Axios Says Trucks Are Big, Also Confirms Water is Wet

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

In a report which will surprise no American blessed with the gift of sight, a new report from the eggheads at Axios is the latest to exhort that today’s pickup trucks are just too damn big. To be clear, the study does a good job of breaking down some of the details but, as you’ll see after the jump, some of their illustrations may be a bit off the mark

The lead image superimposes what appears to this author’s jaundiced eye as a 1976 F-150 XLT regular cab long box, one of the first leaps Ford made from the F-100, up against a 2022 F-150 SuperCrew with the short box and a PowerBoost engine. It’s a jarring comparison, to be sure, but a quick search of dimensions is readily available.

For 1976, a Blue Oval truck spec’d like the one in the composite image should measure 205.3 inches in length. Contrast that with the modern-day pickup shown which is 231.7 inches long and you’ve got a whopping difference of 26.4 inches. That’s not a surprise, nor is it our issue. We’re instead pointing to the skiff of rear overhang, a space which is surely not 26.4 inches – at least not at the scale of the rest of the composite shown in the Axios post. If that part is off-kilter, what about the rest of the image?

We can argue until the cows come home about how trucks are too big or too small or important tools for farmers instead of urbanites – this is a polarizing debate that will not end any time soon. Rather, we’d like to posit a different argument, one which makes more sense to us than comparing a luxed-up F-150 SuperCrew with a bog-standard F-150 regular cab from decades ago. In those olden days, a regular cab F-150 was generally purchased for work duties and maybe hitting up the Tastee Freeze if it’s lucky. Today’s leather-lined SuperCrew is treated (and viewed by some) as a modern-day Town Car both in terms of status and function – even if many buyers will never cop to that comparison.

One of the tenets of this Axios article is the swing from ‘more bed’ to ‘more cab’. They are, of course, totally correct. But if we’re going to skewer the modern crew cab truck on that metric, let’s compare its footprint and interior volume to that of a luxury car – both recently and forty years ago – and regular cab trucks to, well, regular cab trucks.

You all can read numbers, so there’s no need to reiterate those shown in this chart. What we will explain is the footprint-to-volume number, one which was figured as the vehicle’s footprint divided by its interior passenger volume (lower numbers are better because math). A small footprint and large volume suggest a rig that is not outsized as a people hauler, a task given to crew cab trucks today and luxury cars of yore.

With those figures, we learn a 1983 Town Car isn’t much worse than a 2015 F-150 SuperCrew short box in terms of the space it provides passengers compared to the space it takes up on the road. Similarly, nor is a regular cab F-150 from those same two model years. What is different, of course, is the measure between the most popular body styles of F-150 in ’83 and ’15. Ergo, the complaint that ‘truckz are bigger’.

But – and this is the important part – there is not much disparity once one considers the purpose of these machines. Using our yardstick, the successful family scores a 147 while tootling around and showing off their wealth in a Town Car Cartier. A similar family today scores a 141 while doing the same thing in their F-150 Platinum.

And, for giggles, we calculated this newly-invented score for the most practical of all vehicles: The minivan. A new Chrysler Pacifica, measuring 204.3 inches long and 79.6 inches wide with 165 cubic feet of passenger space, earns a 99 on our scale – handily beating anything else we’ve talked about in this post.

That’s enough math, now. I’m going to have a drink of whiskey.

[Images: Ford, the author]

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Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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3 of 72 comments
  • Bob65688581 Bob65688581 on Jan 26, 2023


    Why are you comparing subsidies for petroleum to subsidies for a vehicle?

    I didn't. Frankly, I don't know what subsidies are these days, for renewables. That would be the correct comparison. I very much doubt that the electricity we buy is only a third of its true cost, with subsidies covering the rest.

    As you say, per-car subsidies are an advantage for EVs. Nurturing new industries is part of any government's mission, so we see EV subsidies in most countries. The Biden Administration is trying to shift the subsidies to encourage manufacturers to "build American", but is getting flak from Korea, which has invested heavily in EVs for the American market. We shall see...

    • Jeff S Jeff S on Jan 26, 2023

      Agree the subsidies are not the same. The only similarities in both are that the Government is encouraging domestic production which after going thru Covid and being dependent on China and Taiwan for batteries and microchips we should be producing more of our own. Globalization has not worked so well when it comes to our reliance on microchips. ICE vehicles use microchips as well. True that most countries have subsidies for EVs China itself heavily subsidizes their own EV manufacturing. This article though is about pickups and what people use them for.

  • Bob65688581 Bob65688581 on Jan 26, 2023


    What's your profession, if I may ask?

    • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Jan 26, 2023

      Healthcare is as far as I'm willing to divulge. Employer gets testy about anything beyond that. I was a paramedic part time for 20 years.

  • RobbyG $100k+...for a Jeep. Are they selling these in fantasy land?Twin turbo inline 6 paired to an 8-speed transmission. Yet still only gets 14mpg.Whatever money you think you would save over a V-8 will be spent 2-3x amount fixing these things when they blow up.
  • Alan Well the manufacturers are catching up with stocks. This means shortages of parts is reducing. Stocks are building around the world even Australia and last year had the most vehicles ever sold here.
  • Larry You neglected to mention that the 2024 Atlas has a US Government 5-Star Safety Rating.
  • Alan Why is it that Toyota and Nissan beat their large SUVs (Patrol/300 Series) with an ugly stick and say they are upmarket? Whilst they are beating the vehicles with an ugly stick they reduce the off road ability rather than improve it.As I've stated in previous comments you are far better off waiting for the Patrol to arrive than buy an overpriced vehicle.
  • Alan How many people do you see with a 4x4 running mud tyres? How many people do you see with a 4x4 running massive rims and low profile tyres? How many people have oversize mirrors for towing once in a blue moon? How many 4x4s do you see lifted? How many people care what tyres they run to save fuel? The most comfortable tyres are more or less the most economical.