Published on November 16th, 2017 | by Subhash Nair


5 Reasons To Buy a Pick up, and 5 Reasons Not to

Over the last decade, demand for pick-up trucks in Malaysia have seen quite a large surge. But if these are vehicles that are specific for commercial use, why are they still so popular with private owners? Well, here are some reasons.

1) They’re relatively cheap to buy

Maybe RM100,000 isn’t everyone’s idea of ‘cheap’, but in the grand scale of things, we’d say imported car below RM120,000 falls into the category of car normally associated with affordability. Cars in this price range aren’t too back-breaking to own, but aren’t cheap enough for many first time car buyers.

2) The pricing is more ‘accurate’

In Malaysia, a lot of new car prices have invisible or hidden costs attached. When a price tag shows RM100,000, often the warranty, taxes, duties and other costs can make up for a huge chunk of that sum. As many pickup trucks parts are simple, robust and made for commercial use-cases, warranties can be cheaper for manufacturers to cover (though maintaining a pick-up always cheap to end user). The lighter tax on commercial vehicles also means that you’re paying more for the actual vehicle than for taxes, which inflate the price of regular cars.

3) They offer a substantial amount of power

At the price pick-up trucks are offered, it’s impossible to find any new car that can give figures like 400Nm of torque. Yes, the performance of these engines doesn’t translate to the road, and less powerful cars will be more fun and better to drive. But there’s no denying the engines you get in pickups are extremely powerful without being sportscar-expensive to run.

4) Size

There are a few aspects to size that may appeal to buyers. Firstly, the ride height and presence give owners a sense of security on the road. It’s the same reason people buy crossovers and SUVs. It’s easy for a pick up to bully a hatch, but not the other way round. This aspect also ties in to the tough image a pick up lends its owner.

The second aspect to size is how owners expect to utilise their pick up. Many car owners in Malaysia rarely have passengers to carry around in the rear. Yet, very few Malaysians can commit to buying a 2-door car, in case the time comes when hauling passengers becomes a necessity. Pick-up trucks sold in Malaysia always have enough space for 4 or 5 passengers, but of course, the rear seats aren’t always very comfortable. Still, that tends to serve many owners perfectly. Many owners also appreciate the large luggage room offered by the truck bed. It’s the sort of thing almost everyone will find themselves needing a few times in life. Sometimes, entire lifestyle possibilities become real with a pick-up. You may not even think about going camping by the beach today, but what if you had a free weekend to youself, a pickup and an air matress? That storage capacity can also be useful to small business owners.

The third aspect to size is how much ‘metal’ you get for your money. Pick up trucks are a lot bigger than they look. They’re bigger in many ways, from physical dimensions to engine capacity. Some car owners see this purely as a value for money thing. A hundred thousand ringgit car will get you something that can barely fit in a regular car park space. Passenger cars in that price bracket? You’re lucky to even find a C-segment car for that price.

5) Livability

Not so long ago, pick-up trucks were really as basic as you can imagine. But as the aspects talked about above became attractive to car buyers, more and more people ended up buying these vehicles to drive daily. Manufacturers noticed and began to offer more creature comforts. Today, there are pickups with fully independant suspension, comfort-oriented seats, power sockets, long warranties, active safety and cruise features, touchscreens, stability control, leather seats. Sure, they’re still trucks, but they’ve come pretty close to passenger cars in many respects.

Personally, I would recommend a pick-up truck as a second or third car. There are still aspects to truck ownership that will fall short of expectations.

1) Passenger problems

For instance, if you have children or old folks to drive around, they may not be comfortable with climbing into and out of a truck without assistance.

2) Maintainance cost may surprise you

And as simple and well-built as trucks are, the shift from a regular car to a truck may be a maintainance nightmare to many. Firstly, the larger engines often require a lot more engine oil than one would expect. Secondly, tyres are often more heavy duty than road car tyres, so they cost more. Because many pick up owners don’t have to slow down for pot holes and speed bumps, suspension wear and tear will catch them by surprise.

3) Road tax

It’s impossible to find small-capacity pickup trucks. Most are between 2.2-3.2 lires. While 2.2-2.4-litre pick ups may not have high road tax rates, many truck owners go after the higher trim levels, which are often packaged with larger engines. So, if you’re going from a regular 1.8-litre petrol car to a full-spec pickup, you may end up paying 3 times more annually for your blue windshield sticker.

4) They’re never quite as refined as cars

As we mentioned before, pick up trucks have come a long way. But at the end of the day, many of them are still fundamentally engineered to be workhorses. You’re not going to get supple ride characteristics, road-hugging manouverability, or even superb NVH characteristics. In most trucks, you’re always reminded by the drive characteristics that you’re in a truck, not a car. It could be the vibration of the diesel engine, the feel of the interior plastics, the sound of the turbo spooling up, the suspension tuning, there’s always something not quite car-like about pick-ups.

5) Size

Size can be just as much a push as it is a pull factor. Pick ups are not easy to park, even with reverse cameras and sensors as sometimes there’s just not enough room. Driving them around is usually OK, but if you’re on the short side, you may have a problem with visibility. Yes, the size of the trunk bed is large, but you’ll have to buy a cover otherwise you can’t use that space like you would a regular boot.

About the Author

Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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