Buying a truck can be confusing. There are so many different types of trucks in the market, that it can be hard to figure out which one fits your life.
If you buy a pickup that’s too big, you’ll waste the capability and pay more in fuel costs than you should. On the other hand, if the truck is too small, you’ll regret the purchase every time you need to haul a load that’s too big for this pickup. Which truck should you buy? Let’s dive in and find out what you need to think about when buying a truck.
How Much Can You Afford to Spend?
The amount you can spend on a pickup not only determines the capabilities of that vehicle but also whether to buy new or used. You should get a lot more for your money with a used truck, but that vehicle might have been used for some tough work. There are many prices and pricing ranges for the trucks offered in the market. If you don’t have a limit on what you can spend, then you can skip this part, but most of us are limited in what we can spend.
Typically, you’ll find a truck in the lineup that is the sweet spot for that vehicle. For example, the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT is the sweet spot for this model. You’ll find some upscale features while also enjoying a mid-range price. You won’t be stuck with a bare-bones work truck but you don’t have to pay the luxury prices required of the highest trim levels when you drive the Silverado 1500 LT.
Which Size Truck Do You Want to Drive?
If you don’t need to pull a trailer regularly, you don’t need a massive, heavy-duty truck. When you think about buying a truck, don’t think about the one or two times in the life of that vehicle that you might pull a large load in a trailer. Instead, consider how you’ll use this truck every day. Currently, there are four classifications of trucks to choose from compact, midsize, full-size, and heavy-duty.
Do you need your truck to pull a trailer every day? Are you a regular at the lake with your boat? How much weight will you need to pull when you take your travel trailer out on a road trip? These are all questions you need to answer before selecting the classification of truck that’s right for you. Another factor to consider is off-roading. If you want to spend a lot of time on the trails, you’ll likely look to midsize models like the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro or Chevrolet Colorado ZR2. Of course, if you want a hardcore off-road truck, the Ford F-150 Raptor and Ram TRX are both excellent options.
How Should Your Truck be Configured?
Some trucks offer up to three cab options and a few bed lengths, but others don’t. If you step up to certain trims, you can only have some configurations. An example of the limitations is found in the 2023 Ford F-150 lineup. Only the XL and XLT models offer three cab configurations. Once you reach the Lariat trim, all of the F-150 models come with the SuperCrew Cab configuration. This is something to think about before selecting the trim of your truck.
If you choose a Chevy, GMC, or Ford truck, you’ll have three cab configurations in the half-ton full-size class, but other brands might not offer these options. The same goes for the midsize class. Some brands offer at least two cab and bed sizes, but trucks like the Honda Ridgeline, Ford Maverick, and Hyundai Santa Cruz aren’t as versatile. If the right configuration isn’t offered in the truck you choose, it might be a good idea to choose a different brand with more options.
Which Powertrain is Right for You?
When buying a truck, you’ll find a large menu of powertrain options in most of the truck classes. Some trucks only have one or two engines, which makes it pretty easy to choose the one you want, but half-ton trucks often give you several choices for the power you want to enjoy. These powertrains give you the benefits of power and efficiency needed in your truck, but you’ll want to understand how they work into the configuration of the truck you want to drive and enjoy.
The top engines for competing trucks aren’t all the same, and that can get confusing. More confusion sets in when you consider the variety of towing packages and payload numbers. Typically, the truck that can haul the most isn’t the one that can carry the most in the bed. This means you’ve got to decide which aspect of the truck is more important to you, towing or payload. By now, your head might be spinning, but we’re not quite done with everything you’ve got to think about when buying a truck.
How Much Do You Need to Tow or Carry?
If you’re using your truck to pull a massive travel trailer that’s your home on wheels, you’ll probably want to reach into the heavy-duty truck class. Do you need to choose the biggest and most powerful configuration? Does your truck need a fifth-wheel setup? This towing setup places the hitch in the middle of the bed, which can get in the way when you need to carry items in the back. Is it worth the hassle to have this hitch in the bed?
When you’re buying a truck for towing and road travel, consider the capabilities of that truck. If your travel trailer doesn’t exceed 12,000 pounds, you won’t need to choose the one-ton models that can tow over 30,000 ponds with a fifth-wheel setup. On the other hand, if you’ve got a mansion on wheels, you might need to go to the big diesel-powered trucks with massive towing numbers. Know your towing needs and find the right truck that offers enough power to pull your trailer where you need to go.
There’s a lot to think about when buying a truck, but the menu is lengthy. If you want a truck for daily driving instead of an SUV, you can have it and enjoy the added capabilities. There are trucks in the market for every need; find one that meets all of yours.
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