Why more Americans are buying trucks

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While Santa’s not quite ready to trade his sleigh and reindeer in for horsepower and a pickup truck, a lot of buyers have made the choice to go truck instead of car in recent years.

2016 is on track to be a record-breaking year for automotive sales. In 2015 the automotive industry sold more than 17.5 million vehicles, and this year, almost 16 million have sold so far, according to Edmunds.com. But it’s not cars that are leading the way – it’s trucks. The percentage of cars is decreasing, but truck sales are up for the fourth year in a row.

Trucks occupy a singular place in American popular culture. They have become the modern equivalent of the horse in our imagination, and have had memorable roles in a many feature films over the years. There’s Patrick Swayze’s pickup truck in “Red Dawn,” Bill Murray driving a pickup truck off the cliff – over and over again –  in “Groundhog Day,” and Jack Nicholson jumping into the back of a pickup truck and playing the piano in “Five Easy Pieces,” to name a few.

The modern pickup truck, besides helping us move all of the “stuff” that we Americans have so voraciously acquired, has morphed into something that’s a hybrid of luxury SUV and farm machinery. Modern trucks are equipped with heated leather seats, top tier sound systems, and most of the features found in most modern cars.

Listen: Tod Mesirow talks to Steve Chiotaks

KCRW’s car guy Tod Mesirow talks with Steve Chiotakis about trucks, the one he wants from Santa, and the Nissan Titan XD he took for a test drive.