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Survey Results: 2018 Dream Truck Survey

The fourth bi-annual Truck Camper Magazine Dream Truck Survey results are in.  With over 5,000 votes and eight years of trend data, one truck make, model, and configuration rules them all.  The eight year trend charts are equally compelling.

2018 Dream Truck Survey Results

This exact Dream Truck Survey has been conducted in 2011, 2013, 2015, and now 2017.  The purpose of the survey is to find out what trucks Truck Camper Magazine readers have, and what trucks they want.  This information helps the truck camper industry and the consumer to be on the same page regarding truck preferences.

For the truck camper industry, this allows management teams to design and produce campers that are size and weight compatible with the most popular truck configurations.  For consumers, this information allows you to benchmark personal truck preferences against the community, and better understand the truck camper marketplace.

This year we asked participants to strongly consider their wallet.  It’s not as informative to find out what your dream truck would be if that’s not the truck you would actually purchase.  For example, I want a Porsche 911 GT3 RS, but I bought a VW GTI.  One costs under $27K, the other $143,600.  Enough said.

Did this perspective change the survey results?  Is your dream truck different than the truck you would actually purchase?  We’ll dig into the data, study the trends, and find out.

1. CURRENT TRUCK MAKE

For the fourth straight time, Ford dominates as the truck you currently own.  With a 37.17% result, Ford leaves the competition far behind.  Even when we combine the two GM brands (Chevrolet and GMC) we only reach 27.19% – 10 percentage points behind Ford.

The rest of the pack is fairly consistent over the eight year data points.  2014 saw the biggest changes.  RAM gained in 2014 and has held that gain.  Chevrolet dropped in 2014 and has held that drop.  GMC gained in 2014, and has seen that gain fade in the 2016 and now 2018 surveys.  Toyota, Nissan, and Other (Fuso, Unimog, etc.) data are less than 1-percent different over the eight year chart.

TRUCK MAKE 2012 2014 2016 2018
Ford 37.88% 36.6% 36.30% 37.17%
Dodge Ram 19.89% 22.81% 23.64% 23.00%
Chevrolet 23.30% 18.83% 18.11% 18.51%
GMC 6.44% 10.48% 9.62% 8.68%
Toyota 4.73% 4.38% 5.13% 5.18%
Other: Fuso, Unimog, etc. 0.76% 1.06% 0.88% 0.84%
Nissan 0.95% 0.93% 0.88% 1.29%
None, I do not own a truck. 6.06% 4.91% 5.45% 5.33%

2. CURRENT TRUCK MODEL

The trend in truck model is towards 1-ton trucks.  For each of the four surveys, 1-ton trucks have gained as the truck model you own.  In contrast, 3/4 ton trucks dropped in 2016 and held that drop for 2018.

The Mini, Half-Ton, and F-450/F-550 categories stayed consistent.  With the rise in popularity of half-ton compatible truck campers we expected to see an increase in half-tons in particular, but the data shows a gain of less than half a percentage point (15.66% to 16.09%).

TRUCK MODEL 2012 2014 2016 2018
Mini: Ranger/Tacoma, etc. 5.87% 4.52% 4.98% 4.42%
Half-Ton: F-150/1500 16.48% 15.29% 15.66% 16.09%
3/4 Ton: F-250/2500 31.82% 33.24% 28.67% 28.53%
1-Ton: F-350/3500 37.5% 38.43% 41.85% 42.79%
F-450/F-550/4500, etc. 2.27% 3.46% 3.13% 2.59%
None, I do not own a truck. 6.06% 5.05% 5.70% 5.57%

3. CURRENT TRUCK FUEL TYPE

With six years of trend data showing gains, we can declare that gas trucks are making headway against diesel trucks.  Diesel still dominates, but we might see gas overtake diesel for the 2020 Dream Truck Survey.  What’s interesting is how his data does not reflect what people answered for their 2018 Dream Truck responses.  Do we want diesel trucks, but buy gas trucks?  I think a future Question of the Week is needed here.

FUEL TYPE 2012 2014 2016 2018
Diesel 48.57% 55.56% 53.99% 50.96%
Gas 45.7% 39.49% 40.37% 43.61%
None, I do not own a truck. 5.73% 4.95% 5.64% 5.43%

4. CURRENT CAB TYPE

Once again, regular cabs and extended cabs are down, and crew cabs are up.  This trend could be the result of availability.  When we bought our 2013 Chevy 3500, an extended cab was not available in our preferred configuration.  The same was true when we bought our 2014 RAM 3500.  Whatever the reason, crew cabs dominate this result.

CAB TYPE 2012 2014 2016 2018
Crew Cab: Four Doors 35.65% 54.95% 54.42% 56.25%
Extended Cab: Half Doors 35.65% 31.68% 31.35% 30.70%
Regular Cab 12.52% 8.16% 8.52% 7.29%
None, I do not own a truck. 6.36% 5.21% 5.71% 5.76%

5. CURRENT TRUCK BED TYPE

While long beds continue to be the majority (52.21%), short beds continue to gain.  When you add the short bed and super short bed categories together, you get 39.62%.  That’s up 6.82% from 2016.  Custom storage beds remain under 1%, a number that becomes very interesting when we see the 2018 Dream Truck data.

The big news is the nearly 200% increase in flatbeds.  This would be even more exciting if flatbeds weren’t just 1.68% of the total, but the one year flatbed trend sure is impressive.

TRUCK BED TYPE 2012 2014 2016 2018
Long Bed 60.34% 56.12% 55.96% 52.21%
Short Bed 32.45% 32.98% 33.87% 35.65%
Super Short Bed N/A 3.99% 3.20% 3.97%
Custom Storage Bed 0% 1.06% 0.80% 0.76%
Flatbed 0.76% 0.93% 0.56% 1.68%
None, I do not own a truck. 6.26% 4.92% 5.60% 5.73%

6. CURRENT TRANSMISSION TYPE

The consistent trend in transmission type continues to be toward automatic transmissions.

TRANSMISSION TYPE 2012 2014 2016 2018
Automatic Transmission 81.59% 83.9% 86.17% 86.54%
Manual Transmission 12.02% 11.23% 8.5% 7.95%
None, I do not own a truck. 6.4% 4.87% 5.34% 5.50%

7. CURRENT DRIVELINE TYPE

Four-wheel drive preference dipped for the 2016 survey and then surged back to a full 81.06% for 2018.  Only 13.5% now say they own a two-wheel drive truck.

DRIVELINE TYPE 2012 2014 2016 2018
Four-Wheel Drive: 4×4 76.63% 79.78% 77.42% 81.06%
Two-Wheel Drive: 4×2 17.43% 15.23% 16.94% 13.50%
None, I do not own a truck. 5.94% 4.99% 5.65% 5.44%

8. CURRENT REAR WHEEL CONFIGURATION

There’s a real battle here.  Single rear wheel trucks dominate, but the trend lines show shifting preferences survey to survey.  On the whole, single rear wheel trucks are gaining on dual rear wheel trucks, but the trend data is not conclusive.

REAR WHEEL CONFIGURATION 2012 2014 2016 2018
Single Rear Wheel: SRW 70.1% 68.23% 66.35% 68.50%
Dual Rear Wheel: DRW 23.81% 27.08% 28.04% 26.09%
None, I do not own a truck. 6.1% 4.69% 5.61% 5.42%

Next: The 2018 Dream Truck Winner and Truck Survey Results

1. DREAM TRUCK MAKE

Once again, Ford dominates the dream truck make category with 40.89% in 2018.  That said, Ford essentially held its position with a gain of just 1.79%.  In contrast, the GM brands (Chevrolet and GMC) gained 3.62% from 2016 to 2018.  After being a big gainer for the 2016 survey, RAM declined 5.96% for 2018.

Further down the list, Toyota made a 5.09% increase, but represents just over 4% of the total dream truck data. Nissan ranks last with a mere 0.69%.

DREAM TRUCK MAKE 2012 2014 2016 2018
Ford 42.31% 37.68% 40.18% 40.89%
Dodge Ram 22.31% 24.23% 26.30% 24.73%
Chevrolet 20.38% 16.78% 14.92% 15.39%
GMC 8.08% 13.72% 11.31% 11.79%
Toyota 3.65% 2.93% 3.93% 4.13%
Other: Fuso, Unimog, etc. 3.27% 4.39% 2.89% 2.37%
Nissan 0% 0.27% 0.48% 0.69%

2. DREAM TRUCK MODEL

Again, we are surprised that half-ton trucks have not gained for the Dream Truck results.  In fact, half-ton trucks actually dropped 13% from 2016.  With many manufacturers focused on half-ton trucks, this trend is worth noting.

1-ton trucks dominate with a very consistent 55% of the total.  F450/F550/4500, etc. also remain strong with 24.24% of the total.  The message here is clear; we want bigger trucks, and more payload.

TRUCK MODEL 2012 2014 2016 2018
Mini: Ranger/Tacoma, etc. 2.31% 1.60% 1.67% 1.45%
Half-Ton: F-150/1500 4.42% 4.39% 4.22% 3.67%
3/4 Ton: F-250/2500 16.35% 15.56% 14.80% 15.14%
1-Ton: F-350/3500 52.69% 49.34% 55.93% 55.50%
F-450/F-550/4500, etc. 24.23% 29.12% 23.39% 24.24%

3. DREAM TRUCK FUEL TYPE

Diesel once again trounces gas as the preferred fuel type, but the trend is not working in diesel’s favor.  Year after year, survey after survey, diesel is down and gas is up.  We would not be surprised to see the results be a 70-30 split for 2020.  Or will we see electric trucks by then?  Hey Elon, where’s our 1-ton Tesla?

FUEL TYPE 2012 2014 2016 2018
Diesel 78.99% 77.27% 75.26% 72.18%
Gas 21.01% 22.73% 24.74% 27.82%

4. DREAM CAB TYPE

While crew cab is consistently more popular than extended cab, the eight year dream truck data shows no clear percentage trends between these two choices. In short, crew cab remains between 65-70% of the dream truck market, while extended cab remains 26-30%. At just 2.23%, regular cab continues to fall further out of favor.

CAB TYPE 2012 2014 2016 2018
Crew Cab: Four Doors 65.32% 70.17% 68.72% 68.23%
Extended Cab: Half Doors 30.25% 26.23% 28.72% 29.55%
Regular Cab 4.43% 3.60% 2.56% 2.23%

5. DREAM TRUCK BED TYPE

The truck bed story for the last few Dream Truck Surveys has been the growing interest in standard short bed trucks.  Short bed trucks increased a whopping 20.8% from 2016 to 2018.  Reader interest in super short beds has also increased, but pales compared to standard short beds.  From this data, the truck camper industry should stay focused on standard short bed length.

The interest in short beds is at the expense of long beds.  Where short bed interest increased 20.8% from 2016, long bed interest declined 12.3% over the same two year period.  Long beds still lead the pack, but short beds are gaining.

Another interesting data point is the considerable popularity of custom storage beds versus what readers actually own.  Where 14.91% say they want a custom storage bed, only 0.76% actually own one.  Listen up custom storage bed manufacturers, the demand is there.

TRUCK BED TYPE 2012 2014 2016 2018
Long Bed 62.33% 56.31% 60.99% 53.59%
Short Bed 17.59% 22.58% 20.62% 24.92%
Super Short Bed N/A 0.66% 0.48% 0.76%
Custom Storage Bed 14.72% 15.54% 13.69% 14.91%
Flatbed 5.35% 5.35% 4.22% 5.81%

6. DREAM TRANSMISSION TYPE

This trend data could not be more consistent.  Overall, readers clearly want automatic transmissions.

TRANSMISSION TYPE 2012 2014 2016 2018
Automatic Transmission 82.49% 86.96% 88.23% 88.73%
Manual Transmission 17.51% 13.04% 11.77% 11.27%

7. DREAM DRIVELINE TYPE

The ‘Go Anywhere, Camp Anywhere’ spirit of truck camping almost necessitates four-wheel drive.  This fact is reflected in the trend data with four-wheel drive winning eight years in a row, by a significant margin.

DRIVELINE TYPE 2012 2014 2016 2018
Four-Wheel Drive: 4×4 92.12% 92.15% 92.49% 93.42%
Two-Wheel Drive: 4×2 7.88% 7.85% 7.51% 6.58%

8. DREAM REAR WHEEL CONFIGURATION

For the third survey in a row, single rear wheel trucks beat dual rear wheel trucks.  Keep in mind that only two categories of trucks (1-Ton: F-350/3500 and F-450/F-550/4500, etc.) are available as single rear wheel or dual rear wheel trucks.  The other categories are only available as single rear wheel trucks.

REAR WHEEL CONFIGURATION 2012 2014 2016 2018
Single Rear Wheel: SRW 48.85% 52.25% 50.16% 52.37%
Dual Rear Wheel: DRW 51.15% 47.75% 49.84% 47.63%

And the 2018 Dream Truck Survey Winner Is…

2018 Ford F350 Diesel, Crew Cab, Long Bed, Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive, Single Rear Wheel

If you’re researching a truck purchase for a truck camper rig, please start by reading our Newbie Corner.  Specifically, read “The Best Truck Camper“, “Picking the Perfect Truck Camper“, and “Matching A Truck and Camper“.

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