By on January 19, 2021

Trucks are among the longest-lasting, most popular vehicles on the road. Whether new or used, a workhorse, or strictly for show, are your favorite trucks lifted or lowered?


No doubt about it, lowered trucks are cool. They have the right stance, often with a rake to them whether a function of the chassis and suspension or the selection of wheels and tires. To accommodate much larger wheels and tires, lowered trucks are often tubbed to provide adequate clearance. It may be that the exterior sheetmetal remains undisturbed, lending a restored look to older models. On a newer truck, it retains their design cues, while adding an unmistakeable hot rod element.


At events such as Goodguys or truck shows, most if not all of the trucks are lowered, regardless of vintage, make, or model. Alongside pre- and post-war hot rods, lowered trucks are distinctive. Maybe it’s their past history as a work truck or farm vehicle, restored to its former glory or left as found on the exterior that draws us to them.


Lifted trucks can be functional, with the ability to climb rock barriers and forge through seemingly unpassable roadways. Properly outfitted, lifted trucks can take you as far off-highway as your GPS and fuel will allow. These are sometimes called overlanders, or adventure travel vehicles, while lifted trucks that are more race-oriented are categorized as pre-runners. Both of these types of trucks can be seen at off-road and overland events.

Show vehicles may also be lifted trucks, taken to heights where it’s possible to see the entire undercarriage, which may be powder coated, plated, or painted to accent its components. Geographically, you are more likely to see this type of lifted truck in the Sun Belt, from California to Arizona, Texas through the Gulf States, and all the way south through Florida. Due to the weather and its effects on the road, trucks with more extreme lifts are generally few and far between where there is an abundance of potholes.

New or old, lifted or lowered, there’s little debate that the trucks themselves are highly coveted. Which type is preferable is a question that rages on, and may depend on your point of view, whether your truck is purely for pleasure, or is used for both work and play. Let us know which are your favorites, and why.

[Images: © 2021 J. Sakurai/TTAC}

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20 Comments on “QOTD: Lifted or Lowered Trucks?...”

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    It depends on the truck.

    If I had a 1985 Toyota truck, I’d want it black and lifted with a rollbar and spots with yellow covers.

    If I had a 1987 Chevy or GMC fullsizer, I’d also want it black and lifted.

    I had a 1999 Dakota R/T and it was lowered when I bought it and it looked fantastic (also black).

    If I had a mid-90s Chevy or GMC Sportside, that thing would be 2 inches off the ground. And teal.

    Some trucks just don’t look right one way or the other. You shouldn’t lift a Mazda B series from the 80s or 90s and you shouldn’t lower any Jeep Gladiator. No 2500+ trucks should be lowered. And S10 Blazers should always be lowered.

  • avatar

    I admit one of the biggest automotive mysteries to me is the fad of lowering vehicles (not just trucks). I don’t get it, I never have, and I think it makes most things look silly.

    Lifted trucks with 22″+ wheels and stretched tires look stupid to me as well, but I do appreciate a modest lift with tires that are at least capable of off-roading.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree 100% with everything you have written. The last car show I went to with my son I couldn’t get over the number of lowered cars and every one of them looked silly. My son tried to explain it but I still don’t get the appeal.

    • 0 avatar

      I recall 15 years ago when somebody who’d lowered good car and put a gross body kit on tried to turn around somebody into a Walmart parking lot. Misjudged and jumped a concrete median, tore the undercarriage to pieces and tore the body kit straight off. A stock car would likely have suffered damage, but not quite so much.

  • avatar

    Personally I don’t really care for either, I tend to like the factory look. However I am glad that people do this, because it means there are still people that care about cars and keep the hobby alive.

  • avatar

    I second the It depends on the truck. Two-wheel drive – Lowered. Four-wheel drive lifted – unless you are making it like a sport truck ala GMC Syclone, but it better have a crapload of HP to justify the all-wheel drive.

    The lifted trucks with low aspect sidewalls (like the black ford in the picture above) are just effing stupid.

  • avatar

    I don’t much care for any alterations that compromises the safety and functionality of a vehicle. Lifting or lowering a vehicle is the worst mod for safety. Don’t do it

    • 0 avatar

      Lowering a vehicle, within reason, and done right isn’t unsafe.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s definitely safe. I’ve done it with kits designed for the vehicle. Used Billstein PSS9 coil-overs designed for the vehicles – by Bilstein engineers. Could bring it back up to factory height when needed. Actually got an improvement in highway fuel economy when it was lowered.

  • avatar

    As a high schooler during the mid 80s mini-truck craze I favor lowered trucks. Like many things its the extreme ends of the scale that ruin it. Drop a full size truck 3 to 4″ and it looks just about perfect. Drop it 6″ and your in stupid land with a show vehicle that isn’t actually usable in the real world.

    I once owned a Ranger Splash that came with slight factory drop to create a street truck look. I sure wish this trend would come back. I’d love the concept of a 2WD sport truck with some improved handling. Given how high trucks are today a small drop is necessary to even reach into the bed!

    I’ve never understood lifting a vehicle – but I live in the concrete jungle where off roading is limiting to driving across some grass at a farmers market. About the only lift that makes sense is leveling since most trucks are driven unloaded and thus have a rake to them. These generally can come up about 2″ and look perfect.

    • 0 avatar

      I went with Belltech 2″ drop spindles and 2″ shackles for my 2006 GMC Sierra. What that does is to tighten up the empty space in the wheel wells while maintaining the factory rake. I even kept the factory 17″ wheels. The result is that it’s lowered but it doesn’t look lowered unless you compare it to a before picture. It’s also still useable as a truck which is important since it’s my daily.

  • avatar

    If it is a SHOW truck, do whatever you want. Stretch it to the moon or slam it to the ground. It’s purpose is to get attention.

    But any truck that is supposed to be a truck (versus car art) should only see a lift or lower readable to the needed purpose, or it just looks rediculous. Especially when you see it raised a foot or more with overused rims and rubber band “off roady” tires. I love driving off road, but a glory rider like those rigs gets no respect from me.

    I come to appreciate a lowered truck, even if they aren’t for me, but again, it still has to be functional or artistic or it screams, “this is all I could afford, so this is what I wasted my money on”

  • avatar

    Full-sized trucks are too big for most offroad use. 5 inch lift is all you need to easily fit 35’s. Anything taller tends to make the truck useless for truck duties. A 17 or 18 inch rim is the largest you’d want for sidewall flex.

  • avatar

    If it’s 4×4, lift it. If it’s 2wd, drop it. But NEVER use rims bigger than 18”. Whether blinged out and tucked under a 2wd, or on a 4×4 with those ridiculous low profile “off road” tires…big rims just look like total garbage. That’s my personal tastes, but functionally, 18’s are your practical limit. Big rims are HEAVY. Your rig will ride, brake, accelerate, and handle like a drunken monkey. Best mods I did to my ‘05 Rumblebee was sell off the boat anchor factory 20’s. Each wheel/tire was easily 90 lbs, and that’s a 2wd. I put 17” Torq Thrusts and a street oriented truck tire on it as well as a modest 2/4 drop to give it a still functional but aggressive stance. My RT Challenger would have beat it at the drags or in the turns but itd take a good flogging to do it. Those wheels got a LOT of compliments, too. It reminded me a lot of a Tyco Chevy Stepside slotcar I used to own.

  • avatar

    How about “none of the above”?

    I’m not a truck guy, but I wouldn’t drop or excessively mod a car either. Not my style either way.

  • avatar

    I took the rear blocks out of my F-150. It dropped the back end by an inch and a hair, which isn’t much, but that inch was the difference between being able to comfortably reach over the bed side and not. It also improves the stance the 100.0% of the time that I don’t have a thousand pounds in the bed and has no deleterious side effects whatsoever. Should have come this way from the factory.

  • avatar

    The Bronco is the only vehicle I’d want to drive out of all the ones pictured.

  • avatar

    As long as it’s not done to excess. Yeah “show trucks”, I get it. I’ve done a lot of time at ’80s mini truck jamborees. Those (survivors) are my weakness.

    Basically if it’s still “useable” as a truck, put a ladder rack on it, hit a drive thru, etc, I’m all in.

  • avatar
    Polka King

    This on-the-ground stuff is one more reason that not everybody should own tools.

  • avatar

    Third picture: How many steel stanchions have been knocked over into show-quality paint jobs?

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