Pickup Trucks

What Every Pickup Buyer Needs to Know

Pickup trucks are versatile tools for work or play, and powerful symbols of rugged individuality. It’s not surprising, then, that they appeal to a broad range of buyers. Increasingly, pickups are attracting people who previously drove a car or SUV. To lure these new buyers, automakers have made a concerted effort to equip their pickups with car-like comfort and safety features, and to boost fuel economy. Still, whether you’re in the market for a compact, full size or a heavy-duty pickup; a 2-door regular cab with one row of seating, a super cab with rear jump seats or a 4-door with a full backseat, there are certain things every pickup buyer needs to know.


Simply put, payload capacity is the combined weight of both cargo and occupants a vehicle is certified to carry. Historically, there were three classes of pickups based on payload: half-ton, three-quarter-ton and one-ton. While they’re still frequently used, don’t be fooled by these arcane designations. For instance, a compact Toyota Tacoma can haul well over half a ton. A Ford F150, often described as a half-ton pickup, can haul more than 3,000 pounds, and heavy-duty pickups described as three-quarter-ton can carry as much as 4,000 pounds. Remember, if you plan to haul five burly guys to a work site in a 4-door truck, you’re looking at roughly 1,000 pounds of payload before you even put anything in the bed. Needless to say, it’s important to know who and what you need to carry before plopping down cash on a new truck.


Whether it’s a camper, a boat or a utility trailer, today’s pickups are better equipped than ever to you help move your valuable possessions. A typical compact pickup truck can tow between 3,000 and 5,000 pounds. Conventional full-size half tons can handle up to 10,000 pounds, and their heavy duty versions can pull up to 15,000 pounds. Again, know what you need to pull before you buy, and make sure you purchase the correct equipment you’ll need to tow. While you can purchase aftermarket kits, it’s a lot easier to have the dealer deliver your truck with a manufacturer-installed kit.

Safety and Comfort

The wide appeal of pickups can also be attributed to the fact that they can be as safe and comfortable as high-end cars. Interior accoutrements now resemble those found in cars, with all the high-tech entertainment, and communication and navigation tools a smart phone can provide. In addition, having been equipped with multiple airbags, pickups have shown improved results in government crash tests. Many trucks are available with electronic stability control and traction control. These “active” safety features can sense when a vehicle has started to skid sideways, or a wheel has started to spin, and automatically apply braking pressure and reduce engine output to help the driver regain control.

Fuel Efficiency

In recent years, manufacturers have pulled out all the stops to make their large, powerful engines more efficient, and to make their smaller, more efficient, engines more powerful. While not in the category of cars, especially hybrids and electrics, the fuel economy of pickups has improved considerably. The use of lightweight, military-grade aluminum to shape bodies and underpinnings in place of traditional steel is a recent development that has yielded additional gains in fuel economy.


While you can still find a basic small pickup for a relatively affordable $20,000, a decked-out heavy-duty can run you up to $60,000. The bottom line is that pickup buyers need to do their homework, especially if they plan to carry or pull heavy things. Nothing is more annoying than when your truck won’t start, so do your research and pick the truck that is right for you!