What Happened to the Midsize Truck?

Toyota Tacoma

The perfect-sized pickup?

Today’s pickup trucks are a compelling choice for people who need a rig with massive cargo and towing capacities. That’s especially true when looking at choices such as the new Ford Super Duty and Chevy Silverado HD.

I just wonder how many people really need the full capability most full-size trucks offer.

And therein lies the rub with modern pickups: With power for towing and a thirst for fuel, most trucks are excellent choices that just might not make sense for the majority of buyers.

As time goes by, trucks just keep getting bigger and stronger. Even the modest Toyota Tacoma has grown into a full-size pickup. In 2004, a double cab Tacoma measured 202.9 inches. The 2010 Tacoma double cab long bed measures 221.3 inches, which is just 1 inch shorter than a 2010 Chevy Suburban. Can the Tacoma really be called “mid-sized” anymore? I don’t think so.

The majority of truck owners use them for what, going to Costco and hauling the occasional kitchen appliance or second-hand couch? Hardly requirements for owning a Silverado HD.

For most truck owners, a good ol’ mid-sized truck would be perfectly adequate. The problem is, they don’t exist anymore. There’s the outdated Ford Ranger I guess, which will end production in 2011, and the Honda Ridgeline, which is more of a pickup punchline than a capable little truck.

Chrysler’s Ram division seems to agree and might offer a glimmer of hope: According to Autoblog, Ram is considering a small pickup to replace the Dodge Dakota. Joe Veltri, Chrysler Group vice president of product planning, said,

We’re thinking of something that will separate itself from the full-sized truck more than what happens today, both in capability, price and size.

I’m a huge fan of Toyota pickups and have made no secret about how much I adore them. They’ve gotten too big for me, though. The 1995-2004 size was perfect, and if Ram comes out with something comparable, I’d be tempted to visit my local dealer.

Are trucks today too big? Would you find a 2004 Tacoma or 2010 Ford Super Duty more suited to your truck needs?

-tgriffith

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4 Comments

  1. My son has a Tundra with a cap, and he loves it because when he and wifey travel, they put their two big dogs in the back with all their gear and junk. They carry plenty of junk. I suppose there are quite a few people like this around, and you also see lots of empty big pickups on the highway. I guess these folks just want the capacity, or they want to look like, well, truckers. There’s a lot of posturing going on with trucks, so maybe the companies are right to offer only the big ones.

  2. I miss the Toyota pick-up. If Toyota came out with a new line of classic looking, plain ‘ol pick-ups I would buy one. Uncontrollable acceleration? I would risk it.

  3. I don’t need a truck myself, but it seems crazy to have giant, heavy-duty pickups sharing the same roads as commuters in super-compacts – or on bikes. Accidents are definitely a big potential problem, but big trucks and SUVs also generally diminish the ability of drivers in other vehicles to see the road, oncoming traffic, signs, pedestrians, etc.

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