Top Five Reasons Not to Buy a Pickup

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By G.R. Whale

I'm a pessimist and a contrarian — I've been that way for years and I don't see imminent change on the horizon. I've also been playing with pickup trucks for 40 years. After recently having a few in the driveway simultaneously, I realized there are good reasons not to buy a pickup. Don't consider this a dismissal of anyone buying a pickup because they need one for work, plowing or trailering; think of this as a handy cheat sheet to give to people who don't need a truck.

1. Everybody Has One

For decades the "Big Three" pickups have been the best-selling vehicles in the U.S. February this year found the Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado and Ram trucks in spots 1, 2 and 4 on the list of top-selling vehicles, more than a quarter-million sold between them. The year-to-date total full-size rate in February was more than 280,000 units with another 53,000 in midsize pickup sales. Four cars (212,000 combined) and a trio of crossovers (129,000) rounded out the top 10.

I don't want to see myself coming and going at every intersection or parts shop. Pickups make a great blank canvas, but even with aftermarket packages there's no way I'm getting the exclusivity I might from something way off the top 10 list.

It needn't be an exotic ride that costs a fortune. Mini offers countless permutations and sold only 56,000 cars last year. I wouldn't need blinking lights to find that in the stadium parking lot.

2. They're Heavy and Thirsty

Everything that tows and carries is. But when I ask manufacturers how much their customers really tow, the response always begins with words to the effect, "Of our customers who do tow anything … ."

I'd argue big utility vehicles are better than a pickup for towing because they offer more seats and can be used as a second car. Yeah, they cost more, but they deliver more flexibility. And with the same 3.08:1 axle ratio, a four-wheel-drive Chevrolet Suburban tows more than a Chevy Silverado crew-cab short bed.

If you don't tow a lot of weight, a minivan will carry as much weight as some pickups, even those with all-wheel drive, and they can tow as much as a small pickup with similar fuel-economy numbers. The base Honda Odyssey gets 19/28 mpg city/highway, has a 1,623-pound maximum payload and a 3,500-pound maximum towing capacity. The base Chevy Colorado crew cab gets 19/27 mpg city/highway, carries 1,460 pounds and tows 3,500 pounds (when equipped with the optional Z82 Trailering Package it can tow 7,000 pounds). The base Toyota Tacoma double cab 4x4 gets 18/21 mpg city/highway, carries 1,320 pounds and pulls 3,500 pounds. The base Toyota Sienna all-wheel-drive van rates 16/23 mpg city/highway, carries 1,210 pounds and tows 3,500 pounds.

And if you really need to haul things, a full-size van might work better than an 8-foot-wide pickup. A Ford Transit single rear wheel carries 2,610 to more than 4,000 pounds; a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter carries more than 3,500 pounds, and both weigh less than a pickup able to carry the same weight.

Top 5 van

3. They're Space Hogs

I once got in an argument with a magazine editor about the height of a 4x4 pickup being lower than its 4x2 version. He didn't think it mattered; I didn't think he'd want me to scrape the roof of the pickup in the parking garage if it was a few inches higher like most 4x4s. I scraped the roof on the next 4x4 … in the magazine's parking garage.

Another editor from the same magazine later opined about the difficulties of maneuvering a 170-plus-inch-wheelbase pickup in places built for cars. He was less than amused when I spoke of getting a 45-foot bus that needed just 20 feet more for a U-turn than a big pickup through similar lots. Apart from performance cars with their fat front tires intruding on footwells, pickups are the least maneuverable things around.

If you've got a tract house, many pickups won't fit in your garage because of length, but to be fair, big vans won't fit under the door.

If you're buying a pickup for ego purposes, don't complain about how it doesn't fit in parking spaces meant for cars. After I folded the mirrors of a big crew-cab long bed I drove recently, it fit in a "compact" spot with 1 foot of nose sticking out. Most of the compacts were sticking out more.

4. They're Expensive

In some parts of the country, housing prices have risen faster than inflation — more than doubling in the last 25 years. The same has happened with pickup trucks, the cash cows of the automotive industry.

By averaging U.S. Bureau of Labor, inflation calculator and Bank of Canada indices, what cost $22,000 in 1990 should cost about $39,500 now. In 1990 that would have got you a Dodge W250 LE Club Cab diesel long bed with options; that was the fancy model with carpet, cloth upholstery (in more than two color choices), air conditioning, cruise control, vent windows and a cassette stereo. However, the closest current truck costs about $48,000 with vinyl upholstery, much of the cost driven by higher tow ratings, and safety and emissions equipment. For you poor blokes in Canada, that same truck is $60,000 Canadian.

If you believe the marketers and designers, pickup buyers have gone gaga for every feature they can think of, hence $60,000 half-tons and $75,000 heavy duties. Then there are the replacement part prices for the cool gadgets within these vehicles and insurance.

There are many vehicles that I'd rather spend this type of money on than a pickup — a near-luxury sedan, or a sports car and an older pickup perhaps.

5. Suddenly You're Everyone's BFF

The best reason for not owning a pickup is that everyone will want to use it — often with you behind the steering wheel. My own pickup has just two seats, remains covered outside and is a real nuisance to drive around town — so it doesn't get much action. But when I parked a new crew-cab long bed in the driveway I was everyone's best friend.

"Dude, my race car's running but my truck isn't. Feel like a trip to the track?" "Ya know, we have some trees being held for us at the nursery … you got any free time on the weekend?" "The boat battery's charged. Wanna go fishin'?" You get the idea.

Some of the test cars I drive garner amusing requests, but when I have a pickup the phone doesn't stop ringing, weekends evaporate since no good deed goes unpunished and all I want to do is hide it in the garage.

But it won't fit.

What, if anything, would you tell someone to stop them from buying a pickup?

Manufacturer images

Top 5 small pu



I do love me some good sarcasm. While the statements above are true, none of them would stop somebody that just has to have one. Oh well. At least some people have more sense than ego.

There is a lot of truth in the above although it is tongue in cheek.

As long as people who don't need them keep buying them, they will remain the cash cow of the industry.
That's a real hit to the pocketbook for those who have no choice.

The only hope for common since to prevail is the adage;
"Once a thing becomes a fad, it's no longer cool".

A fun read for sure but sadly there are many that actually believe trucks are just for ego.

With the price of new trucks and even the price of decent used trucks it's not cheap to own a truck AND another vehicle. Borrowing or renting one for when you tow is not the greatest option as I prefer to drive my own vehicle.

Trucks are designed to do it all and just handy to own so I will always own a truck and make it my own.

Now the giant chromed out truck cutting other vehicles off and trying to park in a tiny parking space up front is likely an ego buy.

The above statements just prove you cannot fix STUPID!

Crew cab pickups have to be about the most versatile vehicles around with the minivan coming in second. You can haul, tow, commute, people move all in one package. Fuel economy has improved enough as well. Yea their bigger but unless you live in the inner city, it's no big deal.

I agree with all those reasons. I don't see many new pickups anymore in NV. The Fords are pushing $50,000 for a 1/2 ton and the few new pickups I see are usually Hemi Dodges which can still be had for $30,000 locally. Most are commercial or company vehicles. I rarely see a new Chevy unless they're Tahoe's or Suburban livery vehicles. I have no idea where Chevrolet trucks are being purchased as I never see one.

There are a lot of people whose lifestyle depends on having a pickup. Without a pickup my life would totally change. Aside from the fact I have to have a pickup for my farm. it would be a lot harder to go ride atvs, it would be a lot harder to go to my hunting and fishing places with my gear. It would be a lot harder to go get trees at the nursery. A lot harder to get supplies to build my fence, or a shed, or pick up my hot tub, or a lawn mower, or to take my big messy dog with me everywhere, or to tow my boat, or tow a horse trailer, or to pick up a new water heater, or roofing materials, or flooring materials, or take my golf cart to the course, or get sand for my kids sandbox. All things I have done in just the last year. But yet I go pick up some groceries and some idiot thinks I don't need that truck cause I'm just getting groceries with it. The fact is owning a pickup is a very important lifestyle factor for most people that own one.

A crew cab pickup (4x4) is the most versatile vehicle extant. Nothing else can do everything it can. (Yesterday it was hauling 2 yards of mulch. Tomorrow-taking family members to a breakfast,next Saturday it will be moving the last stuff out of our daughter's old house etc. etc.)

There is a reason double cab 4x4's are ubiquitous throughout the world.

But the versatility comes with a price.Same old get what you pay for.

The same could be said for most vehicles we own and not just pickups.

The excuses that are used for the purchase of any vehicle are quite inane and lack logic at times.

Even the people who use pickups can and could probably get away with a smaller vehicle, the same could be said for the owners of CUVs, Camrys and the like.

Even TVs could be the same. We live in a society where people judge others' on not who they are, but what they own and the perception that goes with it.

Good article, different and off beat.

@440 Magnum,
Boy, do we have some issues!

Read my first sentence and it fits you to a "T".

You don't need a pickup. Just because you are tall.

What nonsense. I'm not even going to discuss your insecurity about failing in life because your claim to be a "white and male".

Let alone your perception you think you are rich.

What a waste of cyberspace your comment is.

I do think PUTC should delete your comment as it is in appropriate, not just for this article.

I don't take this article completely serious although it gives some thought as to why many don't need to own a truck. You can own whatever type of vehicle that you want. The article is more off beat and just read it and don't take it so seriously.

pickups are American as apple pie. The number one selling vehicle in the U.S. Is not a car but a pickup.

Probably get a lot more reasons why by asking Europeans in general as Pickups are few and far between in Europe

I think a large part of the problem is the fact that the traditional mid and full-sized car market is dead. There was a time you could buy a big 2-door Impala, Caprice, Ford LTD, Monte Carlo, Cutlass, you name it. And, they all had what the full-sized pick ups of today offer, RWD with a medium to large displacement V8 engine in them.

These vehicles projected an image of masculinity compared to extremely feminized cute ute CUV/SUV designs of today. If this was the mid 70's, I would not be driving a PU. Unfortunately, the only RWD big V8 engine vehicles are the full-sized PU's or the specialty high performance models like the Mustang, Camaro, Challenger and the Corvette. These are the only vehicles left except for the high dollar luxury barges from Germany and the Charger/300C twins from Dodge/Chrysler. However, the Charger/300C and to some extent the Challenger don't really count because those models are remnants of platform sharing when Diamler owned Chrysler. Everything else out there homegrown is FWD with a small to medium liter N/A V6 engine or turbo 4 cylinder.

So, if you were a single or midlife crisis guy who wanted to buy something masculine or more manly than a boring FWD vanilla import/domestic car, small subcompact, CUV/SUV or soccer dad mini van, the full-sized PU is your only choice unless you step into a high performance car.






5) RAM

Ram is the fastest growing truck brand in America+. That's a fact. Our Best-in-Class numbers for the Ram 1500 and Ram Heavy Duty trucks? Also facts. Because we don't make our numbers up. We set them.

Reasons why I need and own a pickup:
#1 I live in a cold climate in the Northeast where the roads are not plowed where I need the 4x4 and the heavy weight of the truck to get thru, plus I have a wood-coal furnace and I haul wood and coal.
#2 My job requires me for off-road use and towing a 5000lb trailer plus my employer pays me an allowance for a 4x4 truck capable of off-road and towing use.
#3 I have always owned a pickup in the past and I have adapted where I would feel naked without one.

I admit it does irritate me when I see many people owning full size 4x4 pickups that never use them for hauling and towing cause that drives the price up for new pickups and the way pickups have evolved over the years with soft suspension, smooth ride and luxury interiors.
Then I flip out when I see those same guys that can't drive one, how they make wide turns like a semi truck and can't park at the local shopping center. I can squeeze my truck into a compact car parking spot getting so close I can't open the doors and I climb out the window.

Tom #3, I catch you parking that close to me and your truck will get s nice dent.

Mark Williams that was the worst move you have ever done, you have done away with your gob. Mark did you forget ,that is what puts food on your table. You allowed a( Anti truck guy ), make those type of comments on this page ,that people come on to enjoy reading about new trucks and reading all those great discussions we have with other posters. What were you thanking? Man this is AMERICA we have a choice to buy what we want not what some tells you to buy .

OMG, not again! Wherever you turn someone tries to brainwash you with their view of life and nosy attitudes. I "read" in this article the same ridiculous mantra of global warming, we should go smaller with our vehicles, pick oil, tree huger typical krap. Enough already! This is US, I don't care if you don't like the reasons for what I drive a truck, nor do I bellieve in all the politically driven agendas to sisify all the men on this planet. You can take your opinion and shove it up yours. It reminds me of the other kretin from NY spending his fortune with anti-gun propaganda. Guess what, can't wait to buy me a new v8 pickup truck and a new handgun.

If pickups aren't for you, who cares? Log out, move on.

So then why are you still here???

If it's the high costs of owning a pickup and or, you can't manage/maneuver their size, who's fault is that? You should've went to college, no?

I don't *NEED* a pickup per se, but I would feel like a sorry bastard if I had to own an SUV instead. Or gawd forbid a CUV!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"The only hope for common since to prevail..."


When lecturing the rest of us, one should always take care to spell common words correctly, or risk sounding like a common fool.

That would just be common sense, right?

It is so true about who comes out of the woodwork when you have a truck. On the other hand it is nice to help out that need it. When I was a member of my local fire department we helped out a local family that needed to move. We all showed up in our trucks and had the house packed up in a couple of hours. Also if you have boys, they think it's cool that their Dad has a pickup truck. I don't think any boy is going to brag to his friends at school that their dad has a Prius. Just not going to happen.

"I don't *NEED* a pickup per se, but I would feel like a sorry bastard if I had to own an SUV instead. Or gawd forbid a CUV!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" -- Posted by: DenverIIIMike | May 25, 2015 3:02:54 AM

Speaking of ego owners...

Actually I'd be better off buying some kind of cargo van than an open bed pickup.

This was posted by DenverMike the same day he posted the comment above;

Seems he has owned SUVs, along with his 100s of pickups outside his Winnepeg apartment.

May 24th, 2015 at 10:12 am

“The Bronco II looks like it’s going to roll over when it’s parked.”

The shorty wheelbase and lifted stance did make it look like a lot of fun to off road and on the street. I can a test to both. So it had a dangerous look to it. It was. I wouldn’t recommend the truck to the inexperienced, but I loved mine. On tight turns, I’d could get air under the inside rear tire.

It had style too, that the bland S10 Blazer lacked.

2015 ram megacab limited 4x4 in Canada MRSP 91000 cdn ????
Its time for another price correction just like the oil industry is going through now. 91000 wow

Louis o - GR Whale is a auto journalist who's been around. He is one of the better ones. His story is tongue in cheek.

C - in my part of the world it took a while before the new GM siblings became common in the market place. The local dealer didn't have much of an inventory for 1/2 a year. Ford on the other hand has seen a quicker turnover to the 2015's in my area.

I've been seeing some new F-150's. To me they don't look very substantial. Thier was a new Platinum but it didn't really pop or look like 55,000 dollars, just looked like a work truck to me.

I had to rub my eyes...I thought I opened up AutoBlog Green...maybe if I go to sleep, and when I wake up it'll be gone...






5) RAM

Ram is the fastest growing *(did you mean rusting?)* truck brand in America+. That's a fact. Our Best-in-Class numbers for the Ram 1500 and Ram Heavy Duty trucks? Also facts. Because we don't make our numbers up. We set them."

Awww cute...spam within the comments section.

Oh, and I own a truck...and now that we sold the camper and I don't see us getting another one any time soon...what a waste of a monthly payment sitting in the garage. Love my truck, and need a truck (there are some things you just can't do with a car that can't tow and a trailer that would be too small for the things you put in the box...which your car can't tow)...but at this moment in time...I'd be find with two efficient cars and an old beater truck for those times I do need one. Unless I/we go buy another camper in the next 12 months...then I need this truck, again. Article did seem a little odd on a pickup truck website...but no less the truth, even being humorous in nature (I mean really...who wants to drive a Transit or a Sprinter? Pickup please).

@BAFO - True a Bronco II is an SUV, so yeah you sure got me there mate. But similar to a 2-door Wrangler, it's way more "sport" than "utility".

On the other end, you have SUVs that are way more "utility" than "sport". A Honda Pilot for example.

The Bronco II is more like original Bronco than the last 2 generations of Broncos.

@Robert Ryan - Forget it. Around here, no one cares what the Europeans think about anything, including pickups. But isn't true Aussies/Kiwis are way more into pickups than Americans? Too bad your options are pretty much limited to one class of pickups. That must $uck.

@Road Whale - It may be an ego trip, but no other place on earth has as many classes, trim levels, new, used, abused, classic/vintage and or pampered originals. If you have a love of pickup trucks, you've got no choice but to live it up!! Do it for all the fans of pickups, stuck in places with limited access, including OZ/NZ.

Sorry to hear you're still sitting on the sidelines though. If it was me, I'd change my situation, including moving, divorcing or both.

They're too big! I love the size of my Ford Ranger, just perfect! New ones have too much electronics and are way too expensive. I'll be buying a used Ranger.

Z82 package? I only head of the Z71 package, that Z82 package must be 11 better. Haha

You know what's really funny, DM? Ford has proven that it is very possible to return to a la carte ordering for vehicles, yet they still refuse to do so. Maybe they would find out what options are truly popular and improve their trucks even more if they let buyers custom order across the board, rather than relying on dealerships buying what they think will sell more. I've actually gone into dealerships fully intending to buy something over the years, only to walk out because nothing they had in stock had what I wanted--and that includes choice of color.

@Road Whale - I think you actually have to WANT a pickup...

There's almost endless combinations, between trim, options, colors, engines, packages, etc, etc. Dealers are very efficient on stocking what sells the most. They're not meaning to have willing/able customers with cash_in_hand, walking/storming off.

You have to be willing to bend a little on colors, trim, etc. Or simply order exactly what you want, then wait.

It's never 100% ala carte, but pickups are as close as any vehicle gets. No other vehicle has so many trim levels, options, engines and packages, as pickups do. Not even close! If there's not a pickup that's right for you, may be there's something wrong with YOU!!!

Solid axle
Leaf springs
Body on frame
No center differential
Red turn signals
Bonus: insanely overpriced, highest profit margin in the industry.

Baby's (1991 Toyota) been with me for 24 + YEARS I can"t let go. Rust yes, let me down 2 times, thank you triple a. But the half ton still gets 33 highway 27 city. Just the right size for everything. Folks say she will run for ever. Don't really care for the new models.

I Work with agencies and insurance companies on vehicle accidents, specifically fatalities and high financial exposures, as a SME and present testimony for litigation.

Government sponsored crash tests are a terrible measure of safety. While no vehicle is injury proof, by far and without question, large trucks and SUVs are significantly safer in vehicle to vehicle collisions.

The number of anecdotal stories people have is amazing and the criticisms are laughable.

One of the greatest freedoms we have is the ability to purchase the vehicle we want. One of the most disturbing overreaches of Government regulation is the Federal fuel economy mandate that has led to many unsafe vehicles.

In nearly every litigated case the settlement is sealed and the details are never released. Also why I won't list makes or models.

But I will freely admit that our home was custom built with a garage extension and taller doors, we rarely park close to shopping or eating establishments, and our fuel bill is high.

However, time and time again when my data is presented, the impacted families weep when they see the truth. The data is staggering and chilling.

Drive what you want. And feel free to dismiss what I have said.
Some of my data is public, but most is locked up, to hide an agenda.

I just bought a new metallic gray, standard XL 2015 F-150 supercab for $26,300 and it has a/c and a class IV reese hitch. It has the standard 3.5 engine and gets 20 mpg overall so they are out there

Most all of you are morons. I don't care what you buy and what the heck business is it of yours what I buy? Some like cars, some like trucks. To each his own. Mind your own business.

I would not have developed a hatred for pickup trucks, had not a bro-truck enthusiast moved in next to me and made my home unlivable. He owned multiple pickup trucks and SUVs. He removed all mufflers from them. He woke me up every morning and some evenings. Dinner, movies, and conversations were frequently interrupted with loud engine noises. He would repair/restore trucks almost every day, creating loud engine noises and power tool noises. He would paint or spill gas on his property, filling our house with fumes. I started mocking him and it hurt his feelings, so he threw a tantrum. He did long and loud burnouts in front of our property, did wild "reverse drives" (driving backward) down the block, and threatened to shoot my family (we have 5 kids).

trucks are a need because they can haul big items such as tankers and oil tanks

Here in San Franciso it can be hard to find a parking space but with a truck you automatically get commercial license plates so you can park in the yellow zone. That in itself makes having a truck worth having.

You guys are forgetting one of the biggest reasons I run a pickup truck. TCO. I got my 2015 tundra crew sr5+ for about the same money as a crv with a few options. cheaper than an awd Sienna. Cheaper than a 4 runner. Cheaper than a highlander. Yes it's harder on fuel than those choices but the biggest cost of a vehicle is not the payment even though it was cheaper.... It's depreciation. Just for fun I priced a new f150 and they offered me almost what I paid for the truck.

You will always get better residual with any half ton them any suv cuv and certainly better than any car.

I admit. I could get by with some other vehicle because ppl make work what they have but why sacrifice when the pickup can do everything other choices can just as well and cheaper?

You guys are forgetting one of the biggest reasons I run a pickup truck. TCO. I got my 2015 tundra crew sr5+ for about the same money as a crv with a few options. cheaper than an awd Sienna. Cheaper than a 4 runner. Cheaper than a highlander. Yes it's harder on fuel than those choices but the biggest cost of a vehicle is not the payment even though it was cheaper.... It's depreciation. Just for fun I priced a new f150 and they offered me almost what I paid for the truck.

You will always get better residual with any half ton them any suv cuv and certainly better than any car.

I admit. I could get by with some other vehicle because ppl make work what they have but why sacrifice when the pickup can do everything other choices can just as well and cheaper?

Pickup trucks are great if you have a job that requires them that being said if you have one and don't need it for a functional person there is a 10 out of 10 chance you are a loser.

Lets be honest: They are expensive, use a lot of gas, and are a pain to park. No rational person would just have one to have one unless they feel small and completely lack self confidence.

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