Trucks: where would we be without them? No move-in would be absolute, no special delivery could happen, and no appropriate tailgate party may throw down without a pickup truck. Trucks enable us to do more by carrying out more of whatever there is to haul -- if that's pizza, pet supplies, or a pool table.

In many ways, trucks and American civilization are closely intertwined. Both have an air of capacity, bravado, and rugged adventurousness. The USA is a do-it-all, be-it-all country, and for all those aspect of that culture there is to celebrate, there's a truck to flaunt it. With modern trucks' diversity, there is almost no demand for luxury sedans or sleek sports cars -- trucks provide those can, plus a mattress in the back.

Big boys
For example, look at the luxury focal point of the GMC Sierra Denali. It has many of the same attributes premium sedans do. A massive chrome grille, huge wheels, and LED running lights all add eye-catching bling. Technology is among the best too: the newest Sierra Denali 1500 comes with an available carbon fiber bed, three-by-seven inch heads-up screen, and HD side-view cameras to make parking the monster a breeze.

Ford's King Ranch trimming level, available on the F-150 and F-350, supplies what must be the most lavish interior in any American vehicle. Supple embossed and lace abounds, with acres of timber grain veneers around the cottage. All this and the huge cabin mean people won't ever be uneasy.

On the lookout for something with more oomph? The Dodge Ram SRT-10 put the benchmark for sporty trucks, packaging a 500 horsepower V10 pulled straight from the Viper -- not to mention an available six-speed manual transmission. It's far out of lightweight, but so long as the steering wheel is pointed directly, it'll haul far more than cargo.

However, the most impressive sport truck now is the powerful Ford SVT Raptor. This really is a machine bred from desert racing and constructed to control any surface. The Raptor has a critical presence -- it rides a few inches wider and greater than the F-150 it's based on, making it so large that it needs government-mandated running lights in the grille, like a semi. Wherever it's rolling, the V8 in the first-gen Raptor and twin-turbo V6 from the current-gen make it fast despite its heft.

Chicken Tax
Now, if there is one thing American trucks have in common, it is they're big -- really big. That's good for cargo-carrying potential, but less so for motorists who wish to haul some things and have a vehicle that's decent on town roads. Small trucks are common in the rest of the Earth, so why not at the USA? The Solution is in the Chicken Tax.

Yes, even the Chicken Tax. A leftover from a 1960s-era commerce war levied by President Lyndon Johnson, the Chicken Tax applies a 25% tariff on imported light-duty trucks. This makes it prohibitively expensive for overseas automakers to deliver smaller trucks to the U.S., in which they'd essentially provide less ability at the exact same or greater price than bigger, American made pickups.

Some OEMs have found creative ways to circumvent the tariff. Mercedes was understood to fabricate their Sprinter van (technically classified as a light truck) in a ready-to-build components kit in Germany, then ship it to South Carolina to allow American employees to build, thus skirting the Chicken Tax. It really goes to show the inane ramifications of automotive trade tariffs, and the way they ultimately limit customers' freedom of choice.

Nonetheless, there are solid options for trucks that are not gargantuan in size. The Toyota Tacoma is a classic, and the Chevy Colorado is a comparative newcomer. They're compact enough for cities, but each is available with multiple bed lengths, and at Raptor-esque off-road trim with all the Tacoma TRD Pro and Colorado ZR2. The segment is growing, too: Ford has announced they are bringing back the Ranger, and even Hyundai is rumored to be working on something to compete.


Sports cars are fun, and luxury whips are fine, but if it comes down to it a car's top functions are practicality, capabilities, and endurance. With the increasing range of trucks available on the market, there's an option to suit any driver's needs. Ask yourself: if you can just have one automobile to drive every day for the rest of your life, could it be anything less than a truck?