Tip your cap for the pickup truck and all that it represents: hard work, hard play, country living, and the United States of America. Is there a better symbol for America than the pickup truck? Maybe, but only if there is a bald eagle behind the wheel, blasting Garth Brooks and hauling a dirt bike trailer. Screaming down a dusty dirt road and throwing rocks with a trail of dust in the mirror is a little bit of heaven. There are so many different types of pickup trucks that it’s hard to know which is best for you. This is America, after all, so of course there is going to be a zillion different kinds to choose from. We do excess the best. They all have different engines, wheel bases, towing capacities, numbers of tires, seating, you name it. We are going to break down the basic classes, all the way down to the nuts and bolts, and categorize trucks based on the most important metric: size.
Midsize Pickup Trucks
Midsize trucks are just one step down from their full-size brother. They have many of the same capabilities like towing and hauling, but they are a pinch smaller. Diesel and four-wheel drive are options for midsize too. What makes the midsize appealing for consumers is their versatility. They are better suited for urban driving and can fit in parking garages a lot easier that the full-size and heavy-duty models. They are good for daily driving and running errands with their improved fuel economy and lighter weight. Shorter beds and more seats in the cab are the hallmark of the midsize truck. There is a greater focus on passenger comfort and getting the family in the truck than pulling heavy loads.
Full-Size Pickup Trucks
Full-Size pickup trucks are what you might expect them to be and are the most popular style. The full-size has a lot of space in the cab and in the bed. They are the mainstays that can pull trailers, haul firewood, and carry tools to get the job done. They have higher ground clearance than the smaller compacts do and are better equipped to drive off-road. Diesel and four-wheel drive are options with most full-size pickups, making them ideal for farm work and on jobsites. The do a ton of work and absorb even more abuse. They’re in demand now more than ever, and with more bells and whistles on them. Manufacturers are responding and the price of a fully loaded pickup can rise in a hurry.
The sport truck also goes by the name “mini truck,” and they are just that: mini. The difference between the sport and midsize truck isn’t much, but it’s there. Sport trucks are smaller in size, have less room, and smaller beds. Mini trucks were wildly popular in the 1980s and ’90s with models like the Chevy S-10 and the Ford Ranger dominating the market. An entire subculture of “mini-truckers” sprang up around these trucks. Enthusiasts would paint and trick out their trucks and have competitions. They have fallen out of favor in the US, but they are still here. The market for sport trucks is overseas where the roads are tighter, and the compact size is ideal for getting around.
Heavy-Duty Pickup Trucks
Now we are getting into the workhorse of the groups, the heavy-duty pickup truck. Heavy-duty trucks are what you see equipped with fifth-wheel hitches and goosenecks pulling massive boats or horse trailers down the highway. Diesel engines are the preferred power plant for these big trucks because they need the extra horsepower and torque. Dual wheels, or duallies, are optional and help disperse the weight and provide better traction for those that have demanding hauling schedules. These aren’t the kind of trucks you want to have in any kind of urban setting; it’s a waste of a truck. They are too large to park in a standard parking space, fit in a garage, or maneuver easily. These trucks are made for the jobsite, the farm, or hauling long distances. Even with a massive towing capacity, they still are available with tons of options. Leather seats, seat warmers, rolling WiFi capabilities, and gigantic crew cabs come with these trucks and jack their price up to the skyscrapers.
Luxury Pickup Trucks
There is a luxury option for just about every consumer product out there and trucks are no different. Luxury trucks come with loads of options and creature comforts that you might find in a Cadillac Escalade. Even with all the luxury and posh accommodations they are still powerhouses that can haul some gear. Luxury trucks are for those who spend a lot of time in the truck and on the road. Owners will pay the extra money to be comfortable. The luxury and heavy-duty trucks are often one and the same. Some of the midsize models could be considered luxury, depending on what’s in them.
Hybrid Pickup Trucks
Hybrid trucks are the new kids on the block. They utilize a gas and electric engine in order to save fuel. They look like normal midsize trucks but are running on a different power plant. They do get decent gas mileage, if you’re into that kind of thing, and come with a decent amount of power. They can haul and pull the same amount as standard motors. They trend a little higher on price than standard trucks, but you can make it back if you drive in urban areas. Low speeds and lots of lights is the domain of the electric motor, and cities are perfect for that.
Electric Pickup Trucks
Why this is a thing, no one knows, but here we are. There’s a reason they are last on the list and won’t get as many words. The electric pickup truck is the product no one asked for. The people who are looking for electric vehicles aren’t looking for trucks, and the people looking for trucks don’t want electric. If you saw Elon Musk and his disastrous unveiling of the Tesla pickup truck, there you go. No manufacturer has been able to provide the power demands that a truck needs with batteries and an electric motor. Right now, the market is wide open, and manufacturers are taking their time.
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