How Do I Pick My Pickup Truck?

Small, big, bold, or primitive, no matter which truck body style you choose, it’s bound to make a statement. Pickup trucks are attractive to many because there is truly something for everyone. They offer a wide range of safety options and comfort that fit the needs of those in all walks of life.

With so many trim levels available, it’s hard not to go for a mac-daddy truck with a 450- horsepower that can haul over 10,000 pounds. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a big truck that’s the baddest of them all, but you might not need a heavy-duty pickup. If a truck is really what you want, It’s important that you pick one based on your determined needs.

The lines blur a bit, but nevertheless, pickup trucks are divided into four categories in America’s auto sales market: heavy-duty, full-size, mid-size, and compact.  Heavy-duty trucks can be set up to lug 31,000 pounds of cargo, full-size and mid-sized trucks can both haul up to 10,000 pounds, and compact trucks can pull up to 7,000 pounds. 


Heavy-duty trucks, aka the mac-daddies, are the largest and command the most power. Truck models in this category are typically numbered with 2500 or 3500. They are the boldest in style, built to haul heavy burdens, and are the most helpful when it comes to laborious chores. The Ford F-350 and GMC Sierra 3500HD are among the most popular trucks in this class.


Full-size pickups are known for their rugged style and mass appeal. They are a great option for pulling bulky cargo and are family-friendly. Consumer Reports refer to these models as the “backbone” of the truck industry. The F-150 is probably the most recognizable in this category. Other popular brands in this realm are numbered with 1500, like the Ram 1500.


If you want your pickup to have great towing capabilities while still feeling like you’re driving a regular road motor vehicle, then a mid-size truck is the option for you. Popular models in this range are the Toyota Tacoma and the Chevy Colorado. 


Compact trucks have the tamest engines and correspondingly have the smallest towing capacity. Compact trucks in America have evolved into the current mid-sized truck market, so if this mode is what you really want, you’ll have to shop older and used. Older examples include the 2004 Chevy S-10 or the 2009 Nissan Frontier.

But wait, there’s more to consider 

Aside from the four main pickup categories, you’ll also need to consider additional body styles and access options. Trucks can be further categorized as a regular cab, double cab, and crew cab. Regular cabs have two full-sized doors, double cabs have two-full size passenger doors along with two half-size rear doors, and crew cabs are the largest option with four full-size doors.

When you’re testing out your potential new pickup, you’ll also want to consider how easy it is to access the truck’s cabin and the truck bed. Make sure you inspect how each seat feels for optimal passenger comfort, as well as how you can configure the interior space for more cargo storage just in case.