One of the reasons people buy trucks rather than cars is because new cars can’t do the things you didn’t used to have to buy a truck to be able to do.
Like pulling a trailer, for instance.
Today, you have to have a truck – or an SUV that is built like a truck – in order to be able to pull even a small trailer because there are few, if any, new cars that can pull more than 1,000 pounds. The latter figure being what the current Dodge Charger is rated to pull – and the Charger is one of the very few new cars that isn’t small and still comes standard with at least a V6 engine. It is also one of the very few new cars you can still buy – outside of the high-dollar luxury car segment – that is rear rather than front wheel drive.
There was a time when you didn’t need to buy a truck to pull a trailer. It was the time before the federal government asserted that car buyers were unable to express their interest in fuel-efficient cars by not buying cars that weren’t.
Even though there were many fuel-efficient cars available for them to buy, if that is what they preferred.
The government said it was necessary to decree that all new cars be fuel-efficient. Which it did via establishing Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards that all new cars would have to meet else their manufacture would be punished in the manner government usually punishes – via taxes styled “fines” for “guzzling” gas.
These taxes made “guzzlers” more expensive, which made them less affordable. That made them harder to sell, which “incentivized” the car companies to stop making them.
CAFE is why there are almost no new cars that are larger than the Charger – which is a mid-sized car by current standards and a small car relative to the size of the typical American car before the federal government decreed that all new cars must be fuel-efficient.
To make the point, a typical family car of the early 1970s such as the Chevy Impala sedan – which was also a family-priced sedan – was 222.9 inches long. A full-sized car. American families routinely possessed cars such as this, before the federal government decided they needed its “help” to be able to buy more fuel-efficient cars, like the much smaller Chevy Nova that was also available at the time. And the even smaller VW Beetle and similar cars that were also available at the time.
Which anyone who wished to do so was also free to buy at the time. As oposed to being fored to buy something smaller and lesser.
The current Charger is only 198.4 inches long. That is a difference of more than two feet in length vs. the ’72 Caprice – and a difference of less than a foot in length vs. a ’72 Nova, which was classified as a compact-sized car when it was new.
Another difference is that the ’72 Caprice was built like a truck, on a full-perimeter steel frame, upon which the body was bolted. This gave the Caprice of that era the strength of a truck. The heavy steel frame bore the load, including the load of a trailer hitched to the back of it. Modern cars – even the Charger – have lighter-duty frames that integrate the body with the frame in order to save weight – in order to “achieve compliance” with the federal regulatory apparat’s decrees regarding fuel efficiency.
Which has served to limit their capabilities.
For the same “compliance” reasons, few new cars offer even one V8 – and that will soon include the Charger, Dodge having recently announced the cancellation of the Hemi V8 option.
Back in ’72, Chevy offered Caprice buyers their choice of four V8s, ranging from a “small” 350 (5.7 liters in metric-modern speak, same size as the current Charger’s Hemi) all the way up to a big-block (literally) 454 cubic inch (7.4 liter) V8 that had the strength to tow what no modern car – even one with a V8, like the Charger – can.
A 1972 family sedan like the Caprice could also do something else that you need a modern truck to be able to do: Carry six people – without need of three rows to do it.
It – the Caprice – could do that because of its size and because of its seats. Chevy offered three-across seating in both of its rows, which is something no new car offers. They seat five – and not especially comfortably because even the largest of them are only mid-sized by the standards of what once-was.
There were also wagon versions of big sedans like the Caprice, back then – and these could comfortably carry as many as nine people. There was plenty of room for a family of four, plus the friends of your kids. Today, you need a truck (or an SUV) if you want to be able to carry more than five people.
Is it any wonder why trucks (and SUVs) have largely replaced cars as the vehicles of choice for American families?
The irony is that most of these trucks and SUVs are about as “fuel efficient” as the full-sized, V8-powered sedans and wagons they replaced. But at least you can still buy vehicles capable of carrying – and pulling.
For the time being.
. . .
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