Philadelphia Auto Show — Part 2

Ok, so the wife and I looked at the so-called Mid-Sized pickup trucks. All things considered choice is extremely limited and they’re effectively as large as 25-year-old full-sized trucks. What does that say for today’s full-sized trucks? That’s right, they qualify for the moniker of Road Whale™. They’re as big or bigger than 30-40 year old Medium-Duty trucks yet claim the monikers and status of Light Duty trucks at ½-ton, ¾-ton and 1-ton capacities. This is fallacy because with the exception of the lightest, least-pricy models of each brand in the half-ton range, they’re capable of handling the next class up in carry and even more with towing. A half-ton with towing can pull between 8,000 to 10,000 pounds while a Heavy Duty One-ton can pull as much as 30,000 pounds! That’s Class 5 weight which requires a CDL to tow, yet still qualifies as a “light-duty truck” in appearance; only the dual rear wheels giving away its heavy-duty status unless you really know what to look for. But for the purposes of this discussion, we’re looking at what was on display at the Philadelphia Auto show and in particular my wife’s opinion expressly since most of you can already guess my own.

Now, for appearance’s sake, I do like the look of the Ram 1500–well, except for one major design flaw I’l cover in a moment. The nose and grill have a more aerodynamic shape and don’t suggest the big-rig-wannabe look as badly as the others. Even the chrome-plated surround on the Ram’s grill doesn’t blow out the size of the grill itself the way Ford in particular likes to do. On the other hand, the truck is BIG. Since the wife and I are specifically looking for an extended cab–what some brands are calling a “Double-cab”–that’s what we sought in the display. Of course, as if we didn’t know pickup trucks are popular, GM, Ford and Ram all brought a large selection of trucks to the show. Obviously, crew cabs dominated while I can only remember seeing one standard cab on display across all brands. The wife was about to give up on finding a Ram extended cab among all the crew cabs and just headed for a random model. Knowing what to look for, I found one of three different extended cabs on the floor and steered her over to that one instead. When she asked me how I could tell, I pointed out the smaller size of the rear window–with its larger sheet-metal frame towards the rear of the cab. With the standard four-door style back doors, you simply can’t tell the difference without knowing beforehand.

Popping the back door of the truck, she noted there was plenty of room for our dog–and since he likes to lie on the floor and not on a seat–we didn’t even need the jump seats. Conversely, opening the back door as a separate outside access, she also realized that those narrow doors make access into that back area more difficult when you have broad shoulders. Worse, with as far off the ground as that truck sat (factory 4×4) she had to climb higher just to get into the front seat than we do with our Jeep at 11” ground clearance.

And on climbing into the truck, her first words were, “It’s huge!” As a six foot tall person, she had enough headroom left that she could have worn a 10-gallon cowboy hat with room left over. Again, why? Sure, the seats were very comfortable and on average she adored the different storage compartments, but even to her every aspect of the truck was simply, “too big!”

From there we went to Ford’s display and started wandering the trucks. In their case, they didn’t even display a single extended cab or any standard cabs–everything was crew and she didn’t even bother climbing into one. In every case she noted how tall it stood and how the top of the hood came nearly to chin level on her. The only credit really that we could give the Ford was that SOME models, like the Raptor, had a nice-looking grill while others were so overstated that they dominated the entire truck. The three grills we liked all completely lacked the chrome or silvered surround, which meant all three of them were high-end, expensive models.

Between GMC and Chevrolet, she liked the nose of the GMCs the best across the board with one exception–and that was the mid-sized Canyon/Colorado twins. She went so far as to hold up a Canyon flyer in front of the Colorado and declared, “I like the look of the Colorado over the Canyon.” This isn’t to say anything is wrong with the Canyon’s nose, it’s just that the Canyon grill is obviously a member of the GMC truck look while the Colorado broke to a more aerodynamic, rounded look that at least makes it appear it will offer better economy.

So between us, my wife and I agree that full-sized trucks are simply too big. They’re Class 3, 4 and 5 medium-duty trucks given light-duty designations. The smallest full size truck is almost the same size as the largest mid-size truck in length while staying wider and taller. Wider makes it impossible to park in any newer home’s garage with single-car doors while taller makes it impossible to park in any garage with overhead doors and likely impossible to park in any older city parking garage. In fact, the parking garage for the event itself had a height limit of 6’3”, which gave our Jeep just two inches of clearance on a factory stock suspension. I only saw one full-sized truck in that garage and it was a 2-wheel-drive, 10-year-old or older F-150.

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