What Is A Truck? Readers Respond!
The Next Chapter in Helping Define What Is a Truck!
In our continuing quest to identify the definitive definition of a pickup truck we've turned to you, our readers, for your input on the subject. What's found below are 15 of the best responses garnered from our "What Is a Truck: The Rebuttal" article.
You can read the original story here:
And the rebuttal here:
A Truck for Everyone
First of all, I don't know why this discussion is even a discussion. What does it even matter as long as the vehicle has an open bed to carry some kind of payload? People buy or use their pickups for a variety of reasons, so what makes one person's reasons or needs better than anyone else's? Isn't this the beauty of having so many choices with different manufacturers so that we can find something that suits our individual needs?
Not everyone needs the ability to tow 30,000 pounds over interstate passes or traverse forest streams on rustic trails. As long as the vehicle suits your requirements and you're happy having an open box at the rear of your vehicle, then quit arguing about it. No one will ever fully agree on what is or isn't a truck, so why worry when there are just so many more important issues to deal with in our society. Besides, some people even purchase a truck based solely on looks and will never haul a pound of cargo. So what? That's their choice isn't America great?
My Wife Made Me
Thanks for the rebuttal! I enjoyed reading the first installment on defining a truck but had some hesitation regarding the conclusions. At first glance each of the criteria alone seems to make sense, but when combined, the results eliminate vehicles that are definitely marketed as trucks, for example, the Honda Ridgeline.
As you stated, considering the technology that is available today, requiring a cab separate from the bed, body on frame, and longitudinal drivetrain isn't necessary. I've owned eight trucks now (I came to the genre late) and loved each for what it was: Chevy S-10, two Dodge Dakotas, a Chevy 2500 gas, Chevy 2500 diesel, two Ford F-250 diesels, and my Chevy SSR. My favorites were the 2020 Ford F-250 loaded crew-cab diesel and the SSR. We use the F-250 to tow our fifth-wheel trailer and as my daily driver (the wife loves the ride). The SSR, well, that's my baby. Drop the top on a sunny morning, and I'm in heaven! (The wife "made" me buy the SSR, but that's another story!)
Thanks for two stimulating essays on the topic!
Where's Towing & Hauling?
I agree with most of the elements for determining what a pickup is. However, I do not see where weight carrying capacity or tow ability is considered. In my opinion, I would add these two criteria.
1: A (open bed) pickup (or any other vehicle) also needs to safely carry (without extensive enhancements) more than 1,000 pounds of payload with two adults in the vehicle.
2: Safely tow (without extensive enhancements) more than 5,000 pounds.
Driving a vehicle that is overloaded or towing beyond its designed and configured limits is very dangerous. The vehicle needs to stay within its own and any attached trailer or equipment's GCWR as found in the user's manual and most door jambs. The only way to safely increase a standard model's tow/carrying capacity is with a supporting options package.
Therefore, some of the identified vehicles are not pickups, in my opinion.
Rate Instead of Debate
I know you writers have to come up with something to fill the space, but it must be a really slow day at the office to come up with that drivel. What are Rabbit P/Us, Bajas, Ridgelines, etc., if they aren't pickups? If it's got a cargo box, it qualifies, even the Tesla. A truck is meant to haul things, and they all do that to the degree needed by the purchaser.
Now if you want to come up with a truckability rating with a 1-ton dually diesel as a 10 and the Rabbit as a 1, I wouldn't argue that, although I would expect in application of that you'd still end up with a lot of personal preferences overriding whatever scale you pick, just as in your truck and car of the year ratings.
I fully agree with you that the definition of a pickup should be reduced to the presence of an open bed. Two wheels driven, unibody construction, separate cab and bed—they're all irrelevant. And a longitudinally mounted engine? Completely unrelated to the issue of what makes a pickup!
Thanks for simplifying the issue, and for having the strength to buck the trend (the MotorTrend?).
Longtime Reader, First-Time Caller
I have read many an article penned by both Mr. Gonderman and Mr. Holman over the past decade or so. Your rebuttal, while reasonably thorough, neglected to delve into the body-on-frame criterion. I do not know if the Ridgeline is body-on-frame. That would be my absolute baseline for a truck. As for front-wheel drive: If there is not an option for all-wheel drive, then that should disqualify the vehicle from consideration. In the real world, where most drivers have not ever been scaled per axle by the DOT, it is not uncommon for ignorant laypersons to load a pickup to 120 percent (or more) of load rating and take off down the highway (often with nary a tie-down, but that's a whole different topic). Perhaps we should consider the provision for gooseneck or fiver bases as another yes/no qualifier. Most domestic half-tons and even the Titan and Tundra can be fitted with hitch plates. I know that would disqualify the Ranger and the smaller crowd, but, then again, I already have a wheelbarrow...
Welcome to the 21st Century
Thank you for your rebuttal article. You hit the nail on the head. Yes, the Ridgeline is a pickup. So is the coming Santa Cruz and even the compact Ram sold in Mexico (which I wish were brought here in some form). It's the third decade of the 21st century. You brought the argument to its proper contemporary context.
Rethinking the Criteria
I agree with your rebuttal concerning the fact that Sean Holman's five questions are seemingly aimed to exclude the Honda Ridgeline. Holman is a traditional off-road, 4x4, front/rear lockers, diesel, manual shift kind of truck guy. I have listened to all his Truck Show podcasts (five stars!).
However, I'd like to narrow the five questions a bit.
1: A truck is a motor vehicle with an open cargo bed. Which greatly broadens what is a truck.
2: Separate bed—I consider those millions of big commercial panel trucks to be trucks not SUVs. Essentially, a separate enclosed box versus a bed.
3: Longitudinal drivetrain—This is archaic. So Rivian, Cybertruck, and Nikola are not trucks (but they are still vaporware anyway).
4: All-wheel drive or 4x4—Those millions of two-wheel-drive pickup trucks are not trucks?
5: This is the most difficult question, regarding body-on-frame. Unibody has some advantages—lighter, handles better, safer. However, the body-on-frame has greater payload and towing capacity. But the Ridgeline payload is equal, or greater, to the other midsize "trucks." So, I think this question is not quite black and white.
Reading your article on what is a truck, your five-part list is wrong.
In my opinion, here are what the five should be
1: Cab separated from the bed is nice on a truck because the bed gets beat to hell over the life of the truck.
2: Open cargo area.
3: Ability to pull a trailer safely.
4: Front- or rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.
5: Seats at least three people, two if it's an S-10.
That has been my mindset for years; then a couple of years ago I got a Honda Ridgeline. It's in a class by itself. When designed it had the first multi-function tailgate, four-wheel independent suspension, front-wheel drive, and in-bed storage trunk on a modern pickup.
The only downside to the Ridgeline is the lack of a V-8 engine. I have a Silverado, and I have taken both trucks to the same locations, and I have had to put my Chevy in four-wheel drive to climb the same hill that the Honda did in front-wheel drive.
The Right Truck for Me
All I can say is I have owned several -ton trucks, 1971, 1976, and 1978 El Caminos, and now a 2019 Honda Ridgeline, and no, it cannot haul as much as the -ton trucks, but it can haul more than the El Caminos! It's superb on the road, mileage averages around 26 mpg with a lot of A/C and idling, and it has hauled many 2x4s for a home project. It has also towed a Jayco x17z camper for 900 miles. So, for me it is a truck and it's the truck that I need!
I Don't Want a Trailer
Hats off to all the writers for doing a great job. I must disagree on the very basic of what a truck is. Today's trucks are more people haulers than trucks. When the cargo is 8 feet or longer, a 5- to 6-foot bed doesn't get the job done. The Ridgeline is a station wagon with the roof cut off; I did that 50 years ago. I am old school and want a simple truck, with a bit of space behind the seat for storage and the ability to haul 8-foot panels or lumber with the tailgate closed. I don't want to own a trailer, when I have a pickup truck. With most of today's trucks, that is exactly what most people are doing. Seems like we have lost the real point of what a truck is for. Many of us old-timers are no fans of all the electronics, either. I was over the road most of my life and didn't need the vehicle to think and drive for me. My latest and greatest vehicles seem to be in the shop a lot more for computer updates, software issues, etc., than my older, less refined trucks ever did. Just some thoughts from an old geezer. As always, I enjoy what you do for us. Keep up the good work.
A Pickup Is Not a Truck
I think the rebuttal is more on track than the original, but both pieces seem to conflate truck with pickup, which I believe are different. Pickups are a subset of trucks, e.g., a Peterbuilt is clearly a truck but is not a pickup.
I think you are missing what is the definitive criteria: Was the vehicle designed as a work vehicle? I know that most pickups these days are bought for personal use and can rival a luxury vehicle for accouterment, but if you buy a base level version, it is for work. That is why I do not consider an Avalanche a pickup even though it uses a truck platform, nor do I count crew cabs with uselessly short beds. This would also exclude El Caminos, Rancheros, Bajas, Ridgelines, etc. from the list for their non-commercial intent. I think all are/were excellent options in their space depending on the buyer's needs, but they are not trucks.
All About Intent
This is really simple, but it wouldn't make very good auto journalism. If the vehicle in question began life as an SUV or station wagon, and then some designer and/or marketing guru decided to chop it up and throw on a bed, it's not a pickup. Therefore, your Ridgeline, Brat, Avalanche, and El Camino are not pickups, just pretty cool variants of what they started out as.
Are You Serious?
What is a pickup? Is this a token men's mag in a dental or medical office of the East Coast? I only care about this because I'm used to the actual hands-on tech, fabricating, and real trail travels you normally provide.
But no, we are discussing what makes a truck... Well, let's see. I've owned an S-10, an El Camino, a four-cylinder import truck, - and -ton gas trucks, -ton gas SUV, and a -ton diesel truck.
The El Camino couldn't tow much, but that was GM's little engine issue. The S-10 and minitruck were good for engines and transmissions—not much else. My 20-year-old -ton is my go-to for actual trails, hunting, and camping. My 3/4-ton diesel tows the race cars; the -ton is for long-distance trail runs and serves as the secondary family vehicle. The -ton gas was a garbage GM IFS 4x4, worthless on mild trails.
But what about the Ridgeline? Who cares? If someone wants it, good for them. What makes a pickup...well, my wife's Hemi-powered Grand Cherokee will destroy most midsize trucks in towing, but that's what matters to me. To each their own.
Thanks for not being stuck inside the archaic box that so many truckophiles are in. Drivetrain orientation is irrelevant as long as it works. Frame is irrelevant as long as payload is met.
Glad to see a forward thinker writing for a truck magazine. Personally, I think a Ridgeline is a great pickup, as is a Raptor.