Why Have American Pickup Trucks Become Giants?

American Pickup Trucks

You might have noticed that American pickup trucks have increased dramatically in size since the 1980s. In this article, we explore the factors that have influenced this sea change. Next time you are stuck behind a road going behemoth that would look more at home at a monster truck rally, you no longer have to wonder why on earth it is on the road in the first place!

Hot Shot Trucking

The rise in hot shot shipping work has produced an increased need for large, powerful pickups. These small jobs for shippers can be completed with pickup trucks and therefore do not require CDLs. Many people seeking to supplement their income have started taking on this kind of shipping work and using shipping boards is usually the best way to find work.

The Move Away From Imports

Foreign truck producing companies have typically focused on the creation of relatively compact vehicles to fit in with the practical needs of consumers in their home countries. Companies like Toyota once offered American consumers the same modestly sized trucks as their Japanese counterparts. This all changed with the introduction of the Toyota Tacoma – the first foreign designed truck produced exclusively for the US market. From then on, companies abandoned the importing of modestly sized truck in favor of producing vehicles that suited the American taste for massive pickups.

Fuel Targets

In an attempt to give the American fuel economy some long-term resilience and to stave off the effects of fossil fuel use on the climate, the Obama administration passed new laws that limited the fuel consumption of vehicles according to their size and weight. An interesting loophole in this meant that powerful, inefficient engines could be fitted into pickup trucks if they were designed to be longer and wider. Legislation designed to reduce the amount of gas guzzlers on the road created an environment in which producers created even more inefficient vehicles.


Bravado has played a massive role in the supersizing of the pickup truck in recent years. The pickup has become something of a symbol of red blooded American masculinity. The larger the truck, the more ostentatious the perceived masculinity of the driver – or so the somewhat twisted logic goes. Vehicle producing companies have worked out that ‘selling masculinity’ is a great way to earn a heck of a lot of money. People naturally tend to part ways with more money if they feel like they are purchasing a symbolic lifestyle definition instead of a mere vehicle.

The Rise of The Crew Cab

While standard pickup trucks have traditionally only contained two seats, their modern equivalents are equipped with crew cabs capable of seating 5 people in comfort. This is largely down to the change in the role of the pickup. These vehicles are no longer primarily used for work purposes. They are increasingly being used in the family car role or as a sports style vehicle. The first crew cab truck, the International Travelette, was released all the way back in 1957, but it was something of an oddity in a market full of practical two door vehicles. Compared to today’s giants it was tiny and was certainly not particularly heavy-duty. In order to carry 5 passengers and be a practical heavy-duty vehicle, a pickup truck has to be quite large.

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