Home » That Viral Tweet About Truck Bed Sizes Over The Years Is Just Stupid

That Viral Tweet About Truck Bed Sizes Over The Years Is Just Stupid

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First off, I want to be clear that I’m a champion of small, useful trucks. I love them! There’s a reason I picked a tiny Taylor-Dunn workhorse for the Autopian’s first Truck of the Year, and why I braved the wrath of so many Ford F-150 owners when I pointed out how a small, one-cylinder Indian-market pickup had more payload capacity than some F-150s. Big-ass trucks do not always make a lot of sense, and if all you’re doing in them is driving to work and getting groceries or taking your dog to the movies or whatever then it’s possible you’re using the wrong tool for the job. Then again, drive what you want. I’m bringing all this up because there’s been another half-assed viral car-related tweet that’s blown up and has been seen by millions, shared by the kind of smug jackasses you desperately try to avoid at parties. Last time it was about how all SUVs allegedly look alike, and this time it’s about being wrong but still a judgy prick about truck bed sizes. I guess we may as well do this.

Here’s the tweet about this I saw first, coming from a Twitter account named “FuckCars,” which might be valuable context to keep in mind:

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At most recent count, that tweet has been seen 11.3 million times, which is a lot of times for anything to have been seen by anyone. I’ve probably only seen The Big Lebowski one-millionth of that many times, and I think it’s a fantastic movie, for example. So, what’s this tweet saying? It appears to show how truck bed length has decreased as a percentage of overall length over the F-150’s lifetime, based on measurements from 1961 to 2021. I’m pretty sure anyone reading this sees the inherent flaw here, but before we address this wildly obvious elephant in the room wearing a hat that says ELEPHANT in bright LEDs, let’s go to the source data of this chart, which is noted as coming from Axios, specifically this article, which is a subset of this longer, more involved one.

Essentially, what that Axios article describes is how the pickup truck in America has transitioned from being primarily a workhorse vehicle into a much more mainstream, general-use family car, and the associated body and other changes that went along with that, most specifically cab size. This is generally a reasonable observation about what’s been happening over the decades, and there’s definitely positives and negatives to this trend.

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The viral tweet latches onto one part of the Axios story, how the cab to bed ratio seems to have changed over the years, and states that “A new F-150 is just a minivan with a doorless trunk.” Now, even if we ignore the weird language (doorless trunk? Who talks like that?) and the strange attempt at minivan shaming (there’s nothing wrong with a minivan [Ed Note: Also, trucks don’t have sliding doors, so this makes no sense. -DT]) we can’t ignore what this whole mess ignores: You can still buy single-cab, long-bed pickup trucks. If we look at a brand-new Ford F-150 with a long (8 foot) bed with a single cab and compare it to one of those 1961-1979 F-150s shown in that chart, and then do our own math based on the overall length of the truck and seeing what percentage the bed takes up, we see it’s just about identical:

F150comparo1

Comparing apples to apples here, where those apples have single-cabs and long-beds, we see that bed percentage of overall length really hasn’t changed all that much at all. And, if we’re feeling saucy, like we clearly are, why shouldn’t we also just take a moment to note that the modern truck is much more fuel efficient and wildly safer than the old F-150, at least from the perspective of the people inside. It’s not wrong that bigger and heavier pickup trucks can cause more damage in wrecks, but it’s not like being hit by a ’70s-era F-150 is a picnic, either.

The Axios article has a similar graphic to the one in the tweet, too, and it’s similarly misleading:

Cab Bed Axios

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(image: Axios)

This isn’t showing any ratios flipping, it’s comparing fundamentally different types of trucks. A crew cab, by the very nature of how human bodies require physical space to exist, needs to be bigger. And, unless you want your truck itself to be even longer, then you have to take that space from somewhere, hence shorter beds. It’s not a new thing, it’s how crew cabs have always worked.

Crewcabs

That old ’70s Ford extended cab on the left there has a long bed, and the whole thing is incredibly long; and that’s not even a full crew cab, it just has two doors. And other crew cab designs like the Volkswagen Type 2 double-cab there has a shorter bed, but still decently long, and keeps the overall length short because it’s a rear-engine-under-the-bed design with no hood, something that’s not really feasible if we care about meeting modern crash standards. Don’t get me wrong, I love that design, but there’s actual reasons why modern crew cab trucks look the way they do.

This isn’t a trend of “shrinking beds” as those graphs and articles claim, it’s a change in how people use trucks, and I think it uses the trends of more mainstream truck ownership to make some kind of vague point that we’re all going crazy and being more and more wasteful and killing everyone and somehow the inherent problem is our nation’s love for trucks, which are, you know, bad I guess.

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But, any amount of scrutiny shows that this really isn’t the case. Yes, we all could get by with smaller cars for most use. I believe this, and, as a driver of a miniscule 52 hp weirdo car, I practice what I preach. But that doesn’t mean I see the past through a rose-tinted windshield and think every current truck owner is a monster, because they’re not, and modern trucks aren’t the demons they’re made out to be.

As far as the argument goes that it’s terrible that four-door crew cab pickup trucks have become normal, everyday cars, let’s not forget what normal family cars were like in the past. Growing up, my family’s two-car fleet was made up of a 1968 VW Beetle and one of these:

Countrysquire

Yes, a Ford LTD Country Squire Wagon. Long as a truck, big-ass V8 engine, gas mileage numbers that, if they were the age of a child, would be definitively pre-B’nai Mitzvah, and about as safe in a wreck as being in a file cabinet dropped from a second-story window. Modern trucks may be excessive as family cars, but to cast this excess as something new and representative of some sort of moral decline is just not looking at what the past was really like. Even the most ostentatious-seeming modern big-ass truck gets better fuel economy, is vastly safer, and pollutes a hell of a lot less than family cars from the past decades. It doesn’t matter if it’s a truck or a station wagon.

Maverickmpg

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Plus, charts like these deliberately ignore huge-selling double-cab pickup trucks like the Ford Maverick, which has the big cab and short bed these articles and tweets are lamenting, but can also get 40 mpg in its entry-spec hybrid form. A compact car like a Honda Fit, for example, gets about 35 mpg combined. So, really, what’s the matter with the Maverick being a truck with a big cab and a short bed?

What seems to be going on here with these tweets and articles is that they seem to want to make trucks into this scapegoat for everything that’s going poorly in the automotive space, when the reality is that like almost every other category of motor vehicle, they’re getting safer, more efficient, less polluting, and more. Sure, they’re also more expensive, more feature-laden, harder to repair on your own, and, yeah, probably generally more vehicle than is needed for most situations.

What cars become popular has never been rational. People don’t buy cars for rational reasons, and people have been buying cars for stupid reasons like status markers since cars have existed. If you can’t accept that, then you’re living on the wrong planet, because that’s how humans work, for better or worse.

If you want to tweet about some car-related things that actually matter and aren’t, you know, provably wrong with minimal effort, tweet about how cool tiny efficient cars can be! But if someone rolls by in a pickup truck with a bed only 37% of the overall length of the vehicle, just calm the fuck down, and be happy that they’re possibly getting better fuel economy and almost certainly polluting less than a 1990s Camry.

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Sam smith
Sam smith
5 months ago

Tell me you missed the point without telling me you missed the point.

BobWellington
BobWellington
10 months ago

While the graphic is obviously somewhat misleading, it doesn’t change the fact that big trucks becoming normal family vehicles is inherently a bad thing.

K Sheff
K Sheff
10 months ago

It’s simple: they took the most common configuration sold for each generation and compared those.

It’s kinda cool that Ford included a sunroof as an option for the F-150. I wonder how long that’s been available.

Levi Weaver
Levi Weaver
10 months ago

Why not just compare with real numbers if you’re trying to say their comparison is garbage. 2020 Fit with a CVT (to match the hybrid Maverick’s) gets 33/40/36 (City/highway/combined), the Maverick Hybrid gets 40/33/37.

Ben Rolling
Ben Rolling
10 months ago

Jason! Yes, memes aren’t the best source of truth, but you’re a little too good at googling counter-examples. There isn’t a reasonably sized truck with a bed longer than 5 feet, they’re all discontinued! Look at all of the announced hybrid and EV pickup trucks, there isn’t a single long bed available. That’s the future. The only way to be productive is to buy a 10MPG SuperDuty.

Cassidy Miller
Cassidy Miller
10 months ago

I have 2 great danes, and settled on GMC Canyon with a topper for hauling them. Do they come on every trip? No, but I’d bet half of the 70k miles thus far they’ve been back there. It’s a cush ride for them, they’ve got a bedrug, 4″of memory foam, a heater in the winter and swamp cooler in the summer.

Now there exists several SUVs I could have them in the vehicle with me… but the inside of my truck still smells new and that bedbug smells like swamp. Worth it.

Chally_Sheedy
Chally_Sheedy
10 months ago

Solid article, but I’m just trying to find a way to make, like, a cool 13k a month working part time if anyone has relevant info.

MiniDave
MiniDave
10 months ago

There’s a whole huge market out there for trucks like we had in the 80’s from Nissan, Toyota and others. Small, 4cyl, 2 door, medium bed length trucks. Easy to drive, decent fuel mileage, easy to park and completely capable for everything except maybe hauling your 30 ft boat to the lake. They sold millions of these and I can’t believe no one is still offering them…..today’s front drive platforms are perfect to revive this category.
While the Maverick is a step in the right direction, it’s still bigger than these 80’s trucks were, and still only a 4 door.
Bring back 2 door small(ish) trucks!!!!

Nathan Finch
Nathan Finch
10 months ago
Reply to  MiniDave

The problem with bringing back the 2 door smallish truck (Which I too want) is that the stupid way we do CAFE fleet mileage standard takes the truck footprint (Area between all four wheels) into account.

This means that smaller trucks get penalized.

This supersizes everything.

Chris Trapp
Chris Trapp
10 months ago

The meme isn’t an eloquent argument but it has a point that you’re missing Jason. While a new F150 is available with a short cab and eight foot bed, how many are actually sold in that configuration versus others? How many 70’s or even 80’s trucks were sold as an extended or crew cab configuration versus a short cab? Cab size has become more important to buyers than bed length. So much so that it’s easier to find a monstrous crew cab pick-up with an eight foot bed than a short cab short bed pick-up. I think the meme’s creator was trying to point out the overall trend of the cab to bed length ratio throughout the years.

Let’s face it. Pickups have become more about the party in the front than the party in the back. I’m not sure anyone can argue against it.

Black Peter
Black Peter
10 months ago
Reply to  Chris Trapp

Memes are almost always terrible arguments. I also wonder if the trend is “what’s selling” is inverse to what “did sell”. A loot in my company’s lot shows all shortbed crew cabs. I’m also not sure that the body height in Jason’s graphic is to scale, the hood height of todays trucks has got to be a foot higher than it was, as the combined effort of body styling and average tire diameter.

Angry Bob
Angry Bob
10 months ago
Reply to  Chris Trapp

My family had standard-cab pickups when I was a kid. My brother and I rode in the bed most everywhere. THAT is why I have a crew-cab pickup to haul my kids. They’re swaddled in 9000 pounds of crashworthy steel.

It’s also a long bed and can be a real pain in the ass to maneuver, so I understand why people would buy a crew cab short bed.

Sarah Bell
Sarah Bell
10 months ago
Reply to  Chris Trapp

Exactly. The original tweet ignores the crew-cab trucks built in the 70’s and 80’s for the same reason it ignores the RCLB trucks still theoretically available today- they’re a tiny fraction of the vehicles purchased or even available for sale. I’m frankly disappointed in Torch for ignoring that for the sake of a rant.

Chris Corso
Chris Corso
10 months ago
Reply to  Chris Trapp

I own an older single cab, short bed.
Keeping tools in the bed is terrible. Would be pretty nice to keep them somewhere else beside the passenger seat.

You might say I can use a truck box. I would agree. But modern trucks are so stupid tall I would never be able to reach it and it would make the bed too small anyway.

Tons of trades guys keep there tools in the cab for this exact reason. once you have a box in the bed, you made you self a tiny bed and still can’t fit people when needed. bigger cab is pretty versatile.

JDE
JDE
10 months ago

The only Mavericks approaching that MPG capability is the FWD versions that pull no more than 2,000 lbs and squat like they were born in the Carolina’s when you put just 4 people in them, much less any real load. They do advertise over around 1500 lbs payload, but all models end up with the Total Accessory reserve capacity under 500 lbs. that means not much can be put in that little 4 foot bed.

I did see two extended cab 8 foot beds the other day, I honestly thought they quit with the clamshell extended cabs all together at Ford until I saw those. but I can say an extended cab 6.5 foot bed is about all the current generation of drivers seems to be able to handle, and they don’t handle it too well if you have ever watched one attempt the “douche parking” back in maneuver or even just failing to swing wide enough if they park like they should.

Lets be honest on minivans, unless you are bringing home a tall fridge, the fold flat minivan space is far better at hauling sheets of wood, and just about everything else. the biggest issue is they rarely have enough tow capacity to safely drag even a popup camper so that is why a 4 door F150 with Ecoboost, 4wd and a tonneau cover is the swiss army knife of the US market. At the price of most anything theses days you either buy just the one swiss trucking knife or if you are handy and don’t mind wrenching you buy used cars and pay about the same in repairs over time, but at least you can have 1 or 2 spare vehicles in case of a big repair needing time and money to make happen.

Ryan Dutra
Ryan Dutra
10 months ago
Reply to  JDE

The douche parking method, where one backs into a space with nothing in it and can easily egress with good visibility, as opposed to the douche un-parking method, where one backs out into a space which pedestrians, other automobiles, and shopping carts are actively trying to cross through, with poor visibility of cross traffic.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
10 months ago
Reply to  Ryan Dutra

Word! Same thing with reversing into your driveway, my MIL, FIL, wife, other relatives keep breaking into a sweat and hitting things when reversing out of their driveway. Facepalm.

Gregg Dalbert
Gregg Dalbert
10 months ago
Reply to  Ryan Dutra

Sure, backing out of a space has its perils, yet I’ve managed to never hit a person or object yet, knock on wood. And guess what, you can just as easily hit people or objects when backing INTO that space.

Putting this out there into the world: Just pull forward into your space like a normal person, and exercise caution when leaving.

Zorn Zornelius
Zorn Zornelius
10 months ago
Reply to  Gregg Dalbert

When backing IN to a parking space, you make everyone else behind you stop and wait for YOU.

Nose-in, reverse out, you have to wait for the opening yourself. Hopefully avoiding any obstruction of the lane of travel when being actively used.

THAT’S the difference. Safety has nothing to do with why the back-in parkers back in. It’s entitlement. 🙂

Sarah Bell
Sarah Bell
10 months ago
Reply to  Zorn Zornelius

As opposed to feeling entitled to be angry over waiting five extra seconds for a vehicle to park. You park your way, I’ll park mine, and we’ll see who is more likely to hit a pedestrian who is wandering through the lot looking at their cell phone instead of literally anything around them.

A M
A M
10 months ago
Reply to  Zorn Zornelius

Or everyone has to wait as you back out of the space. ::shrug:: You’ll be alright.

Nhat Nguyen
Nhat Nguyen
10 months ago
Reply to  Zorn Zornelius

Ever try to front park a modern pickup? Think turning radius. Far easier to back a truck in than it is to front park.

Eslader
Eslader
10 months ago
Reply to  Zorn Zornelius

This is one of the dumber takes I’ve seen on a car site…

A M
A M
10 months ago
Reply to  Gregg Dalbert

“And guess what, you can just as easily hit people or objects when backing INTO that space.”

That’s not where people and objects tend to be, though. And any that do end up there tend to not be moving in from the side where you may not be able to easily see them due to the cars next to you.

OpposedPiston
OpposedPiston
10 months ago
Reply to  A M

Agreed. A lot of larger commercial fleet operations make back-in parking their standard for their in-house lots precisely because they don’t want their professional drivers in a controlled environment backing out into travel lanes.

Phuzz
Phuzz
10 months ago
Reply to  Gregg Dalbert

When you reverse into a space, generally you’ve already driven past it to see it’s empty, and the chances of anyone then walking into as you reverse are low.
On the other hand, when you exit the space, you can’t easily see other cars and people as easily, and they’re much more likely to be driving/walking past.

I’ve only heard the “driving in forward is better!” argument from the US, and it seems to tie into the “consideration for other people is basically communism/this is freedom-land I can do whatever I want” attitude half of you seem to have.

Shinynugget
Shinynugget
10 months ago

But let’s all be honest about the truck sales today as well. How many single cab, 8 foot bed trucks do we all see on the road compared to 4 Door Crew cab short beds? Way, way more of the latter these days.
My local Ford dealer’s breakdown of F-150’s in stock.

3 regular cab 6.5 foot bed
5 extended cab 6.5 foot bed
21 Crew cab 5.5 foot bed

My local Chevy dealer had 130 1500 series Silverados. Zero, even the work truck trims were regular cab, 8 foot bed models. Not one.

While the tweet may not have been completely transparent in that 8 foot bed models are still available, they are no longer as common as years past.

Stones4
Stones4
10 months ago

The length and proportions don’t bother me so much, people buy what they think they need and manufacturer’s make what sells.

What new trucks need though, is a much, much lower bed. The side of the bed on a new 1500 is at my eyeballs! How the hell can I get anything into and out of the bed without climbing up on the truck first? Its insane

OpposedPiston
OpposedPiston
10 months ago
Reply to  Stones4

One of the design goals for the Maverick was that a 95th percentile woman could reach the bottom of the bed from the side. Everything else is ridiculous. My dad keeps a hockey stick in the bed of his truck, bungee corded to the front tiedown, to scoop things out of the front without having to climb into it.

Ian Case
Ian Case
10 months ago
Reply to  Stones4

Yeah they’re all too damned tall period. Not just the bed, but overall. I drive a Mini Clubman, and even before I put the suspension on, truck headlights were at the height of my rear view mirror. Its obnoxious. And don’t get me started on the people that tailgate me while I drive on winding back roads at night. There’s deer everywhere, so I’m not going to be flying around doing 55mph in a 35mph zone. Fuck. Off.

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