It wasn’t long ago that truck owners were attached to their vehicles like a best buddy, favorite T-shirt, or long-trusted putter. Nicknames were not uncommon, and owners personalized them with window stickers and fancy accessories.
Parting with their truck was a rare occasion. Unless an owner had his or her eyes on a larger or fancier model.
Times Have Changed for the Pickup Truck
Image from Up North Promo
Pickup truck owners stuck with their brands fiercely, even mocking other truck-makers with rude rear-window stickers.
Women also got into the act, driving around in a mid-size or even full-size truck as if they owned the road – mocking their male counterparts.
Today, owners who just a few years ago would not be seen in a regular car are trading in or selling their beloved cargo-carriers.
The gas price crisis has hit American motorists that hard.
The slow death of the sport utility vehicle is well documented in the media. But the pickup truck?
Perhaps its demise is being exaggerated. After all, gas prices be damned, many motorists will still need their truck for work purposes. Right?
Trucks Through History
The pickup truck has always maintained a “tough guy” image in America.
They were featured prominently in movies such as “Urban Cowboy” and “Every Which Way But Loose,” and surfaced again recently in political media reports.
Former Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson attacked an opponent by stating, “He hasn’t spent enough time in a pickup truck”.
Texas Cadillac, indeed. The pickup is such a part of Texas culture that the state offers lower tax rates to register them compared with other types of vehicles.
And who could forget President George W. Bush cruising around his Crawford, Texas, ranch in his white Ford F-250 with Russian President Vladimir Putin sitting shotgun?
Indeed, many American males see the pickup as a replacement for the horse of the old West, giving them freedom to roam wherever they choose.
With the cargo bed behind the cabin, they can haul anything they wish, and newer models come with more modern amenities such as larger cabins and even extra doors to make carrying passengers that much easier.
Four-door trucks, called crew cabs, surfaced in 1965 with Ford’s F-250 short bed and were slow to catch on, but today they are quite common.
Even some families have attached to them, favoring their extra seating in the back of the cab.
Replacing the Ever-Loved Pickup Truck
But those same families are being pinched – ahem, hammered – by astronomical gas prices.
Families and individual truck owners alike are weighing options to get rid of their gas guzzler for something friendlier at the pump. But what might replace it?
There are no hybrids, or mid-size cars that can offer the hauling flexibility of a pickup truck.
Then there’s the coolness or macho factors. Have you seen George W. Bush in a Prius recently?
Perhaps certain crossovers might fill the void. The upcoming 2009 Ford Escape, for example, will have a new 2.5-liter Duratec engine, jumping up to 171 horsepower and increasing fuel economy.
An optional 3-liter Duratec V6 can bump it up to 240 horsepower. There also will be hybrid versions and the accompanying increase in gas mileage. All that plus room to haul.
Don’t tell anyone that the Escape is built on the platform the Ford’s supermini Fiesta, designed and built by Ford Europe.
Ford’s New Full Size
A different Ford model is getting noticed for the 2009 model year. The Flex