The V8 Pickup Truck Is On Life Support

If you're a fan of cylinders, I have some bad news to bear. Your average, run-of-the-mill pickup truck on the road these days likely has a V6, since more and more buyers are going smaller and straying away from V8s.

Back in the heady days of Marlboro Men and cheap gas prices, a truck wasn't a truck unless it had a V8 under the hood. Times are a-changin', and as pickup trucks morph from farmers' favorites to multi-purpose vehicles for the multi-tasking family man, people aren't turning their nose up at a puny six-cylinder like they used to.

The New York Times points out that more than half of Ford F-150s sold now have V6 engines, with the 3.5L Ecoboost as the brand's most popular variant. That doesn't mean the V8 is completely dead; heavy-duty pickups still need them. But it is saying something about our buying habits, as Chrysler and GM are showing similar trends:

Ford expects the 6-cylinder renaissance to continue. Later this year, the company will drop the 6.2-liter V8 it has been offering, leaving the 5-liter as the only V8 offered in the 2015 F-150, while adding a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6, whose power ratings have not been announced.

The current 3.5-liter turbo is rated at 16 miles per gallon in the city and 22 on the highway.

The naturally aspirated 3.7-liter V6, rated at 23 m.p.g. on the highway, will shrink to 3.5 liters, a downsizing made possible because the new aluminum-body truck will weigh less.

Ford expects its line of three V6s to account for more than 70 percent of all F-150 sales.

One of the major reasons for this shift is automakers trying to reach make sure their models fall under CAFE compliance. (The NYT also points out a shift toward 8-, 9- and 10-speed transmissions in pickups, which also boost fuel economy.) But I also think that the way we think about pickups is changing.

A while back I talked to Ram's former top truck guy and he pointed out how the industry wants to target more women drivers and family households for pickups, and it makes sense: They've got big backseats for kids, can haul all your soccer shit without looking like a soccer mom, and they're more fuel-efficient than ever.

Either way, I know big-engine enthusiasts will be disappointed. They've already begun disappearing from mainstream sedans, so it was only a matter of time before the trucks were next.

Photo via Ford