vs Republicans, spending the US into bankruptcy, so they can say they “care more”.

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      Yes, people did complain about them being too small.  Dateline NBC ran a primetime special about how terribly designed half ton trucks were for crashing into brick walls.
       
      The 04 didn’t have a new powertrain.  The cabin wasn’t any bigger.  The bed wasn’t any longer or wider.  The beltline went up a little bit for cosmetics’ sake.  That 700 pound trim for trim fattening was solely to ace the crash tests.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC

      If there was a “truth about journalism” website then there would be a Deadly Sin article about Dateline NBC. :)

    • 0 avatar
      mazder3

      The ’97-03 wasn’t too small. The truck wasn’t designed to be a suicide door four door. When striking a wall head on it folds like an accordion. That’s the only gripe I’ve heard about them besides looking too “girly”.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    The Big 3 need to take a page from the late 1970s and downsize their trucks.
     
    As was mentioned above, a new Tacoma is close to the size of an F-150 of the 1980s. Given that the majority of trucks are fashion accessories for “urban cowboys”, downsizing wouldn’t have any great loss for truck functionality. Keep the Super Duties for those who can depreciate their trucks on their tax returns.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC

      “Given that the majority of trucks are fashion accessories for “urban cowboys””
       
      Very true- just as the majority of sports cars are fashion accessories for overgrown boy racers.
       
      Not trying to be confrontational by saying pointing this out though.  Personally I enjoy looking at a good sports car and have very little interest in pickup trucks, but that’s really beside the point.
       
      Happy New Year!

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      “Very true- just as the majority of sports cars are fashion accessories for overgrown boy racers.”
      I agree with this.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    JimC, I didn’t think about that, how in many vehicles made today you sit right on top of the tank, just like you sat in front of it in the old trucks. 

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      There’s one major difference. In the old trucks, the fuel tank was actually inside the passenger compartment. In cars with the fuel tank under the rear seat, it’s on the other side (bottom) of the floor pan. If the fuel tank gets a leak due to corrosion with the old trucks, the vapors were with you in the cab (and you sure knew it right away). If the fuel tank leaks with a newer front-drive car, the vapor is outside the passenger compartment. I’m not sure but I think it’s against the current design rules to have the fuel tank inside the passenger compartment.
       
      You COULD have the tank in that spot but outside; just slope the back of the cab and put the tank on the other side. I think the main thing now is that most trucks use that cubby behind the seats for additional storage space, which you couldn’t have if the fuel tank were there. Most trucks nowadays have the fuel tank between the frame rails underneath, which is a very protected place. GM had a bit of a PR headache because they mounted their fuel tanks underneath but outside the frame rails. It was a non-issue in the real world, but NBC (I think) made mincemeat of it.

  • avatar
    jj99

    As much as I avoid Detroit products because of the reliability shortfall, I would gladly take a Chevy Tahoe.  From time to time, I look at one, but have yet to pull out the check book.  Waiting for GM to fix the problem with the steering column that does not lock when you pull out the key.  GM, fix that, and I will gladly purchase one in white.

  • avatar
    thx_zetec

    Moparman426w
    Modern full size trucks get amazing fuel economy for their size and weight.   I see curb weight as nearly 5000 lb, and you don’t have best aerodynamics, 20 mpg is good.   I think this is why sales of smaller pickups are so poor, mileage difference is not much.
    My opinion is that US big3 have the world’s most amazing IC engine efficiency. but they mainly use it to make 5000 lb pickups get mileage like 4000 lb pickups.  Everyone raved about Toyota technology, but their new giant Tundra gets about same or worse than equivalent giant US pickups.
    My question is why can’t anyone offer a modern, smaller pickup with 30 mpg highway without using expensive tricks like diesel or expensive materials?
     
     
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      JimC

      “Modern full size trucks get amazing fuel economy for their size and weight.”
       
      That makes sense- modern transport trucks and buses get even more amazing fuel economy for their size and weight (for that matter, so do trains).  Two half-ton pickups will use more fuel than a single full ton… so will two Smart cars compared to any four seat subcompact.
       
      For modern full size pickups, consider rolling the clock back thirty years on Detroit pickup trucks.  The modern EFI V8/6 speed overdrive automatic/lockup torque converter/3.55 rear end probably uses half the fuel to haul the same load as an old 4bbl V8/3-speed direct drive automatic/high stall converter/4.10 rear.  We have come a long way.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      A 30 MPG small truck is easily attainable and we are sitting on the answer but too dumb/politically correct to see it or use it. Forget about diesels or space age/hydroformed (expensive) compounds/polymers. Take a 4.7 to 5.0 V8 drivetrain already in 1/2 tons, only geared to freeway fly instead of stump pulling, combined with a jellybean aerodynamic (4000lbs max)small truck and you’ve got your 30 MPG. Small V8s are under utilized in small truck/SUV applications. Instead we have over worked V6s that are bigger pigs to feed.  

    • 0 avatar
      ihatetrees

      @ DenverMike
      Take a 4.7 to 5.0 V8 drivetrain already in 1/2 tons, only geared to freeway fly instead of stump pulling, combined with a jellybean aerodynamic (4000lbs max)small truck and you’ve got your 30 MPG.

       
      +1. And would it be too difficult to offer a 6 speed manual with a granny gear for pulling and OD for cruising? Is there no demographic for this truck?

    • 0 avatar
      mazder3

      You can buy a Colorado with a 5.3 V8 but only as a loaded 3LT 4 speed auto two wheel drive. $27,000!

    • 0 avatar
      Monty

      My 2001 GMC Sierra SL (one trim level above the base WT – the only option added being cruise control) so it’s basically a stripper with manual locks and windows. With the 4.3 and 4 spd O/D transmission, and the tach set at less than 2000 RPM (about 58 MPH) I have recorded more than a few instances of almost 28 MPG on the highway.

      It’s low to the ground, the box can be easily loaded, and the cab is roomy enough for two adults,  a small terrier and a large german shepherd for 3.5 hour rides to the cabin.

      Although it’s larger than pickups from 30 years ago, it’s not much larger, and it’s much more efficient, and much better appointed.

      Unfortunately, the one-upmanship of the pickup wars has led to monstrosities on the road. My neighbour’s 2010 F-150 Raptor is impossible to load without a stepladder.

      It wouldn’t take much for pickups to get better mileage – 2 doors, lower to the ground, and an extra cog or two for the highway, and less weight in gimmicks and ugly trim.

      Fat chance of that.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    I agree ztec, todays domestic fullsize trucks with V8′s get better mileage than a straight 6 manual base model truck from the 70s. And you even have power steering, brakes and A/C!

  • avatar
    aspade

    $4.00 gas a couple of years ago did a pretty good job of rethinking the 6000 lb daily driver.  And $4.00 gas is going to seem a bargain in 5 years.  The half ton commuter is just about done on its own merits.  No help from CAFE needed.

    The real world effect of this is to punish people  who use a truck occasionally.  Drive a car the other 27 days a month and leave the truck in the garage for work?  You’re going to pay an extra $8-10,000 for these fuel saving features anyway.  Nevermind that they aren’t saving any fuel when you aren’t driving the vehicle, because CAFE doesn’t care about usage.
     
     

  • avatar
    JaySeis

    I was on the Ford lot a few days ago thinking about my own downsizing over the last 10 years. From a ’99 4WD diesel F250 SD extended cab to an ’03 Expedition to a ’10 Explorer Sport Trac Adrenalin.  The one thing in common as that they could haul 5 or more and are all weather rigs (important in the PNW). The backseats..that’s why pickups are bigger and heavier as on the Ford lot I really had to look for a two door pickup. The STA is the most comfortable, gets the best mileage (barely) and can tow nearly 7000 lbs (which means my 5K boat and my cargo trailer).  The STA is like a 3/4′s full size truck with car like attributes but it still is a 4700 lb boat anchor, even with a composite bed. A unit body frame 4 door “truck” under 4000 lbs is a tall order, particularly if you are going to want to tow a “boatload” so to speak. A 4 door Ranger/Explorer size is perfect and I’m mystified why the automakers are trying to cram us all into bigger vehicles. The side benefit to the STA? It fits better in the garage by far.

  • avatar
    thx_zetec

    Looking forward I see two possible things that can happen.
     
    If gas prices go to 5 dollar range then there will be big incentive to improve gas mileage regardless of CAFE regulation.
     
    If gas prices stay low (less then five bucks) then I see big future for “super duty” pickups, the F250,F350 and GM, Dodge equivalents.   The current EPA CAFE regulation does NOT apply to the really big iron, GVWR > 8500 lb http://www.nhtsa.gov/cars/rules/cafe/overview.htm
     
    Looking at http://www.fordf150.net/specs/05sd_specs.pdf I see just about *any* F250,F350 has GVWR > 8500, so no problem (note this is loaded, not gross weight.  Hmm – coincidence they all have GVWR beyond reg?).   You want to ride to work in big iron?   If 5000 lb pickups are not easy to get, Ford will be happy to sell you a 6000-8000 lb curb weight vehicle.
    This would be similar to what happened with previous CAFE, it went easy on SUV’s and Trucks so people who wanted big cars got around regulations by buying even bigger SUV’s and trucks.
     
    Consider also that Big3 has no competition in super duty, Toyota and Nissan don’t compete here.   Also there is legit need for these beasts, if you gotta haul huge amounts of weight they are the best way of doing it.   Also federal tax policy provides big incentive to buy these even if not necessarily needed.
     
    So the future could be that car drivers are forced into ever smaller more expensive vehicles while even bigger trucks take to the roads.

  • avatar
    mazder3

    Ford just needs to bring on the global Ranger. Overall length for a quad cab is only 203.6 inches. The F-150 crew is 223.8″, Sport Trac 210″. Unfortunately it’s height is only between 63.8 and 69.4 inches so it would be way too short for most Americans. The 3.0 Diesel may only put out 156 horsepower but 280 lb-ft of torque at 1800 rpm will be more than enough for most folks.

    • 0 avatar
      mazder3

      A look through an old Chilton proves those hp and torque numbers would be more than enough. A stock 1988 5.0 puts out a very similar 150 hp and 270 ft-lbs of torque. The 5.8 of the same year was 180 and 285 respectively.

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    The comparison between driving a truck and a Bimmer is overly simplistic because it reduces the issue to a simple expression in individual preferences. This is far too one-sided, however, for there are other key differences between how the preference for a luxury vehicle compares to that for a large 5,000 lb. truck, especially when it comes to the risks such vehicles pose for others.
     
    Surely the main problem with large trucks, and the way in which they differ from Bimmers and other similar vehicles, lies in the fact that they are so large that they pose a much higher level of risk for other drivers (and I would include large SUV’s like the Escalade and others in this category as well). In assessing insurance risks, for example, one looks not only to the risk to the driver of the vehicle in question (and the cost to repair, etc.), but also to the degree of danger that your vehicle poses to other drivers (in terms of risk of injury, vehicular damage, and so on). A 5,000 lb truck whose bumper is aimed at a Yaris driver’s head poses a much greater risk to the other driver than a BMW 3 series or even an x3. When you combine a big truck’s weight with its exaggerated ground clearance you have a very dangerous vehicle when compared to most other vehicles on the road, particularly cars.
     
    While it is fine to see a vehicle as an expression of one’s individual preferences, one also has to view it in its larger social context and the risk it poses to others. It may be perfectly reasonable for a professional who actually needs a large truck to use one on a regular basis, but surely the person who drives a large truck for image or prestige should be subjected to very different kinds of criticism and scrutiny than the person who drives a luxury car.
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      What happened to individual choice? Are you the arbiter of what everyone should drive, wear, eat and do? Should we, when you determine something is socially unacceptable, follow that person around and point and heckle? I’ll do what I want without your new Puritans telling me what is proper and right thank you very much.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      I’m not convinced I should feel any remorse if my F-150′s bumper does a Gallagher on a Yaris driver’s mellon… I mean any more than that of a motorcylist for example (and why isn’t a helmet included with every tiny car?). We all make choices that effect others as well as ourselves but shouldn’t the Yaris driver be held accountable for his/her own health and well being? I mean assuming the accident was my fault.

    • 0 avatar
      Philosophil

      Freedom does not mean being able to do whatever you want. Freedom is always a two-way street. My freedom to choose is limited by the extent to which it harms or restricts the freedoms (and rights) of others. This is a basic principle of modern society, one that is maintained by libertarians and liberals alike.
       
      If I’m polluting or damaging your property or subjecting your property or life to an unreasonable level of risk (by burning the grass in my backyard during fire season, for example, or burning toxic chemicals upwind of you in my backyard), then you have a right to ask me to stop or to modify what I’m doing so that the level of risk to you is acceptable in some reasonable sense. It follows that if the automobile I’m driving puts others at a significantly higher level of risk for no good reason (as a simple status symbol or other such thing), then other people, e.g., people with small children or families who may not want or be able to afford to drive a similar vehicle, may well be in their rights to be upset with me for my choice of vehicles. It’s not all about mpg’s.
       
      Some people may not like this, and the only real solution for them is to live outside of the social fabric, because life in the social fabric demands placing reasonable limits on an individual’s freedom to choose.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @Philosophil:
       
      Your story breaks down in several ways:
       
      1. There is no greater ‘risk’ to drivers of smaller vehicles unless there is an accident.  That’s why we call them ‘accidents’, because they are unplanned.  A planned crash would be unfair to the smaller car.  It’s the driver of the smaller car who takes the risk by purchasing such a vehicle, and then deciding to drive it.  You speak as though F-150 owners are expected to go out and ram into Hyundai Accents.
       
      2. People choose to be offended.  Purchasing a high cost consumer item should not be restricted because somebody who can’t afford it might become offended.  You could apply the same logic to housing, clothing, diamond rings, or a stock portfolio.  Personally, I’m glad for people driving nicer, bigger cars than mine – I just hope they haven’t overextended themselves financially.
       
      3. Before we level criticism at owners of big trucks, are we to first inquire about their intent for the vehicle?  Do we then give a pass to a farmer with a $70k King Ranch F-450, but not to the soccer mom with a $35k F-150?

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Philosophil,

      We’ve got different definitions of freedom. According to your definition, what gives a motorcylists the right to use the same city streets where my kids use the sidewalk and crosswalk? He outweighs them many times over and moves at a much faster rate. He should exercise his right to ride only on freeways or interstates devoid of any pedestrians or kids. Or at least limit his speed to 5 MPH on city streets. What the hell is he thinking, right?

    • 0 avatar
      ihatetrees

      @ gslippy:
      I think Philosiphil’s point was that larger vehicles should be scrutinized, not banned. States have strict laws for driving commercial trucks that weigh less than many personal trucks/SUVs. But 4 ton personal vehicles are given a pass – you can go from a corolla to a lexus LS with no license change.
      I personally think state licensing standards should consider total HP and weight. If you want to drive an Tahoe OR a ZR1, no problem – just pass a road test with whatever you choose. My guess is the Tahoe demographic would object 1000x more…
       

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      What happened to individual choice? Are you the arbiter of what everyone should drive, wear, eat and do?
       
      It’s damned depressing that I had to scroll this far down the page before I finally saw this point raised.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Phil, when it comes down to it, you are a Puritan. You are deathly afraid that someone, somewhere might enjoy their life and you won’t be happy until you can regulate them into a little copy of you. Maybe the rest of us don’t want to be as miserable as you are. Ever thought of that?

    • 0 avatar
      Philosophil

      Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m no puritan, nor am I interested in trying to dictate how people live their lives.  My main concern here was simply to point out that the issues surrounding the pros and cons of large vehicles is not simply a matter of personal preferences, but also includes issues relating to public safety as well (as a relevant consideration as to why many people are so critical of large vehicles).
       
      The bike/pedestrian example is a red herring because both are equally responsible for following the general guidelines for the use of the roads, crosswalks and so on.
       
      As for telling the Yaris driver to wear a helmet simply because you want to drive a large vehicle, that’s analogous to someone telling a mother of four that she either has to stay off the road or buy a Hummer so that he can exercise his preference to choose to drink and drive.
       
      Ihatetrees pretty much hit the nail on the head here. I’m not trying to tell people what is right and wrong or what the best course of action is in these kinds of problems. I’m simply pointing out some of the concerns that have to be taken into consideration in addressing such issues. How we actually address these kinds of complex problems is a matter of rational, democratic discussion and debate, and not trying to silence someone by pronouncing on the quality of their life.
       
      Now I must go and get ready to celebrate the New Year.  I’ll be sure to raise a pint to the virtues of a healthy discussion.  Enjoy!

    • 0 avatar
      FleetofWheel

      “Some people may not like this, and the only real solution for them is to live outside of the social fabric”
       
      Or you could choose to remove yourself to a vegan commune with a no-car policy in a remote area.
       
      For decades, the vast majority of Americans have been quite content to live in a society with large vehicles that can move quickly.
      Even those that curse large trucks tend to hypocritically drive unnecessary large/fast/fancy BMWs, etc as seen in this thread.
       

    • 0 avatar
      Philosophil

      “Or you could choose to remove yourself to a vegan commune with a no-car policy in a remote area.”
       
      Not my cup of tea, I’m afraid, but thanks anyway (and doubly thanks for adding such a helpful, constructive comment to the discussion).
       
      “For decades, the vast majority of Americans have been quite content to live in a society with large vehicles that can move quickly.
      Even those that curse large trucks tend to hypocritically drive unnecessary large/fast/fancy BMWs, etc as seen in this thread.”
       
      So what. I’m simply point out that in vehicular crashes (and most are crashes, not ‘accidents,’ and while most people don’t ‘plan’ to crash, it is possible nonetheless to make fairly reliable predictions about the likelihood statistically of various kinds of injury, mortality rates and so on in crashes between different kinds of vehicles) the weight or mass of the vehicle would appear to play an important role in increasing or reducing the risk to those involved in a crash. While the analysis of accidents is a complex science, nevertheless most people seem to agree that very large vehicles like our current full size trucks and SUV’s increase the risk of severe injury or death to those they crash into, and that is an important consideration when trying to determine how we are to treat such vehicles when it comes to licensing and such. As ihatetrees pointed out, it may turn out that the risk that current full size trucks/SUV’s poses to others may require either that they be downsized to reduce the risk, or require special licenses for those who need (or choose) to drive them. Like I said in my original post, you can’t just reduce the issue of large trucks to one of personal preference because there are other things that have to be taken into consideration as well, and the possibility that such vehicles may pose a level of unreasonable risk to others is one of them.

  • avatar
    Stingray

    That picture says it all. I’ll use Ford as example
     
    When Ford went from the old -96 trucks to the 2 models strategy, both trucks, F-150 and “Super Duty”  went bigger. Then the F-150 grew even more. The Super Duty ones have roughly the same size they got in 98.
     
    Similar with GM and Chrysler. However, these 2 didn’t split the exterior shape for light duty and heavy duty models.
     
    Downsizing is what has to be done here. Everywhere. And yes, those aluminum panel will help.

  • avatar
    Lynn E.

    Unfortunately it’s height is only between 63.8 and 69.4 inches so it would be way too short for most Americans.

    Thank you Mazder3, you have nailed the real problem. We need to start taxing tall and large Americans at a much higher rate.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    BrianP, I happpen to live in the rust belt, and I have yet to see a rusted fuel tank in an old truck with the cab mounted tank. They are completely protected from salt, road debris, the weather.
    Philosophil, I guess that people should not be allowed to drive cars either, because they pose a threat to motorcyclists and pedestrians should a collision occur between the two.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    “…essentially ending a decades-long love affair between American consumers and their big trucks.”
     
    I doubt it.  Americans will simply pay more, either for the vehicle or for the fuel.
     
    Trucks have followed the same path as all vehicles: BLOAT.  Today’s Corolla or Caravan is much heavier and better-equipped than its ancestor from 1985.  If we assume the safety features must remain (also heavy), then the equipment must come out.  Sound deadening, deluxe audio, crew cabs, bedliners, etc, all conspire to add a lot of weight.
     
    My experience this summer: Towing a U-Haul behind my 09 Sedona (total weight ~7300 lbs vs ~4300 stock) reduced highway fuel economy from 22 mpg to 12 mpg.  The truck mfrs would do well to reduce weight.
     
    Come to think of it, the minivan makers will face the same challenge.  Minivan fuel economy has barely improved in 25 years, although HP has doubled or tripled.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    Philosophil…….going by your logic……there are lots of bicyclists and pedestrians out there who cannot afford a car. So the remainder of society should refrain from driving altogether because any four wheeled motor vehicle would put these people in danger should one of them cross it’s path?

    • 0 avatar
      Philosophil

      Once again, nothing I said implied this kind of silly conclusion. The reason we have crosswalks, sidewalks and regulations covering the acceptable use of these things is so pedestrians, bicyclist and drivers can each have the freedom to use the road in a fair and equitable manner with a manageable and acceptable level of risk. It’s actually pretty simple and nothing in my ‘logic’ suggested otherwise.

      My reference to people’s purchasing power was a simple response to those who say that the people who don’t like what you or I choose to do should simply ‘buy a helmet,’ ‘get a bigger SUV,’ ‘stay off the roads,’ or some other such thing. Sometimes the most reasonable thing to do is not to demand that the other person buy something or do something to protect themselves against my actions, but rather for me to take some responsibility as well and to curb or modify my actions so that they pose less of a risk to other people (hence I shouldn’t drink and drive even if I might prefer to). If things like roadways are supposed to be free and accessible to everyone, then we should try to make it reasonably safe for all to enjoy that freedom without being subject to unacceptable levels of risk.

    • 0 avatar
      StatisticalDolphin

      Here’s the problem:  Who gets to define “unacceptable”?
      Around here, bicyclists (and pedestrians) are routinely mowed down by larger, heavier, faster-moving vehicles.  IMHO, people who ride their bikes on public roads around here are taking “unacceptable” risks (while forcing society to bear the cost of consequences when things go TA).  Still they do it, some of them with quite a bit of aggression.  Hmmm, maybe they are compensating for a lack of grey matter between the ears. :-)

  • avatar
    Darth Lefty

    Dear Detroit:  It’s too heavy because it’s too big, too over-specified, thus requiring a too-powerful engine to push it around.  Magnesium frame in pickup truck quantities?  Come on.  You did this to yourselves by making the tow and payload ratings a skosh higher than your competitor, model after model.  Half-ton trucks now have 1-ton payload ratings, requiring many pieces of steel be twice as big.

  • avatar
    Crosley

    CAFE has been a spectacular failure, it’s the biggest reason why SUVs became a common form of transportation.   How about we just let the free market decide what people want to buy?
     
    If gas prices go up, people will buy smaller, more fuel efficient cars.  The car maker that doesn’t meet the needs of consumers will go out of business (unless it’s a a UAW company)  If people want a big huge truck, I agree it’s ridiculous, but so is my sports car.  It’s called freedom.
     
    I really don’t want America’s car landscape to look like Europe’s, where everyone drives a Geo Metro-sized hatchback with 75 horsepower except the ultra-wealthy who can afford to pay all the ridiculous fines and taxes the government imposes.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    The solution is not to ban trucks or to remove one’s choices.  Rather it is to increase choice.  Modern pickups are the product of one upmanship.  Each maker constantly increased size, weight, power, and tow ratings beyond what most truck buyers really need.  The end result is the 5,000 plus pound whale-truck you see today.  The solution is to offer “right-sized” trucks.  For some what is available today is needed. but most could easily get by with the truck of “yesterday” in terms of size and payload/towing capability.  If you applied today’s technology to a 3,900 pound pickup and were willing to “settle” for a 10 sec 0 to 60, and a 35% decrease in tow rating you could meet those goals while still providing more than adequate utility for most buyers.  Those who need more could still buy more.  A F-100 would be the ticket.  However, the problem means bucking the image that built the pickup market.  The mindless mantra of “Bigger is better” is drilled into most Americans since they can speak.  Truck people like to brag about their trucks capabilities and a smaller truck doesn’t fit the mindset.  The problem is not technological, its people.

    Eliminating CAFE would be a bad idea. Manufacturers were always at the ragged edge of compliance. I, too, don’t want America’s landscape looking like Europe though seeing fewer massive SUVs with one person commuting would be a positive thing in my opinion. But the overall average would plummet if a certain minimum level wasn’t required. And the notion that mileage standards drove most folks to SUVs is totally without merit. Full size cars were always available for those who wanted them. But those cars suffered from image issues. Back then having an SUV put you in the trendy catagory. Add in the brainwashing that AWD is a must just was the icing on the cake.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Base price of an EX-L Accord is around $32,000 with 30 MPG hwy. Not a good enough reason to give up my $29,000 2011 F-150 SuperCab 4X4 that gets me 23 MPG hwy. There are cheaper smaller cars out there but let’s start with baby steps. Compact cars are pretty porky and I’m simply not compelled enough to give up all that trucks offer for so little pay off. Cars need to improve first… Then we can talk. 

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      MSRP of an Accord LX is $21,180, EX is $24,105 (these are for the 4-cylinder which gets 34 mpg hwy per the EPA and hits 0-60 in around 8 seconds). The MSRP you’re quoting is for a fully loaded V6 Accord with all options.
      And as others who post on this site will attest, it is possible to get a Honda for well under MSRP.
      http://automobiles.honda.com/tools/build-price/trims.aspx?ModelID=&ModelName=Accord%20Sedan&ModelYear=2011

      And if you’re comparing MSRP to MSRP, I’d like to see where you get the MSRP of a 2011 F-150 for $29k for a 4×4 model. Unless you’re talking about a basic work truck with a vinyl interior, an F-150 is going to have an MSRP of over $33k for a mid-level XLT with a 5.0 liter V8 engine, Supercab, and 4×4 (can’t select the V6 with 4×4 and an extended cab).

      http://bp2.ford.com/2011-Ford-F-150#page=/Models/

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Sam P,

      Well noted but like I said “Baby Steps”. I know there are cheaper smaller cars but just pointing out that there is a fine line between a well equipped F-150 and a hard loaded Accord with not much fuel savings to speak of. A well equipped XLT F-150 SuperCab 4X4 with the 32 valve 5.0 is just a few hundred more than the base price of the top Accord (MSRP to MSRP @yahoo.cars). I know which one I’d rather have, how about you?

    • 0 avatar

      I think with the right product and a strong marketing campaign, there’s definitely a niche that could be filled for “urban cowboys” many commenters have referenced.  Automakers are aware of this and have begun testing it (Honda Ridgeline, Toyota A-BAT concept).  For people who love trucks not necessarily because they need them, it would make sense to design and engineer other amenities like nice interiors, advanced infotainment, and good ride quality.
      I like the idea of an F-100.  When a passenger car model grow too large, automakers create a smaller model below.  (Focus to Fiesta, Camry to Corolla to Yaris).  We should see something similar for trucks as well.
      I think the future would require multiple products to cater to pickier and pickier consumers and ever more stringent CAFE standards.  Only focusing on weight reduction of full sized trucks isn’t going to be enough.  There needs to be a holistic approach to making an entire truck attractive, not just focusing on fuel economy alone.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      “I know which one I’d rather have, how about you?”
       
      I’d get an Accord EX 4-cylinder with a manual transmission for $24k brand new. 34 mpg highway in a car that is 195 inches long (the size of a 1980′s Mercedes S-Class) is a lot more tempting for me than a pickup truck with a bed I’ll make use of maybe once a year.

  • avatar
    Canucknucklehead

    Ya know, for me a truck was something that you could put a 4X8 sheet of plywood between the wheel wells and still close the tail gate. It didn’t have leather or a DVD player, weigh 8000 lbs and cost $60k.
     
    I really got a kick about the bit saying that trucks are “cheap” because in fact most of them are absurdly over priced and only move because of incentives, leasing and low interest rate financing. I cannot for the life of me every fathom going into debt to buy something so singularly asinine and juvenile.
     
    Taking 20% off the weight of these behemoths would be not an issue at all.

  • avatar
    steve from virginia

     
     
    These dinoaurs will go extinct as they should have long ago. For better or worse they will take their manufacturers and the ultra-high mileage/electric cars the makers produce with them.
    They are the auto equivalent of crack. Yeah, people like them, but like them a lot less when gas costs $4 a gallon and the gas station limits credit card purchases to $100. The growth industries in America are poverty and food stamps. Hard to see how $50k luxury ‘work vehicles’ fit into this concept.
    Looking back the US should have let GM and Chrysler go belly up, thereby putting the fear of God into Ford and Toyota.
    In the end it doesn’t matter as events are being by driven by circumstances beyond anyone’s control. Goodbye giant pickup trucks and good riddance.
     
     

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    The philosophical and policy discussions are interesting but in a sense academic.  For one thing, CAFE is not going away any time soon.
     
    To me the most interesting question is how well Detroit will adapt to this new environment.  The simplest solution WOULD be to downsize to the old “full-size” dimensions and revive subcompact trucks.  That the Not So Big Three seem to be going in the other direction suggests that they still haven’t learned from past mistakes.
     
    When I look at a contemporary big pickup I’m reminded of late-50s Detroit iron — the culmination of years of one-upsmanship that resulted in grotesque excess that auto execs refused to acknowledge until the market hit them over the head with a baseball bat.
     
    Alas, back in the late-50s the American automotive market had greater product diversity.  Not so much today, where none of the established automakers is apparently willing to reenter the subcompact truck market.  I don’t buy the argument that there isn’t enough profit in it. The problem is that the “bigger, glitzier, more powerful” virus has infected virtually all of the imports.  So many brands and yet so little real choice (at least when it comes to trucks).

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

     
    We have a GMC Canyon. It’s ideal for suburban commuting, weekend shopping runs and hauling stuff from the building store, garden center and to the dump. Unlike full size pickups it’s reasonably priced, easy to drive, maneuver and park, doesn’t cost a king’s ransom to gas up and maintain, and fits in our garage.
     
    We can’t imagine life without a small pickup. It doesn’t have to be cutting edge, just reasonably sturdy, reliable and durable. The Chevy 1500, Ford F150, Dodge Ram, even the Dodge Dakota, are all too big, too costly to buy and run, and a PIA to drive and park in the city. With GM discontinuing the Colorado/Canyon twins and Ford killing the Ranger our next one will have to be a Toyota Tacoma or Nissan Frontier.
     
    I can’t fathom what the domestic automakers are thinking discontinuing these models.

  • avatar
    mazder3

    I know this is probably the wrong day and time to ask this but could Ford skirt the chicken tax by sending over the Ranger sans engine and bed? Once its here put either the 2.5 or 3.7 in it, strap on a plastic bed and call it good.
    The stock diesels are great but cost and EPA compliance are a factor. The 3.0 TDCi is rated at 24.5 mpg combined, the 2.5 TDCi 27.

  • avatar
    MikeInCanada

    So, I see that putting a large displacement 4cyd or 6 cyd diesel is still out of the question for anything from Detroit……

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      As I mentioned earlier, CA has pretty much killed the chance for economical small diesels in most US vehicles.  Because of the particulate emissions regulations engines that are A-OK in Europe can not be sold in the US.
       
      Plus, the technology behind gas engines is advancing fast enough that soon you won’t have to go diesel to get the better economy.  The F-150 EcoBoost should get 16-17mpg city and 22-24mpg on the highway, while having more power than most V8s.  Ford will most likely eventually offer the 4 cylinder ecoboost in the F-150, giving near 20mpgs in town and high 20s on the highway, who needs a diesel then?

  • avatar
    ajla

    Just sell this and this here in North America!
     

  • avatar
    DarkSpork

    @NulloModo:

    I’m going to have to disagree, they are two different technologies. Diesels don’t rev as high and most of their power down low which allows them the cruise on the highway with very low revs while still making plenty of power. That I know of, none of Ford’s ecoboost vehicles match VW’s TDI ratings. The best and easiest way to solve the CAFE issue is to put the R&D dollars towards small 50 state legal diesels for their trucks; some companies wouldn’t even have to start from scratch, they could simply put the money into making engines they already use in other markets 50 state legal. A friend of mine has a Ram 2500 crew cab with a pre-emissions Cummins diesel, he has calculated 26mpg commuting 60 miles round trip. I simply can’t think of any way you could get a gasoline powered engine to motivate that much weight and return that kind of fuel economy. Now, imagine an engine half the size motivating a truck that weights a ton (or more) less.

    I doubt it would take a lot more R&D to modify the 3.0L powerstroke diesel Ford uses in other markets to be 50 state legal here while still making enough twist to move the F-150. Likewise, Toyota could probably make the diesel they use in the Hilux 50 state legal and still have it move the Tundra just fine. Fiat probably has some engines that would motivate the RAM 1500 just fine and also pass 50 states (with enough R&D). It seems too simple to not be done (in my mind).

  • avatar
    DarkSpork

    Once gas gets up to $4/gallon again truck sales will begin to drop again. There will always be certain types of people who buy them:

    1. People who need them for work
    2. People who need them to support their lifestyles (pulling boats, racecars, dirtbikes, snowmobiles, etc)
    3. People who enjoy the way driving a truck makes them feel, whether it be due to the fact they live in a snowy climate and feel that they need tons of ground clearance and 4×4 or they just like “having the utility” being higher off the ground and generally being in a large vehicle. There are two camps within this category: those who can afford it and those who spend most of their paycheck on gas, vehicle loan and insurance.

    The people that buy them because they are useful at times will probably flock back to small cars (I just did, and I can’t believe Ford killed the ZX3). I’m using 50% less gas and I can just rent or borrow a truck for the 1-2 times a year I may need it. There’s a cultural shift I’ve noticed over the past few years, and that is that more and more people are buying the amount of car they need, not the amount they want.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    In many ways the American pickup truck is the poster-child of the now failed US empire; pure selfishness dressed up as “liberty”. Mindless consumerism dressed up as “liberty”. The excuses are many and colourful but ultimately self destructive.
     
    Well, now it’s nearly over. The whole USofA needs the first step on it’s very own 12-step programme from the binge, but first you have to admit you have a problem.

    • 0 avatar
      jbltg

      Thank you PeteMoran.  EXACTLY!  The elephant in the room that no one will mention.  This, and so much else that is effed up in the US today is a people (behaviour) problem that can be solved by reasonable actions by each individual, rather than dumping it on someone else or yet more technology.
      Heaven forbid that we all, at the very least, drive the vehicle of our choice in a fuel-efficient way.  Come see the jackrabbit start to run up to and brake for red lights here in LA.  So much shameful waste for no reason.  Children would do better.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Pete, the classic American pickup truck is a pretty good expression of individual liberty.  The problem is it grew from a rural/construction work vehicle that helps you make a living into a passenger vehicle.  Helped my dad buy a 2002 Silverado regular cab long bed work truck.  White with 4.8L V8, automatic, and no other options.  It has too much cheap interior plastic, but otherwise it continues the tradition of the classic pickup fairly well.
       
      In my opinion, the “mindless consumerism” is more rational than you think.  The problem is each specialized vehicle one owns in the US comes with its own high fixed costs for insurance and taxes no matter how little you drive it.  It’s economically rational to own a does everything extended cab pickup instead of a separate passenger car and a work or hobby truck.  As long as lawyers make insurance more expensive than gasoline, American consumers will commute to work in their weekend warrior trucks.

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    This site is supposed to be “the truth about cars” and I take it that this includes the truth about the important and complex role that automobiles play in our society. Understood in this larger sense, the truth about cars is the truth about life with cars, and sometimes that truth will rub some people the wrong way, especially when they discover that the real truth about life with cars entails that people sometimes cannot or ought not do what they might otherwise prefer to do. That is life in the social fabric, and such complex truths are a fundamental aspect of the truth about cars.

    • 0 avatar
      musiccitymafia

      Philo – you may have decent points, but lots of folks just don’t want to hear them. I just got back from visiting my mom in Mehico. She lives in an old walking town where everyone lives very communally and houses basically share exterior walls. A cuban just married her neighbor and moved in … with his 5 roof dogs. Talk about self conceited and ignorant. Anyway, I had a “chat” with the fellow and he basically said he has no plans to do anything about this little problem he has created. It’s probably a good thing I was only there for a short time (and bunked at a beach hotel during my stay so I didn;t hear the barking at 4 in the mornings).

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    Yeah, they’re too cheap. Really. I know, you look at the 30, 40, 50K pricing and go cheap?!!! But you have to drive one. My friend has an ’09 F150 s/crew. Damn thing is Godzilla. But inside you are comfortable, plenty of space, well appointed, quiet. This ain’t your dad’s Oldsmobile. It’s better. And I can’t think of a car that has that feeling. He upgraded the motor to a 5.4L but otherwise it’s an average pkg that you’ll find on every dealer’s lot and he paid <$30K before taxes. For that price you’re in compact territory or really base mid-size. Nowhere near as nice.
    The penalty? Gas? it gets mid 20′s. This is a 4×4. Anything similar in a car will be approx. the same. Parking? Ok, that’s a pain. So? You knew that before you left your driveway. Doesn’t cost more. Ergonomics? Climbing up to get in it is a drag but once inside, it’s gorgeous. I can see why a *lot* of people go for these. I don’t see this changing anytime soon. It’s one of the few areas that the D3 have nailed it right between the eyes and they’re not going to budge.

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

       
      Mid 20′s in a 5.4 4×4?  Maybe on a long downhill trip in neutral… My neighbor has one of these 2010 model (EPA rated 14/19) and is lucky to ever see 20mpg from what I hear, much less get more.  They are nice trucks, though.

    • 0 avatar
      Dimwit

      That’s what he tells me. For its size I find it hard to believe but he assures me that it certainly doesn’t do any worse than the Buick Rendevous that it replaced. That’s mostly hwy mileage of course.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    I’ve been reading ALL the comments that have been dropping into my inbox (and phone) throughout the day yesterday since I posted and one factor not mentioned about these overly huge monstrosities (yes, I drive a truck, but a much smaller 18 YO Ranger that gets dwarfed by some of them, and it’s the extended cab 2WD version too) is that they are SOOO difficult to see around.
     
    I see this in parking lots, on the road etc. When you pull up to the exit of a parking lot, one of these invariably gets in the lane next to you and when you pull up to see around them, they invariably pull up too, making it difficult (and dangerous) to pull out into traffic since you are likely NOT to see traffic coming in one direction as a result.
     
    My Mom complains about these things, and the same for the really large SUV/CUV vehicles as well since its hard for her to see around these things to ensure its save to back out of a parking space (she drives a 2004 Dodge Stratus). We live the city where these things often don’t really have a place and to me, they are a blight due to their excess.
     
    One day I was heading home and walking through the parking garage to get to my rather modest truck, I spotted, I think a Nissan Titan, backed into a parking space and it was so WIDE that it almost filled the entire width of the parking stall it was in.
     
    I do think a lot of these huge truck/SUV drivers live in single family residences in largely suburban tracts somewhere outside of the city, less so if in the city itself where parking is often at a premium where one relies on smaller cars like Camry’s on down.
     
    That said, I have no problems with those who decide to buy a Mercedes or BMW, true, a lot of them DO act entitled etc, but not all of them do and many of those cars get decent mileage, at least they show their excess in luxurious cars, not these huge monstrosities that cause driving difficulties for others due to their sheer size.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Hey ciddyguy just what is it you tow with your Ranger on a regular basis? And when your need to bring your boat to the lake, RV to your favorite campground, or snowmobiles where the snow is, how many of your family members safely fit inside your Ranger? How many car seats will it hold?

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      Right now, it’s my only car, I got it, not by choice, bought it from a friend almost 5 years ago as my 88 Honda Accord was falling apart, being rear ended in it didn’t help matters so I own it by default, am hoping to replace it this spring/summer w/ a small compact, like a Fiesta or something of that ilk.
       
      I don’t haul anything with it, although my best friend Did hitch the removable ball hitch to it and we towed yard waste to the landfill once before he bought a 2002 F-150 for his needs.
       
      It’ll only take one other person, 2 if they don’t mind straddling the floor shifter and the jump seats in this thing are a joke so don’t use ‘em.
       
      I DO live in the city, park on the street on a daily basis so that’s the other reason for eventually replacing it. At least it isn’t a huge monstrosity that one can’t see around, like I said in my initial comment, my truck gets positively dwarfed by some of these ultra big trucks and I don’t need anything larger than it right now.

  • avatar
    BigDuke6

    In many ways the American pickup truck is the poster-child of the now failed US empire; pure selfishness dressed up as “liberty”. Mindless consumerism dressed up as “liberty”. The excuses are many and colourful but ultimately self destructive.

    Well, now it’s nearly over. The whole USofA needs the first step on it’s very own 12-step programme from the binge, but first you have to admit you have a problem.
    Agree. But a Harley-Davidson sticker on the back window of a Honda Civic just doesn’t convey the same MANLINESS……..

  • avatar
    BigDuke6

    132 comments on the subject of the SIZE/EPA NUMBERS of pick up trucks……..man, did you stomp on a hornet’s nest………

  • avatar
    George B

    I predict that we will see pickup truck size reduction to “classic size” and careful use of CAFE loopholes long before we see magnesium alloy frames.  I would love to see a regular cab short bed pickup with about the same height and width as the 2000 Toyota Tundra.  A new F-100?  The other option would be adapt Australian utes to left-hand drive.  Either one could achieve better fuel economy with just enough width to haul plywood.  The heavy duty series pickups can remain massive for men who wish to “compensate”.

    • 0 avatar

      Other than the El Camino and Subaru Baja, I don’t know of other utes in the states.  If Americans are adverse to hatchbacks and wagons, I doubt they’d jump on the ute bandwagon.  I can’t even imagine the coast regions picking it up.  They are very practical and logical machines though.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      There was the Ford Ranchero, produced from the late 50′s to the late 70′s. Funny how utes had a long successful run in that time frame, but then were just pushed to the wayside.
       
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Ranchero

    • 0 avatar
      tonyola

      Also the L-body Dodge Rampage and Plymouth Scamp of the early ’80s. The VW Rabbit Pickup counts too.

      I think part of the reason why utes faded away in the US was that the standard pickups became more refined and began to offer the creature comforts and luxuries formerly found only in cars.

  • avatar
    BigDuke6

    “I predict that we will see pickup truck size reduction to “classic size” and careful use of CAFE loopholes long before we see magnesium alloy frames.”
     
    And just WHAT is the “classic size” of a pick up truck? That’s kinda like saying the NFL will return to the “classic size” of a starting quarterback………

    • 0 avatar
      tonyola

      Park a new standard Dodge, Ford, or Chevy pickup next to its 1985 counterpart and you will understand just how much trucks have grown both in size and weight.

  • avatar
    mazder3

    Everything went silly big after the 1994 Dodge Ram. Originally it was designed with a flat bench seat and FOUR (4) seatbelts. The front end was big enough to fit a V10. Ram sales exploded. The rest is history. Any truck that was designed before the 1994 Ram should be considered “right sized”.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    I noticed a few comments regarding the size of truck owner’s peckers. What’s the deal with that? Do some people go into public restrooms and sneak a peek at pickup owner’s tools or something? Is it some type of survey?  Maybe these people are the ones that are insecure about something?

    • 0 avatar
      mazder3

      It’s pure assumption. Why does a dude need a jacked up four by four pick-up when he never goes muddin’, hauls nothing but air and has a white collar job? To compensate for for a lack of something. I myself have done an informal study of women who drive lifted trucks and they usually have a major case of penis envy. And they love to be on top.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    “why does a dude need a jacked up four by four pick up when he never goes muddin and hauls nothing bu air and has a white collar job?”
    Maybe it’s because he might actually like driving it and can afford it, and does not have to answer to anyone about what he buys with his money. And here in the snowbelt 4×4 trucks come in handy for pulling out stuck compact cars, which I’ve never seen a small car driver turn down.

    • 0 avatar
      mazder3

      I pass no judgment. As you can see from my multiple previous posts I cast no stones. I have stopped to help Jeeps stuck in the snow, in my snow tire equipped Mazda3, scoop shovel in hand. Also, from experience, the guys with the loudest, shiniest, lifted, over-tired, most ostentatious truck won’t stop. The working man/woman who has a family and owns an older stock, quiet, non-lifted, unchromed truck will. Explain that.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    Around here most guys with 4×4′s are generally good natured, and will help pretty much anyone out. When we get more than 4-5 inches of snow most small cars don’t go very well, they are too low and get caught easily. You see guys with trucks from all walks of life stopping to pull someone out, from 70′s beater trucks to the newest and most expensive.

    • 0 avatar
      mazder3

      Interesting. Must be a regional thing. The guys around here who have enough money for the newest trucks are rarely out in the weather and use them strictly for preening. The 70′s beater trucks were replaced twenty years ago due to salt. Did you know that my great state of New Hampshire was the first state to use salt on their roads? Whenever you have rust, blame us. Most beater trucks ’round here are mid to late 90′s and are used almost exclusively for work. The few that aren’t are driven by guys who have this urge to run unmuffled, throw their beer cans and Dunkin’ Donut cups everywhere and run full throttle at three in the morning.
      Also, as a landscaper, I’ve found that people own the newest 4×4 gotta have it  like a Raptor, H2, or King Ranch won’t pay their bills on time, if at all, and will constantly gripe about the smallest detail. I wish I had a PhD in Psychology to be able to understand why.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    Yes, we still have a few old beater trucks from the 70′s and 80′s running around, mostly fords. The frames on those are pretty thick, and it takes awhile for the salt to eat them up, so lots of guys will keep them on the road and change body panels, beds and cabs and keep driving them. Sometimes you’ll see one with about 5 or 6 different color body panels.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    So your tacoma uses more fuel than my 2wd V8 powered ram, and some other fullsize trucks. Maybe you tacoma owners should start the ball rolling by getting rid of your trucks first.

    • 0 avatar
      jandrews

      I doubt it. Current “full size” (read: oversize) trucks don’t have a prayer in hell of getting where I take my Tacoma. They’re too wide, too long, too heavy, and have horrible approach/departure/breakover angles.
       
      My mileage is especially poor because the truck is lifted and pushing tires two sizes larger than stock. In a couple months, it’s going to be another 400lbs. heavier from trail armor, which will no doubt crap mileage even more.
       
      Another item particular to my world: The 2009+ Tacos with the offroad package have some particularly appealing traction control weapons as well as a factory selectable locking rear differential. If you’re looking for a truck with off road capability, it really has no peer.

      It’s interesting, because I am *exactly* your earlier mentioned example: I have no need whatsoever for a second vehicle, especially not a truck, but I have recently discovered the joy of offroading, enjoy it, and can afford it. So really, I’m not especially concerned with anyone’s approval or lack thereof – just like you postulated.

  • avatar
    Jaywalker

    Here in the US, we think that bigger is better. Changing that perspective will take only a small change in human nature, or money shock, or government intervention. We don’t seem to care about mileage until gasoline gets too high, then we panic, depressing the economy, so money shock doesn’t appear to be an optimal solution. People still smoke tobacco, even knowing what it does to them, so I hold out no hope for human nature, either.

    Detroit puts in some pretty solid engineering to get their 5k pound trucks to achieve 20+ mpg. Think what kind of mileage they could get if they weighed what they did 10 years ago. Then we wouldn’t have to send our petrodollars to people who don’t like us, and who then send our money to people who really don’t like us. Seems like a better way to starve out the last group is send them fewer petrodollars; it would work better than putting a “Proud to be an American” sticker on the bumper.


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