Feature: Full size pickup cabs keep getting bigger  auto brands
2006 Dodge Ram 2500 Mega Cab. Click image to enlarge

By Tony Whitney
Photos by Grant Yoxon

Most pickup buyers know that cabs come in an amazing variety of sizes and designs, and automakers have adapted to rapidly-changing market demands by offering a wider selection. To paraphrase Henry Ford and his black Model Ts, at one time, you could get a pickup in any cab size you wanted as long as it had just one three-passenger bench seat up front. Of course, there have always been multi-passenger purpose-built trucks with two rows of seats and four doors, but these were once only of the “logging crummy” variety and produced in small numbers.

In recent years, truck manufacturers have been turning out all kinds of cab designs, both for compacts and full-size units. Some makes offer three types of cab for a single model – two-door standard cab rigs, larger extended cab models with two small “suicide” doors and big crew cab models with large rear seating areas and two proper doors for rear occupants to use.

Each automaker has a specific “registered name” for its various cab designs and there’s a certain amount of overlap here. As an example, Ford uses “SuperCab” for its extended cab full-size F-Series truck and “SuperCrew” for the version with four full doors. Chevrolet describes its competitors in this segment as “Extended Cab” and “Crew Cab,” terms often used by other automakers. It takes a little sorting out by anyone shopping this market, but basically, the various makers offer similar lines as far as size goes.

Even in the compact truck segment, buyers have a wide choice of cab designs. Truck designers of both compact and full-size models have all kinds of ways of maximizing rear space, either for carrying passengers or loading cargo. In the compact class, there are trucks that have small rear seats that fold up sideways against the interior trim and others that fold forwards and flat to create a load floor. On the bigger trucks, load space can be amazing when the rear seats are folded and there are some models that have large lidded (and often lockable) bins in the floor to stow gear that needs hiding from the watchful eyes of thieves.

Of course, as in other classes of vehicle, there are always models that aim at being “biggest of the big” and offer vast amounts of passenger and interior cargo room. All members of the Big Three – Ford, GM and Dodge – offer full-size four-door trucks and both Nissan and Toyota (and perhaps Honda) knocking on the door with exceptionally roomy rigs.

Feature: Full size pickup cabs keep getting bigger  auto brands
2006 Dodge Ram 2500 Mega Cab

Feature: Full size pickup cabs keep getting bigger  auto brands
2006 Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab. Click image to enlarge

Although top-of-the-size-line four-door trucks from Ford, GM, Toyota and Nissan are truly massive as far as interior space goes, Dodge has taken the whole business one step further by introducing what it calls its Ram Mega Cab. This new truck is claimed to have the world’s biggest cab and nobody who can use a tape measure is going to dispute that. Dodge already has a big four-door truck in its Ram Quad Cab, but this baby is even bigger.

According to Dodge, sales of full-size crew cab pickups have increased 25 per cent over the past year and the segment is growing faster than any other in the marketplace. Some of the reason for this must be that people are trying to combine the benefits and capabilities of a pickup with the passenger capacity of a large SUV. I dare say that many people who have used a pickup for work and an SUV for family trips are discovering that one vehicle might just get the job done. Dodge clearly believed that if people were buying crew cab trucks at that rate, they might just go for something even bigger.

Feature: Full size pickup cabs keep getting bigger  auto brands

Feature: Full size pickup cabs keep getting bigger  auto brands

Feature: Full size pickup cabs keep getting bigger  auto brands
2006 Dodge Ram Mega Cab. Click image to enlarge

The big Dodge has a cab that’s 20-inches longer than the already large Quad Cab model, that remains in the range. Unsurprisingly, it has a huge amount of interior space and there’s absolutely no doubt at all that three very large people could sit comfortably in the back. When the seats are folded flat, the cargo area will take huge and boxy loads and getting them inside is helped by the very wide rear doors this truck has. The doors also open up 85-degrees. Incidentally, comfort for those in the back is further enhanced by the fact that the rear seatbacks recline 15-degrees – the first time this feature has appeared in a pickup.

Naturally, this is an expensive vehicle and is only available in the two top Dodge trim levels. I guess the idea is that if a buyer is replacing two vehicles with one, a few desirable “extras” can be covered by the sticker price. Asked whether the vehicle would be expensive to operate, Dodge people were saying at the media launch that it could substitute for two standard trucks in getting workers to a jobsite and would therefore deliver economies that way.

For most people, existing full-size crew cab pickups will get the job done very well, but for those who want the absolute maximum in load and people-carrying capability, trucks like the new Ram Mega Cab will be highly attractive. And will rival automakers be looking at the idea of stretching their big cabs just a little longer? You can pretty well count on that if the big new Dodge sells well.