How a Road Whale is Properly Used

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(Photo courtesy of ramtrucks.com gallery)

You’ve seen me complain about the huge size of today’s full sized pickup trucks and to be quite honest if you’re not going to use that big thing as a bloomin’ WORKING truck, why even have it?

That said, as my wife and I were driving home from bowling last night, we came up on a car hauler with two full-sized trucks and a car on the top rack and two cars underneath. The trailer itself looked just like the same style trailers you see on the road all the time; typically pulled by a big Peterbilt or other Class 8 over-the-road tractor rig. This one, however, was being pulled by a Ram 3500 in a deep red paint job and corporate lettering on the doors. That’s right, at nearly ¼ the size and probably 3x the fuel economy, this Ram 3500 was basically performing a Class 8 task, admittedly one of the lighter ones, but still towing roughly twenty thousand pounds of payload and another seven- to eight-thousand pounds of trailer (weights estimated at 5500# each for the pickup trucks and 4000# each for the cars.)

My point is that these newer, bigger pickup trucks do have value for those using them as part of their business; the ability to carry and/or tow heavy loads is an advantage with them. But to have a truck nearly the same size that can’t even carry 2000# of payload and only 7000# of towed weight? Why? We’ve got governments all around the world trying to reduce carbon output (and other pollutants) and yet the single most popular vehicle type in the US is a pickup truck so large that a heavy-duty version can basically carry three of its twins plus two other vehicles over the road? We’re talking a vehicle now over 25 feet long in its crew-cab configuration (the most common sold today) that won’t even fit in most garages and is a notorious road hog when trying to manage tight maneuvering even in suburban areas. My ’97 Ford Ranger can do a U-turn on a Maryland rural highway (two lanes plus 10-foot-wide shoulders) without setting a single tire on dirt and without the need to reverse in a three-point turn. Even on a divided highway I watch these big trucks try a legal U-turn (where permitted) from a turn lane onto two-lanes plus shoulder and still need to reverse unless they’re willing to risk a steep ditch as they still need more road than what’s available. That ’97 Ranger doesn’t even encroach onto the farther lane.

Last night I was happy to see a full-sized pickup doing what it was built to do. But it consistently makes me shake my head when I see a similar truck all dressed out in chrome and bling with a tonneau cover over the bed, looking like it’s never done a minute’s real work in its life.

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