The truck market has changed in recent years, but not in ways some consumers may realize. Although gas prices have surged higher, demand for big trucks remains strong while midsize and smaller truck sales have sunk. This may seem odd until you realize that today’s full size pickup trucks are fuel efficient, offering options that help reduce visits to the pump.
If you’re in the market for a new truck, there are some things you need to look for as you plan your purchase:
Truck Categories — Two truck categories dominate the market, but there are three for your consideration. Full size trucks include the Ford F-150, Toyota Tacoma, Chevrolet Sierra, Nissan Titan, GMC Sierra and the Ram 1500.
Midsize trucks include the Ram Dakota, Toyota Tacoma, Honda Ridgeline and the Ford Sport Trac. Although this segment has few models, it easily outsells the compact truck category which consists of the Ford Ranger, Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Suzuki Canyon and the Nissan Frontier.
Driving Aspirations — Two- and four-wheel-drive options is nearly universal with all pickup trucks. Most trucks offer four-wheel-drive instead of all-wheel-drive, the former offering full time power to all four wheels, the latter offering power to all four wheels only as it is needed.
Cabin Configuration — Base compact trucks seat two people with extended cabs seating as many as four. Most midsize and full size trucks seat two or three people with room for six in extended cabs. Cab configurations vary and can include standard, extended, club or some combination thereof.
Bed Configuration — Bed sizes vary from 5 to 8 feet. If a truck’s cabin is extended, the bed is usually shorter. Compact trucks usually have five foot beds with six foot beds found in “”short bed”” full size pickup trucks.
Payload & Towing — An important consideration for any pickup truck buyer is that vehicle’s payload capacity. Payload includes passenger weight and stuff you carry in your pickup truck bed. Towing capacity is another consideration and is defined as the amount of weight a truck can safely tow. Towing capacity should include the weight of the people riding in the vehicle and whatever else is found in the truck bed in addition to whatever you are towing.
Engines and Transmissions — Compact trucks are powered by four cylinder engines with optional V-6 engines available. Midsize trucks may include a mix of four, six and eight cylinder engines, while big pickups are powered by six and eight cylinder engines. Right now, compact and midsize trucks offer gas engines only while heavy duty versions of some of the full size trucks offer diesel engines. Most trucks come equipped with six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions. When combined with a V-6 engine, can deliver fuel economy numbers closer to what small trucks get.
Other distinctions of note include cabin amenities such as the types of seats available, technology enhancements, storage compartments, passenger room and safety features including crash protection and collision avoidance systems. Compare your options to find a pickup truck that is right for you.