Should I Buy A Truck Or An SUV?

Dustin Hawley | Apr 02, 2021

Trucks and SUVs have a lot in common. They’re both large vehicles with lots of capacity, and they’re both often well equipped to handle rugged terrain and adverse weather conditions.

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These are just a few of the reasons why it’s difficult to decide between a truck or an SUV when you’re looking to buy a new vehicle. If you’re sitting on the fence, here are a few facts that can help you make up your mind on which vehicle is best suited for your wants and needs.

Trucks: Pros and Cons - Find the best car deals!

When most people buy a truck, the primary purpose of the vehicle is for work. For this reason, potential buyers are usually interested in features like towing capacity and maximum weight as their primary selling points. Pickup trucks are ideal for oversized loads, as they offer the best overall capacity of any commercial vehicle type.

Though you can indeed expect to get lower fuel economy than other vehicle types, it’s a small price to pay for the added benefits that a truck offers. 

Here are some pros and cons of owning a truck. 

Pro: Better Towing Performance

While SUVs are more than capable of towing most light loads, they’re not equipped with a towing package like most trucks are. Trucks can haul much heavier loads than SUVs, including large 5th wheel campers and toy haulers. This is simply not an option with an SUV.

Con: Poor Fuel Economy

Since they are large, utilitarian vehicles, it makes sense that trucks consume a lot of gasoline. While certain truck models can offer up to 25 MPG or so on the highway, that level of economy dramatically declines as the size and capabilities of your truck increase. All in all, most trucks are not exactly vehicles that are known for their excellent fuel economy. 

Pro: An Exterior Bed

The bed is one of the features that make trucks exceptionally versatile. Besides having the available capacity to haul bulk materials like dirt and gravel, you can also lay the tailgate down for extended loads like lumber and piping. Meanwhile, taller items, like furniture or bicycles, won’t be restricted by a vehicle roof. Truck beds serve many purposes, making them an appealing feature.

Con: Less Seating Capacity

Most standard pickup trucks can only fit two or three passengers in the cabin, and accommodating three requires the use of the middle bench seat, which can be awkward. Furthermore, this front-seat-only arrangement makes it unsuitable if you need to transport young children.

On the other hand, a larger truck with a crew cab may have available seating for five. However, you usually sacrifice a bit of towing capacity with a shorter bed.

Pro: Plenty of Engine Power

Nowadays, many trucks and SUVs come with the same powertrain. For instance, the current F-150 and Ford Explorer drivetrains are virtually identical. But pickups usually have upgrade options that SUVs don’t. This can make a world of difference if you’re doing a lot of towing or hauling. 

Con: Less Maneuverability

Pickup trucks tend to be wider than most passenger vehicles, and as a result, have a relatively narrow turning radius. They can be tough to maneuver in tight spots or to fit into narrow parking spaces. Maneuverability is particularly challenging when driving a truck with a dual rear axle.

SUVs: Pros and Cons - Find the best car deals!

In a basic sense, pickup trucks are mostly for work, while SUVs are more for recreation. But you can make a great argument that they may be the better family vehicle of the two. Though they lack the overall power and towing capacity of a large pickup truck, they can still be used for transporting goods if needed and can even be used for towing.

There are both pros and cons of owning an SUV.

Pro: Increased Seating Capacity

While a large truck with a crew cab can seat five, that is about the lowest seating capacity you would see for an SUV. Compact SUVs, for example, may only offer seating for five. But most SUVs can seat at least seven or eight people. Carpool, anyone?

Con: Cost

Depending on what vehicle model you are looking for (i.e., economy vs. luxury), SUV prices can be much higher than many truck prices. That being said, this is dependant upon the size of vehicle you choose for either class. For example, mid-sized trucks and SUVs both average around $32,000, so there’s not much difference in that particular class. But full-sized SUVs can exceed $60,000, while the average full-sized pickup will cost you just over $46,000.

Pro: Better Gas Mileage

It’s true that SUV fuel economy pales in comparison to that of the average car. But it’s still better than the average truck! Most trucks are geared more for low-end torque, so they aren’t as efficient at speed or economic fuel consumption.

Though many trucks and SUVs have a similar rating for miles per gallon in the city, SUVs tend to get much better highway mileage on average. So unless you do most of your driving in parking lots, an SUV will almost invariably get superior fuel economy to a truck.

Con: Increased Cost of Insurance

SUVs are considered a high-risk class of vehicles, and as a result, insuring them comes at a cost. Insurers charge higher rates on SUVs, so you can expect your insurance to rise anywhere from 10 to 20 percent.

Pro: Better Maneuverability

SUVs are certainly larger than cars, which makes them more challenging to park. However, they’re usually more maneuverable than a truck, which has a wider turning radius. This is often the result of a truck’s longer, more narrow frame. Moreover, SUVs typically offer a smoother ride when they’re not towing or otherwise weighed down, as they are often equipped with softer suspensions than most trucks.

Which Should I Buy? - Find the best car deals!

The decision around which type of vehicle you should buy lies in the needs of the potential buyer. The pros and cons listed above should provide a solid comparison and contrast to the benefits of both trucks and SUVs. At the end of the day, which features matter most to your everyday driving needs? If towing capacity and power are your primary needs, you may be inclined to purchase a truck. If increased seating capacity and fuel economy are what you need most, perhaps an SUV is your best choice.

Coming to the final decision may be a bit multi-faceted, but these basic pros and cons should give you the general information you need to begin narrowing down your choices and deciding which is best suited for you.

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