Truck vs SUV: Which is Right for You?

Truck vs SUV2

Picking between a truck and an SUV isn’t an easy task. Car buying is tough enough, so you deserve a little help here. At Motor Hills, we have the right information you need to make a well-informed decision.

In this article, we’ll break it down into two major sections: the first is going to talk all about trucks, and the second will discuss SUVs. By the end, you should know which option is right for you. Let’s get started with trucks.

All About Trucks

What Is a Truck?

A truck is a vehicle that is designed to transport cargo. For consumers, these are pick-up trucks. The defining feature is the open bed at the rear of the vehicle which allows you to throw a bunch of stuff in and drive it around.

They either have four or six wheels, and they can seat between two and six people in the cabin.

Ford-F150-2019
Ford F150 2019

Types of Trucks

Ignoring construction and freight trucks, you’re still left with a few choices as a consumer:

  • Compact. These are the smallest and least expensive option. They’re aimed at the everyday American who has to haul things from time to time. You can find one with a 4-cylinder engine and most options offer body-on-frame construction.
  • Full-sized/ half-ton. Larger than the compact, this truck option is more rugged. A lot of people can comfortably use a full-sized truck as a daily driver and it will still rise the occasion when lumber has to be transported. They’re more expensive, a lot stronger, and they typically sell more often than compact trucks do.
  • Heavy-duty. These trucks are the biggest, most expensive, and strongest option in the line-up. They’re designed for contractors or people who need to move serious loads. For a typical consumer, this type of truck is overkill.

Pros of a Truck

Let’s talk about some of the positive things about owning and operating a truck. Each of these might hold a different weight for different owners, so it’s up to you to decide which matters to you.

Easy to Load

It’s almost too easy to throw some lumber in the bed of your pickup and keep going. Any other type of vehicle would require you to put some seats down, open the trunk, and cross your fingers.

Even compact trucks have pretty big beds that are really easy to load. This comes in handy when you have a buddy that’s moving and needs to throw a bunch of stuff in your truck.

Pickup truck bed
Pickup truck bed

Higher Towing and Cargo Capacity

In general, a truck can tow and carry more weight than an SUV or any compact car. Since the whole point of a truck is to tow and carry stuff, this makes a lot of sense.

If you have a boat, trailer, or RV that needs to be towed, you might be forced to pick a truck. It all depends on the total weight of what you’re towing.

For people who regularly carry really heavy loads (like construction contractors), a truck is the only option on the market. Opting for a heavy-duty truck gives a nearly limitless cargo capacity.

Exterior Bed (No Height Limit)

What if you don’t mind putting all the seats down in your SUV and opening the truck to load up your vehicle? Even then, you have a height restriction — the roof of your vehicle.

Since a truck’s bed is in the exterior, the height is completely open. There are some local laws that will determine how much your load can stick out or above your truck. Still, you have a ton more clearance above your cargo.

Pickup truck with surfboards stacked up
No limit in sight for the height

More Powerful Engine

Since trucks are meant to be workhorses, they usually have a stronger engine than an SUV. With an empty bed, that means you can have more fun on the open road.

Lots of Options

Not only are there a lot of truck options on the market, but there are a lot of trim options for each make and model.

You can upgrade just about everything on your truck and essentially hand-build your truck depending on what model you start with. This helps you avoid overpaying for options you don’t want, or compromising and losing the features you need.

Cons of a Truck

Now, let’s talk about some of the cons when it comes to trucks. If some of the pros are necessities for you, then these cons will simply be headaches you have to deal with.

Worse Gas Mileage

Trucks are notorious for having terrible gas mileage. This figure only gets worse as you load up the bed and hitch a trailer to the back.

With enough weight added on, you might only get single-digit miles per gallon. Even our guide for saving money on gas won’t help you get “braggable” figures in a truck.

Fuel-gauge

Fewer Seats

A compact truck might only fit two or three people in it comfortably. The rear seating is often a bench seat that’s tightly squeezed behind the driver’s and passenger’s seats.

If you spend extra money and upgrade the seating, you’ll unlock up to six seats. If you expect to drive any more people, you’ll need to consider an SUV instead.

Harder to Maneuver

In general, trucks are wider, taller, and longer than SUVs. All of these factors play into the drivability of the vehicle and how easy it is to maneuver.

A truck isn’t difficult to drive in a straight line, but the second you get to a parking lot things will start to get interesting. There’s a definite learning curve that comes to driving a truck, so just keep that in mind.

Who Is a Truck Perfect For?

Trucks are perfect for people who need or want to carry large items around. For contractors, a truck is a must-have.

For DIYers, homeowners, or people outside of major cities, trucks often come in handy. Even if you buy an old truck as a backup, you’ll still put plenty of miles on it as you take trips to Home Depot or help friends move.

A compact truck gives you a good amount of potential cargo space without any huge sacrifices.

Pickup truck at a construction site

All About SUVs

Since you learned everything about trucks, it’s time to talk about SUVs. In this section, we’ll tell you everything you need to know and help you make your decision in the end.

What Is an SUV?

SUV stands for Sports Utility Vehicle. The “utility” part comes from their ability to be driven off-road, driven in tougher conditions, and loaded up with people and cargo.

The “sports” in the name isn’t the same as when Porsche uses the word. It simply means that the options are peppier than a minivan and the higher-end models are really fast and fun to drive.

Volkswagen Atlas Cross-Sport
Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

Types of SUVs

Just like trucks, SUVs have different types that you can pick between.

  • Compact crossover. These little SUVs are akin to a compact car. They typically have five seats and put more focus on drivability over towing capacity.
  • Crossover. A crossover is a little larger. This category is also pretty close to a standard car with more emphasis on driving position and comfort of passengers. They don’t set records for 0-60 times and they won’t carry a ton of weight — it’s a happy medium between the two.
  • Mid-sized. This is the first category that can start off-roading. It’s closer to a truck and has some of the ruggedness that truck lovers look for.
  • Full-sized. With more seating and towing capacity, the full-sized option is the largest and most expensive. On paper, they’re the closest relative to the truck.

Pros of an SUV

You’ll notice that a lot of these benefits play into the purpose of an SUV — to comfortably take your family from point A to point B. Let’s get a little more specific.

More Seats

First and foremost, a full-sized SUV will offer way more seats than a comparable truck. Additionally, the seats that are offered also boast more space for each passenger.

There are plenty of 8-seaters on the market. Compare that to the rare six-seater in the truck world and you’ll see the benefit of an SUV.

SUV third row seats
Some SUVs even have third-row seating available

Better Gas Mileage

Since the engines are less powerful and designed to carry less weight, SUVs often have better gas mileage than trucks. Smaller SUVs will boast EPA-estimated miles per gallon that are pretty competitive with a typical compact car.

If you want to avoid gas stations, SUVs are the way to go.

Easier to Maneuver

Since the overall dimensions of SUVs are usually smaller than trucks, they’re a lot easier to maneuver. On top of that, SUVs can be a lot lighter than trucks, so they’re quicker and more fun to drive.

That doesn’t mean you should line your SUV up at the Nürburgring, but it also means that you can take little Johnny and Suzy to soccer practice on time even if you’re running late.

More Comfortable

There’s a big reason why major celebrities around the world ride in the back of an SUV and not the back of a truck — SUVs are really comfortable. Even the rear seating has a lot of leg and headroom.

If you ever go to a private airport, the parking lot will be filled with celebrities’ SUVs. Comfort is king in the world of SUVs.

Range Rover interior 2018
Range Rover interior

Cons of an SUV

Let’s take a second and talk about some of the downsides of owning an SUV.

More Expensive

The biggest difference between an SUV and a truck is the cost. SUVs are much more expensive than comparable trucks.

Companies like Porsche and Lamborghini offer SUVs, and their price tags are in the six-figure range. Even for an entry-level SUV, you’ll pay more for the vehicle.

Insurance Costs More

Not only does the SUV cost more, but the insurance will cost more, too. Insurance premiums are usually based on the value of the vehicle, so this isn’t a huge surprise. Still, you’ll have to dig deeper in your pocket every month.

Who Is an SUV Perfect For?

An SUV is perfect for someone who has a family. If you have more than four people in your household, it’s tough to squeeze everyone into a compact car or truck.

In addition, SUVs are the perfect option for people who value comfort and space. It doesn’t get much roomier in the back seat than in an SUV.

Conclusion

We just reviewed everything you need to know about SUVs and trucks. By now, you should be able to decide which is right for you. If you want more car buying guides, news, or maintenance tips — check out the other articles on our blog. Make sure you have the right tools and accessories to keep your truck or SUV driving perfectly.

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Motor-Hills

Ernest Martynyuk

An automotive enthusiast who's been tinkering with vehicles since I was 15-years old. Repairing automotive electronics has been my main job for over a decade now and have a passion for everything technical regarding cars.

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