What’s the Point of a Lifted Truck?

By Chris Haak

03.27.2009

lifted-ford-truck-007I’ve been on an interesting streak this past week. Literally every day either on my way into the office or on my way home, I have encountered the same white Ford F-250 traveling in the opposite direction. I’m sure that I see dozens of F-250s during my 5-+ miles on the road each day, but this one particular one stands out. And why is that? It looks ridiculous.

The specific truck in question is a white F-250 Super Cab with huge desert-running tires and probably an eight- to ten-inch lift kit installed. The truck is also adorned with any number of accessories, such as an aluminum louver over the back window, 11 lights below the tailgate (I know because I counted them from my blurry camera phone photo), and gigantic twin antennas mounted in each of the front corners of the pickup bed. These antennas are over six feet tall, and the top of them is probably between 12 and 15 feet above the ground.  The front of the truck has a giant grille guard and accessory lighting.

My favorite accessories, however, are the enormous slogans stuck onto both the tailgate and the windshield. The windshield is my favorite – where it says (in fancy script, of course), “HIGH CLASS REDNECK.” Well, he got half of that correct.

I grew up in the 1980s, and while the nature of my father’s business (he is a small used car dealer) meant that I was exposed to an enormous variety of different vehicles, but for most of that time, my mom shuttled us around in various Chevrolet Suburbans.  I can remember her having a 1973, 1978, 1988, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, etc.  In fact, although she drove cars for a few years at a time between Suburbans occasionally, and even had a few Lexus RX crossovers, she drives a late-model Suburban even today.  With only one exception I am aware of, all of those “Subs” had four wheel drive – but never a lift kit.  In fact, I don’t think in my 34 years I’ve ever ridden in a truck with a lift kit, much less driven one.  Perhaps that’s part of my problem.

From my perspective, I can see only one reason to jack up your vehicle to ridiculous heights:  visibility.  By visibility, I mean both outward (you surely have an incredible view of the road ahead) as well as having the world notice you.  Having driven an orange Challenger SRT8 last summer, I know that it’s kind of fun to have people wave to you, give you thumbs up, and point at your car (in a good way, not the sorry way that people pointed at the Jeep Compass that we tested a few weeks ago).  The latter point obviously works, too, because of all the F-250s I see each day, the only one I notice is the one driven by the “High-Class Redneck.”

But there are so many disadvantages to driving a lifted truck.  Parking garages (as well as nearly any other garage) are not possibilities (just driving a regular F-150 4×4 last week, I ducked my head every time I drove through my garage, where there was about six inches of clearance).  You literally have to climb steps or a ladder to get into the truck, which is inconvenient for tall people like me, and nearly impossible for short people or women wearing skirts or dresses.  Ride and handling is compromised by the tall tires and serious amounts of un-sprung weight, plus raising the center of gravity.  The trucks are very difficult to use as trucks, because the bed’s load floor is at chest height on a six-footer.  It’s difficult to tow a trailer without lowering the hitch to new depths.  Fuel economy has to be abysmal.  Worst of all, the bumpers and headlights are generally incompatible with “normal” vehicles.  If the truck in the above photo (which looks similar to the “High-Class Redneck,” but isn’t him) rear-ended me in my CTS, he’d drive right over my already-tall trunklid.

I just don’t see the point.  Are all of the negatives worth driving such an extroverted vehicle?  They must be for some people, but as for me – no thanks.  Am I missing something here?

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Author: Chris Haak

Chris is Autosavant's Managing Editor. He has a lifelong love of everything automotive, having grown up as the son of a car dealer. A married father of two sons, Chris is also in the process of indoctrinating them into the world of cars and trucks.

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