No really, how?
What’s the best thing about owning a pickup truck? Owning one! I feel bad for anyone who has never owned a pickup. They are likely the people that have to call a buddy when a fridge or sofa needs to get moved. What do they do when they need to haul stuff regularly? Where do they put their bike, motorcycle, kayak, firewood, axles, transmissions, and so on? I suppose you could always hitch up a trailer, but what a pain. Cumbersome roof racks work in some cases, although it’s always funny to see the creative ways people load large and often heavy items on the roofs of their cars.
I’ve been extremely fortunate to always have had a pickup. Since the day I got my driver’s license, I have had at least one running and driving truck. I’ve become so accustomed to having one that I actually get kind of antsy if I don’t have a working truck available to me. The truth is that during most of my driving career I’ve had more than just one pickup at a time, though sometimes they have been in different states of disrepair. Currently, my fleet consists of four pickups. They all run, and believe it or not, each one serves a different purpose.
One of my trucks is a ’73 Jeep J-2000. It serves more as a work truck that schleps tree-trimmings to the dump and picks up lumber and long sticks of steel for garage projects. But it has a lift, trimmed fenders, beadlocks, 37-inch tires, and a Detroit Locker, so it’s no slouch off-road. In fact, it’s been all over Moab and the local California mountains and deserts—lumber rack and all.
“What’s the best thing about owning a pickup truck? Owning one!”
I also have a ’04 Dodge 1500. It’s pretty much stock with the exception of some Bilstein shocks and Firestone Ride-Rite rear air bags. The truck mostly sits and collects dust, but it hauls my slide-in camper when I find time to get away and tows my projects occasionally.
I’ve been behind the wheel of a ’13 Ram 1500 Outdoorsman (our Four Wheeler Pickup Truck of the Year winner) for about seven months now. So far, it has performed all kinds of duties during its year-long test. These tasks range from towing its max load, hauling parts, off-roading in rocks, mud, snow, and sand, cross-country road trips, and even commuting in Los Angeles traffic. It’s basically all the stuff we think you would do with a similar truck, so we can report back on how well it does, or doesn’t, work.
My latest acquisition is an ’85 M1008 CUCV. It’s a 1¼-ton Chevrolet ex-military truck. This one is more of a trail toy, but don’t think for a second that I haven’t been eyeballing the huge longbed, which will no doubt get filled with tree trimmings and head to the dump at some point. The unbalanced 40-inch Boggers and spartan interior keep it from being my first choice when making my 40-mile one-way commute.
Anyway, if you’ve never had a pickup, you’re missing out. I mean how do you have a tailgate party without one? I’ve never even heard of a trunk party or sliding-door minivan party. In fact, if there was such a thing, I don’t think I’d be interested in attending.
Today’s pickup trucks are more powerful and versatile than ever. There are off-road packages available like the Ford Raptor and Ram Power Wagon that are more capable off-road than anything ever offered before. With some new trucks sipping fuel at nearly 30 mpg, others churning over 400hp, and a few with up to 850 lb-ft of torque for ultimate towing and hauling capability, there is something to fit every pickup need.
Elsewhere in this issue you can read all about our 2014 Pickup Truck of the Year winner. This year was especially close, not because the trucks were all the same, but because they were vastly different. Each truck excelled in at least one part of the test and didn’t perform as well as expected in other segments. It made for a great competition. Ultimately, the diversity allows you to choose the truck that best fits your needs.
The sales of light-duty trucks are up. The OEs have been busy meeting the demand, increasing capability, and integrating new features and technology. It looks like 2014, 2015, and even 2016 will be good years for 4x4 pickups. I look forward to seeing what’s next in the light-duty truck market, but if you can’t find a truck that fits your needs now, you might as well relinquish your man card and be forever banished to live behind the wheel of an economy car with dents and scratches on the roof.