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Aaron Gold

Poll: Are full-size pickups still relevant?

By December 13, 2012

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2014 GMC SierraGreetings from the Motor City! I'm in Detroit for a couple of Detroit Auto Show previews, and yesterday I attended the reveal of General Motors' all-new full-size pickups, the 2014 GMC Sierra (pictured here) and Chevrolet Silverado.

Now, I'm not a truck guy -- we have an entire About.com site devoted to them -- but I do appreciate their importance in the US market. Still, these things are expensive and use a lot of fuel -- but the automakers like them because they are very profitable. I have to wonder -- as we emerge from a recession with gas still close to $4/gallon in some areas of the country, can America's love affair with the big pickup possibly last? I'm eager to hear your opinions -- vote in the poll and share your comments. -- Aaron Gold

Photo © General Motors

December 13, 2012 at 10:24 pm
(1) fert says:

Gee, I don’t know. Are there still a bunch of mosquito dick bastards out there who feel they need to compensate in every aspect of their lives?

December 13, 2012 at 11:25 pm
(2) Ross says:

Came in here to post something snarky about such an asinine question, but fert’s comment perfectly illustrates the intelligence of those voting no.

December 14, 2012 at 12:19 am
(3) Hawaiian Don says:

I think that in Urban Zones they are relevant ONLY in those circles where they are needed primarily for work. A few years ago, guys/gals who were Front Desk Clerks, Waiters and Cooks were driving them. Today, only the Maintenance Engineer drives one. No longer the image driven vehicle of choice I see it reteating to its original demographic.
Like everything else in the Midwest and Rural America that transition will be considerably slower.

December 14, 2012 at 12:26 am
(4) Brent says:

As long as anything needs to be built, they will be relevant. You just can’t do construction from a car, SUV, CUV, or small/mid-sized pickup truck. You need a good sized space for tools and/or equipment, or a way to tow a trailer full of same. A full-sized truck isn’t just a vehicle, it’s a tool of the trade. Sure, some are bought for a different reason, and the price of a fully loaded one ton crew cab long bed pickup can be stratospheric. But, that’s personal preference.

You might as well ask if a Corvette is relevant. As a vehicle it carries only two, with minimal storage space for luggage (or anything else). If you need to haul 5 people and a load of gear, you’d need 3 Corvettes to do it. That’s far less efficient than one full-sized truck.

December 14, 2012 at 1:08 am
(5) jeff says:

Stupid question.

December 14, 2012 at 5:11 am
(6) Bill says:

Of course big pickups are necessary. We have a pickup and a car. The car gets twice as many MPG as the truck so we use it twice as much, but when we have to pick up something large or messy, the truck does the job. When it was in the shop for a while recently, it was sorely missed.

December 14, 2012 at 6:08 am
(7) sean says:

Ditto Ross and Brent. Can’t wait to see ‘Fert’ load a pallet of tile,10 sheets of roof sheathing or pull a 5000 lb trailer in his “I’m better than you because I’m saving the earth” econobox or mini pickup. Sigh.

December 14, 2012 at 8:12 am
(8) Eric says:

They’re certainly relevant, but, may become less so as a family car if or when the price of fuel goes up again. They’re certainly needed as work and farm vehicles, and will probably revert back to that purpose when the price of gasoline inevitably reaches the $5/gal mark or higher, and people no longer feel they can afford to drive one as a daily car.

December 14, 2012 at 8:43 am
(9) Bob G says:

You bet… I’m a retired Pharmacist in my late 60′s And for the first time since I purchases a Home in the late 1960s’ I do not have truck in y driveway or one of my garages.. I gave mine to one of my sons about a year ago…

I HONESTLY do not know how any young homeowner could survive without a truck.. Plants, lumber, concrete, large tools and other building or landscaping supplies seem to always be needed… PLus I am a car guy and need the truck to haul car parts for one of my restoration projects

I went from a full size truck to a El Camino back to a mid size truck before I went back to a full sized truck over the last 40 or so years.. when I though I could “downsize” i was wrong…

Maybe if I lived in the City …. Nah I would never do that…

Bob G.

December 14, 2012 at 9:29 am
(10) Steve in GA says:

Gee, Hawaiian Don. That was a not so subtle swipe at those of us who are not loft-living urbanites.

But Don brings up a good (although somewhat elitist) point: The relevance of full-sized pickups depends partially on where you live. As others have said, big pickups will always be needed for many types of work. But maybe the better question concerning relevance would be, “Are full-size trucks still relevant in the role of a second car?”

I am in the group that does have a full-size pickup as a second car, but I would be among the first to tell you that it would make a pretty poor ride if I had to use it to commute alone to downtown Atlanta every day. It would be too big for most parking garages, too wide for the narrow and traffic-filled streets and too thirsty for the stop-and-go.

But, I don’t have a daily commute into Atlanta anymore, and my pickup is the handiest, do-anything vehicle in my garage. When you live in the considerably slower Midwest or rural America as I do, you find that a full-size pickup is not only relevant, but maybe even necessary to maintain your property and lifestyle.

Or as Bob G might say, “I’ll give up my truck when they pry my cold, dead fingers from the steering wheel.”

December 14, 2012 at 9:33 am
(11) S says:

We are fulltime rv’ers traveling the country towing a 39 foot fifthwheel. A one-ton pickup is absolutely necessary. So, to us, yes, the full-size pickup is not only relevant but mandantory.

December 14, 2012 at 9:56 am
(12) HarryB says:

I’m in one of those mixed vehicle marriages, a Fiat 500c and an ’02 S10 Crew Cab. The truck is a tool, when a hammer is needed only a hammer works, unfortunately. I really don’t like driving the truck. Yesterday I had a 10 x 14 shed on skids delivered, the guy asked do you have a four wheel drive, the only way it was going to be moved to the place I wanted, it worked. Although not a full size I can always see the need for one for some folks and if the need is posturing, who cares. Would I love to small truck with a diesel, you better believe!

December 14, 2012 at 10:17 am
(13) Daniel Cote says:

My pick-up was used 3-4 times a year. Didn’t make sense to pay the expenses to maintain/insure/license it for so little use. Sold it. Bought an 8′x5′ trailer that gets used 3-4 times a year.

There are many valid reasons for pick-up ownership. I happen to think that “lifestyle” isn’t one of them but it isn’t my money nor is it my business if you do.

December 14, 2012 at 10:38 am
(14) Bruno says:

It would not be wise to say a full size truck is not relevant. I think Aaron is aware of that, he just wanted opinions about it.
I believe it will always be needed for heavy duty. A prove of this is a truck as the most sold american car for years…
However, I dont see a lot of changes in the US market to improve efficiency or modernize their lineup.
The newest RAM(Fiat owned) is using a v6 engine paired to a 8 speed auto for 25 mpg.
In emerging economies or countries where full size trucks are not imperative, the mainstream are medium size trucks (ex new ford ranger, s10 or nissan frontier) paired to a 4 cilinder turbodiesel, which can achieve 20+mpg in the city and 30mpg hw with enough torque for work.
Cars are downsizing but trucks still need attention for efficiency considering high gas prices are a reality.

December 14, 2012 at 11:06 am
(15) ben says:

of course they are still relevant. some people have to work for a living. in a job that requires a truck. they are not to relevant for the guy who drives around his fully loaded f450 lariat all day with a tonneau cover on it meanwhile he works from his home office.

December 14, 2012 at 11:07 am
(16) Todd says:

Aaron, I normally like your column
But you just lost a few points in my book…. You are supposed to be an expert car guy. Why ask such a rediculous question as this when you should already know the answer..
Then feel the need to create a poll for it.. wow.

come on Really?

Clearly you want to create a conversation to promote your column. Thats fine but ask an intelligent question to create debate. This was Lazy and makes you look amature

And if you really didnt know then maybe your in the wrong job.

December 14, 2012 at 1:08 pm
(17) Matt B says:

large pickups are 1000x more relevant than smart cars and fiat 500s in 99% of North America.

December 14, 2012 at 1:14 pm
(18) jeff says:

Is a two, three, five, ten thousand square foot home relevant? No. It’s a convieniance. It’s what people want, not need. Uses three times the energy as a “all one really needs” home.

Wasting energy is the real point of this question. Nobody has my permission to tell me whether my truck is acceptable transportation just like I dont have the right to tell someone what size home they need.

Daniel said it best when he said, “nor is it my business”.

And by the looks of the poll, most people overwhelmingly agree that full-size trucks are relevant.

December 14, 2012 at 5:10 pm
(19) Brian C says:

Of course they are relevant. They are incredibly useful and the only vehicle that can do many jobs. And as long as someone is buying them, who’s business is it? How practical is a Corvette?

December 14, 2012 at 7:09 pm
(20) George in Ohio says:

I have never personally been a truck guy, but I certainly understand the need for them. Recently I had to buy a used pickup for the business I manage – we had been fortunate enough to have 2 employees who owned pickups and preferred to use their own vehicle and have us pay them mileage for usage. When that situation changed, I had to buy one in a hurry. The pickup gets used every day and we would be in trouble without it.

When I shopped for a pickup, I admit I was surprised by the number of new pickups I saw on lots for $40K and even $50K. It does sort of strike me as a lifestyle “statement” to spend $50K on a truck, although I would defend to the death a person’ s right to so choose. I just know I wouldn’t be one of them. If I have $40K to $50K to spend on a vehicle, there are a lot cars I would be thrilled to buy first. If I absolutely needed a truck, I would probably buy a used one and spend the rest on a car.

And Aaron – I say you can raise whatever questions you want. Far as I’m concerned, the more controversial, the better. Stir things up – makes your blog more fun, for my money.

December 15, 2012 at 12:27 am
(21) Hawaiian Don says:

Steve, was I being elitist? Sorry. But trends are usually created in urban areas and move more slowly in that direction after a while in the country. For that rare occasion when buying that big load of supplies like drywall, I rent a truck right there or at Uhaul and that saves me a lot more than the gas guzzling pickup sitting in my garage 365..
Todd, that was pretty cold of you. Aaron wasn’t disrespecting p’up owners, but rather opened the door to discussion. I have worked in Talk Radio and it is “amateur” when one opens a topic with the end game of demeaning someone. Just listen to Rush, his whole career is about that. But Aaron simply asked the question without malice.

December 15, 2012 at 12:41 am
(22) Jim says:

In LA? No. In Texas? Yes.

You can’t pull a gooseneck horse trailer with an SUV. And you don’t haul hay in a sports sedan.

December 15, 2012 at 8:20 am
(23) fr8bil says:

Gee “Hawaiian Don” why don’t you go sit on a pineapple with your smug, know-it-all attitude about the Midwest. I’ll bet 85% of your food is grown and harvested there and yeah, those good people NEED the utility of pick-up trucks….as do many others. I bet we know how you voted too. Jerk !

December 15, 2012 at 9:46 am
(24) Tim M. says:

I’m startled by the extreme nature of the responses to this question. It was simply a question – prompted, presumably, by GM’s recent redesign of its full-size trucks. With gas prices rising, it is a completely legitimate question.

I happen to believe these vehicles are still relevant. I own one and am not a farmer or a construction worker. In fact, I live right in the middle of a city. I am a serious, though recreational, cyclist and skier. Having a vehicle that is 4-wheel-drive, comfortable on the highway, and with a bed I can throw my gear (and that of my friends and family) in is just too convenient for me to pass up. I know I could get by with something more reasonable, and I’m a bit of a hog for driving the thing, but it just works so well for me I can’t pass it up. If I had the money, I’d probably have a diesel Golf as well. But I don’t.

I have a hard time understanding why the comments on here so often become political. Why do they?

December 15, 2012 at 10:08 am
(25) Rjag says:

I used to own a series of mini pick-ups when I was remodelling houses and the like but these past few years have done quite well with a trailer for my car. Some folks here who do NOT use them for work, justify a large pick-up for things that a trailer would do just as well. Regardless, at least these vehicles have a purpose. It’s the giant SUV’s that are truely a testiment to stupidity when you see them lined up at daycare picking up midgets after the urban commute.

December 15, 2012 at 2:21 pm
(26) Hawaiian Don says:

fr8bil…I betting you drive a pickup truck mainly because it’s tough to mount a gun rack in the rear window of a car. By the way, most of my fruits and veggies come from the San Joacquin Valley of Calif. where life is slow n easy and pickups are king!

December 15, 2012 at 5:18 pm
(27) Tom says:

For those that need a truck…yes. For people like Fert that drive a hybrid and drink 4 lattes a day no…they pay real men to do the work for them.

December 15, 2012 at 5:50 pm
(28) Jack says:

Aaron, are you serious?

December 16, 2012 at 2:31 am
(29) John C says:

When I bought my first house I was driving a sports car.
I quickly learned I needed a truck. So I bought a used ’85 chevy with a full sized bed. That old truck has hauled the trash, been loaded down with lumber, carried 2 yards of wet dirt and had a drunk driver crash into it while parked in front of my house. It’s still going. I no longer have the sports car.

December 16, 2012 at 11:06 am
(30) sean says:

Where’s the “like” button for Tom’s comment lol?

December 17, 2012 at 11:03 am
(31) Brian in AZ says:

Ditto Brent but also:
“…with gas still close to $4/gallon in some areas of the country…”
Many areas of the country the gas price for regular unleaded is $3.20 gallon and still dropping, so gasoline price is less of a criterion. Also, trucks are a little more gas efficient than in the past.

December 17, 2012 at 2:21 pm
(32) Eric says:

Wow! Just wow! It’s amazing how defensive people get when someone dares to question whether something is necessary, relevant, or needed. Aaron didn’t ask whether pickup trucks are necessary anymore, or should be banned. He simply asked how relevant they are today.

I bought a truck at one point after buying a house too. It was a vehicle I thought I just had to have for certain things I was into at the time. Although I did use it occasionally for household hauling, and some for car parts, I quickly realized that over 90% of the time I was driving it to the grocery store, around town, or on other personal trips where the only thing in the truck was me. It didn’t take me long to figure out that at 14 miles to the gallon, a 26 gallon fuel tank, and $3/gallon fuel that I didn’t really need that truck anymore. Now, on those rare occasions when I need a truck to haul something, I either rent one for a day, or borrow someone else’s and pay them some money for gas. It’s a WHOLE lot less expensive!

December 17, 2012 at 3:52 pm
(33) George in Ohio says:

I didn’t mention that having a station wagon is at least a partial alternative to having a truck. No question that it doesn’t have the payload of a pickup, but my Subaru wagon is incredibly handy. Like Eric, I have also rented a pickup on occasion, and now have access to one through my work, so that’s nice. But I love my wagon.

December 17, 2012 at 4:29 pm
(34) sexy grampa says:

My son has a big, 4-door, Sierra Diesel 1500 (or whatever they call it) and lives in a very urban area. He bought it to haul around a large camper. He, his wife and 3 kids go camping whenever possible. I find the vehicle very comfortable and with a combined city, highway, and hauling he gets 20-21 mpg. It’s also interesting how many times either myself, friends, or neighbors borrow it to haul different items.

Bottom line is it doesn’t matter where you live, if you use the vehicle than it is relevant and, obviously from truck sales, these vehicles remain quite relevant.

December 17, 2012 at 5:25 pm
(35) LWATCDR says:

I have another poll suggestion. How about any post makes comments about the size of genitalia and or uses them as in insult be removed. Of course being from Florida mosquito sized means about the size of a Piper PA-28.

December 18, 2012 at 6:08 am
(36) appledude says:

Yes – I have never owned a truck, as I haven’t needed one. However, just a few years ago the Ford F150 got about the same gas mileage on all engines – buying the six cylinder did not bring you in any real gas savings.
The 2 Ford Ranger six-cylinder engines used about the same gas mileage as the F150′s engines did. The only engine that gave you a break on gas really was the 4 cylinder.
The next question is does the smaller, lighter vehicle still do the job? This is also the same with the new smaller vans – will they do all the same jobs as the previous Ford Econoline vans? My guess is no – they are a neat vehicle that may do some of the jobs the old vans would do – and save gas – which is great – but can they be loaded as heavy, and carry as much as is needed in some trades? If you have to have 2 smaller vans go to do the same job – there is not a savings, there is a loss.

December 18, 2012 at 9:19 am
(37) Wicked Willie says:

Ya ain’t getting my pick up truck, or my weapons of destruction–

December 18, 2012 at 6:15 pm
(38) Mike in Minn says:

Eric, I suspect that the defensiveness comes from fear…the fear that a pretty large section of voting society sees no distinction between something irrelevant (to them) and one that should be banned.

Frankly, there is some reason for concern. It doesn’t seem to take much of a groundswell to excite the authoritarian tendencies of the Great Societal Engineers.

But you’re right. It’s just a question. Why attack someone for asking it if it isn’t clearly rhetorical?

December 25, 2012 at 9:20 am
(39) mark says:

after emigrating to british columbia canada from the uk all i ever wanted was a large v8 pickup after $8.25 per gallon for gas and driving little tiny cars oh what a joy! cheap gas and a truck the size of an english cottage!

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