The Single-Cab Pickup Truck Is Slowly Going Away

As we exit the age of affordable, full-size workhorse pickup trucks with crank windows, rubber floors and vinyl seats and enter the era of luxury trucks with Nappa leather seats, 12-inch infotainment systems and 6-figure price tags, the basic configurations of pickup trucks that have been around for most of the pickup truck’s existence are changing. Pickup trucks are being used less to drive to the worksite and more to drive to the office — and as family vehicles, which means pretty much everyone who buys a truck other than contractors wants four doors. With 4-door cabs being the new standard, what’s happening to old-fashioned single-cab, 2-seater pickups?

They’re dying. In fact, what used to be considered a "regular cab" truck is becoming very irregular. The first mainstream full-size truck to ditch the single-cab configuration was the Toyota Tundra when it made extended cab and crew cab its only cabin options for 2017. Since then, Ram and GMC have joined the party by only offering their full-size pickups with four doors. If you want a 2019 GMC Sierra 1500, a Ram 1500 or a Toyota Tundra with only two doors and two seats, you’re out of luck.

My colleague Chris O’Neill has written about the weirdness of the single-cab, short-bed pickup, and now it looks like that automotive oddity is going extinct. For starters, modern pickups in single-cab configurations just look odd. They’re clearly designed to look good with four doors, since that’s how the majority of them are built, and when the back half of the cab is chopped off the front half of the truck, it just looks stubby and weird.

I think part of the reason the single-cab pickup has stuck around for so long is not only for the occasional truck buyer who just needs a simple, no-nonsense work truck, but also to keep the starting price low. Ram can no longer advertise that its light-duty, full-size pickup starts at less than $30,000, but Ford and Chevy can. The manufacturers know full well that most folks who buy pickup trucks spend much more than the base price on them, but being able to advertise that sub-$30,000 price probably helps bring people into showrooms to buy their next $50,000 pickup.

How many more years does the single-cab pickup have left? Toyota has a very small market share for full-size pickups in the U.S., and the GMC Sierra is shifting further upmarket anyway — but Ram’s exit from the single-cab game is significant. Will Ford and Chevy follow suit or will they soldier on with the humble single-cab pickup indefinitely?

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