Having a pickup truck is more popular now than ever before, and with good reason. While they used to be utility vehicles that were primarily used for work, these vehicles are now equipped with all of the luxuries that come with high end cars. They have more comfort and convenience than ever before, but are still able to do the heavy duty work we need. With so many options on the market, how do you know which truck is right for you?
Here’s your ultimate guide to buying a truck.
Are there different types of pickup trucks?
All pickup trucks are not created equal. Some are economical and good on fuel, while others are workhorses designed for lugging and towing. They are generally broken down based on size, but within each category there are lots of options. From engine size to seating capacity you will find many trucks to choose from in each truck size category.
Compact Pickup Trucks
Compact trucks are the least expensive way to get into a pickup truck. They are, well, more compact than full size trucks and therefore get better gas mileage and are great for commuting. While they can’t handle serious hauling, they are great for when you need a bed for lugging around weekend projects.
Compact Truck Examples: Hyundai Santa Cruz, Ford Maverick
Mid-size trucks bridge the gap between compact and full size trucks. They can handle a similar tow load as a full-size truck but weigh significantly less, which means that they are easier to handle and get better gas mileage. Mid-size trucks are not as popular as full-size trucks, but they are actually a great option for many people.
Mid-Size Truck Examples: Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger
Full-Size Pickup Trucks
Full-size trucks are the most popular trucks and account for the largest share of truck sales.. They are powerful, long-lasting, and incredibly versatile. They appeal to a large group of people and with today’s latest safety features and passenger amenities, they are great family cars as well.
Full-Size Truck Examples: Ford F-150, Ram 1500, Chevy Silverado
Heavy Duty Pickup Trucks
Heavy duty trucks are true workhorses and have an incredible payload and towing capabilities. They are larger than full-size trucks and are built as work vehicles, not as commuters.
Heavy Duty Truck Examples: Ram 2500, GMC Sierra 2500
What factors should I consider when choosing a pickup truck?
When deciding which truck is right for you, there are a number of factors that you should consider.
The Cab Size
One of the most important factors to consider is the size of the truck’s interior. Do you need to fit the family, or is a smaller cab ok since it’s a work truck? Trucks can have four different cab styles that offer different seating and storage options.
- Regular Cab: Two doors, one row of seating.
- Extended Cab: Two or four doors, two rows of seats. The back two doors are typically smaller than the primary doors.
- Crew Cab: Four full size doors, two rows of seating.
- Extended Crew Cab: Four full size doors, two rows of seating, plus extra storage.
The Bed Size
The bed is the reason most people want a truck. You can lug around whatever you need without worrying about cramming it into a car or SUV. But there are a lot of options when it comes to bed length. The cab size you pick may lock you into a certain size bed however.
Full-size pickup trucks typically have a 6-8 foot bed. As the cab becomes bigger, the bed tends to shrink. Compact pickups typically have 4 ½ to 6 foot beds. When deciding what truck is right for you, determine what you will use the truck for and if it’s large enough to lug what you need.
When we talk about truck size we also have to consider the engine size. Truck engines range from small four cylinder engines to large diesels and run the gamut in between. The smaller the engine, the better your gas mileage will be (the Maverick Hybrid averages 37 mpg according to Consumer reports). Heavy duty trucks that are built for handling large payloads are heavier in general and may only get around 15 mpg.
Payload and Towing Capacity
If you need your truck to do some serious work you need to consider the payload and towing capacity. These are two separate capacities that account for different things.
Payload Capacity: The amount of weight that can be added to the truck’s cargo area.
Towing Capacity: The amount of weight that the truck can tow.
Both capacities have to account for the weight of the truck as well. There are many factors that affect these capacities, including the engine size, the rear axle ratio, and the size of the truck.
A small truck may only have a payload capacity of 1500 pounds, while a heavy duty truck may have a payload capacity of 8000 pounds.
Compact trucks can typically haul between 5000 and 7000 pounds, while heavy duty trucks can haul over 30,000 pounds. Manufacturers often offer add-on packages that can increase your towing capacity significantly.
Safety should always be a top priority when deciding which truck is right for you, especially if you are using your truck as a family vehicle. There are a lot of features that come standard with pickup trucks and other options that you can add on to make sure that your truck is safe for you and your loved ones.
- Forward collision warning
- Blind spot detection
- Automatic emergency braking
- Lane departure warning
What is the average price of a pickup truck?
Trucks are getting more and more expensive every year. In fact, according to Kelley Blue Book, the average transaction price for a new truck was $59,000 at the end of 2022. So how did these no frill work vehicles become one of the most expensive options available?
Answer: they became more powerful and more luxurious.
In the 1980s all trucks were small or midsize. By 2010 there was a huge shift to full size trucks. Pickup trucks used to be called “half ton trucks” because they could typically carry 1,000 pounds of people, cargo, and trailer weight. But trucks are now designed to carry much higher payloads and tow more. They are heavier in general to accommodate for this and have more powerful engines to perform better. Consider the Ford Super-Duty F-250 which can haul 4,000 pounds and to up to 23,000 pounds. It has a 6.8L V8 engine and has 430 horsepower to achieve this.
On top of this, trucks have been designed to drive better. The rickety manual transmissions have been replaced with some of the strongest transmissions ever designed, such as the Chrysler TorqueFlite A-727 and the Allison 1000. They replaced basic leaf spring suspensions in favor of coil suspensions making them a much nicer ride.
More powerful engines, state of the art transmissions, and costly suspensions would all add to the price tag on their own. But they are also more luxurious and convenient for passengers with added features that you used to dream about seeing. Some of these features include:
- Heated and ventilated seats
- Power adjusted front and rear seats
- Wireless device charging
- Adaptive headlights
- Ambient lighting
- Massaging seats
- Parking sensors
Real wood paneling, leather seating, and giant large screen infotainment systems are common in today’s best selling trucks.
How do you know if I can afford a truck?
If you want to get into a brand new truck, it’s possible to do so and stay within your budget. The key is shopping around and finding a truck that has an affordable base price. You can find a Ford Maverick starting for under $23,000, making it the most affordable base option on the market. But if your budget is a bit bigger, there are several contenders for under $40,000, such as:
- 2023 Ram 1500 Classic Tradesman/Express 2WD Regular Cab
- 2023 Ford F-150 XL 2WD Short Bed Regular Cab
- 2023 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Work Truck 2WD Short Bed Regular Cab
- 2023 Ford Ranger XL 2WD SuperCab
- 2023 Toyota Tacoma SR 2WD Access Cab
Keeping an affordable trim level (that means no wood paneling or leather seats, unfortunately), skipping on some of the optional infotainment amenities, and keeping the engine size on the smaller side will all help to keep your truck within your budget. As always, shopping around for deals, rebates, and incentives will help make sure you get the most bang for your buck.
That’s everything you need to know about buying a new truck.
There are lots of options on the market when it comes to buying a new truck. But whatever your needs are there is surely a truck out there for you.
If you already have a truck but need some help with the monthly payments, Auto Approve can help! Refinancing your loan can save you hundreds if not thousands every month. So what are you waiting for?