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Here in Texas I’m seeing more and more of these on the road: extended-cab, short bed trucks.  Sure, they look cool.  I can’t help but think, though, that if you can’t put a full sheet of plywood in the back, it’s not really a work truck.  But I’ve been wrong before.

What do you think?  Are these trucks or truckars?  Let us know in comments.


44 Responses to Hot or Not? Short Bed Trucks

  1. Chris says:

    If you can’t fit a 4’x8′ sheet of plywood flat in the back, it’s not a pickup truck.

  2. Waylan says:

    It all depends on what your using it for. If your only ever transporting 4×8 sheets (for example) a few times a year, then go with the much better looking short bed. The way most people use trucks these days, that seems like the most likely choice. But, if you need the cargo room regularly, then by all means get the ugly truck.

    Just my $0.02

  3. Leslie says:

    100% agree with Chris. I’d give a little leeway to trucks that let you put a 4×8 flat after you fold the back gate down flat, with liberal tie-downs available, but other than that I don’t see the point other than simply as “gee look at ME in my bigass (and usually mega-expensive) truck”.

    Ditto for the mini-pickups. I can fit a lot more in my minivan than a friend of mine can fit in her mini-pickup. And what the heck is this little car-with-open-pickup-type back that I see around at times? I think it’s a subaru, but the open bed is maybe 4×3 or perhaps even smaller. What’s the point?!?

  4. Fred says:

    Depends. Does the job need crew or does the job need cargo? There isn’t going to be a one size fits all.

  5. james b brauer 66 says:

    If I had a dollar for every time some kid loading my truck said, “It isn’t gonna fit”, I could buy a tank of gas for a full size.

    My Nissan Frontier will haul sheet goods between the bed rails with the bed extender open, and it is a short bed. Had a single cab Nissan before that, and it had a longer bed, but no room in the cab for much of anything. I like having a backseat more than the space in the bed. I dunno how many times I have loaded that truck full, but it has to be approaching a hundred. If I was some kind of contractor I would get a full size, but 90% of the time I am only hauling myself around.

  6. jeff says:

    I drive an 02 Fullsize GM pickup with the short box (about 6′ 10″ or so with the tailgate up). It easily fits a full sheet of ply in there with the tailgate down. I just use some ratchet straps to cleverly hold it down. In the winter time I use the same truck to haul my snowmobile too (which hangs out the back) and I’ve had no issues. Again, ratchet straps aid in keeping my load in place. Since I work in the city, it is way easier to maneuver my truck than a long box. The smaller than 6′ boxes don’t seem very useful to me though. At least not in my situation.

  7. Vincent says:

    Um, yeah, if it has a truck bed, it is a truck. I mean, come on, most short bed trucks can handle a 4×8 sheet of plywood if you put the tailgate down. I have a Dodge Dakota and I can put a sheet of plywood in there no problem (with the tailgate down). Of course, I don’t haul around plywood all the time, just myself. It all depends on what you use it for.

  8. Bill G says:

    Nothing beats loading a boat load (?) of stuff into a truck bed without a lot of shimmying and repositioning. Having gobs of space is the way to go. With that said, though, we move equipment for our music festivals using whatever vehicle is available. Last year, it was a Chevy S10 and a Ford F350 (guess which one carried the most, and then guess which one was easiest to maneuver downtown). This year, it’s a 93 4Runner (with the seats down) and a new Tacoma. If I had my druthers, though, the biggest bed possible always wins.

  9. Old Donn says:

    A full sized pickup, long box, and the biggest engine you can afford to operate. Even if you use your truck as a car 99% of the time, that 1% when you need to use it as a truck justifies the long box. It’s not just 4×8 sheets of plywood. How about dressers, couches, mattress & box spring? Having moved a kid to/from college several times, a long box means less trips and can be the difference between the tailgate up & secure and stuff hanging out the back with a reg rag tied on. The short beds do look nicer, but not for that 4 letter word, WORK.

  10. Andrew says:

    as pointless as a Lincoln Aviator. Trucks are for work, not for anything else.
    I vote NOT

  11. dlone says:

    Most of the pickups I see on the road, regardless of size, are empty or nearly so. Sorry to be contrary, but in an age when gas is over $3 per gallon, when we’re hocking our childrens’ future to feed our oil addiction, and when the exhaust from those big engines is heating up the planet, I can’t agree that 1% justifies the cost. Buy the size that fits your need most of the time. If you only need to haul plywood once or twice a year, rent a pickup for a day, or use a trailer.

  12. David says:

    I find that I use my short bed like a sedan: if it can go in the back seat, it does. Over the time I have had it, I would have used the full length bed more times than I have had someone sit in the back seat. So maybe I chose poorly.

    Still, when the time comes, you can’t put a child safety seat in the bed of the truck – even if you use ratchet straps.

  13. Gonad the Barbarian says:

    Mostly a not….
    I don’t know that I could agree with anyone that says extended cabs with short beds look good.

    As far as utility, if they can haul what you need to haul, then to quote our least favorite jailbird, “That’s hot”

  14. benjamen says:

    I have an extended cab short box Silverado. By short I mean 6 foot, not 5-1/2′ or less. I think it can be a good compromise. I can fit a 4×8 sheet of plywood with the tailgate down and I can drive it reasonably in the city.

    I can’t imagine adding an 8″ box on an extended cab. Maybe on a short cab. You can’t park the thing or maneuver in traffic. But if you are using the truck for carrying people or pets a short cab won’t cut it.

    I think the topic of another Hot or Not could be: 4 wheel drive vs 2 wheel drive. I’ve heard down in Texas 4 wheel drive is looked down on becasue it is one more thing to break. But up the the great snowy north a pickup is useless without it. No amount of weight in the back makes it driveable.

    And to dlone: I think your picking a fight on the wrong web site. I bet most of the people who read Toolmonger probably use and abuse their trucks much more that the average truck owner. Your comments MIGHT be true elsewhere, but I doubt it applies to the readers of this site.

  15. DayUSeX says:

    Wow I love all these people that say its only a work truck with a longbox

    I have the extended cab shortbox, and I am willing to bet I have hauled more 12″ sheets of rock farther than most. Im talking like 20 sheets of 5/8′ about 120 miles. And this is more than regular occurance. And guess what, not one sheet broken, you just have to take the extra 5 minutes to tie shit down.

  16. Stefan says:

    How come everyone associates a work truck with being able to carry sheets? I’m a carpenter, and though i do work with lots of ply, or SPF lumber, i rarely ever haul it myself. I use my truck bed for carrying tools, tools, and more tools. And to those who would say that I could just haul tools in a car or suv, I choose to haul them in my truck because at the end of the work day all of my boxes are either covered in dirt, or in dust, and I’d rather wash out the bed of my truck than have to vacuum my seats and trunk for hours.

  17. TMIB_Seattle says:

    I guess it depends on what you’re going to use it for. If you need to haul a welder or some Oxy/Acetylene or Argon tanks it’ll do the job for you. Not everyone needs the full-size bed I guess. But I have to wonder how many jobs you are hauling in a short bed that need a truck with that much weight capacity?

    For me, if I can’t haul a motorcycle in it, it’s not going to do the job. My truck is just a little old ’86 Toyota Pickup. Nothing fancy or heavy duty, but it was cheap and it has a full-length bed. I’ve hauled all kinds of bikes in it, couches, and all sorts of scrap metal from the junkyard. I’ve even loaded the bed over-full with old computers to throw away at the dump. If I was regularly hauling loads of dirt or concrete blocks it’d be real hard on this little truck. Maybe one of the short bed pickups with the heavy duty suspension would be more appropriate for that.

  18. Patrick says:

    I agree with TMIB – you need to buy the truck you’ll use. In Texas I found that meant red trucks. I’m not sure why, but I’d pull into Gruene Hall with my F150 (a monster here in Northern VA) and I’d be dwarfed by everybody. Just real big shiny red trucks. I didn’t get it.

    I have a long box, it can fit my motorcycle on it. And that 1% is damn important to me. Long box is the way to go.

    To throw a monkey wrench into this debate, what about camper tops? I’ve got one, and while the thing looks uglier than my mother-in-law, I can lock down all the gear I collect in the back, no worries. And everything stays dry. Any other opinions?

  19. Bryan says:

    HOT — Trucks should look good too, and I can still move a 4×8 sheet. Besides, parallel parking a crew cab long bed is no trivial task

  20. Pierce says:

    HOT &emdash; I can haul my wife, kids and plywood in my Dakota Quad Cab. I’ve hauled 16-foot 2x4s with some forethought (and some hairy moments on the DC suburbs’ excuses for roads), I’ve hauled dressers, I’ve hauled a full bed of compost (steering by mental powers, mostly). But when you have the kids far more than you have the lumber, it’s a no-brainer, especially when they’re 3 and 5 and you like them alive.

  21. Scraper says:

    Not Hot. I don’t like the way they look. But I am sure they still handle most of the hauling duties that most owners need.

  22. Blind says:

    Hot enough for me.

    I’ve got a F150 regular cab short bed. It’s about as small of a truck as you can get and still have a full size. It will haul my motorcycle perfectly. It will haul my friend’s motorcycle well. I’ve hauled sheets of gypsum no problem. Helped people move. Done all of that standard truck stuff. I’ve got zero reason to desire a long bed and I’ve never needed it.

  23. Aaron Baca says:

    I’m a big fan of the purpose-built vehicle. Old trucks, four door sedans, Jeeps and two-seat sports cars.
    Any of these vehicles excels at its purpose and is just painful for anything else. Vehicle hybrids are a poor excuse for having the types of vehicles it combines, but they’re hugely popular anyway. For instance, car/trucks lack the economy of people movers and the handling of cars. Truck/sports cars are just plain silly. If you want to save money in this age of expensive energy, have a car and a truck. Haul with the truck and commute with the car, but never use either vehicle for something outside it’s intended purpose.
    That being said, the truck in your fleet should be a proper hauler. Mine is a long-bed with a canopy so I very rarely ever have to use tie-downs, even on dump runs.

  24. false_cause says:

    The work truck I drive is a huge Dodge Ram 2500 with the mega cab and a full 8′ bed. Given my experience with this truck, I’d say short beds are hot if you need the interior space and not if you can work with a regular or relatively compact extended cab.

    There have been times where the extra seating was great to haul around laborers or to keep things out of the weather. There are have been times when the bed was full of old air handlers and the full 8′ was needed. Most of the time, we don’t need either the full bed or the extra seats and the length of the vehicle is a drag to maneuver.

    I will say, however, that if you are going to put a truck box in the back for tools, you will almost certainly need to avoid the short bed.

  25. Mel says:

    NOT for me, I think they’re ugly and look unbalanced. I can see it if you haul kids more than cargo.

  26. Robert says:

    Every truck is a compromise – unless you can afford the insurance and taxes on multiple vehicles.
    My compromise is a Tundra “double cab” with 6.5′ bed and the 5.7 L engine. I need to pull a 8,000 lb trailer, and sometimes carry adults in the back. The rear seats fold up so there’s plenty of room for bulky gear in the back of the cab where it’s protected from weather and locked up. The Toyota “double cab” is their extended cab, there is also a crew cab that’s got limosene room in the back. the double cab is larger than most extendended cabs. The seats are not as upright as others and there’s more leg room. My 6’4″, 280 lb dad is comfortable back there. I haul hundreds of pounds of work stuff during the week, and my bass guitar and amp weekends.
    I have a crossover toolbox with room underneath it so I can slide long items under it and with the tailgate down, can still haul 4×8’s.

  27. dewey says:

    Real trucks don’t have spark-plugs

  28. Rob O. says:

    Seems like the choice really depends on what your needs dictate.

    That said, really, a better question might be, “Commuter vehicle or truck?” If you need a truck, get one, but don’t squander money & resources on a quad-cab truck when all you really need to do the vast majority of the time is haul crew. Get a people-haulin’ commuter vehicle if that’s your primary need. Minivans ain’t sexy nor particularly manly, but they can’t be beat for shuffling folks around.

    More often that not (at least from casual observation) guys buy trucks because of the prevailing attitude, which goes something like, “By God, if you ain’t got yerself a big dick truck, well heck, ya just ain’t much of a man, now are ya?”

  29. Kevin_Y says:

    Whoever decided that the short bed truck looks better? I think it looks ricidulous. It looks like a longbed that has been amputated, like the last third of the bed had gangrene and had to be removed to give the rest of the truck a chance at survival. Sure, the plastic/fiberglass surgeon did a good job at making it look like a truck again, but it just doesn’t look right.

  30. Jim says:

    As many have already said, it all depends on the use. For me I took the compromise with an extended cab Tundra with the short bed. I’ve hauled compost, motorcycles, tools, roofing materials, sheet rock and ply (w/the gate down admittedly), moved myself twice, gone off-roading on many a nice Sierra trail, and in general used the heck out of my truck. Is it the biggest? No, but it meets my expectations just fine. O and BTW- I’ve driven trucks with both 8′ beds and shorter than what I’ve got now and in my opinion this was a great compromise.

  31. John Laur says:

    I can’t believe that nobody’s mentioned that pulling a trailer is a lot more convenient with a short bed pickup or that you can actually fit one in the garage.

  32. Blind says:

    Garage? What madness will you speak of next? That our trucks look better when washed and waxed?

  33. Roscoe says:

    I drive a crew cab with a short bed. I often need to haul more people for work than plywood. If my truck was any longer it wouldn’t fit in the garage. Saying only long-beds are work trucks assumes only carpenters are workers. I can get a lot of shovels, surveying equipment, etc. in my truck- and I don’t have to crawl to the front to get it.

  34. JK says:

    Before I caught the performance bug again, I had the best of both worlds; a (short bed) reg-cab Ranger, and a ~$300 4×8 trailer from Harbor Freight. Got 25mpg during the week doing my commute, and had the bed for doing light-duty on-the-spot hauling. For those times I actually needed to move large items, multiple sheets, etc, I had the full 4×8 setup hooked up, and then still had the bed for other items. Worked great.

  35. Fong says:

    I’ve yet to haul a single sheet of plywood and I’ve used my truck to move other people’s sh*t more than my own. If someone’s moving to another home, no amount of pickup is going to fit even a dormroom-full of furniture. I’m usually haulin’ tools, appliances, single pieces of new furniture.

    My Tacoma double cab short box with the occasional hard cover is primarily used for recreation: mountain bikes, snowboards, camping; 4 passengers and all the accompanying gear. I could see upgrading to a full sized version just for towing capability for a boat or trailer for quads but I don’t think I’ll ever need a “work” truck with a long bed.

    AND…as a fellow toolmonger, with my tools, motorcycle, sporting equipment, shelves, and workbench in my 2 car condo-sized garage, there’s no way I can park anything longer in it. Thanks for pointing that out J. Laur. HOT in my book.

  36. Toolaremia says:


    I *never* would have bought a truck, much less a short-bed quad-cab. I did when a confluence of dead tow vehicle (old cop sedan), available trailer, and a right-priced truck from the right person led me to get a big-ass Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab Short Bed 4×4.

    I had outrageously under-valued the utility of a quad cab. It is brilliantly useful for hauling people, and as-importantly, cargo in a clean, dry, and locked area.

    The short bed is still *WAY* bigger than the trunk of the sedan I had. It served me beautifully when I moved, and can haul 4×8 sheets with zero trouble. It perfect for all of my race-car tools and parts.

    Since my truck is mainly a tow vehicle for my race car, it’s a huge added benefit to be able to keep my personal gear dry and clean in the huge cab, while keeping all my heavy, dirty, sharp-edged, and smelly racing hardware under the tonneau in the short-but-plenty-big truck bed. Then once at the track, I can unhitch and take five other people out to dinner with me (which I just did this last weekend). But thanks to the short-bed, I can still park the thing in /normal/ sized parking spots without having to go back-and-forth more than once.

    So, HOT, HOT, HOT!

  37. Teacher says:

    Hot or Not depending on need. My buddy has a short bed Nissan Frontier with extended cab. The extended is really nice for keeping things dry when he needs to. he does tree work and that short bed will easily carry his two chain saws, gas, climbing harness, ropes etc. I’ve done a few jobs with him and I guarantee, we work.

    I quit using pickups for moving years ago. The last three times I moved, I rented a 16 or 20 foot “U-Haul” type truck. $100 for 24 hours and I make one trip. No spending 3 hours loading/unloading and 5 hours on the road.

  38. Jack says:

    Short Bed Trucks? Worthless, except to pull a trailer.

  39. Richard Head says:

    I’ve got me BA truck, 2005 Dodge Ram Cummins 2500 Power Wagon 4×4 Turbo Diesel and this wagon has grande cajones. Sure, I haul plywood and sheetrock on occasion, but nothing beats it for that quick trip down to the 7-11 for a Big Gulp when you’re thirsty. It’s got beaucoup torque, room for my coon hounds to ride in the back, and I can pull my Chriscraft bass boat easily behind her, and life’s good. When you got a truck like this, you don’t need no viagra.


  40. Boroski says:

    Love tthe post and useful info you have provided thankyou

  41. Buxbaum says:

    I own a Jack LaLanne and am very proud of it. Sorry I can’t do a comparison.

    Go to the store or online & look at the stats on both juicers.

    Several issues prompted me to go along with Jack’s 1) his endorsement 2) I didn’t have to pre-chop each Veggie to run it by the juicer. it has a large opening to feed the fruits & veggies in to the machine 3) It made an honest amount of juice earlier than it required cleaning.

    I hope this was some help.

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  43. Jimmy T says:

    Let’s use Chuck Cage’s logic in another way.

    “If you have a short penis, you’re not really a man.”

    I’m betting some of the guys talking about 8′ truck beds are shying away from commenting on short beds after reading that.

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