In Defense of the Small Truck

Last week I complained about large pizzas getting smaller. This week my gripe is about small trucks getting larger. I had hopes when Ford reintroduced the Ranger that the small truck might reemerge from car maker exile. The old Ranger was more or less the equivalent of a go-cart with a truck bed, a nimble little truck that when stuck could easily be unstuck by gently rocking back and forth in the driver’s seat. There was no need for an extreme four-wheel-drive package because the Ranger was so lightweight you could tie a tissue to the antenna and the truck would sail away. But the new Ranger is not small, and Ford even admits as much. They market it as a “mid-size” truck, which means it’s the same size as a mammoth truck a decade ago. 

Furthermore, I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but most trucks nowadays are just minivans in disguise. Take, for instance, my neighbor’s SuperCrew King Ranch. I can’t remember the last time I actually saw it do anything ranch or farm related. My neighbor’s actually afraid to put stuff on the back for fear of scratching the truck bed. I kid you not, the only farm-related task he uses it for is bragging (he’s a nice guy, who hopefully doesn’t read this blog, but he’s one of those annoying farmers who spends half his time complaining about the financial hardships of farming and the other half gloating about how big and expensive his equipment is.) My little four-cylinder Tacoma has done more farmwork in a day than that waxed-up behemoth parked under his carport will do in an eternity. 

Granted, there are times I’d like a little more heft to my truck, particularly when a loaded livestock trailer is defying the braking power of my brakes and pushing me downhill so fast I’d need a parachute to stop. But isn’t that part of the thrill of owning a small truck? Never knowing when your bumper might pull off is another, or when your tires might blow out because the load on the back makes your truck look like a lowrider. 

my truck loaded down with honey supers

Maybe one day my wife will buy me a big truck, but even then, I think I’ll keep my little Toyota despite the fact I’ve had multiple inquiries from complete strangers wondering if I’d sell it. Apparently, the used small truck market is hot right now because the new small truck market is non-existent. You’d think car manufacturers would catch on, but, then again, these are the same companies who gave us the PT Cruiser and Pontiac Aztek.  


21 thoughts on “In Defense of the Small Truck

    1. I admit, it would be nice to have a big truck at times. The main limitation of a small truck is towing capacity or, really, stopping capacity of the brakes when pulling something.

  1. My husband has worked in the auto industry for over 2 decades. He keeps telling the engineers that design these things that they’ve ruined American trucks. They took away the small truck market and lowered the angle of the T post in the big trucks so that tall people struggle to get inside in much the manner as they do with sedans and coupes. Totally agree with you, we need the *real* Ranger and the S10 to come back!

  2. My dad had a little Mitsubishi truck when I was in high school. Stick shift. . .I loved that little truck. Crank windows, no power steering. I didn’t have a car when I got my license, just keys to the truck. Man, I miss that thing.

  3. They’re all switching to large-frame, high end. The truck chassis gets them the pollution/CAFE standards exemption, and the fancy bells and whistles is where the profit is. A clear example of unintended consequences. We’re all forced into larger, gas-guzzlers, against our will. The alternative (which might just appeal to farmers) is to keep old vehicles running with twine, duct tape and chewing gum.

    1. Yeah, it’s a shame. My uncle has my grandpa’s old 1984 little toyota pickup, and it still runs good, but it comes from an era when you could still work on your own vehicles. Now, it seems new vehicles are so complicated that you dare not do much maintenance or repairs yourself.

  4. Well, first of all, I’m feeling quite jealous of all those supers because it means more honey than we’ll ever see from our bees. Other than that, I am in total agreement about the bloated trucks on the road today. They’re always empty as they swerve to avoid the smallest puddle. And don’t even get me started on the way no one seems able to park the darned things! Have you noticed the beds are getting smaller too? My dad always had a truck – used to haul a manure and soil for our large garden, to pull our camper, and to house us kids when we camped. These days I doubt a preteen could even stretch out fully in the behemoths that populate our county. I can tell you we regularly fit larger loads (enclosed and out of the weather) in the many Dodge Caravans we’ve had than you will ever see in most of those trucks! Maybe you need to switch to a mini van. Store the seats and load it up!

    1. I do love keeping bees and the honey, but the thought of uncapping all those frames makes my hand cramp just thinking about it. One of these days I’m going to break down and buy me automated uncapper.

      About eight years ago, I used to work at the ag center in a neighboring county and the gov vehicle we had to drive was a dodge caravan. We used to treat it more or less like a pickup truck. About six months ago, I visited that ag center again and that same caravan was still in the fenced in lot, apparently still going strong.

      1. We’ve had at least five Caravans supplied as work vehicles for my husband. When he retires, that will be the kind of vehicle we buy.

        I can imagine your hand would cramp. We have just an uncapping knife that we dip in hot water. I must admit sometimes I end up doing more gouging than uncapping. 🙂

  5. Small is beautiful! Though even the smallest vehicles can be used like a truck and also get flat tyres…

  6. I was just griping about how there aren’t small trucks anymore (because I’ll need to get one soon)! Why do truck manufacturers thinks we want MORE people in our vehicle?!

    That’s supposed to be a perk of trucks- less room for other humans 🤣

    1. You know, that is a good point. That should be one of the selling points of driving a regular cab truck–no people transporting and plenty of alone time to zone out.

  7. “… but most trucks nowadays are just minivans in disguise.”

    I laughed out loud when I read that!

    Our first minivan was a 2007 Grand Caravan. After it died a glorious death (but not until it got me safely home, first) we ended up with a 2005 Uplander as a replacement vehicle. Our prerequisites at the time were for a vehicle my husband could get in and out of, without too much pain, room for his walker, and something cheap enough I could buy it with a debit card.

    When I drove the Uplander, my first thought was, this drives like a truck! Turns out, it’s basically just a truck turned into a mini van. It’s amazing what we’ve been able to fit into that thing. I’ve used it to haul our riding mower, and even our beast of a snow blower.

    Before our move, my daughters worked at a hardware store. One of them started out as a lot associate, so she helped people load their vehicles. She LOVED loading into Caravans. They fit things like sheets of plywood much better than pick up trucks did. The only downside was all the “oh, you’re a girl! You can’t possibly lift things!” people who would then try to “help” by wrenching things out of her hands, putting her off balance and almost injuring her in the process.

    1. It always makes me smile to see someone pulling a trailer with Caravan. The sky’s the limit with a minivan. I always think that girls that work at hardware or autoparts stores and such are usually more knowledgeable than their male counterparts because to seek out a job like that breaks normal gender roles they’ve got to have a real interest in it. After my grandpa died, my grandma took over running his NAPA store, and she knew more about cars than anyone around.

      1. I am totally sold on minivans! Handiest things ever.

        The majority of the staff at the hardware store franchise, throughout the country, were female. The only unfortunate thing about it was for the daughter that worked as a cashier. There’s something about the cashier position that makes people think it’s okay to behaving inappropriately. Like creepy contractors hitting on girls more than half their ages. :-/ Of course, they all had to be polite, and keep that “customer service smile” on. 🙁

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