Full-Size Truck Likes and Dislikes


By Mark Williams

Pickup trucks have seen their ups and downs in the past several years, and they’ve been pretty well beat up in the past 12 months. As a result, vehicle manufacturers are trying everything they can to attract customers and make one more sale.

Some of their ideas are pretty good, but others make me think they’re not quite sure what we want or what we think. What follows is a quick look at some of my personal likes and dislikes in regards to full-size trucks. We’re guessing you have a few observations and pet peeves of your own. Let us know, and we’ll let the designers and engineers who can do something about it know.


1. For a while we had some pretty good tailgate tech coming at us. Honda made a pretty good technology leap with its dual-opening rear tailgate that allows bed users to either swing the gate open wide like an SUV or drop down like a traditional pickup. Why can’t all pickups have that option? Likewise, when Ford first put the slide-out/pop-up tailgate and step-and-grab handle on the Super Dutys, you could hear the collective light bulbs going off in every truck guy’s head: Why didn’t I think of that?

2. Sure, a relatively small number of people tow a fifth-wheel or gooseneck trailer, but we like the fact that manufacturers are catering to these supreme towing customers who buy full-size heavy-duty pickups to push the limits. Ford and Dodge now offer both types of trailering options from the factory option lists, incorporating all the appropriate frame supports into their current redesigns. Although GM is not offering the factory hitches, it did include extra holes and support beams to accommodate fifth-wheel and gooseneck installations more easily. But we’re guessing GM will jump in pretty soon after its new trucks hit dealerships.

3. This one isn’t quite so obvious, but we like that some of the big engine makers aren’t trying to fill every square inch of open space under the hood. More space means more access for service and more air for cooling. If you can’t reach inside the engine compartment without a ladder and hoist (for yourself), it doesn’t do much good. The Cummins engine is a favorite of many turbo-diesel fanatics for a lot of reasons, but the inline design allows for much more open space on either side of the block than the V architecture. Ford, are you listening?

1. Can there be anything more frustrating than not knowing your exact tire pressures when you’re towing? It wasn’t that long ago that we all carried tire pressure gauges in our pockets (some of us still do), but with the advent of real-time pressure displays, every truck should have this information available from the driver’s seat, especially if you tow or haul big loads (this applies to nearly all full-size pickups). Dodge even offers dual sensors on its Ram HD rear tires so your computer can detect when you’re driving at lower tire pressures or when you’re driving at maximum pressures. 

2. I don’t ever need to see another automatic transmission that doesn’t let me access each gear individually. There was a time when some automatic transmissions didn’t allow you to use the middle gears. If there’s anything that bugs a truck guy more, it’s not being allowed to use something that the truck offers because someone else decided you wouldn’t need it. The HD automatics do a good job now, but some of the lighter-duty pickups, especially now that they’re headed to six-speed transmissions, are lagging. If I buy a six-speed, I want to play with all the gears. 

3. I have a confession: I love lubes. More specifically, I love my truck’s lubes, and I love knowing how they’re doing (temperatures, life, levels). I always want to know the exact temperature inside my crankcase and my transmission, and I would love to know how my rear axle oil is doing as well. So why don’t truck makers let me know the temperature of my axle lube?  With all the cool products for your rear axle coming from small aftermarket companies — from bigger capacity covers, to cooling fins, to dipsticks, to light accessory kits and more — you’d think the big automakers could come up with a simple sensor. When I’m towing my boat to the river in midsummer, I want to keep an eye on that temperature. If there’s a lube in my truck, give me a way to monitor it.


couple of things come to mind:

1. Air bags for those of us who tow. They come on cars and 18 wheelers.

2. Ability to clean the DPF with the flick of a button vs that drive to clean message as you pull into the driveway. Surely they could give you a warning or a DPF % of capacity message.

i second the bags from the factory. you could provide a better ride and not lose capacity.

and if a truck is already coming with a compressor for the bags i would also like cti and a hook up for an air hose on each side under the truck. i would love to to this to my current truck but would get it from the factory if it was a reasonable option.

Gotta agree with Scott. Some form of indicator on the dash or overhead console telling you when the DPF is in regen mode. I also like the idea of checking the DPF capacity before I start my day.

Also how about air-ride seats. Semi trucks have had them for years and they work great.

I actually sent this suggestion in to one of the manufacturers.

Cars have the push button start and the proximity sensor to unlock the doors. Why can't this be available on the trucks and I am not talking on LTZ, Laramies, King Ring, or Denali? I think if this was offered on work trucks it would be great. Then guys do not have to take the gloves off to fumble in their pockets for keys. Not to mention the ignitions will wear out with some of the guys starting up and shutting of the truck frequently. A button would be less expensive than the iginition with the key. Another example is that some of the keys have the FOB built into the key. These can range up to a couple hundred bucks including the programming. I just think that would be helpful.

One feature that I like on the new Fords is the power scope mirrors that are power extendable and folding.


Good article.

Nothing more annoying than flipping the sun visor left and right as you drive into the sun. I want multiple sun visors, one for the side window and one for front window.

A dedicated compartment for sunglasses.

A less smelly regen. Design so fumes don't overwhelm opened windows and A/C intake.

There's more but I ran out of time...

The front bumpers and chin spoilers have gotten lower and lower due to crash safety and fuel economy.
GM is talking about opening and closing grill openings for improved aerodynamics.
Why don't they have a chin spoiler that you can raise or lower from a switch in the cab. If I'm on the highway in summer I can lower it for better fuel economy. If I'm offroading or driving in winter I can raise it to keep it out of harms way.
I like the "man step", and 6.5 box option in crewcab 1/2 tons.
The backup camera is a good idea but I don't want to have to spend a fortune on DVD or nav to get it.

I dislike the fact that pickups can't fly yet. It's nearly 2015, and that means we should have flying cars soon. :)

First. For me is a Diesel option on half ton's!

Second. Multiple diesel options on 3/4 tons I.E. 4.2, 5.0 and 6.7 Cummins

Third. Cummins Power Wagon!!!!

Forth. A Wrangler Rubicon no nonsense pickup!


1. Heavy Halfs! I love my heavy half -- a light duty pickup that when spec'd and has people, also has more then 200lbs payload. Ford is the only option, but it would be nice to have more. But Ford -- WTF is with the 7 lug wheels?! Try to find me aftermarket alloys for that!


1. Bring back manual transmissions. (I realize this is a loosing battle)

2. Stop delaying the small diesels! Give me a small (<4L) diesel with great economy. Engines don't have to be big to still do work. Look abroad and back 30 years. My 2.5L pickup in the UK had more then enough power and 120hp 300ci sixes kept the the old ford 1 tons moving.

@Lou: "The backup camera is a good idea but I don't want to have to spend a fortune on DVD or nav to get it. "

The Ford's come with it in the rear view mirror if you don't get the nav.

Firstly, great article! I agree with everything you said. I especialy agree with the monitor/gauges point. I want to monitor EVERY single critical aspect of my diesel rig! The factory dumby gauges are mostly worthless...

I want to monitor EGT's, Boost, trans. temp., fuel pressure, volts, fuel temp. IAT temp., front and rear axle lube temps., air pressure in tire or air bags (listening OEM's?), etc, etc, etc. Everything that can be monitored (reasonably) I want monitor in individual dash mounted (or in-dash) gauges! Im tired of buying aftermarket pillar gauges for such BASIC diesel monitoring gauges (EGT, boost, trans. temp).

Secondly, I want my DIESEL ENGINE LOUD!!! When I fired that beast up, I want to hear it and for small children to run, lol. Loud, lots of turbo whistle, lots of vibrations!!

I HATE how quite the new diesel are!! Mostly the 6.7L PSD and 6.6L LML Duramax. Pussified sound from the factory.

Honestly, the biggest help to diesel truck owner is still the aftermarket IMAO.

NO MORE EMISSIONS CRAP on our diesels! I know not much can be done about the EPA's BS emissions standards, but they make our engine suck compared to what they could be without the emissions equipment on them.

My truck wish list,

1. Good fuel filtration, maybe a fuel filter setup under the bed side that uses a common size filter that will cross reference to one of the 2 micron CAT filters. I would settle for a fuel filter that wasn’t a complete pain in the @$$ to get to.

2. Drain plug on the differential and transmission. It’s beyond stupid that there aren’t drain plugs on a "heavy duty" truck (speaking of my 2010 Ram 2500).

2.a Transmission should have an externally accessible spin on filter (Allison and current gen ford got it right).

3. Standard class V receiver, why would they put a class III (previous gen GM) or class IV (dodge) on a HD truck? Ford and gm got this right...

4. Standard trailer brake controller. Again, why make a HD truck without the equipment to use it as intended.

5. Storage (my dodge is lacking). Tools need to go somewhere, same with tie downs/tow straps as well as extra fluids and filters. I put this stuff behind the rear seat in my 2007 Chev Silverado classic, no such luck in the dodge. The floor bins are useful but in all honesty they need to be bigger. A toolbox you can pull out of the floor would be the most amazing option. Doesn’t need to be huge, maybe socket storage for the common sizes up 1.25" and 32mm and enough room for matching open end wrenches and a few screwdrivers would be great. It would be even better If the tools could be organized in such a way that they don’t rattle. This may mean separating the sockets from the open end wrenches.

6. Don’t go crazy with the big rims; large rims are so cliché today. Everything has big rims; it’s stupid to offer sizes that reduce functionality of the truck. If people want to ruin their HD truck with big rims let them do it. The manufactures should spend more time on innovation.

7. No more open differentials, there is no reason to offer an open diff in a HD truck.

This is a great article. I totally agree with the shifting your own gears section. I love manual transmissions and even though they are going away they need to recognize that old school towers need to have choices for gears. Especially for when going down hills.

im sorry but it bugs me to see a bare bones truck that is $20,000 grand not come with ac, leather seats, a radio or power windows/doors/ or locks. i want my truck to come standard with leather seats, power everything 4x4, crew cab, and 6.2 motor. do not forget to include 2 pairs of speakers, an aftermarket amp and sub( and i mean a real one) so that the music from my truck breaks the glass on your truck lol

@Ryan, totally agreed on the open diff thing! I hate them! Should be LSD with E-locking (that can be done in 2wd), plus a lockable front diff, not exclusive to the Power Wagon.

I agree with dislike number 3. Fill my dashboard with gages, if there is something I should know I want to know it! After all too much information is better than too little right? I think the standard number of gages on ANY vehicle should be six. Speedo and tach and fuel are obvious, but also, Oil pressure, Engine temp, and battery voltage (which is usually actually the voltage the alternator is charging it at). If anyone of those last 4 isn't reading right you know something is wrong or about to go wrong and you know you need to act! More gages = Better IMO.

I want in floor storage. Similar to the compartments found in the Caravan's floors. Just enough room for some straps, bungies, and other tie downs.

Narrow bed rails. The wide bed rails on the GMT900 trucks dent way too easily.

Airbags for half tons.

Factory spray on bedliners. I think Ford is the only company to offer this.

Electronic Load Cells. Weight distribution is a huge safety factor in towing. Great. I can tow 7,000lbs. Monitor how the weight is distributed on the truck. An overloaded drive or steering axle is just as dangerous on a light truck as it is on a semi. Most people do not take this into consideration.

i would liek if ford would let you desing your own graphics for the raptor. and do a f250 raptor

i want gm to stop putting drum brakes on their work trucks...they suck and their base tranny is so slow there is just no way for you to get unstuck if you ever get stuck.."i mean a 2wd"

i want dodge to stop

we need more diesel engines example: a ford f150 with a 4.0 diesel engine a dodge ram with a 5.0 a chevy with a 4.5

what about a TURBINE ENGINE?

and last but not least I WANT A TAMDEM AXLE IN MY 3500 RAM/CHEVY/FORD.

Your right on about the flying cars. Didnt Marty McFly travel to year 2015? I remember watching that movie when it came out, and thinking how cool the future was going to be.

Regarding lubes - I would like to have the transmission temp guage standard

I want my next truck to be a 1/2 tone diesel!!


Completely agree with you! Even without the proximity sensors, push start alone would be extremely useful (which for uses in some of its smaller sedans).

Push start along with the SecureCode keypad would be one awesome feature.

Likes: diesel, diesel, diesel. Every truck or suv built should only have a diesel.

Dislikes: bling, bling, bling. Why on earth do you need heated leather seats? And it doesn't cost them an extra 20 to 30 grand to go from say a XL package to a King Ranch or Harley model. I mean an XL for 38 grand and King Ranch breaking 65! There is something wrong there.

But if you got the cash, a fool and his money are soon parted! I think I read that somewhere.

Some good ideas in previous posts .......... I agree about diesels for 1/2 tons IF they offer a significant increase in mpg. What I'd like to see are more factory solutions to truck access. Ford has done gone good work in the cargo area- the optional side steps and the integrated tailgate step. Cabs are another story- especially on 4x4's. A lot of us aren't spring chickens anymore and as the population ages this will become more of an issue. It's true there some factory options and aftermarket choices but they leave something to be desired. A better integrated step with the same or better corrosion resistance as the cab/body would be welcome.

@fordmantpw: "The Ford's come with it in the rear view mirror if you don't get the nav."

So do the GM's ......

@Mark Williams: "Likewise, when Ford first put the slide-out/pop-up tailgate and step-and-grab handle on the Super Dutys, you could hear the collective light bulbs going off in every truck guy’s head: Why didn’t I think of that?"

The step in the tailgate is nice, but the handle that folds into the tailgate liner is stupid. Every SD I have seen has had that area fill up with stone or dirt and the handle gets jammed. And have you ever tried to slide anything off the bed (across the tailgate and therefore over that handle)? It just gets in the way and ends up getting damaged then stuck.

Besides, if I'm loading and unloading the bed of a pickup all day I would rather have a LOWER BED HEIGHT than needing a step to get in and out of the bed. The same goes for the bed sides -- they are too tall on the Fords to reach over and get something out of the bed.

I agree with sk. Trucks are HUGE now. Look at the 1 ton trucks from the '80s and '90s, that's the size that the half-tons are now! Bring back the good old half-tons that were EASIER to work out of.

They should add a power tailgate option. TRUCK MANUFACTURERS, ARE YOU LISTENING?? You see the power liftgates on minivans and SUVs, now i want to push a button and watch that tailgate fall down as I approach that truck with a lot of stuff in the shopping cart and rise up when I'm done loading. Mike Levine, you have to pitch this idea to the folk in the auto industry.

Ahh, shoot! I didn't think to look it was David and not Mike that wrote this article! Anyhoo, my idea ROCKS!!! Power tailgate!

Dislikes - Bob

Bring back the manual tranny in Ford and Chevy. Dodge dont even think of letting it go.

I would buy a light duty diesel (1500) in a heartbeat.

In regards to the dislikes-#2. Not being able to access each gear on your automatic transmission.

There used to be a time when standard transmissions was the usual option, when someone wanted to access each gear when they needed. Automatic transmissions, used to be automatic transmissions.

The Dodge Ram HD is the only option now, to offer the 6 speed manual with Ford now phasing out there 6 speed manual on the new 2011 Ford Super Duty.

I could only wonder what all of those commercial truck drivers are thinking, when most of us here in the light truck to medium truck users ponder about there automatic transmissions.


Geez, some people are childish!

Hey Quagmire - do you read Bob's posts? Now that's childish.

About the only dislike I have on my Dodge Ram is....it takes longer to wax/polish than my Dodge Charger !!! Besides that it is perfect !! Not complaining I love how big trucks are these days..awesome !!

A few things they should do to be better in my books:

Standard transmissions avail..
New Dodge RAM SRT with over 550 hp..
Diesel engines on 1/2 ton..
Loud Diesel engines..
Firm shifting automatic transmissions ..Nowadays people are much weaker and softer (emotional wrecks) Remember people added shift kits to have a firmer shifting transmission,now they want smooth seamless wussy transmissions,so they can drink their coffee,watch Oprah on their in dash t.v and talk on the phone without spilling !!

@ Dodge - funny!
"Nowadays people are much weaker and softer (emotional wrecks)" - that's because they watch Oprah. Damn - you made me spill my coffee. I gotta call my therapist! ....LMFAO......

For me the big thing is not only to have more gauges but make them look GOOD. Something that you have to stare at all day why can't they look classy like a rolex. Wouldn't be too expensive but makes a big difference.

Things I want to see in trucks:

#1.) Diesels in half tons.
#2.) Better off-road packages. (better skid plates, adjusted ride height, better tires, etc.)
#3.) Locking differentials on 2wd and 4wd.
#4.) Better storage.
#5.) Lower starting price.

toggle switches instead of buttons on the dash

Simple one. A small light on the dash or console telling me when my tailgate is down. I have a tonneau cover and I can't tell if the gate is down or not without getting out and looking. Also, at night you may not notice. It doesn't need to have a chime or flash or anything.

I like the idea of small deisels in full-size pickups. I think the marketing people in the truck part of the industry still think in terms of 0-60 stoplight racers. Deisel fans LOVE TORQUE for effortless pulling, especially on mountain roads. I would love to see an assortment of small deisels, six or even five cylinders for full-size trucks, and fours for mid to small pickups. While I was stationed in Spain, I drove a Mercedes cab-over flatbed w/folding sides. It had about the same footprint as a large quad-cab, extended-bed pickup. It had a little deisel four in it . . . slow as molassas BUT it could sure pull a full load. It sipped fuel, too.


Chevy: Interiors! They're years behind Ford and Dodge. I'm a chevy guy and the interior is what I look at the most so this really irritates me. Catch up and quit cutting corners for cryin out loud.

Ford. Powertrains! They really need to finally put something in that doesn't break and stick with it! Their just seems to be some downfall to every version of Powerstroke. The truck costs 50Gs, get it right. This new 6.7 better be a winner and they better stick with it more than 3 years.

Dodge: Lead a class for once will ya. Why do they always let GM or Ford take every class. For these new trucks, Dodge doesn't lead in one category (that I saw). Ram HD has the Cummins, why don't they build the rest of the truck to fit that motor? When they don't lead any categories, it tell me at least that their just putting something together that is 'good enough', and that pisses me off

Great article Mark! There is a lot to like about new trucks today but here are few things I don’t like when it comes to the two full-size truck brands that I am most familiar with.

1) Why does every manufacturer seem to think truck guys like buttons and rotary dials to shift the transfercase. Electric shift 4wd is one of the most unreliable (and slow to engage) systems in any truck. On a GM and Dodge truck the only way to get a manual shift case is with base model trim (WT- GM or ST (or $45K Power Wagon) on the Dodge). The Manual shift lever should be standard on the HD trucks across the board and leave the electric shift crap as an optional for the up level LT and Laramie peg groups to satisfy the needs of the guys that should be driving cars. In the case of GM and Dodge, they both use the exact same New Venture Gear electric shift transfercases and Delphi controllers. Junk!
2) Dodge – I am not digging the extra thick steering wheel on the new Rams. It is like using a motorcycle tire as a steering wheel. Not comfortable in the least.
3) Dodge – the placement of the HVAC control on the RH side of the center stack is very hard to read from the driver’s seat. Dials are spread out too far. Outside of that, not much to complain about with the Dodge. The new Ram is a great truck!
4) GM – the door EDGES run parallel to the road with no protection. Any edge will chip before a flat surface will (Ford’s lower door design). Once a chip is in the paint it is a matter of time before the rust bubble and perforation appears. I predict when the 2007 GM trucks turn five years old in 2012, many trucks living in the salt belt will already show major rust perforations in the door bottoms.
5) GM – HD truck front suspension. Really, do I need to say more? I would prefer to see something a little more solid there.
6) GM – body quality. Look down the sides of these trucks and you can see obvious stamping divots in the doors and bed slabs not to mention the paper thin sheet metal.
7) GM – a pet peeve for me, but after 37 years GM returned to top post batteries on trucks. GM was the only manufacture using side post batteries and was also the only manufacturer that didn’t have battery cable corrosion issues. GM is getting cheap on us!
8) GM – The Chevrolet body style is hideous. I currently own 5 GM trucks (daily drivers and toys) and have purchased 7 new vehicles from GM over the past 10 years. I have no plans to purchase any new GM vehicle. The only one I could consider would be a Camaro. The only good thing I see in a GM trucks is their powertrains. The engine and transmission in a GM truck is like finding a diamond in a goats behind. I have no problem forfeiting my GM discount to buy a Dodge on my next truck purchase. I am dying for a Power Wagon!
9) Ford – I pay no attention to Ford. I learned a long time ago Fords are way over rated when I spun wrenches through my high school and college years.

Great article, and all good points. I'd just like to see manufacturers think about whether they're adding function or just complexity. The newer, more complicated engines get better economy AND better power - therefore, we all win. I'm not as convinced about automatic transmissions or electronic shift transfer cases. Please give me my manual transmission and stick-shift t-case back, in a 1/2 ton truck? They're bulletproof, and for my purposes, more functional than the "fancy" version. I don't mind electronic gauges and gadgets, as long as they don't impair the function of the truck if/when they break. I love the point above about shrinking trucks back to their pre-late-'90's sizes with shorter bed sides. Less extraneous sheetmetal to get messed up is better!


Offroad badging for a mall crawler.

If you say the truck has a offroad package then it needs to back it up.

skid plates
improved shocks
offroad tires (at the minimum BFG AT KO's)
higher ride height
and for Pete's sake, 4 wheel disc brakes.. (you hear me GM)

small diesels,open diffs have to go more gear ratios around 4.10 standard an option to have a bedliner type thing as the floor I love my dakota sport v8 big enough to pull my toys and look like a toy like a ranger yet small enough to drive every day and fit in some tight off road spots and I love the ammenities inside but I HATE my carpet I want to be able to have a bedliner type floor like in my 4cyl 2x4 ranger worktruck but not have to buy the lowest model

In my opinion lets go back to the basic of what a truck was. Personally I do not like these center consoles and floor shifters. Less room and more of a car thing personally. Lets get a truck a truck.

Things I would like in a 3/4 ton truck, standerd and options

1) Stainless steel brake & fuel lines
2) Rockers & corners that don't rust
3) Amber allweather driving lights above the bumper out of harms way
4) Brighter reverse lighting
5) More and heaver tie downs in bed
6) More stake pockets
7) Two speed rear diff
8) Eaton E-Locker front and rear
9) Air ride suspention with manual hight adjustment
10) Electric air compressure in weather tight compartment
11) Focas more on engine torque not horse power
12) Cup holders for man sized cups
13) Ramps hidden under bed

From Clay:
#1.) Diesels in half tons.
#2.) Better off-road packages. (better skid plates, adjusted ride height, better tires, etc.)
#3.) Locking differentials on 2wd and 4wd.
#4.) Better storage.
#5.) Lower starting price

I second the motion!

I dislike not being able to get a manual transmission. I won't buy one without it.

Two things I would like to see:

A camera mounted up by the third brake light on the cab to view the bed. Before the days of crew cabs it was easy to look over your shoulder and inspect your cargo. It would be nice to switch from viewing navigation and see if your cargo has shifted or straps have come loose.

A built in retractable bed cover. I like the aftermarket type, but you always loose some bed space where the unit mounts. If they could store it under the bed and have it come up the back between the bed and the cab you would still have all of the space in the bed available.

I'd like:

An A/C outlet to charge my bluetooth and laptop, and for a
portable printer and other (small) 110 tools/chargers/appliances.

To know EGT's, Pyro Temp, and Turbo boost

Power locking tailgate

Don't like:

Most factory wheel options

big/funky satellite antennas

The comments to this entry are closed.