If you are in the Good Products, Bad Products class right now at Stanford, you can skip this post, because I complained a bit both in class and in my book about the size of my “full sized” 2011 pickup. But I want to put this post in my blog because I am fascinated about how products such as automobiles in the U.S. seem to grow in size until they become too big, and digital products seem to shrink until they become too small. Then there is usually a great break-through, and U.S. automobile manufacturers discover smaller cars and people making smaller digital products discover larger ones (pads?).
My pickup, a 2011 Toyota Tundra, is shown here backed up to a 1966 Chevrolet – both l/2 ton pickups with 8 foot beds. All mid 1950's full-size pickups were approximately the same size, as are all 2011 full size pickups. The growth is obvious, but the reason for it is not. On first glance, the larger door might be convenient, except that the seat, being positioned by the steering wheel, is far toward the front of the door opening. If one tries to use the door when parked next to other cars, the door cannot be opened far enough to provide as much space as a smaller door would. True, there is more room to put stuff behind the seat than in the older pickup, but this room is useless for most people I know (including me), because the space rapidly fills up with miscellaneous objects, which one forgets are there, and which are very difficult to find and remove if one does not.
But my chief complaint is the height of the pickup. The bed is deeper, the clearance is greater, and the suspension looks like it allows a larger amount of movement. The distance between the top of the rear tire and the body work gives an indication of this and can be seen in the photo above. The result is a very long step to get into the back, difficulty in reaching objects in the bed from over the side, and even a long step get into the passenger compartment. I had to add an aftermarket running board to make it reasonable for my wife to get into and out of the truck, and in fact, to make it reasonable for myself. And I cannot reach small objects in the middle of the bed from standing on the ground beside the truck, and I am 6’2”.
Why is this a problem? Because I use the truck to haul things, and that is what pickups were for. This picture shows a 2011 Ford F-150 that a farmer friend of mine owns. He became so annoyed at not being able to reach things in the bed that he removed the box and put a flatbed on the frame. The next picture shows a typical load – the kind of stuff that farmers haul around. I could go on for some time - On modern pickups there are inadequate load tie-downs and the body acquires and shows dings enthusiastically. This picture shows a tail-light assembly on my truck. The other one is broken. This assembly shatters easily and it is so large and protruding that it is difficult to avoid breaking and replacing it, for $100 or so ($200 from a dealer). The Chevrolet tail light and back up light are below—adequate, harder to hit, and cheaper to replace. But I will not go further.
There are many good points about my 2011 pickup. It has high reliability and for a good sized pickup gets reasonable mileage. I was able to acquire it with minimum bells and whistles of the type that begin failing over time. My plan is to lower it, (because I —like most pickup owners— have no intention of racing it to the tip of Baja California nor driving it off-road through mountains) and drive it until I rebuild the Chevrolet!
As I say in the book, modern pickups, are somewhere between a car and a truck – compromise vehicles. I want an honest 1/2 ton truck with an eight foot bed to haul miscellaneous things around and that provides decent mileage, wears scratches and dents proudly, is easily serviceable, has a long life, and fits me. I do not need one to help me look tougher, or either cooler or hotter. I am not looking for fights, I am cool enough, and I don't need to hit on cowgirls. I would think that there are enough people like me that there is a potential quality product out there that could make some company some money.