SUVs and pickups have grown too big for many garages and parking spaces

Jonathon Ramsey

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USA Today surveyed the automotive landscape and took note of how many biggie-sized SUVs and pickups don't fit our medium-sized world. Buyers are having more trouble fitting their body-on-frame purchases into their standard home garages and municipal parking spaces, and the issue is likely to get worse. Danley's, which builds garages, told the paper that the four typical home garage dimensions are 18 feet wide by 20 feet deep, a square 20 feet by 20 feet, 20 feet by 22 feet, or an even larger square 22 feet by 22 feet. If an F-150 shopper has a house with the second-largest size garage, they'll want to take the truck on a test drive home — the F-150 Lariat with a 6.5-foot bed is 209.3 inches long, leaving just under 15.5 inches of clearance at both ends, the eight-foot bed cuts that to six inches of clearance at each end, and an F-250 Super Cab or larger is a no-go. Twitter user Owen described the situation with, "Full size? The prices are insane and most wont even fit it standard sized garages."

There are similar issues with SUVs, a dealer president telling USA Today, "The Tahoe is the new Suburban, and the new Suburban is a school bus." The 2021 Suburban would leave about 7.2 inches of clearance at both ends in a 20-foot-deep garage. These pickup and SUV examples assume that homeowners don't try to store anything along the garage's back wall, and that the pickups aren't lifted; even if the length is ok, one truck owner said his 88-inch tall Ford couldn't get under the door opening. The problem isn't just with what we consider large vehicles, especially when so many homes have garages made for when cars were a lot smaller. Nor is the problem new, the San Diego Union-Tribune publishing a story in 2007 about a guy having trouble with his Ford Explorer and Acura MDX. In that case, part of the issue being that the city council recommended builders put two doors on two-car garages because council members found that more aesthetically pleasing than one large door.

Some owners today don't care about the discrepancy, content to park their trucks in the driveway or on the street. Others, especially shoppers looking at the coming electric trucks, don't like the compromises. Two reservation holders for the 231.7-inch-long Tesla Cybertruck said they'd be thinking hard about closing the deals if the truck doesn't fit in their garages. Said one, "I’m not gonna spend $50,000, $60,000, $70,000, $80,000 on a vehicle and then have to run an extension cord outside the garage or an outside outlet." Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that engineers are looking at reducing some of the truck's dimensions, and adding an air suspension to enable lowering the height.

Parking garage operators are beginning to take notice and take action. In New York City, some garages charge oversize fees for big vehicles, and "super oversize" fees for body-on-frame pickups and SUVs.

But with gas being cheap, loan terms getting longer, and buyers always clamoring for more room or amenities, vehicles are likely to continue growing, leaving more garages to be used as storage units and man caves.

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