A Short Guide to Buying Your First Pickup Truck

by Kevin Ross

in Guides

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In many places, pickup trucks are a part of the culture and people like them because they symbolize a rural blue-collar lifestyle. For others, a pickup truck is essential because they often find themselves needing to transport heavy, bulky items that are difficult or impossible to carry in a regular car.

Pickup trucks have been around for a long time, but early models were utilitarian and intended primarily for work so there was little variation from one vehicle to the next. When it comes to shopping for a truck these days, you will find that times have changed and that there are many options, there are even trucks available with multiple luxury features akin to those found in high-end sedans. For the most part, drivers will be able to choose from three main body styles and they are:

  • Regular cab
  • Extended cab
  • Crew cab

Regular cab pickup trucks have two doors and may seat between two and three passengers while extended cabs have additional storage room and a rear bench seat. Crew cabs will typically be able to seat four to six adults in relative comfort. Some crew cabs come equipped with clam shell doors that allow for easy passage of people and freight into and out of the cab.

Compact Pickup Tricks

These started showing up in the late 1970s and provide the low gas mileage of a compact car albeit at the cost of a smaller bed, engine and cab. Still, these are useful and economical if you are not hauling around a lot of freight or a large number of passengers. Compact pickup trucks usually have beds ranging from five to eight feet in length and may come with relatively powerful six-cylinder engines and four-wheel drive. They will typically be able to tow between 3,000 and 7,000 pounds. You should expect to give up some of that good gas mileage if you opt for the more powerful engines, however.

The vast majority of compact pickup trucks will not be able to seat your passengers in anything close to comfort if you have more than two people traveling with you. Some compact models do feature bench seats in the rear that may be able to seat three children or two small adults.

Full-sized Pickup Trucks

Full-sized pickup trucks provide you with more room, both in the bed and in the cab. They will also be able to tow more weight, though they will also offer significantly lower fuel economy since many have V8 or V10 engines. Also, if you opt to get four-wheel drive on your pickup truck, expect to pay extra at the pump.

Full-size pickup trucks offer the best value for drivers whose primary interest is towing power. They will usually have a towing capacity of between 8,000 and 10,000 pounds. Heavy duty trucks often come with diesel-fueled engines and because of the extra torque these provide, some are able to tow as much as 30,000 pounds.

While a pickup truck may look good and is the vehicle of choice in many parts of the country, they are meant to be tools. It is important to take all the factors that will make a truck useful to you into account and not just its looks.

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