Truck Tales — Why Today's Women Love Their Trucks
"Built Ford Tough." "We are Professional Grade." "Like a Rock." These are the slogans we're hit with every day.
Now guess what's the fastest growing segment of truck buyers?
Hint: It's not men.
Yes, women do love trucks. Whether they're jacked up and souped up, tricked out and screaming hot, or just plain naked the way God (or Detroit) intended, women love 'em all.
Times have certainly changed. No vehicle manufacturer today is foolish enough to design trucks with only men in mind. During the first 11 months of 2004, American women bought as many full-size pickups as they did minivans — more than 250,000, according to research firm RL Polk. And women buy 45 percent of all SUVs — including 40 percent of full-size SUVs like the Toyota Sequoia and Chevrolet Suburban.
Both practical and fun, today's trucks allow us to have our cake and eat it, too. To understand, just listen to the ladies tell their tales.
A Passionate Love Story
Take the case of Lisa Davis. A Forums contributor, Lisa illustrates the absolute passion that some women have for their trucks and the lifestyle it allows them.
"When I was about five or six, I got my first ride in a Jeep CJ5. I could remember swinging upside down from the roll bar, thinking this was the best fun vehicle ever. Once I was able to drive, I knew someday I had to have that free childish feeling again. So in the midst of being married, getting bills, responsibilities and taking care of elderly parents, I knew that one way I could escape to that totally free feeling was to get me a Jeep. Not just any Jeep, but something that screamed: 'Look at me, I'm havin' fun and so should you!'
"We found this really cool place called Wilson's 4x4, and there she was: A rusted piece of 1984 history. I just had to have her and give her back the life that I also needed to get back. After about six months and some serious bodywork, she turned into this beautiful ray of sunshine and has brought me happiness ever since. I call her Chiquita, because she looks like a yellow banana. She is a definite head turner and there isn't a guy out there who can resist the sight of chick in a lifted-up piece of metal.
"I decided on a customized license plate — RISKY-1 — because it describes me. I am a risk analyst who does safety and loss control for a living, and my Jeep allows me to let loose and take a few risks, whether it's in the mud, the sand or stuck in rush-hour traffic. There is nothing like being a chick who can wear a suit during the day and get a little dirty after hours. I love my Jeep — it's better than any doctor-prescribed Prozac!"
We couldn't have said it any better ourselves.
"There is nothing like being a chick who can wear a suit during the day and get a little dirty after hours."
Lisa's job requires her to conduct safety inspections at construction work sites, where guys "can't help but come over and ask questions" about her Jeep, she says. But driving her truck actually helps her hold sway with the guys.
"It's not always easy to get a guy to think about safety or to do something a different way, but it's like they take me more 'at their level' because I drive this tough little truck and I can even talk the talk: engine size, suspension, off-road stories. I did have a guy not want to ride with me because I was a woman driver with fire extinguishers strapped to my roll bar he thought that was a bad sign. But I'm a safety geek, what can I say?!"
Practical Hauling and Handling
"I have to have a truck — I have a small hobby farm and have to haul feed, hay, tow trailers and the like. I'm also doing a lot of construction on my house and need to haul lumber, tile and that sort of stuff. For me, that rules out a car of any kind.
"The AWD is something I also need because I live in a rural area of the city [Fayetteville, Arkansas] on a dirt road that twists and turns and has many steep, sharp hills. It can freeze or flood out my way and several times I've been stuck for awhile with non-AWD or 4WD vehicles.
"I love the Ridgeline mainly because although I need a truck part-time, I need a 'ride' full-time, and it's a fantastic ride. I hate to say it, but I prefer the interior over the Tacoma (I drove Toyotas for 21 years — I had never driven a Honda before). I like how the interior is filled with courtesy lights all over, the glovebox locks (as does the in-bed trunk), the heated seats are great, and I got the moonroof, which I've never indulged in before."
Staying Safe and Secure
Edmunds.com Director of Project Management Katti Ehoff owns a customized 2005 Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab with the Hemi engine. It makes her feel safe on the road — and when carrying her precious cargo.
"I love driving the truck. I feel very safe sitting up higher — the 20-inch wheels lift the car considerably from the stock version. You can see several cars ahead of you in traffic so you can brake early and avoid accidents. I have big dogs and they love riding in the truck. Mine has the sliding rear window which provides them with a safe place to stick their heads out, but the opening is too small for their bodies to fit, so I don't have to worry about them jumping out.
"I also notice that people tend to move out of my way when I want to move over. I get tons of looks from men when I drive it, especially from bikers. I think they enjoy seeing a woman drive a truck."
The increasing number of women buying pickups isn't lost on Detroit or Japan. Every major brand now has women contributing to the design and/or engineering of pickups. As a result, female-friendly features are being incorporated into more pickups, such as adjustable brake and gas pedals, easier step-in and step-out, more storage compartments, bigger passenger cabins (for carrying children) and more carlike rides. These features don't detract from the toughness or solidity of the trucks; in fact, they improve truck driving for both genders.
Ford says that women buy between 15-20 percent of its trucks, with more women buying compact pickups like the Ford Ranger , and fewer buying heavy-duty trucks like the Ford F-Series Super Duty. (The full-size Ford F-150 light-duty pickup is right in the middle.) In general, the average age of Ford's female pickup buyer is about 42 or 43 years old. According to the company, these figures are similar to competitive brands as well.
Clearly, trucks are no longer the sole domain of macho off-roaders and construction crews. In some parts of the country (Texas comes to mind), practically everyone drives a truck. So while you may not yet see truck ads targeting women (soon soon ), know for certain that there are plenty of women behind the design — and behind the wheel — of all those big haulers.
Want to share your story or opinion? Climb on up! Join the Edmunds.com discussion board on Pickup Trucks for Women (Experiences/Opinions).