Sway Control: A Case for Midsize Trucks
Full-Size Isn't One Size Fits All
There are millions of workers out there who rely on trucks, from pickups to medium-duty cab-over delivery vans to Class-8 haulers, and millions more of us who rely on these humble workhorses to deliver goods to stores and our homes for the convenience-oriented culture to which we've become accustomed. I want to give all these working-class ladies and gentlemen a tip of the hat, a flash of the hazards, and a friendly wave for their contributions to modern society, without which we'd be a morass of angry consumers, spoiled food, empty shelves, and unbuilt houses.
Big capable workhorse trucks have a vital role in our society. However, that being said, I feel there's still a place for smaller haulers in this market, even though in the last two decades, full-size pickups have far eclipsed the sales of their smaller stablemates. Although it may seem large pickups have always dominated, this hasn't always been the case. For many years, the smaller S-10s, Nissan Hardbodys, and Toyota "Pickups" (known elsewhere as the Hilux) were a common sight on American roads. Midsize and smaller pickups are still abundant enough where they're not exactly rarities, but they're far overshadowed by F-150s, Silverados, and Ram 1500s.
Perhaps I'm too much of a spoiled dilettante, used to driving compact cute-utes and midsize sedans, but a week ago, when I was driving a 2013 Ford F-150 King Ranch, the not-uncommon size and configuration felt gigantic navigating through the suburbs of Orange County. The tail seemed to hang 2 feet out of parking spaces, and it was hard to point the nose in straight into the space, almost inevitably requiring a three- or four-way, back-and-forth, forward-reverse see-saw to get it in straight. Oh, and of course don't forget to fold in the power side mirrors.
I found the size and drivability of the Nissan Frontier I tested about a year ago much more manageable, even fun. The irony is that the latest crop of full-size trucks is actually more fuel-efficient than comparable midsizers, making the bigger models a more compelling choice on many levels.
I speculated a few months ago that the new GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado could be potential major game-changers for the midsize market with a much greater focus on fuel economy. I still feel these trucks could have a major impact on the market. I can't believe I'm the only customer who would be interested in the part-time capability of a pickup, but with carlike fuel economy and greater maneuverability.
With well over a million models sold each year, full-size trucks certainly have their fans, and I'm the last person to discourage potential buyers. After all, I'm not so naïve as not to know how salaries get paid in automotive (and specifically truck) media. But I feel the time has come to break the midsize duopoly of the Tacoma and Frontier, and offer a third choice for midsize shoppers. I eagerly await my turn to get behind the wheel of the General's new midsizers.