The endless debate: keep a pickup around for hauling chores, or a utility trailer. The debaters are on the stage parking lot, and are about to begin, in very convincing fashion.
I did the utility trailer once. Put a hitch on my minivan. It was a good solution at a time when I had three kids still at home. Even a quad-cab pickup wasn’t going to work for us then. Only trouble was that the trailer occupied the place in my garage that my minivan once did.
Yeah, trailers can be practical but you have to have space to store them. Folding ones help but they are mostly junk. In fact, most consumer-grade trailers are junk only suitable for light loads and short distances. The one in the picture actually looks better than most. Wouldn’t want to use it on a daily basis though.
For me today it’s a full size crew cab pickup. Being a crew cab the box is a bit small, but with a dropped tailgate and a lot of straps it literally hauled my basement home. Plus it has the added ability to tow a camper and it’s got me through some pretty nasty snowstorms. Favorite vehicle I’ve ever owned by far. Should have bought one a long time ago instead of putting up with cramped and far less capable mid-sized SUVs that only managed to average about 1 MPG better on gas.
Of course, I live in a relatively small midwestern city where size is not an issue. If I lived in NYC I’d have different needs.
I’m toying with getting a trailer, I like my Xterra but I never realized how much I actually used my Pickup as intended until after I replaced it.
I use a utility trailer quite often with my Outback, my neighbor and I went in on it (seller threw in a wheelbarrow too!). Quite handy for hauling furniture or doing the dump run.
If it’s your daily driver, the answer depends a lot on the price of gas, don’t you think?
And/or how far you drive it and what you need it for of course.
On a sidenote, it is kind of interesting how gas prices have affected pickup resale values. I bought my 2006 used when gas prices were up in 2009. Two years later when gas was down I got an offer from a local dealer to by it back for more than what I paid for it. That got me a bit excited, until I realized if I did trade it in I’d just be spending even more money on a newer one. Now resale is down a bit again, but still the best out of any vehicle I’ve ever owned, which included a Civic and a 4Runner.
Mike, that can’t be Portland Oregon?
I know California has gas prices at or near the $5/Gal mark now.
There is a gas station just off of I-90 on Rainier Ave S in Seattle that has 87 octane gas for 4.29/Gal currently.
I paid 4:09/Gal for the same grade at a different station just below work last Friday, and it took just over $50 to put in something like 12.96Gal into my car.
That’s just a photo that came up on a quick Google search. I do think it’s Cal., which has hit all-time highs this week.
My neighborhood Chevron in NE Portland has regular at $4.23, just checked. It’s about a dime cheaper in the suburbs.
West Coast gas prices are held high by “refinery capacity shortages”, or so they say. The lower your daily driver’s mileage, the more you fatten their pockets. If you can keep a big truck parked someplace, and only use it for pickup loads, then great. Otherwise trailer or rent. Last time I needed to move a big load I rented from Penske.
What kind of car is that? (Whatever it is, it probably turned into a rust bucket early on where I live.)
Looks like a Toyota Corona to me.
+1…Looks like an 80 or 81 Corona since it has the square headlights.
Its a 79 or later. 78 was the last year of the A-Arm cars. This is a strut car.
None of the above? (CC here.)
That is sweet. I really thought GMC might be on to something when they reintroduced that concept on the Envoy. Until I saw one in person. I still love the idea though and wonder if it could find success if executed better.
It’s a shame that the retracting-roof wagon didn’t work any better for GMC than it did for Studebaker; it would’ve worked for me (I own a car and a beater truck), but I wasn’t in the market during the short time that GM was making these.
It’s probably just as well: May be anecotal, but I’ve read that water leaks were a major issue on Envoy XUVs, just as they were on Wagonaires.
There is no “debate”. Which ever you prefer is right. I have a crew cab pickup with an 8′ bed, and I’ve pulled a trailer twice in my life. It works for me. I don’t expect everybody else to have the same needs or priorities.
I have told the story before that my grandfather farmed from the late 1920s through his death in 1957 without ever having owned a pickup truck. The family car (a Whippet touring car, a 1935 Ford V8 sedan, and a 1951 Kaiser DeLuxe) and a few trailers and wagons were all he ever used (along with a tractor).
For city dwellers, this debate is moot as anything larger than a Ford Ranger, or Chevy S-10/15 truck is a liability IME.
But if you own a house, then OK, but remember, if you have to drive it anywhere and street parking is all you have for parking choices, and it’s not marked out, then you have to fend for yourself in finding a spot big enough for said vehicle.
Otherwise, rent, or borrow a truck for the day and do your dump runs, drive the car the rest of the time, unless you are having to haul often.
For me, it’s both. The truck mostly sees farm chore duty or runs for materials, or gets used for hauling ~four tons of hay in the bed and on a hay rack for deliveries.
I do have a small utility trailer that really only gets used when the truck is out of service or already loaded with something else.
Of course, I also have two large machine sheds for storage.
The truck gets 12-15 mpg, but only racks up maybe 5000 miles a year. The daily driver gets 45 mpg (TDI New Beetle), which helps mitigate the distance from town.
As a country boy, it’s both. Right now, we have 2 pickups and a Subie Forester. We try to do as much stuff with the Subaru, but the Chevy gets the dump runs and the buying trips for nasty stuff (fuel, concrete, building materials) and it has the lumber rack. The second pickup would have been traded for the Subie but it’s going on a trip to Chicago and back next spring, I hope. Ain’t going to take the Chevy due to poor mileage.
When we need the capacity, the utility trailer gets on the back of the Chevy. I have a hitch for the Ranger, but seldom use it. OTOH, the trailer gets used a lot around the property. You can haul a lot of pine junk (slash, pine needles, and firewood) and the tractor has a 2″ ball on the drawbar. Rough guess, we use the trailer into town twice a year. Behind the tractor, lots of times. I turned a carport into a 3-sided garage and store it there with tools and implements.
For what it’s worth, I paid $3.96.9 at Fred Meyer’s gas (owned by Kroger) today. The worst was at $4.16.9, all for 87. We get a fair number of Californians up here for shopping.
Best of all, use your friend’s pickup.
I’ve owned both and can say that 95% of anything that I used to use my pickup for can still be accomplished with my station wagon, and it uses 1/3 less gas. Of course I’d be out of luck if I needed to tow anything heavier than a pop-up trailer.
Depends on what you need it for.
What your needs are, in other words. And that goes deeper than it sounds…
A young single man…might only need a truck. Haul his dirt-bike or four-wheeler out to where he wants it. Move trash and stuff. And he’s the only occupant of the cab.
Someone with a family, or who needs another kind of vehicle…the trailer might make more sense. You can tow a trailer with any sort of suitable-size vehicle. Minivan by day, tow rig on weekends. And yep, a properly-equipped minivan can tow…I towed my Jeep YJ all across the country with my Town & Country minivan and a V-6. Nolo problemo.
The obvious thing missed here is….trailer RENTAL. A U-Haul (known as Y’all Haul in some parts of Central Ohio, or Ohiah as they say there) trailer is dirt cheap. Heavier than an end-user’s trailer might be…but cheap.
No storage problems. For the headaches saved, the $25 charge, no mileage, makes sense. No purchase, no storage…how many times a year are you gonna use that trailer? Ten?
That’s a total cost of under $300.
Unless your tow-rig of choice has E-X-P-L-O-R-E-R on the tailgate. U-haul will most likely tell you to go away.
I’ve often thought of getting a hitch for the Chevelle as it’ll pull a trailer as well as my Explorer will, has a stronger transmission and more oomph, but a sorry axle ratio for pulling.
Crew cabs have blurred the line though. Mine is perfectly comfortable for a family of 5. Definately more legroom and comfort than whoever gets stuck in the 3rd row of a minivan, although you do lose a lot of accessable interior storage with the truck. The only issue I have really is the gas mileage, and even that isn’t near as bad as what trucks used to be.
My 05 Grand Caravan maxes out at 3000 pounds towing, and the GCWR with a family and gear on board would make it less than that. Not enough to SAFELY tow a whole lot, although that’s still more than the payload of a half-ton pickup.
As for rentals, yeah they are economical, but depending on where you live and what you use them for they can be a big hassle too. U-Haul also has requirements your vehicle needs to meet depending on the trailer.
Not trying to say everybody should buy a pickup, they are definately not for everybody, but they are a lot more flexible all-around vehicles today than ever before.
I think here in New Zealand it’s more trailers than pickups. Everyone I know has, or has access to, a trailer. They’re cheap to register and insure and easy to store, whereas a pickup/ute wouldn’t necessarily be so. Having a ute as the sole family vehicle wouldn’t work here, and having one as a second vehicle could be seen as being wasteful if it wasn’t working for its living on a regular basis.
The only one of my friends/family that has a pickup is my brother in law, who’s a farmer. He has 2 utes which are used almost daily: a 4wd Hilux with suspension lift kit for weed spraying, a 2wd Hilux for general farm work. But rather than either of these or a trailer, his preferred vehicle is his 1982 Nissan Patrol LWB 4WD. The rear seats are stripped out of it, and it’s like a big covered (and carpetted!) trailer – that also goes anywhere.
I don’t have a towbar, and after my 15 years of having company station wagons or vans ended a couple years ago, I miss the convenience of being able to move bulky stuff. But rather than a trailer or ute, I’d rather trade my car on an SUV. I wonder how many others have considered the same?
Why would a ute as a second car be “wasteful”? It wouldn’t be seeing any wear or using any fuel unless being driven. And if the miles traveled don’t increase, wear on the one would be saved on the other.
The average person is going to wear out many cars in his lifetime; having more than one and splitting the duties simply lengthens the life of both.
The only thing really wasted is, maybe, space.
Good question, and I believe the answer is a mix of things. It’s partly a difference between US/NZ cultures; partly the costs associated with owning one vehicle (let alone two); and partly very different vehicle fleets of our nations.
Re US/NZ cultural differences, non-farming NZers generally don’t have utes as second vehicles. They’re much more likely to have a trailer or access to one. If a Kiwi family was going to have a second vehicle (and many do), it’d be more likely to be another car, so that either mum or dad can ferry the kids or relatives around.
Re costs, our annual registration and 6-monthly compulsory WOF (warrant of fitness) fees to keep a car/ute on the road are very high compared with trailers, and much moreso if the ute is diesel. A 1-3500kg GVM ute costs NZ$326 a year to register if it’s petrol and NZ$590 if it’s diesel. A 1-3500kg trailer costs NZ$28… I think a lot of people couldn’t afford to pay all the fees unless they were using their vehicle a lot for the purpose it was designed – hence tradesmen and farmers have utes; other folks have trailers. That’s not to say there aren’t non-tradies/farmers down here with utes as second vehicles, but it’s not nearly as common as trailer-owners.
Our vehicle fleet is very different to the USA. And, as well as the high rego/WOF costs, our fuel is also a lot more expensive. Thus our ute market is small to mid-size utes – eg the Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger. Other than the F150/250 (converted to RHD locally and sold new by Ford NZ), there are no full-size pickups sold new here – very few people could afford to run anything that large and thirsty.
Hope that kinda answers that!
It does. I’d forgotten to factor in registration/permitting costs.
Here in Wisconsin, registration fees are a pittance; there’s no vehicle inspection of any kind (we’re on the “honor system” that way; but woe unto the poor sod who gets pulled over on a traffic violation, and has bald tires or other issues!). And insurance can be “suspended” on a vehicle that’s not being used.
It’s not that way in many American states. On the West Coast, I hear, new-vehicle registration costs thousands of dollars and is generally bundled in with the car loan. So I’m told; except for my Navy time in California, I never lived out there.
It’s unfortunate, really. You can have an NZ family that can afford a CAR and a ute; but can’t pay the FEES on it.
Fer wot its worth…in Wisconsin there is NO registration program for small single-axle trailers. No plates; no fees; nothing. Just have a bill of sale handy if you ever get stopped and questioned…
I’m thinking of doing a series of Patrol/Safari pics for the cohort. As far as I can tell from Wikipedia, they don’t have them in the US, but over here they’re just everywhere. They’re practical, completely unkillable, and come in some interesting variations. Frankly, if I had the need for something to tow a big boat, and bounce around a farm, I don’t think I’d bother with anything else
Unkillable is so right. My bro-in-law’s ’82 Patrol previously belonged to his neighbour who’d left it unused for several years after it failed a WOF for excessive rust (a 6-monthly warrant-of-fitness is compulsory for vehicles to be allowed on NZ roads). When the neighbour’s property was sold, he asked if my BIL could get rid of the Patrol. BIL thought he’d see if it’d go after so long unstarted and not driven. One new battery later, and the Patrol fired up like new; four reinflated tyres later and it happily drove to its new home next door. Two years later, the rust means it’ll never see road use again (the roof’s let go from the sides along the drip rail) but as a go-anywhere farm vehicle it’s proven to be reliable and unstoppable – and comfortable too – as an ex-JDM used import, it has a higher-spec interior than the NZ-new ones of the same age.
Pickup and/or full size van by a mile. Dealing with a trailer is just a pain and if you have one that can carry a serious load then you are going to need some sort of truck or at least a Panther to tow it.
Just last week I was coming home down a main road and noticed what looked like a crate sitting on the side of the road. Getting a little closer I see it is a trailer similar to the one above, with out any wheels left and it was full of gravel. He dug some nice gouges in the road getting it to the shoulder. The fenders had been blown off when the wheels snapped off. The plate had been removed presumably in an attempt to avoid getting stuck with a ticket or impound fees.
In Oregon little car trailers aren’t required to have plates. Oregon charges based on weight and I suspect the dmv figures it isn’t worth the hassle. There is an utility trailer plate but I suspect the trailer has to be at least a ton or so to need it.
In WA every trailer needs a plate. The only exception is a tow dolly and in that case if there is a car on it the car needs to have current tabs.
Correct – I have a plateless tow dolly (which I do have a title for and it is registered in my name). The WSP informed me that anything touching the road (even just two wheels) has to have a current registration or a trip permit.
My Tow dolly has never been titled though I do have the MSO (Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin) When I got it 25 years ago the WSP said they weren’t titled and didn’t need plates, and I’ve drug it solo all over w/o the plate since it’s purpose was bringing home projects not towing a car behind a motorhome.
Can’t speak about car dollies, but the threshold in Oregon for a license is 1800 pounds gross. My 5 x 8 utility trailer is good for 2900 pounds, so I pay $86 every two years. (That rate is good to 8000 pounds. It goes by the foot for RV trailers…) The light boat trailer is a freebie. I’ve seen a boat trailer modified as a flatbed utility trailer. I guess I know why.
Good timing. I just sold my pickup (68 F100) because I wasn’t using it much and decided a trailer would suffice. I only used it locally so I figured my Impreza with a hitch could take up the slack. The guy I sold it to wanted me to meet him somewhere. I needed to take the truck on a plywood run (first time in months) so I said I’d stop and show it to him. He bought the truck on the spot, and I had to call my wife to pick me up, sans plywood! Oh, the irony.
So when you’re not hauling, which for most of us is going to be most of the time, which would you rather be driving: a car, or an unloaded pickup? For me, “car” is an easy choice. And when I am shoveling mulch or dirt or whatever, I’d prefer the trailer because the bed height is lower than most pickups.
Other folks just seem to like driving around on stilts, in a tipsy, unbalanced, nose-heavy, overpowered and overweight mini-semi. A lot of folks, actually… but that ain’t me.
That would be me. Were you 6’4″ and spent most of your driving life in little cars essentially sitting on the ground with your feet almost horizontal with your butt, you’d maybe see things a bit differently. The visibility is a huge bonus, as is its ability in snow. And the handling of today’s trucks is pretty decent, a heck of a lot better actually than most of the boats talked about with such fondness on this site. I didn’t buy a truck for that reason, but overall I sure enjoy driving it a lot more than I ever did my Civic, Probe, or Mustangs. They were fun of course… at illegal speeds and/or driving like an idiot…but I’m an adult now toting the family around. The only reason I don’t prefer the truck for driving at all times is the gas mileage, which has nothing to do with its unloaded performance.
As far as overweight and overpowered, when you use a truck as a truck you generally need that strength and power. At the very least it is nice to have when you want it. If you don’t don’t need that kind of ability, a CUV poser-mobile would make a lot more sense, even though CUVs don’t make much sense to me in the first place.
I have a trailer its at a friends house right now as Im still sorting a towbar for my Minx.
I’ve driven trucks with low-bed trailers, but never bothered with a utility-type car trailer. For my needs my Silverado 1500 works a lot better.
Gee, if only somebody would rent you a trailer when you needed it, bet that would be a good business model. u could haul whatever you needed to in one, whenever you needed one. I’d call it U-Haul…………………
In the Chicago area the legalistas have put the hurt on people wanting to rent a trailer from one of those joints.
I’m just trying to move two couches a bed, T.V. and two dogs three hours west. The “U” joint says I need to rent something larger than a trailer. Like a Truck to haul my two couches, bed, T.V. and dogs three hours west. AND they’ll be happy to rent me a rig large enough to carry my two couches, bed, T.V. and dogs three hours west as well as tow my SUV behind it if I get the “optional” tow bar and lighting package.
Yeah, in my next life I’m opening a U-Haul.
I can’t believe that you would have to ask that question. I mean look at all of the station wagon lovers that post here. I have a total distaste for the 1/2 ton truck or BOF SUV. I was always an ElCamino guy so when the time came to wean me off of cartrucks I bought a station wagon. My first wagon was actually a 69 Cadillac ambulance. Made by Kennedy death limo coach builder Hess and Eisenhardt. It was big enough to haul around my motorcycles and had rear HVAC to boot! That was around the gas crunch of 1980 so tanking up that puny 19 gallon tank got to be a pain in short time. Couldn’t beat that 550 lb.ft. of torque from 472 cubes. A few years passed and than again another family truckster in the form of a hearse built on an 82 LeSabre wagon body once again graced it’s presence in my fleet. The back wasn’t as tall as the meat wagon so I installed a class IV platform hitch and bought a tandem axle trailer to haul around the race cars and projects. After a few years I had to ditch it as the roof started to leak at the windshield where the way too long roof was welded to the body. I wanted something that was fast but yet cool and understated. My original plan was a LT1 Caprice wagon but I soon found out that those carried a premium price tag. Time for Plan B. B is for Buick. What’s that you say? A quick browse of the online used car sites and I quickly discovered the same Roadmaster wagon,most with less miles than the Chevys was thousand of dollars less than the bow tie haulers. Boy were these things the sleeper of the century. I again installed a platform hitch and was soon enjoying the benefits of port fuel injected power and economy. Without the trailer and 6,000 pounds of GVWR tagging along I was hauling down 25MPG on the highway. With that extra 6K it only dropped down to 20MPG! Heck my dad can’t even pull those numbers with his Cummins Dually. The economy caught up to me and racing and traveling were soon a distant memory. I sold the trailer and bought one of those platforms that slid into the reciever. I could haul just about anything with that combo. You want to hear what my number one requirement for a vehicle is today? That it be able to haul a four foot by eight sheet of something in the back. That RMW could do it and an Aztek could do it. The Dodge Magnum can and most mini vans can according to the fan boy sites.Funny thing. According to the boys over at ImpalaSS Forums somebody actually compared a LT1 Wagon to the than current Honda Odyssey and the GM beat it in everything. Better MPG,HP,GVWR and interior space.Only catagory it lost was cup holders. I bet there are more than a few LT1 Wagons for sale on the interweb. And the neat part is most of them were owned by old farts so there might be a deal waiting for the sharp buyer.
I run a small gardening business with a Focus wagon and a trailer.
The wagon means that unlike the truck my tools are out of the weather, and temptations way. When I’m carrying plants I don’t need to tarp them from the wind. If I’m getting bulk mulch or compost I don’t need to unload tools and reload after getting stuff and even with a full trailer I get better mileage then most trucks.
Although I paid more for my trailer then I did for my former truck, it costs less to maintain*, insure, and operate. It sits quietly behind the garage those times I don’t need it. The biggest cost savings is that in the winter when my commute to my seasonal job is longer then my wife’s we trade cars. She will happily drive the Focus, a truck, not so much. Not because she doesn’t like trucks, rather snow and pickups aren’t a good combination without a fair amount of work.
I Wanted a Roadmonster wagon but my wife would rather drive a truck.
*OK my 6 cylinder F150 seemed to need about the same amount of annual work as my surge braked trailer.
My other half hated the RMW too. She always thought it was an old fart car. But the funny thing was that she liked the attention she recieved when somebody stopped and wanted to chat about wagons….especially those with woodgrain on them. LOL
The RMW was her DD. One day she came home and asked me whether it was “bubble top” or “flat roof”? Turns out she had lunch with the local retired fire chief and he told her that the department had a bright red flat top wagon before they used Suburbans. I’m assuming Caprice 1A2 but it could have been a Ford because the county and city fleet was about 90% F-Series and CrownVic. I wonder where that wagon is now?
My choice? Chrysler Town & Country.
For the few things that won’t fit in the Chrysler I’ve found its cheaper to rent someting than to actually own it.
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