Truck or SUV: What’s the Best Family Vehicle?

With seemingly endless options, picking out a new car for your family can be difficult. First, you must decide if a sports car, sedan, station wagon, SUV, or pickup truck 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? Read the pros and cons of each option.

SUV breakdown

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).

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 baggage. 

An SUV offers a relatively large cargo area and excellent fuel economy ranging from 17 MPG to 39 MPG. 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

One of the biggest reasons to avoid choosing an SUV for your family: The cargo space is 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 need to modify the SUV to tow even a small trailer.

Pickup truck breakdown

According to Consumer Reports, families are more frequently choosing trucks. 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).

Truck pros

Any of these reliable trucks have the ability to haul things. From moving a refrigerator to buying garden soil, a pickup truck can be extremely helpful for 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

Two concerns about pickups: seating and parking. Even the largest truck cab configuration only seat 6 people. And larger pickups can be hard to navigate as most parking spaces are not designed for large trucks.

Which one is right for you?

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. If you want to go to your local home improvement store to outfit your home and yard, then a truck is going to suit your needs.