Before buying a truck, there are several questions you need to ask yourself; Full-sized or compact? Diesel or gas? Electric? Towing package or not? Before you buy your next – or first – truck, there are several things you have to consider. The truck world is full of a lot of variety because everybody works, or plays, a little bit differently. Do you want a small truck with good gas mileage like a 2023 Ford Maverick, or would you need to tow a house with a Cummins diesel Ram 2500? Ask yourself these questions to find out what kind of truck is best for you.
Do you need a truck?
This is the big one. Ask most truck owners and you’ll find that the only times they do truck stuff is when they help friends move. Of course, companies built the first trucks as farm implements, and then they became a lifestyle choice. But if you like to make Home Depot runs, dump runs, or need to carry motorcycles, a truck is for you. Some trucks are even great for road trips. But, of course, you can only do a tailgate with a truck.
What size truck do you need?
Trucks come in multiple sizes. The best way to figure out what size truck you need is to figure out how much stuff you want to carry. It sounds basic, but a lot of people over-buy their trucks. If you’re in a band and carry 500 pounds of speakers, look at the Ford Maverick that can carry 1,500 pounds in the bed. It you’re planning on carrying cinderblocks, you may want to consider a Ram 1500, which can carry up to 2,325 pounds. Every truck has a sticker in the door that will tell you how much it can carry.
And, of course, there are larger heavy-duty trucks, called 2500 or 3500, that have more and more capability.
What size cab do you need?
Trucks can carry two to six passenger. The smallest, two-door, trucks, like the 2022 Toyota Tacoma SR seat four. Barely. The rear seats are really basic jump seats that are suitable for smaller adults in a pinch. But, big trucks like the Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado, and the Nissan Titan can seat six comfortably. You can order front bench seats in the biggest trucks that have flip-down consoles in the front middle seat, for when you want to take the whole crew to the job site.
Trucks (usually) get awful gas mileage. Do you care?
The biggest trucks get awful gas mileage, at least compared to cars. Even with gas-saving V6 engines and some hybrid tricks, full-sized trucks will struggle to get more than 20 mpg. There are exceptions, sure, like the Ford Maverick that gets 40 mpg thanks to its hybrid engine, and the 2022 Toyota Tundra full-sized truck can get 24 mpg on the highway thanks to its i-FORCE MAX hybrid engine.
Towing? How much torque do you need?
A big part of a truck’s utility is in towing. Even a small truck like the Hyundai Santa Cruz can tow up to 5,000 pounds. But there’s a lot that goes into a truck’s towing capacity, and that includes the engine’s torque, the hitch type, how much weight you can put on the tongue, and much more. Every truck has a sticker that says what the gross towing weight rating, sometimes abbreviated as GTWR, or as GCW, for gross combination weight.
Diesel, gas, hybrid or all-electric?
This is one of the big questions truck guys will argue over. A diesel may get better mileage and tow more, but they’re not quick and they’re heavy. Gas engines can make for a better driving experience, but they don’t make the grunt of a diesel. Newer hybrid trucks, like Toyota’s Tundra and Ford’s Maverick and F-150 Hybrid are showing that hybrids can give a truck fuel-efficient grunt. New electric trucks like the Rivian R1T and the F-150 Lightning can be super-quick on the road and haul and tow a lot, but can be limited by their electric range.
Two- or four-wheel drive?
Two-wheel drive is great, and for decades most vehicles have been two-wheel drive. But trucks, simply because they have more weight on the front than the rear, can get squirrely in the snow and mud, so a four-wheel drive is a great option. Two-wheel-drive trucks get better gas mileage, they’re lighter and generally less expensive. But for when you do want to go off-roading or if you live in a muddy or snowy area, you may want to consider buying a truck with four-wheel drive.. In most trucks, you can disable the four-wheel-drive system for daily driving and only engage it, and also a low-gear option, for off-road.