We Know: All About Sizes and Kinds of Pickup Trucks

What's a Pickup Truck?

A pickup truck is a light truck with a bed consisting of an open cargo area, short rigid sides, and a utility gate in the rear that opens. Types and sizes differ from country to country, but in North America pickup trucks primarily come in full-size (heavier vehicles with a V6 or V8 engine) and compact (lighter, with a V4 or V6 engine).


What are the Types of Pickup Trucks?

The compact pickup, which is what most people think of as a regular pickup, is the most common type. It has a two-axle chassis, a sturdy frame, cab with one bench seat, leaf spring suspension on the rear wheels to provide the most stability and strength to varying cargo weights, and a gasoline engine with size of V6 or below.

A full-size pickup is a larger truck suitable for half-ton cargoes and able to perform other functions, like hauling trailers. You'll find them with either gasoline or diesel engines up to size V10. The largest full-size pickups have two rear tires on either side of the rear axle -- totaling six tires for the truck. These trucks are called "duallys" or dual-wheeled pickup trucks and may be equipped with a fifth wheel to tow heavy trailers.

What About Cab Styles?

Pickup trucks come with standard, extended, or crew cabs (extended cabs are also called super cabs). The standard cab generally has a single bench seat that seats up to three people and has a door on either end of the seat.

An extended cab has an extra space behind the front bench seat. Originally, this space had "jump seats" that folded back into the walls when not in use, and was reached by folding back the front bench seat's back. Today, most extended cabs have a second full bench seat in this area, with two more doors (back-hinged instead of front-hinged, like regular doors) providing access to it.

A crew cab has two full bench seats providing seating for up to six people, and two full regular front-hinged doors. The bed of crew cab trucks have a shorter bed or box in the back to reduce the overall length of the truck.

What are the Sizes of Pickup Truck Beds?

Most compact truck beds are about 50 inches wide, while most full-size trucks are between 60 and 70 inches wide. Both types of beds may come in short bed or long bed sizes. Compact truck short beds are about six feet long, and full-size trucks are about six and a half feet long. Long bed trucks are used more for commercial work trucks or farm trucks, and have beds of either seven (compact) or eight (full-size) feet in length. If you plan on carrying standard-size plywood (8'x4') you'll want a full-size truck with a long bed. If you're going to be driving in the city, where you'd like to be able to parallel park, you should choose a smaller truck with a short bed.

Step-side trucks have side panels inside the wheel wells, rather than outside the wheel wells. These trucks have a completely rectangular interior bed. If you want a truck like this, you should look for a sport-side or flare-side truck. Today trucks are generally built like that for cosmetic reasons.

You may also find very short beds on some compact four-door trucks; a four or five foot bed is not uncommon.


What are SUV/Pickup Hybrids?

Hybrids are similar to SUVs except that the third row of seats is replaced by a short open truck beds. Others allow easy conversion from full SUV to hybrid pickup truck.

The translation from truck to SUV made a lot of sense. Both often have four-wheel drive, heavy-treaded tires, and high ground clearance, giving both of them great all-terrain capabilities. The future may see the line between SUV and truck grow even blurrier.

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