Pickup trucks are the most popular and best-selling vehicles in the United States.
In 2021 alone, 11.6 million light trucks were sold across the country.
Trucks aren’t only the biggest sellers in the automobile market – they’re also the tallest vehicles available in an average car lot.
Pickups are tall for reasons related to both form and function. Trucks are work vehicles meant for driving on uneven ground while carrying heavy loads. The extra height and stronger suspensions allow them to haul more weight, and the additional ground clearance makes off-road driving possible.
Additionally, there’s an aesthetic appeal to the height of a pickup truck, and for many, the higher it sits, the better it looks (and the better it will sell).
Why Pickup Trucks Need To Be Tall?
Pickup trucks are tall for both aesthetic and practical reasons.
Millions of people use trucks as everyday vehicles, but their size and shape still make them ideal for work-related purposes.
A pickup’s most useful stock feature is the bed’s cargo space, designed for loading and transporting items easily.
Additionally, most trucks are more than a foot (30 cm) higher off the ground than the average sedan, and the extra height is advantageous when hauling heavy things.
The higher the truck sits, the more room the suspension has to squat when carrying heavy loads.
It gives the wheels extra clearance and allows the pickup to support more weight in the bed.
Higher suspensions also have more room for bigger and stronger parts.
Larger coil springs can support more weight, increasing the truck’s payload capacity.
The heavier payload capabilities are also due, in part, to larger tires – the bigger and stronger the tire, the more weight it can handle.
But, heavy-duty tires need more clearance under the vehicle, so pickup trucks are built taller to accommodate them.
Pickup trucks are taller because they’re also made for driving on rough terrain.
Their height increases their ground clearance, allowing them to go over bumps or uneven grades without scraping the frame or colliding with the ground.
When it comes to a truck’s appearance, the taller a pickup truck sits, the better it looks to many people.
The height gives it a more aggressive look, even before owners add lift kits.
Because of this aesthetic preference, taller trucks sell better than shorter ones, leading manufacturers to produce vehicles that meet consumer demands.
Are There Any Disadvantages To How Tall Trucks Are?
While a truck’s height provides significant advantages to its owner, there are a few downsides too.
The taller a vehicle sits, the higher its center of gravity is, which is why trucks are much more prone to rollovers than other vehicles.
Unfortunately, with a high center of gravity, it’s easier for pickups to roll during a sharp turn or collision, and truck owners are 2.5 times more likely to suffer fatal injuries in an accident.
Lift kits compound the rollover problem while also impacting performance.
Going beyond a truck’s factory height can affect fuel economy, decrease towing and payload capacity, and make the pickup more difficult to handle.
Trucks aren’t just tall; they’re also big.
Pickups outweigh sedans by a significant margin, so they handle very differently.
The extra height and weight necessitate a wider turning radius, slow down deceleration, and generally make trucks harder to control than smaller vehicles.
There are also other small disadvantages to driving a tall vehicle like a pickup truck.
It’s harder to see over the hood when the truck is taller, limiting your line of sight directly in front of the vehicle.
It’s less of an issue while driving on the open road, but reduced visibility makes parking or driving through crowded areas more challenging.
For some, the height even makes using the truck bed challenging.
Many people must stand on tip-toe to look over the side of the frame or need help reaching the cargo area.
The height of a truck may make it look impressive, but in some cases, it is impractical for people to get in and out of.
Older people or individuals with certain disabilities may have difficulty climbing into a pickup truck, even with running boards to use as steps.
Pickup trucks are tall because the extra height gives them better ground clearance, allows them to carry more weight, and buyers tend to prefer taller trucks.
While there are some disadvantages to the average height of a pickup, they remain the best-selling vehicle in the United States.