What Type of Truck Should You Buy?

Dec 18, 2019 01:25 PM EST | Staff Reporter

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What Type of Truck Should You Buy?


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Maybe you've decided 2020 will be the year you finally buy a pickup truck, or it could be the time you want to upgrade your current truck. There are different types of trucks on the road, and pickup trucks aren't all one and the same.

The following is a guide to different types of truck bodies and things to consider if you're in the market for a new one.

What Size Do You Need?

The first general thing to keep in mind if you're planning to buy a truck is the size.

A small truck is something like a used Ford Ranger, or if you want a new small truck, something like a Nissan Frontier might meet your needs.

 A small truck should have a decent payload, which is the weight of how many people it can hold plus what you have in the bed. For a smaller truck, the payload is usually around 1,500 pounds, and there may be some trailering capabilities.

Compact and midsized trucks will usually have a chassis frame that's separate from the rest of the construction.

A midsize truck gives you a sense of flexibility, and there are both four-cylinder and V6 options that fall into this category. Most mid-sized trucks offer a two-row extended cap, or perhaps a crew cab.

A midsize truck may have seating for up to five, and they may be able to tow up to 7,000 pounds.

You could, theoretically, with a midsized truck tow up to a small trailer or camper.

A full-sized truck includes options with V6 and V8 engines, and there are regular, crew cab and extended cab models.

For someone who needs a work truck, there are full-sized options that fall into the heavy-duty category. A heavy-duty truck will typically have the same platform as other full-sized trucks, but it will have a large gas or diesel engine. A heavy-duty truck will have around 7,000 pounds of payload capacity and can pull 20,000 pounds.

Features of Pickup Trucks

When you're shopping around and comparing different types of pickup trucks, some of the things you might use as a basis of comparison include:

  • Full-sized or compact
  • Long or short bed
  • Regular, extended or crew cab
  • Two-door or four-door
  • Two- or four-wheel drive
  • Automatic transmission
  • Four-cylinder, V6, V8 or diesel engines
  • Pricing (trucks tend to range from $21,000 to more than $60,000

What Features Are Most Important to You?

Think about these things as well:

  • Cab size: A regular cab is going to be the lowest-priced option in a truck, but it's challenging to find this option in most modern trucks. With an extended cab, there are rear seats, and they are small but work well if you have kids. The advantage of an extended cab, along with the additional seats, is the fact that there's more interior storage. A crew-cab truck will have four doors and a cargo area that's similar to an SUV. However, with that being said your cargo bed will be smaller to compensate.
  • Bed: A truck bed is what makes it unique from other types of vehicles. What do you hope to achieve with your truck? This will dictate the bed. On a standard full-sized truck, the bed is around eight feet long, but if you have an extended cab, it's around six feet. With a four-door crew cab truck, you'll only get around five feet of bed space.
  • Towing: A pickup truck is something people often get because they want to be able to haul something like a boat, another vehicle or a camper. Trucks are also often used for utility trailers. Your truck's owner manual will tell you the maximum towing weight, and you might have the dealer you buy from installing the equipment to two, or you can do it yourself.
  • Fuel Economy: While owning a truck has upsides, it also has downsides. With some trucks, one of the biggest downsides is the fuel economy. Typically if you go with a truck that has a V6 engine, you'll find that there's a good balance between power and fuel economy, but when you go bigger than that you're going to get a relatively low MPG.
  • Drivetrain: For trucks, the most common option buyers select is rear-wheel drive, because it's conducive to heavy loads. Four-wheel drive is good if you live in a place where there's a lot of winter weather, or you do off-roading.
  • Safety: Of course, when you're choosing any new vehicle, safety should be a top concern. Trucks do have advanced safety features these days as compared to older models. For example, many trucks come with forward collision warning technology. This provides visual and audible warnings of a potential collision with something in the path of the truck. Some trucks also have a telematics system that will let emergency services know if an airbag is deployed and a lane-departure warning system. Since 2012, the inclusion of electronic stability control has been required on light-duty pickup trucks. This feature has been shown to reduce deaths and it can be particularly helpful if you take a corner too fast or you're driving in slippery conditions.

Finally, should you buy a new or used truck? A benefit of buying new is the inclusion of the newest safety features. A new truck is also going to make maintenance easier in most cases, and you'll know what you're getting.

A used truck, of course, is good because the price is going to be lower, but the market for used trucks is quite a bit bigger than the new market so you'll have plenty of options.

When it comes to deciding on a truck, you have to think about budget and safety but also your personal reasons for buying one. Most people have a very particular reason they want to buy a truck, so this can help guide you 

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