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When you see the great variety and sheer number of pickup trucks on today's roads, it's hard to believe that pickups used to be strictly workhorses for farmers and business owners. Usually these basic trucks had only basic amenities such as an AM radio and a flat vinyl bench seat because they were used mainly to haul supplies, tow horse trailers and transport construction tools to job sites.
Though they are still used for those purposes, modern-day pickup trucks are just as likely to be seen taking the family on a ski vacation or to the lake, passengers ensconced in a spacious crew cab fitted with heated leather seats and a DVD entertainment system. Indeed, for nearly every year of the past four decades, the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. has been the Ford F-Series. Yes, a pickup truck and not a compact car or a family sedan.
Although Japanese automakers are now fielding beefy full-size pickup trucks, that segment has long been the stronghold of the American manufacturers. Check out the websites of Chevrolet, Ford, GMC or Ram, and you'll find a dizzying array of styles (single cab, crew cab, 2WD, 4WD, short bed, long bed) and engine choices, along with trim levels ranging from a basic work truck to a posh crew cab that gives nothing away to a luxury sedan in terms of upscale styling and pampering features.