Big-Bucks Trucks

Given the extreme droughts, wildfires, and other assorted weather oddities over the past few years, you might think some sort of inkling about climate change would be permeating the public consciousness, causing at least a few more Americans to pause before purchasing a whale-sized vehicle. And yet here we are, with full-sized luxury pickup truck sales booming and sedan sales sinking, making the SUV heyday of the early aughts look almost quaint. As WaPo’s Wonkblog notes, affluent buyers are snapping up plush $60,000-and-up land barges with heated leather seats and, yes, fiddleback eucalyptus wood trim (I did not make that up). Apparently our brief period of recession-induced humility is over:

“During the recession, if you could afford to buy a fancy new truck, it was not socially acceptable to flaunt it,” said Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst at But “the acceptance of conspicuous consumption is back.”

For those who think these overappointed behemoths have utilitarian value, I will let Mr. Money Mustache set the record straight on their usefulness as work trucks.


  • MT

    So, a cartoon on huge overpriced suburban pickup trucks. Of course they’re stupid, but when people have money, they’ll spend it. Now will you do a cartoon on overpriced pretentious foodie restaurants, or overpriced trendy tiny houses, or overpriced fixed-gear bikes, or overpriced handmade Etsy crafts, or overpriced products at Whole Foods, or the overpriced concert tickets for some vapid indie, EDM or trap-rap lifestyle-accessory band? Probably not, because nothing the progressive hipsters indulge in is up for criticism, especially anything from the businesses who might advertise in the alternaweeklies where the cartoon is syndicated.

    • nowhere

      Uhh, yeah… Jen’s NEVER made fun of hipsters… Oops, sprained my eyes by rolling them too hard.

      Strange fact though: a friend of mine replaced the 1990 VW Westfalia he’s owned since new with an enormous F250 and a camper. The family used the Westy a lot as they hike, kayak, fly gliders and thus camped in it a lot. They couldn’t afford to have a dedicated RV and the VW seemed like the best way to combine driveable accommodation with reasonable size and economy. As the family grew older they did want more room and thus went to the big diesel pickup with camper. It turned out that the hulking F250 actually got about the same fuel economy as the VW.

      When it comes to everyday functionality though I really miss the small Japanese pickups that were available up to the late 90′s. We always had one as a work vehicle in my business and they were perfect for the job. There seems to be a fair amount of people out there who still want them but presumably the companies think they can’t make as much profit on that type of truck so we no longer have the choice.

  • skeptonomist

    Since when have personal vehicles been based on utility? That’s for little people, even among the pickup set. If you can afford more than the basic necessities of life, vehicles are for prestige, and that’s based on excess. Obviously if you have a truck or SUV, the bigger the better. If you aren’t one of the truck set, the main thing is power – never buy a vehicle with a four-cylinder engine.

    I don’t know how Krebs got the idea that “flaunting” excessive vehicles is ever socially unacceptable. If sales dropped off it was due to financial insecurity.

Jen Sorensen is a nationally-published political cartoonist. She is a 2017 Pulitzer Finalist and recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.