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With seemingly limitless options to choose from, picking out a new family vehicle can be difficult. First, you must decide what type of vehicle will best meet the needs of your household. If comfort and versatility are priorities, you can easily narrow down the field to either a truck or an SUV. Can’t decide? Here are the pros and cons of each option.

SUVs as family vehicles

Sport utility vehicles come in a wide variety of styles (standard or luxury), sizes (extra-small to large or even super), seating arrangements (five to nine passengers), and capabilities (front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, or 4X4 off-road). Many make great daily drivers that are built to accommodate passengers.

SUV pros

One of the biggest factors in favor of these new SUV models is the wide range of available sizes. In terms of handling and parking, small to midsize SUVs are similar to driving a car. Larger SUVs are capable of transporting up to nine passengers as well as a substantial amount of cargo. 

Some SUVs offer relatively large cargo areas and excellent fuel economy. SUVs are also available in a wide range of prices that fit nearly any budget. Smaller, standard SUVs start at $18,000, while larger, luxury models can cost up to $80,000.

SUV cons

A white 2023 Toyota RAV4 small SUV is driving off-road.
The 2023 Toyota RAV4 | Toyota

One of the biggest reasons to avoid choosing an SUV over a pickup truck for your family is the cargo space inside the vehicle. Anything you need to haul that’s dirty or smelly will be inside with you for the duration of the trip.

Certain models aren’t off-road capable. Even if equipped with all-wheel drive, some SUVs will have lower ground clearance, which prevents off-road excursions. Plus, towing and hauling weight capacities are lower than trucks. So you’ll often need to modify the SUV to tow even a small trailer.

Pickup truck breakdown

Families are more frequently choosing trucks over other vehicles than in previous years. Like SUVs, pickup trucks come in many sizes (small, mid-, and full-size), drives (2-wheel-drive to 4×4), models (regular, extended, and crew cab), capabilities (light to heavy duty), and trim packages (work to luxury). The defining characteristic of a pickup truck is its useful truck bed.

Truck pros

A blue Ram 1500 full-size pickup truck is driving on the road.
The 2023 Ram 1500 | Ram

Any of these reliable trucks have the ability to tow and haul things. From moving a refrigerator to buying garden soil, a pickup truck can be extremely helpful for small families. With the rise in families buying trucks, automakers are offering more cab configurations with seating for up to six people.

Besides hauling furniture and dirt, another place a truck outshines an SUV is towing. Trailer hitch and wiring are standard on most trucks, and additional towing packages can provide extra towing capacity.

Do you like all of the extras and add-ons? Trucks are some of the most customizable vehicles available. You can install lift kits and larger tires to enhance off-road capability. Or, if you don’t want a project, some trucks come standard with built-in off-road prowess. Truck bed toppers are a great option for a larger, weatherproof cargo area.

Truck cons

A black Ford F-150 full-size pickup truck is driving on the road.
The Ford F-150 | Ford

There are two main concerns about pickups as family vehicles: seating and parking. Even the largest truck cab configuration only seats 6 people. Larger pickups can be hard to control, and most parking spaces are not designed for large pickup truck models. Trucks aren’t made to comfortably seat a large group of passengers in the same way that full-size SUVs are.

Which one is right for you?

A black 2023 Chevrolet Suburban full-size SUV is parked.
The 2023 Chevrolet Suburban | Chevrolet

The choice between a truck and an SUV really comes down to a few key factors. If you need seating for more than six people, you’ll need a large SUV. Chevrolet produces some of the best full-size SUV models.

If you want to go to your local home improvement store to outfit your home and yard, then a truck from a brand like Ford or Ram is going to suit your needs. Overall, SUVs make better family vehicles for consumers who regularly need to transport large groups of passengers.