Pickup trucks are now recognizable automobiles that are used by more people than only farmers and tradespeople.
These workhorses have become popular among many different segments of the population, from those who use them as utilitarian vehicles to those who view them as fashion statements.
This has influenced the pickup’s design to incorporate characteristics for a range of uses, including urban, recreational, and agricultural ones.
Depending on their intended use, pickup trucks come in a variety of configurations. From full-sized, compact, normal cabs, crew cabs, extended cabs, light, medium, heavy-duty, and luxury trucks, as well as electric and hybrid models, ton, three-quarter, and one-ton variants.
Pickup trucks can be observed parked in suburban driveways, executive parking spaces in the city center, dirt bike tracks, farms, and residences. From a rural utility vehicle, the pickup truck has evolved into a symbol of the automotive industry.
Soccer mothers frequently operate them, and they have even gained popularity in suburban areas! Pickup truck types have developed over time to provide a wide range of options for different uses.
The Pickup Truck’s Historical Background
In the early 20th century, the need gave birth to the pickup truck. Farmers and ranchers started converting their conventional automobiles into pickups because they required a vehicle that could manage the rough terrain and hefty loads of their labor.
In 1925, the first commercial pickup truck was introduced, and it immediately became popular.
Pickups trucks have advanced significantly since their early days. The first pickup only cost $281! It may now be found in a range of sizes and forms to meet any demand.
Today’s pickups come in three primary categories: light-duty, medium-duty, and heavy-duty. Let’s examine each one individually.
1. The Light-Duty Pickup Truck
Local tradespeople like electricians and gardeners frequently utilize light-duty pickup trucks, as do those who own them for commuting in cities and suburbs. They typically feature smaller cargo bins, shorter wheelbases, and engines.
A light-duty pickup cabin is equipped with amenities you’d find in a mid-range SUV, and its driving capabilities are better suited to on-road situations than off-road ones, such as suburban streets and highways.
The driving conditions that these vehicles are designed to be utilized in may necessitate some all-terrain characteristics, including diff-lock, even though they are typically only 2-wheel drive types.
However, they make effective towing vehicles for small to medium boats and trailers. Heavy weights cannot be moved with these vehicles because of their suspension.
The Ram 1500 and the Honda Ridgeline are typical examples of this type of car, although the Ford F-150 pickup truck is expected to be the most popular light truck in the USA in 2020 based on sales. This is according to Statistica.com
2. The Medium-Duty Pickup Truck
Due to their excellent combination of size and power, midsize or medium-duty pickup trucks are perfect for daily use. All types of individuals utilize these trucks for a variety of purposes. They are agile, nimble, and relatively tiny. They can even be parked in standard garages.
These medium-sized vehicles don’t always lack power just because of their size. They are a lot of fun inside or outside of the city because of their modest size and mobility.
These pickup trucks offer enough room for the family and lots of cargo capacity, but they’re still simple to drive and park in urban areas. They can easily manage daily duties and be used to transport merchandise.
Small pickups can turn around more easily on the road than other types of trucks. They could be simpler to park and can squeeze through smaller places.
The Toyota Tacoma, which is now in first place, is followed by the Chevrolet Colorado and the Ford Ranger as the most popular mid-range trucks. Hedges Company is the source.
Medium-Duty Pickup Truck by Kevauto / CC BY-SA 4.0. Midsize or medium-duty pickup trucks are ideal for daily usage due to their great size and power ratio. These trucks are used by many kinds of people for a range of activities. They are generally small, nimble, and agile. Even normal garages may be used to store them.
3. The Heavy-Duty Pickup Truck
In a class of their own, heavy-duty pickup trucks often have high engine capabilities in the form of massive displacement V8 engines. These cars can handle larger weights than previous pickup variants because of the suspensions that have been put in them.
These heavy-duty pickup trucks are well-liked by owners of fifth-wheels and caravans due to their remarkable towing capability. Larger boats and trailers with hefty payloads can also be towed by them for industrial-scale delivery.
Off-road capable heavy-duty trucks typically come with features like 4-wheel drive, diff-lock, and automated off-road driving modes.
According to sales figures, the Ford F-series, which includes versions with powerful 5.0L V8 engines, is the most widely purchased heavy-duty truck in the USA. The Nissan Titan XD, Chevrolet Silverado 2500, GMC Sierra 2500 HD, Ford F-250 Super Duty, and Ram 2500 HD are more examples.
4. The Luxurious Pickup Truck
It is evident that these vehicles have found use in many facets of society and serve a variety of functions there is a category for luxury pickup trucks.
The term “luxury” describes the interior fit and finish of the vehicles as well as different add-ons that provide a more pleasant ride and gadgets and facilities within the cabin that provide luxury benefits rather than performance aspects for the truck.
Pickup vehicles from any of the other truck categories, from light-duty trucks to heavy-duty trucks, can be considered luxury models. In general, the luxury versions are more expensive due to all the extra amenities they come with.
The interior of the cabin can include wood accents, plush upholstery, WiFi phone access, cutting-edge sound systems, heated seats, temperature control, and cutting-edge interior technology. These elements can be added to premium versions.
Luxurious Pickup Truck by Vauxford / CC BY-SA 4.0. The word “luxury” refers to how well-done the interiors of the cars are, as well as to various add-ons that make the journey more enjoyable and devices and amenities that enhance the cabin’s comfort rather than the truck’s performance.
5. The Half-Ton Pickup Truck
The weight of the passengers as well as the cargo that the truck can carry in its load bin determines the category of half-ton pickups. Alternatively, the greatest load the vehicle can transport. The truck’s weight is not included in the half-ton classification.
Typically, this indicates that the vehicle has a carrying capacity of 1000 pounds or half a ton. The phrase “half-ton truck” has evolved to mean light-duty pickup vehicles, even though modern half-tons can often carry more than this load. As a result, even if a truck’s carrying capacity is larger than 1000 pounds, it still goes by the same name.
The type of suspension that is put in the vehicle limits the size of the load in addition to the load bin.
If you hear a pickup truck characterized as a half-ton truck, it is a light-duty pickup vehicle since the majority of half-ton pickup trucks are thought to fall into this category.
These vehicles are popular with suburban and urban residents who don’t frequently move big goods or with city-based tradespeople who need a truck to transport their equipment to and from job sites.
The vehicle’s maximum towing capacity is also not indicated by the half-ton designation; rather, the towing capacity will be proportional to the vehicle’s payload carrying capacity.
The vehicle’s ability to tow is often determined by taking into account its payload capacity along with several other factors, including its engine, suspension, gearbox, rear axle, and braking system capacities. This is according to Bell Engineering.
6. The Three-Quarter Ton Pickup Truck
In the past, a pickup truck with a payload capacity of three-quarters of a ton was referred to as a three-quarter-ton truck. When pickup trucks were once acquired as workhorses, the buyer needed to be aware of the vehicle’s carrying capacity.
The three-quarter-ton truck was given that name due to its ability to transport a payload of 1500 pounds and a combined weight of passengers.
Even though the newer versions of these vehicles are capable of transporting more than the 1500 pounds that the name indicates, these trucks were considered medium-duty pickup trucks, and the term has continued to be used for medium-duty trucks.
The Ford F-250 and the Chevrolet Silverado 2500 are contemporary examples of three-quarter-ton pickup trucks or medium-duty vehicles.
Three-Quarter Ton Pickup Truck by IFCAR. The three-quarter-ton truck can move a combined weight of passengers and a cargo of 1500 pounds. The name-indicating capacity of 1500 pounds is exceeded by the most recent variants. The vehicles were referred to as medium-duty pickup trucks, and the phrase is still used today.
7. The One-Ton Pickup Truck
The phrase “one-ton pickup truck” refers to the class of contemporary heavy-duty pickup trucks. These pickup trucks are like muscle cars because of their powerful engines, heavy-duty axles and suspensions, and powerful braking systems.
To better handle the weights that they are capable of towing or transporting, several models in this class come equipped with multiple rear wheels, and diesel engines are frequently seen on these cars.
Although current one-ton trucks or heavy-duty pickup trucks can often carry weights that much surpass the one-ton threshold, the term “one-ton truck” is kept as a historical tradition. The Ford F-350 and RAM 3500 vehicles are two examples of one-ton pickup trucks.
8. The Full-Size Pickup Truck
One-ton or heavy-duty pickup vehicles are referred to as full-size pickup trucks. These trucks often include a bigger interior and larger engines, typically in the V8 range.
Compared to smaller pickup trucks, full-sized pickup trucks often ride higher off the ground, which makes them perfect for off-road driving. To further improve their off-road performance, these vehicles frequently have all-wheel-drive or 4-wheel drive options.
Given that full-sized pickup trucks are the priciest models available, many consumers may decide to go with a midsize or medium-duty vehicle instead.
Full-Size Pickup Truck by Kevauto / CC BY-SA 4.0. Full-sized pickup vehicles sometimes ride higher off the ground than smaller pickup trucks, making them ideal for off-road driving. These vehicles usually include all-wheel-drive or 4-wheel-drive options to further enhance their off-road capabilities.
9. The Compact Pickup Truck
In various regions, the term “compact pickup truck” has varying connotations. In other instances, it implies that the pickup truck’s passenger compartment takes up the majority of the vehicle and the cargo bay is substantially smaller. These cars frequently have front ends that resemble sedans rather than trucks.
The alternative meaning of a tiny pickup truck is an extremely light pickup truck with little ground clearance that is only designed for urban use. It is based on sedan vehicle models.
A further sign of their urban aim is that they are often just two-wheel drive, with some even having front-wheel drive rather than rear-wheel drive. They also feature compact gasoline engines, which are typically between 1600 and 1800 cc.
Compact pickup vehicles are the smallest pickup trucks and are frequently used by businesses to haul relatively light loads or deliver little parcels. In terms of enjoyment, some persons who participate in outdoor activities like mountain biking or surfing could utilize these vehicles to transport their equipment.
In recent years, light-duty pickup trucks have gained in popularity at the expense of tiny pickup trucks, which have seen a significant decline in popularity.
10. The Regular Cab Pickup Truck
In the past, pickup trucks were designed as workhorses for hauling loads rather than as people movers. As a result, they had compact cabs.
In keeping with this historical norm, regular cab pickup trucks only have one cab that can fit two passengers, each in its bucket seat. The truck can fit three persons in the cab, including the driver, if the cab is equipped with a bench seat.
The original Ford F-150 pickups, which were produced from the 1960s through the 1990s, all came standard with a normal cab.
Many pickup truck manufacturers no longer provide the option of a normal cab in their vehicle ranges because traditional cabs no longer have as much attraction for the general population.
Regular Cab Pickup Truck by Henry.hilliard / CC BY-SA 4.0. Regular cab pickup trucks only feature one cab with room for two people, each in their bucket seat, in line with this historical custom. If the truck’s cab has a bench seat, three people, including the driver, can fit inside.
11. The Crew Cab Pickup Truck
A crew cab pickup truck is a pickup truck with 4 normal doors, and it offers room for up to 5 persons in the cab. Typically, there would be 3 passengers in the rear seat and 2 people in the front, including the driver.
Because it is designed to transport the personnel you need for the task you are taking your pickup truck to, it is known as a crew cab.
These trucks’ interiors are often fairly roomy and mimic the space inside a medium-sized car, but with additional headroom.
Pickup trucks with crew cabs often have a smaller cargo bay to make room for the cabin’s bigger size.
12. The Extended Cab Pickup Truck
Despite only having two full-sized front doors, extended cab pickup vehicles have both front and back seats. Opening the front door and tilting the front seat forward usually suffices to provide access to the back seats for passengers.
To make it simpler to reach the back seat, certain extended cab versions come equipped with tiny courtesy doors that open from the rear. The front seat does not need to be pulled forward to provide access to the back seats on models with this little door. All extended-cab vehicles do not, however, have this courtesy door.
Extended cab pickup truck seating is typically not as roomy as crew cab seats, making them only sometimes suitable for passenger transportation.
Extended Cab Pickup Truck by EurovisionNim / CC BY-SA 4.0. Extended cab pickups contain both front and back seats, but only two full-sized front doors. Access to the back seats is often made possible by opening the front door and moving the front seat forward.
13. The Chassis Cab Pickup Truck
The chassis cab pickup truck is a vehicle that lacks a cargo box but has a cab, often an extended cab or a normal cab. The chassis is visible where the load box would typically be located.
With this kind of pickup truck, the load box is replaced by aftermarket equipment that is fitted to the chassis. A flatbed, a tank bed for carrying liquids, tow truck equipment, or light lifting cranes might all be examples of this.
Rather than being used by the general population in cities and suburbs, these vehicles are more suited for commercial and agricultural applications.
14. The Electric Pickup Truck
Electric cars are becoming more dependable, swift, powerful, and capable of charging, and it won’t be long until they become more prevalent in the pickup truck market.
Along with some new competitors in the market, several significant pickup truck manufacturers have been working on electric vehicles.
One significant automaker, Ford, will shortly deliver an all-electric version of the Ford F-150, which is scheduled to go on sale in 2021 or early 2022. Another is Chevrolet, which plans to introduce its Silverado Electric truck in 2025.
Rivian, a brand-new player in the automotive industry, planned to start shipping its R1T pickup truck in the middle of 2021.
The Tesla Cybertruck, an electric pickup truck in development by the renowned Tesla brand, was anticipated to enter production in the second half of the year 2021.
Electric Pickup Truck by Kevauto / CC BY-SA 4.0. It won’t be long until electric vehicles—which are growing in dependability, speed, power, and charging capacity—become more common in the pickup truck market. Several large pickup truck manufacturers have been developing electric cars, along with some new market rivals.
15. The Hybrid Pickup Truck
The next best thing is a hybrid pickup truck since the completely electric pickup truck is still a promise from manufacturers that is almost here.
This technique combines the combustion engine and electric motor technology to create a hybrid vehicle that utilizes both engine types.
Because the hybrids don’t have as much power as the completely combustion-engined counterparts, they are mostly used in light- and medium-duty pickup truck models.
The majority of truck manufacturers presently offer hybrid pickup trucks in their model lineups, including the first hybrid pickup truck on a large scale, the Chevrolet 1500 hybrid, the GMC Sierra hybrid, the RAM 1500 hybrid, and the Ford Hybrid F-150.
These are the many types of pickup trucks that you should take into consideration when thinking about purchasing a pickup truck, in conclusion. In addition, you may choose the type of pickup truck from this page based on your planned use and budget.
Jim Wicks is the founder of MotorVehicleHQ. With over two decades of experience in the automotive industry and a degree in Automotive Technology, Jim is a certified car expert who has worked in various roles ranging from a mechanic, car dealership manager, to a racing car driver. He has owned more than 20 cars over the past 15 years. Ask him about any vehicle you see on the road and he can tell you the make, model and year. He loves the aesthetics of all things cars, and keeps his vehicles in pristine condition.
In his free time, Jim enjoys getting his hands dirty under the hood of a classic car or taking long drives along the country roads. His favorite car? A 1967 Shelby GT500, a true classic that, according to Jim, “represents the pure essence of American muscle.”