Sometimes You Just Need A Truck

By Kevin Miller

09.02.2008

I’m not really a truck person. At all. I’m not a fan of the way they drive, they way they guzzle gas, and they way they hog parking. I prefer a more efficient vehicle that hugs curves and cossets passengers with comfortable seats and a hushed interior. For years I’ve driven either Saab hatchbacks or a Volvo wagon, and have maintained that if what I’m hauling won’t fit in my car, I don’t really need to be hauling it. Having easily toted a full-sized couch in my Saab, I was a bit smug about the hauling prowess of my hatchback. Having folded down the seats of my Volvo and hauled eight- and ten-foot lumber inside, or used that car to haul fifteen bags of mulch, I’ve gotten a bit cocky.

Of course, there have been a few times when my Swedish steeds have shown their limitations. The most notable was when I purchased an un-assembled shed at Costco. I was sure that the box would fit into my Saab’s hatchback. It didn’t. Not only did the box not fit, all of the pieces wouldn’t fit even when they were removed from the box. My wife ended up driving half of the pieces home while I sat on a broken-down box half-full of shed parts in the Costco parking lot waiting for her return. That was the day she coined the phrase “Your eyes are bigger than your hatchback.”

Because Ikea is a Swedish company, and my Saab and Volvo are Swedish cars, I have been of the opinion that the retailer’s signature flat-packaged goods are designed to always fit inside of my cars. We renovated our master bathroom with Ikea cabinets, and I hauled the entire project (including the 8-foot countertop) home in my Volvo. Experiences like that have made me feel superior to people who use inefficient trucks for suburban grocery-getting and daily commuting.

Every once in a while, however, it is evident that my sleek, fun-to-drive cars have their limitations. This weekend found me back at Ikea, stimulating the economy with my purchase of closet organizers for a pretty large walk-in closet. Before setting out for Ikea, I measured my Volvo’s cargo area, and realized that the wardrobe bases would be too long to fit in the wagon if my wife was going to have a seat. And she needed to come with me to select all of the correct closet pieces. Because of that circumstance, I was forced to admit that I needed to use a truck.

I am fortunate that my parents live fairly close to the regional Ikea store, and they have a truck. I was able to borrow my father’s Nissan Titan, by trading him for my Saab. The wardrobe bases and the organizational accessories filled up the Titan’s bed. The heavy, densely-filled flat-pack boxes would have overloaded my Volvo even if I could have made them fit inside the wagon. In this case, the truck really was called for.

At some point almost everybody needs to use a truck, whether for picking up a new piece of furniture, hauling yard debris to the dump, or moving to a new house. That’s when those friends or relatives who drive a truck come in handy. Of course, with gas prices on the rise and truck sales in a slump, fewer people people are going to own trucks, so there will be fewer trucks to borrow. Perhaps rental agencies will carry more trucks, since they will presumably be able to purchase them at a discount due to flagging truck sales, and at the same time consumer demand for trucks to rent will be higher.

As for me, I’ve got the Titan all week while my father drives my Saab. I think I’ll work on pulling out some overgrown shrubs so I can use the truck to haul them away. I may as well get all of the dirty work done while I’ve got the truck, so I can save the hassle of hauling that stuff in my nice cars.

COPYRIGHT Autosavant – All Rights Reserved-

Author: Kevin Miller

As Autosavant’s resident Swedophile, Kevin has an acute affinity for Saabs, with a mild case of Volvo-itis as well. Aside from covering most Saab-related news for Autosavant, Kevin also reviews cars and covers industry news. His “Great Drive” series, with maps and directions included, is a reader favorite.

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3 Comments

  1. I do a lot of gardening, and am renovating our house, but my wagon suffices most times. A few times a year, I really need a truck- I’ve been borrowing my dad’s old Ford, but that’s recently been put out to pasture. I’m looking into getting a pull-behind utility trailer that can hold a yard of material, but I don’t see that too often.

  2. I own a ski boat. I have yet to see a wagon that is able to tow a ski boat. Therefore, I am of the dwindling percentage that needs a truck. However, I don’t need a HUGE truck. My Nissan Frontier quad cab manages to carry the family (the wife, myself, and two daughters), the cooler, and the boat in tow. The problem is, I am also the only one in the family with a truck now. Last weekend I had to make two trips to Lowes (one for my parents and one for my sister) to pick up various items that would not fit in anybody’s car. I’m going to have to start charging.

  3. I’ve posted before about my high mileage ’93 Ford Ranger. It’s a standard cab, 4×2 that gets 18 to 22mpg in the city (depending on how bad the 405 is in a given week). Does it have a great ride? Nope. Does it have the newest toys like sat nav, power locks, OnStar, or keyless entry/start? Nope… But it’s dependable basic transportation that gets me to work, my kid to school, and hauls parts for my chopper/old car hobbies or my wife’s antique furniture purchases (“Honey, can you pick this up for me..?”). When the family has to get fancy for a day out – we take my wife’s Buick LaCrosse that has all the bells and whistles. Good enough for me.

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