What Is the Difference Between a Truck and a Pickup Truck?

If all pickups are trucks, but not all trucks are pickups, what’s the difference? Today’s automotive world is more confusing than ever, with a name and category for the many vehicle sizes, designs, and functions.

But a truck has long been categorized for its purpose above all else. It can haul, carry, and tow. With such a broad definition, however, what’s the difference between a pickup truck and a regular truck?

Cars, trucks, and pickup trucks: what’s the difference?

A vehicle is classified by many things, including size, weight, function, design, and purpose. Cars are generally designed to carry people and not things. Vans and SUVs are designed to carry people, with a little more space. Trucks may be able to carry people but are designed to carry things. Unlike most other vehicles, trucks are focused on the job they need to do more than anything else.

When it comes to the auto industry, vehicles are categorized into classes. Class A includes passenger cars like coupes, sedans, and convertibles. Class B includes light vans, minivans, SUVs, and pickup trucks. Class C (and above) include medium- and large-sized trucks (mostly used for business). But these classes are all objective. So, what really makes a truck a truck?

According to Green Car Reports, the only thing that turns a car into a truck is its weight and design. To be considered any type of truck, the vehicle must have a weight (including payload) of more than 8,500 pounds and be designed for “off-street or off-highway operation and use.” This broad definition is what makes explaining the difference¬†between trucks difficult.

Trucks vs. pickup trucks

In general, trucks can vary in size. According to It Still Runs, “Trucks are designed to carry things, called cargo, but not people.” Trucks all share the similar design of a cab, with some type of bed or chassis attached to the rear, which is used to tow, haul, or carry.

Pickup trucks are included in this category, but many trucks are not considered pickups. Trucks, in its most general form, are large vehicles used to haul or tow, while pickups are utilitarian trucks that come with a bed.

A pickup is simply a truck with a separate frame/cab and an open box. According to Car Throttle, pickups are based on trucks, made of two pieces, and generally have more interior space. They are considered a smaller version of a truck, designed for families or small businesses. Compact, mid-sized, full-sized, and even heavy-duty trucks could be considered pickup trucks.

Pros and cons of the truck types

Trucks, like flatbeds, service/utility trucks, and construction trucks, are ideal for people who need a truck for commercial function. Like DieselHub points out, pickups come straight off the line with everything you need, while a general truck usually comes with the bare minimum since it’s biggest purpose is to simply haul or carry. Trucks may have lighter bodyweight but typically higher payload and towing capacity.

Pickup trucks provide the advantage of daily function by towing, hauling, and carrying all types of things. Pickups can be more useful than your typical car because you can load things into a pickup that you cannot in the passenger space of a car. And there’s no need to sacrifice passenger space to lug the cargo.

But unlike your regular truck, a pickup is not big enough to handle really big towing jobs and large cargo for heavy jobs. Pickups are generally more of a family or everyday truck, while your regular truck may be used for business or commercial purposes.