Depending on where you live, you might see a pickup truck in every single driveway and parking lot. This style of vehicle is highly popular, and there are many reasons why. Personally, I love pickup trucks and I have a good understanding of why so many people also love them.
Pickups are so popular because of their practicality, size, and comfortability. They can be used efficiently off-road while carrying a bedload of heavy, large cargo. They can also haul things like trailers and boats which cars can’t.
I’m going to talk about 24 reasons why pickup trucks are so popular in America. Take a look at this list and see if you agree with all the points.
Defining the Pickup Truck
Just for the sake of clarity, I want to define what a pickup truck is so we’re all on the same page. A pickup is a vehicle that has a bed at the rear of the vehicle. The front half is for the driver and passengers.
I’m not talking about semi-trucks, box trucks, or any construction-specific trucks. Just good ole pickup trucks.
The Different Pickup Sizes
In America, you’ll find four different truck categories. Each of these is a different size and has a different level of ruggedness.
From smallest to largest, you have:
- Compact or Mini/ Small
The first two options are considered “small”, while the last two are “standard” sizes. The new Ford Maverick is a common example of a Small Pickup, while the F-250 Super Duty is a popular Heavy-Duty Pickup.
You’ll often see the larger trucks used in professional applications, like on a construction site.
That doesn’t mean the everyday driver can’t own one. However, they’re often too overpowered and expensive to justify buying one as a daily driver.
Are Pickups Really That Popular?
Some people might be a little skeptical already. Trucks might be popular, but are they really that popular? Yes, they are.
The top-3 sold vehicles in 2020 were all pickup trucks. A sedan didn’t pop up until #6, and, of course, it was the Toyota Camry (which you always see on the road).
The #1 spot was the Ford F-150, #2 was the Chevrolet Silverado, and #3 was the Ram 1500.
In the top 10 slots, you’ll find 5 pickup trucks, 3 SUVs, and 2 sedans.
This is statistical proof that pickups were the most popular vehicle in 2020, at least. Specifically in Texas, one in four vehicles on the road is a pickup truck. That accounts for all personal and commercial vehicles for the whole state.
In other parts of the country, people will have old pickup trucks just to use from time to time. When it’s time to pick up some lumber, a pickup comes in handy.
The Most Popular Pickups on the Market
I mentioned that three pickups are especially popular, but here are the top five options on the market in 2020:
#1: Ford F-Series: 787,422 sold
#2: Chevy Silverado: 586,675 sold
#3: Ram 1500: 563,676 sold
#4: GMC Sierra: 253,016 sold
#5: Toyota Tacoma: 238,806 sold
These 5 pickup trucks alone make up 2.4 million vehicle sales for the country.
A Short History of Pickup Trucks
Pickup trucks started as a must-have for a lot of Americans. The first pickup truck was Ford’s Model TT (yes, that’s two T’s) which debuted in mid-1917. If you take a Model T, extend it out, and throw a bed on the back, you have a TT.
Sure, the vehicle wasn’t as polished or pretty as today’s pickups, but it was an essential invention. At the time, nearly 1/3 of all Americans were farmers.
In addition, a lot of America was unpaved and simply had gravel roads or just a strip of dirt.
Late in the ‘40s, Ford released their F-series trucks — the family which has the F-150 leading the pack today. That’s when pickups started getting wildly more popular. Suddenly there was a vehicle that could accomplish everything a farmer needed to do while still serving as a commuter-friendly option.
With this newfound popularity, companies like Chevy and Dodge threw their hats in the ring.
The rest is history.
What Goes into a Vehicle’s Popularity?
If you want a simple way to see how popular a vehicle is, you can start with how many were sold over a particular year. This is the figure I showed earlier when I was discussing the top-selling options in the 2020’s car market.
That doesn’t give you the whole story, though.
There’s typically a list of reasons why any given vehicle is more popular than another. I’d argue that these reasons should be discussed when you want to talk about popularity — not just how many were sold last year.
That’s the reason why I put together this extensive list. My mission is to look at what features specifically make a pickup truck more popular than an SUV or compact car.
I think this will give you a better picture when it comes to the pickup’s popularity. I don’t want to just say “pickups are the top-selling vehicle, end of story”.
It becomes more clear after talking to someone who loves pickup trucks. It’s more than just sales at play, here.
24 Reasons Why Pickup Trucks Are So Popular
Here are some of the top reasons why we love pickup trucks. If these ideas resonate with you, then you’re probably a pickup fan too. Take a look.
1. Great Visibility
From the driver’s seat of a pickup truck, there are very few blind spots. That’s because you have a wall of windows around you.
The shape of a car means that you simply can’t have massive windows that sprawl from side to side of the vehicle. With a truck, that’s not the case.
You can see almost a full 360 degrees around you with just a little bit of metal and plastic in the way.
As any driver knows, better visibility leads to fewer accidents.
2. Comfortable Riding Height
The riding height is another plus when it comes to overall visibility. You could be sitting a few feet off the ground in your truck, giving you a great vantage point. Like a tree stand, but on the road.
In addition to improved visibility with this stance, you also have a much more comfortable experience. It just feels right when you’re driving a truck that’s high off the ground.
It’s tough to explain to people who haven’t driven a truck or high SUV. It probably goes back to our caveman days where bigger is better, but I just feel more comfortable behind the wheel of a truck.
3. Can Be Used for Off-Roading
One of the biggest sub-markets in the pickup world is the off-roader. There are plenty of 4×4 options on the market which refers to the drivetrain being 4WD.
If you want to go down the road less traveled, a pickup is typically the best option.
After all, pickups were born for off-roading. They were originally used by farmers who simply didn’t have nice asphalt roads to use all day. With a history like that, it makes sense that a modern pickup is still so great off the road.
4. Throw Cargo in the Bed
The thing that makes a pickup a pickup is that big bed in the back. It’s the perfect place to throw a bunch of cargo.
Since trucks have higher payload capacities than cars, it means that you can stuff a lot of heavy parts into the bed with no problem.
A pickup makes life so much easier at Home Depot, and it’s equally as useful when helping a buddy move out of their house.
5. Can Be Used to Tow Boats or Trailers
In addition to payload capacity, there’s a towing capacity. This refers to how much weight you can pull behind your truck before things start to go wrong.
Typically, this refers to hooking up a trailer or boat to the back of your truck on the hitch.
Just so you know, your Honda Civic can do a lot of things, but it cannot tow a boat.
For outdoorsmen and hobbyists, this is a huge selling point.
6. Improving Fuel Efficiency
Back in the day, trucks used to have pretty miserable estimated miles per gallon. Today, they’re a lot better.
You can find plenty of trucks that can get upwards of 30 mpg.
The average truck will always have lower fuel efficiency than the average compact car. This is due to the added weight and size of trucks. Still, the difference isn’t as huge as it used to be.
7. Fit More Stuff in a Single Trip
There are plenty of reasons why you’ll want to maximize a trip. With a pickup truck, you can do that.
Thanks to the bed and larger cab, you can pile up a ton of items in your vehicle. Throw a trailer on the back and get even more out of each trip. Now, a single trip can carry as many as three or four trips in a standard sedan.
This equates to less time going back and forth between destinations and more time doing what you want to.
8. Great for Moving
Trucks are one of the best tools when it comes to moving. The alternative requires renting out a box truck and trying to drive something that you’re not familiar with at all.
With a pickup, you can throw dressers in the bed and fill the cab with boxes. If you have a trailer, then you might be able to move most of your house in a single trip.
It seems like every time someone moves, they have to call up their buddy who has a truck to help them. If you’re that lucky fella with the truck, that turns into a lot of 12-packs each year.
9. Better in an Accident
Since pickups are larger, heavier, and have a sturdier frame, they’re better equipped to survive an accident.
I’ve seen plenty of pictures online of a sedan that’s crumpled up after hitting a truck that barely has a dent in it.
Trucks are just beasts when it comes to fender-benders. This should give you an improved sense of security while you’re driving down the road.
10. Better Grip on Slick Roads in Tough Weather Conditions
Another place where a pickup really shines is on a snowy road. One of the biggest cheat codes to driving in the snow is to have a vehicle that’s good at it. In other words, owning a pickup.
In snowy areas, you’ll see a massive influx of pickups. They’re more popular because they help people get around despite the snow.
This is even better if you throw some winter tires on your big pickup. However, this isn’t an excuse to drive recklessly or too fast through the snow. While trucks are better at driving on slick roads, they’re not immune to spinning out or losing control.
Why are trucks so good on slick roads? They’re heavier, their tires are bigger, and the tread is usually deeper on the tires. All three of these factors help the truck find traction on roads that are slippery.
11. More Space to Spread Out Inside
Since trucks are so much larger, you have a lot more room to spread out within the cab. This means more legroom, elbow room, headroom — perfect for someone who wants to get comfy while they drive.
The same story is also true for your passengers. It’s hard to feel cramped in a pickup truck. Even my big friends can attest to how comfortable the inside of a truck is.
12. They’re More Reliable Than Cars
I wrote a long piece that compared cars to trucks, and the bottom line was that trucks are more reliable than cars.
This is largely due to how much stronger, durable, and well-built trucks are. That’s not to say that every single truck is better than every car, but they are in general.
As a reminder, reliability is a term that tells you how long your vehicle might last. A highly reliable vehicle will start every time you turn the key, and it will infrequently break down or have a big problem happen.
13. The Engines Last Longer
When engines are allowed to be larger and don’t have different design constraints, they can last longer.
Two big downfalls of the engine you’ll find in a standard sedan are that they have to squeeze into a smaller space, and they have tighter EPA requirements when it comes to fuel efficiency.
The result? Car engines don’t last as long as truck engines.
14. They’re Bigger, Louder, and More Powerful
Deep down in every driver is the desire to drive a big, loud, powerful machine. With trucks, this is easily possible.
Stomping on the gas pedal creates a beautiful roar and just feels great. This simple fact attracts a lot of people to be lifelong pickup drivers.
15. Plenty of Seats in the Cab
Gone are the days where pickups simply have a single bench seat in the front. No more rubbing elbows with your two passengers with modern-day trucks.
Nowadays, you’ll find a ton of trucks that offer 6 comfortable seats in the cab. For instance, the F-150 has six seats in its SuperCab, SuperCrew, XL, XLT, and Lariat trim levels. This is just one truck on a list of dozens that can comfortably seat the whole family.
Remember, a six-seater in the pickup world is not the same as a five-seater in the sedan world. You’ll still have that extra legroom and headroom that you love in your two-seater pickup.
16. Trucks are Easier to Work On
There are a lot of reasons why trucks are easier to work on. For one, there’s more space to operate in. Since the engine bay is larger, you have a better chance of comfortably fitting your tool in there and getting to work.
Also, it’s easier to hop under the pickup and turn some wrenches. In some cases, you might not even need to jack up your pickup to squeeze in.
Since pickups are easier to do maintenance on, that means fewer trips to the mechanic.
17. More Comfortable Ride
Most pickups have better suspension systems than standard sedans. That translates to a more comfortable ride.
For reference, the suspension system is there to absorb all the little bumps and cracks in the road as you drive along. If driving over a bump is super uncomfortable, it might be time to change your shocks or struts.
Since so many trucks are built with off-roading at the top of the design list, a comfortable suspension is a no-brainer. This advantage also works on a typical highway, it doesn’t just apply to rough gravel roads.
18. Superb Ground Clearance
In snowy or off-roading conditions, one of the big buzzwords is “ground clearance”. This is the distance between the road and the bottom of your vehicle.
Pickup trucks have a much better ground clearance than any car on the market. This means you can drive over obstacles without suffering major mechanical issues.
For instance, a car that might have a few inches of ground clearance will have a real problem driving on snowy roads. A truck with over a foot of ground clearance will not have the same limitation.
19. They Look Nostalgic
If you think about it, the aesthetics of a pickup truck really haven’t changed since its inception. Comparatively, cars and SUVs seem to go through different waves where there are clear design differences.
Put together a lineup of compact cars from the past 70 years and a lot of them will look nothing like today’s cars. Do the same exercise with pickup trucks and you’ll notice that they’re more or less unchanged.
The biggest difference is the overall size of the truck and how many seats you’ll find inside.
This gives a naturally nostalgic feeling when you look at a truck. Sometimes just looking at a pickup can take me back to a different time in my life.
20. Depreciation is Favorable
Since trucks are so reliable, sturdy, and long-lasting, it shouldn’t be a surprise that they have favorable depreciation values. Depreciation is how much a vehicle’s value goes down, and how quickly it happens.
If you buy a car for 10 grand and it’s worth 9 grand a year later, your vehicle just depreciated 10% over a year.
With trucks, the vehicle’s value goes down slower. This means that you can resell the truck and lose less money than if it was a sedan.
Although you should never treat a vehicle as an investment, at least pickups hurt your wallet a little less over time.
21. Their Performance Keeps Getting Better
A modern pickup truck has pretty remarkable performance specs. For example, a Ram 1500 TRX has 702 horsepower, can go 0-60 in 3.7 seconds, and has a max speed that’s limited to 118 mph. With new tires and some overrides, that top speed gets closer to 190mph. Mind you, these are all stock values.
This is a truck that weighs just over 3 tons and can haul 4 tons. This makes the performance figures even more astounding. Sort of like an offensive lineman in football that can outrun the running back.
If you take a look back at the 1975 F-150, the figures are less impressive. A 17.1-second 0-60 time, 245 horses, and a top speed of maybe 100mph on a good day.
Sure, 46 years in the automobile industry is an eternity, so you’d expect to see huge leaps in performance. Either way, newer pickups are released with more impressive performance specs each year.
22. They’re Fun to Drive
You can ignore all the facts, figures, specs, and values of a car and boil it all down to a simple question: is the vehicle fun to drive?
With most pickups, the answer is a resounding “yes”.
If you’ve ever driven a pickup down the highway, you immediately know why they’re so popular. Trucks are fun to drive, plain-and-simple.
It’s a combination of the height, size, performance, aesthetics, and interior that all come together to make a pickup fun.
23. There’s a Big Pickup Community
A lot like Jeep Wranglers, pickup trucks have a big community backing the vehicle. The fact that “truck guy” is even a common phrase is proof of the community.
People like talking about their trucks, comparing their pickup trucks, sharing images and videos on social media, and helping out other truck owners.
There are countless forums online dedicated specifically to people who own trucks. There are also vehicle meetups around the country that are just for pickup owners. You’ll find shirts and merch just for people who love trucks.
Needless to say, there’s a huge community for people who drive and appreciate pickups.
24. Lots of Aftermarket Options
Another similarity to the Jeep Wrangler is the aftermarket options for pickups. You can take your stock F-150 and change just about every aspect of it through aftermarket additions.
This is your way to show your personality through your truck.
Who Are Pickup Trucks Perfect For?
After going through this long list of what makes pickups so popular, you’re probably wondering who the target audience is. Well, it’s a tricky question.
The simple fact is that trucks are so versatile that they can be used by almost anyone and they’ll find plenty of benefits in the vehicle.
A first-time driver and an 80-year-old person can both own an F-150 and fall in love with it.
Pickups are ideal for people who need to haul lots of cargo from time to time or someone who likes the ability to buy large items without fear.
Since they’re also powerful, fun to drive, and relatively fuel-efficient, you don’t need to haul stuff to enjoy a pickup truck. You can simply use it as a daily driver and never touch the truck’s bed and still appreciate the vehicle.
I’d argue that almost any driver has something to gain from owning a pickup truck. Even if it’s an old F-150 that you only take out when you’re making trips to Lowe’s, it’s still worth it.
If you were on the fence before, maybe these 24 reasons why pickup trucks are so popular have convinced you to get a pickup truck. For more information posts, check out the rest of my site. I also have a ton of product recommendations that will help any truck owner.