Think Twice Before Buying That Shiny Pickup Truck You’ve Always Dreamed Of

Many drivers feel the pull of a pickup truck. But how many genuinely need one?
Written by Jim Belt in Trucks

I’ve got a soft spot for pickup trucks, and it seems you do too. Trucks are officially America’s favorite vehicles, and they’ve elbowed their way into niches they weren’t even designed for. In 2024, the allure of a pickup truck is strong, but let’s face it, not everyone actually needs one.

Key takeaways:

  • Pickup prices went delirious - averaging over $60k! Want a blinged-out F-150 Lightning Platinum? Better take a second mortgage out on your house.
  • Fuel efficiency is a foreign concept. These gas guzzlers slurp down fossil fuels like fratboys pounding Natty Lights. Prepare to take out a fuel loan.
  • Their massive size is comical. Good luck maneuvering these land yachts through parking lots without playing a real-life Frogger. Forget garage parking - you're street-side from now on.

Sure, pickups bring a lot to the table. If you’re in farming or construction, the towing and hauling capabilities are indispensable. Got a big camping trailer or a boat? A pickup can be a lifesaver.

But, let’s be real. Farmers aren’t the ones driving up the average purchase price of a full-size truck to over $60,000. Many pickups rarely get used for what they’re built for, and they might not be the best option for the average driver.

The Price Tag is Outrageous

Pickup trucks have evolved into sophisticated, luxurious beasts far removed from their humble beginnings. Demand is through the roof, and the price tags reflect that. Off-road accessories? Not cheap. And then there’s the chicken tax on foreign production that keeps prices high.

The average truck price is now over $60,000. Some models, like the Ford F-150 Lightning Platinum, even hit six figures.

Truck prices were already climbing before the pandemic, nearing $50,000 for a full-size model. Now, that number has shot past $60,000. If you’re open to other types of vehicles, you can get a lot more bang for your buck.

Fuel Efficiency? Not So Much

Pickups have made strides in fuel efficiency, but they’re still hefty boxes moving through space. This makes them some of the least fuel-efficient vehicles on the road. Ignoring the environmental impact is unwise, and high gas prices make commuting in a pickup truck a costly affair.

They’re Massive

Trucks have grown in size. Part of this growth is due to safety features like airbags and crumple zones. Most trucks now have four doors and need to accommodate at least a five-foot bed.

The F-450 Super Duty is Ford’s largest pickup truck. It’s impressive but enormous.

In many areas, the infrastructure wasn’t designed for these giants. Parking, maneuvering in tight spots, and fitting into garages can be a nightmare.

Not the Best for Off-Roading

Off-roading is a big draw for pickup buyers, but pickups aren’t the best tool for the job. Full-size trucks are large, which limits the trails you can tackle.

Pickups also have longer wheelbases compared to SUVs. A shorter wheelbase is better for off-roading because it offers a smaller turn radius and a better breakover angle. This is why a Jeep Wrangler can handle obstacles that a Jeep Gladiator can’t.

Vehicles like the Jeep Wrangler have shorter wheelbases, making them more suited for off-road adventures.

Off-roading trends have shifted to favor pickups. Manufacturers are now promoting desert-running, which aligns better with the strengths of a pickup truck, like stability at high speeds.

Not Great in the Snow

Need a vehicle for winter driving? There are better options than pickups. Trucks are front-heavy and often operate in rear-wheel drive, even if they have 4×4 capability.

When trucks are unloaded, there’s not much weight on the rear wheels, which do the driving. If you don’t switch to 4×4 in snowy conditions, even a new truck can start fish-tailing.

For winter conditions, an all-wheel-drive crossover or even a front-wheel-drive car with winter tires might be a smarter choice.

Not Ideal for Family Life

Pickups have become America’s default family car, but they’re not optimized for this role.

Kids come with a lot of stuff, and in a pickup, there’s nowhere to store it that’s lockable or waterproof except the passenger cabin. You could invest in a pricey tonneau cover for the bed, but securing everyday items and accessing them remains a hassle.

Still Want That Pickup?

Yeah, me too. Just don’t kid yourself that it’s all about utility. These days, buying a pickup truck is more about style than function.

But let's be honest. We're still gonna buy one.