The Pickup Truck Gets a New Identity

work truck

It used to be that pickup trucks were only used for work

It used to be the pickup truck or 4x4 vehicle was used solely as a workhorse. Much thought and design went into their capacity to haul loads or tackle rough terrain, but little was given to styling; the cosmetic work was reserved for cars.

The last decade or so has seen a shift in the identity of the pickup and the 4x4. Whereas before pickups were bought for ‘work’ use and cars were purchased for ‘domestic’ use, now families are buying Jeeps, F-150s and RAMs as their primary vehicle.

This new breed of pickup/4x4 owner wants their vehicles to be as stylish as their cars were, so the motor manufacturers are now putting the emphasis on the pickup’s styling, particularly the grilles which are becoming larger and more aggressive. Ford and GM have been quick to address this but Toyota and Nissan are still a ways behind.

Ford and GM Styling Leaves Toyota and Nissan Behind

ford atlas

The radical grille styling seen in Ford’s Atlas concept truck
will be on the next generation of pickups

The Ford Atlas concept truck caused a sensation when it was unveiled because of its radical styling, complete with massive chromed grille, and it’s believed the 2014 F-150 will take many of its cues from the Atlas. Over at GM similar investment is going into the 2014 Silverado which is expected to feature a much more interesting exterior look and more interior features.

Toyota and Nissan Remain Cautious

m1 grille

Smittybilt’s M1 wire mesh grille
really makes a truck look special

The Japanese appear to have been slower at adapting to the new breed of pickup owner. The new Toyota Tundra – enjoying its first facelift in 7 years – has been met with lukewarm reception regarding the looks. Over at Nissan it’s been a similar tale with the mighty Titan having remained virtually unchanged since it was introduced 10 years ago. Although the Titan’s grille has always been aggressive it’s received criticisms of bland bodywork which Nissan is finally restyling.It seems that if existing truck owners (particularly Tundra or Titan owners) want to personalize their pickups and give them the aggressive front-end styling the next generation of trucks will feature, they’ll have to rely upon aftermarket specialists for styling modifications. Look at the difference the M1 Wire Mesh Grille by Smittybilt (right) makes on what would otherwise be a nondescript pickup.

billet grille

All of Smittybilt’s billet grilles have 20-50%
more aluminum for tighter spacing and a distinctive look

As the market for ‘domestic’ 4x4s and pickups continues to grow, so the desire for better styling and more personal touches will increase. Expect to see 4x4s and pickup styling continue to become more individual as their identities change from work vehicles to fashionable family vehicles.

By John Bone


Posted on August 26th, 2013
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