QOTD: Truckin'?

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

Earlier this week, The Washington Post published a long analysis exploring why we've become a truck nation.

The piece hits on all the reasons -- automakers play with the definition of what a truck is for cost reasons, trucks are more profitable, fuel economy has improved, consumer tastes have shifted, et cetera -- for why trucks, SUVs, and crossovers are now more popular than sedans and station wagons.

It's an interesting read, though none of it will be news to industry observers. It got me thinking -- how does our beloved B and B fit in?

Do you guys buy trucks/crossovers/SUVs for the same reasons so many people do -- ride height, utility, safety, et cetera -- or do you lot, considering yourselves car enthusiasts, keep the sedan/hatch/wagon flame alive?

Finally, a bonus QOTD -- given what we know about the industry, and what the Post details in its analysis, do you think we're stuck in a crossover world forever? Or do you think tastes will change and sedans will once again rule the roost?

Sound off below.

[Image: Ford]

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Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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8 of 48 comments
  • MRF 95 T-Bird MRF 95 T-Bird on Apr 12, 2023

    I posted this on the Washington Post article the other day.

    I grew up with the suburban automobile culture and am a car geek. I can sync the carburetors on a Corvair and tune a Slant 6 Mopar. The only folks who purchased Jeeps, the utility vehicles of the era like the Suburban and pickup trucks were generally folks in the trades or farmers. Folks who towed campers and trailers usually bought a full sized station wagon or at most a Suburban. The horsey set tended to go for the Jeep Cherokee and Grand Wagoneer. This was before Range Rover came back to the United States market.

    One of the reasons why the SUV and crossover have become popular is the ride and seating height. Up until the 1950’s the seating height was fairly standard then until automobile design stressed the lower and wider proportions. Designs like Pontiac’s Wide track became the norm. Also sports cars such as the Pony cars Mustang and Camaro and British and Italian roadsters were low and lean.

    Now it’s become a literal vehicular arms race. Conditioned from a post 9/11 mindset? Where every driver has to sit up high in a vehicle that has a menacing grill like something out of a Mad Max film. Or the folks who amp it up with the “angry eyes” grill on their Jeep Wrangler as well as the jacked up bro dozer trucks with excessive LED lighting as if the commute on the freeway needs to be turned into Fallujah.

    • Screwtape Screwtape on Apr 14, 2023

      Douchbags, we’re a nation of douches pure and simple.

  • Arthur Dailey Arthur Dailey on Apr 12, 2023

    When it comes to vehicles the vast majority of people do not buy 'what they need'. If they did, then why do people change vehicles so often, when their current one is still adequate? If they did then then why do the manufacturers spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year in marketing and advertising? If they did, then as James May has said the only private vehicle that the vast majority of the world needs is the VW Golf, with an occasional minivan for the larger families.

    Some purchase vehicles based on what they may 'need' a few times each year. For instance AWD/4wd. For the one or two times they may drive in a snow storm. Or a vehicle with large towing capacity for that one week when they may tow something. Or for their once every spring trip to the garden centre.

    People generally purchase a vehicle based on 'emotion'. Which is why car reviews still talk about horsepower, torque, 'soft touch plastics' and the vehicle's appearance. And why manufacturers tweak the looks of the vehicle with a 'refresh' at regular intervals. Or why GM, Ford, Toyota, Honda, Hyundai etc have multiple brands, to entice consumers to spend more for a more 'prestigious' name plate.

    As for the 'raised height' of SUVs/CUVs, just check the demographics of new car buyers. Most who purchase new cars are middle aged or older. The 'boomers' are at or near retirement age. Sedans/coupes have gotten much lower, with reduced greenhouse/headroom in order to meet mileage standards. Our older bodies don't agree with getting into and out of these low vehicles. Nor do they seamlessly accommodate the extra large 'infant' seats which parents require. So the SUV/CUV is a remarkably practical vehicle for a great many consumers.

    As for large pick-up trucks, as others have noted to a large degree they have replaced the domestic land yachts of previous generations. Large, comfortable inside, and with a 'presence' that says I can afford this and do not need to care about how much fuel it uses.

    • See 2 previous
    • Arthur Dailey Arthur Dailey on Apr 13, 2023

      I fully agree with owning a vehicle that fulfills all or most of your regular needs/duties. And I do support the switch from sedans/coupes to CUVs/small and medium SUVs.

      Do we own a tuxedo for those occasions when we might need one, or if we need one do we just rent it? For transporting large families or going camping or even using a vehicle for garage sailing/carrying cargo is a minivan not the optimum practical solution? Or a 'small' truck like a Maverick or Santa Cruz?

  • Jkross22 Jkross22 on Apr 12, 2023

    I never grew out of wanting to drive something fun. That's why SUVs hold so little appeal. Yeah, yeah, yeah, X3, Macan, Stelvio, yada yada. Yes, they are good driving SUVs and some are quick and some handle well. For an SUV.

    But none are fun the way a fun sedan is fun. Or a coupe, fastback, hatchback or wagon.

  • Bpscarguy Bpscarguy on Apr 12, 2023

    I drive a Mercedes E Class. I have really enjoyed it and always thought I would just get another when it was time to replace this one. However, one thing has changed - my age and my quickly mounting back issues. Sometimes if my back is acting up, it is a chore (and sometimes painful) to get in and out of my car. I have noticed on those days if I drive my wife's Grand Cherokee L - it is much, MUCH easier due to the height. I'm starting to think that even though I thought I would always have a sedan, I might be headed to a crossover/SUV for the easy access.