How do you choose the best pickup truck for your needs? Answer the following seven questions and you’ll be much better equipped to decide when it comes time to buy.
1. Do you prefer a specific brand?
Is there a manufacturer that you’re partial to? Start with that brand.
If you haven’t shopped in awhile, keep your options open because your favorite brand many have changed specs and another brand might be a better option.
2. What do you plan on carrying or hauling?
How you plan to use the pickup truck will steer you through many of the choices and help you narrow the field.
- Towing a boat or Jet Ski? You might need four-wheel drive to gain traction on slippery boat ramps.
- Pulling a very large mobile home, you might need a “dually” (two rear wheels per side) for towing stability.
If you just like the idea of driving a pickup truck and don’t really plan on hauling anything major, a midsize truck such as the Toyota Tacoma, Chevrolet Colorado or Ford Ranger would be suitable considerations.
3. Compact, midsize or full size pickup truck?
Compact pickup trucks are smaller in scale than their larger size counterparts. They can usually tow up to about 3,000 pounds, a weight that accommodates many trailers and handles most boat towing tasks.
If you have heavier towing needs, move up to a mid-size or full-size truck.
Keep in mind that trucks considered ‘small’ in the past have grown in size and towing capability over the last decade.
Mid-size pickups can be closer in size and abilities to either a compact or to a full-size truck. Comparing models on dealer lots is the best way to understand how they actually look when placed side by side.
4. Standard, extended or crew cab?
How many people need to ride with you? Most manufacturers offer three cab sizes:
- Standard cab is the classic work truck with a single row of seating and limited space between the seats.
- Extended cab has jump seats or a bench seat behind the front seats. ProTip: Be sure to sit in the back while someone else drives the vehicle so that you have a feel for how it feels to ride in the back. Most extended cab seats are utilitarian and not intended for comfort during a long ride.
- Crew-cab trucks have four full-size doors and a generous backseat roomy enough for cross-country travel. Crew cabs are gaining in popularity now that many drivers use pickup trucks as their primary vehicle.
5. Standard or long bed?
The bed sizes vary slightly by manufacturer but are approximately 5.5 feet, 6.5 feet and 8 feet. Though it’s nice to have lots of room for cargo, combining a crew cab with an 8-foot bed might mean you can’t put the truck in your garage.
6. Planning on towing a trailer?
How much weight do you need to pull? Check the towing capacity of the pickup trucks you’re considering to make sure each one meets your needs.
You’ll need to find out the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of what you’re going to tow.
You’ll find this on the trailer “VIN plate” (Vehicle Identification Number) or by contacting the trailer manufacturer. The GVWR is the dry weight of the trailer (empty weight) plus the maximum allowed payload.
- Your trailer may be as little as a 12-ft pop-up camper with a GVWR of under 3,000 lbs.
- Perhaps, it’s a behemoth conventional camping trailer that is 40-ft long and approaching 14,000 lbs GVWR.
- How about a triple-axle 43-ft long 5th-wheel toy hauler that is pushing a total weight rating of 20,000 lbs?
- It may be a large boat, a cargo trailer, or a horse trailer.
Figure out the GVWR of the trailer, as well as the loaded weight of your specific setup.
7. What’s your budget?
Pickup truck prices vary greatly. Knowing what you can spend is the first step.
It’s important to understand your budget and match it with the kind of truck you want. There are many options to choose from it’s crucial to set your expectations. While the most expensive pickup trucks can make you salivate, their price tag won’t.
At Dye Autos, we’ve got many pickup trucks under $20,000. We’re ready to help you determine which used pickup truck works for your lifestyle and your financial needs.