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Trucks 101: Which Truck Is Right For You?

US car sales hit over 17.3 million sales last year.

Pick-up truck sales account for a large portion of that number. In fact, Ford’s F-series alone sold almost 1 million units. 

Everyone’s scrambling to scoop up the latest truck models. It’s no wonder when these vehicles are powerful additions to your company car collection.

Shopping for a new business vehicle but don’t know what type of truck to buy? Keep reading for a full guide to buying your new truck.

What to Know Before You Buy Your Truck

Shopping for a company vehicle and think you want a truck? When buying a truck, you pay for increased towing capacity and extra cargo space. But how do you know what you’re getting without taking out the tape measure?

Here are some terms to know and some basic buying suggestions before you head to the dealership.

Know the Terms

When you’re shopping for your new work truck, here are a few terms you need to know.

1500 (or 150), 2500 (or 250), 3500 (or 350) – these numbers are usually found in the name of the truck and stand for the amount of engine power you’re getting; the larger the number, the more power.

3/4 ton or 1/2 ton – while this designation once referred to the towing capacity of the truck, the usage is now obsolete.

Light-duty truck – any truck that weighs less than 14,000 pounds.

Heavy-duty truck – any truck that weighs more than 14,000 pounds.

Assess Your Needs

If you don’t have a plan before you buy your new truck, you may end up going home with more machine than you really need. Trucks are designed for hauling trailers, boats, and campers. If you aren’t looking to haul a heavy duty load, an SUV or a midsized truck may be for you.

While shopping, see the owner’s manual or ask the dealer for the truck’s towing capacity. But always remember that it depends on more than just engine power. Cab and bed size, rear axles, wheelbase length, and the specific towing package that comes with your truck also contribute. 

Determine Your Budget

Aside from determining your specific needs, make sure you think about your budget. 

A basic package in a truck will run you about $20,000. Meanwhile, a luxury truck with all the bells and whistles will cost you $60,000 or more.

Luxury isn’t the only thing that will cost you, though. 4WD will also run you a higher cost.

For instance, a compact truck with 4WD added on will cost around $35,000. A full-sized truck will run you about $45,000 and a heavy duty truck with 4WD is usually priced around $55,000.

Not sure what we mean by compact, full-sized, and heavy-duty? We explain that and more next.

What Type of Truck to Buy

Now that you’ve assessed your needs and determined your budget, it’s time to get into the details. 


While trucks are popular with both businesses and consumers, there actually aren’t many brands that design truck models. You’ll usually see the following brands when looking for the perfect type of truck to buy.

  • Ford
  • Chevrolet/GMC
  • Ram
  • Toyota
  • Nissan
  • Honda

Hyundai also has its very first compact truck model, the Santa Cruz, set to release in 2021. 


Trucks come in many sizes, but you’ll usually see them referred to as compact or mid-sized, full-sized, and heavy-duty.

Compact and mid-sized trucks are smaller and offer less towing capacity. Yet these efficient and stylish trucks are a great choice for businesses towing light but messy loads. With the choice of both 4-cylinder and V6 engines, these compact trucks hold their weight

If you’re set on a compact truck, check out the Chevy Colorado, the Ford Ranger, or the Toyota Tacoma.

Full-sized trucks are much larger than their compact counterpart. They ride higher off the ground and typically feature larger cabs and truck bed lengths. You can tell you’re looking at a full-sized truck if its title includes the 1500 designator (or 150 for Ford models).

These rugged vehicles include the Chevy Silverado 1500, the popular Ford F-150, and the Dodge Ram 1500.

If you want a truck to carry some serious loads like fifth-wheel trailers, a heavy-duty truck is for you. These big boys are designated as 2500 or 3500 (250 and 350 for Ford models). 

Key Deciding Factors

Still can’t decide which truck model is for you? Here are some more factors that are key to making your final decision.

Towing capacity is generally the most important feature truck-buyers are searching for. Compact vehicles tow from 3,000 to 7,000 pounds while a full-sized truck can tow up to 10,000 pounds. If you want to tow loads up to 31,000 pounds, however, a heavy-duty truck is your best option.

Cab sizes in trucks generally come in regular, extended, and crew. Regular sizes feature only one row of bucket seats while extended cabs have a small rear seating area. If the seating area in an extended cab is too cramped for you, you may need a crew cab, which is seen in 4-door trucks.

Another key deciding factor is the length of the truck bed. Full-sized trucks usually feature a bed that is 6-8 feet long. More compact trucks, though, have smaller 5-6 footbeds great for moving office supplies, equipment, and furniture.

With today’s gas prices, fuel economy is yet another factor that may tip your decision one way or another. 14-19 miles per gallon is typical of the average truck. But heavy-duty diesel and compact trucks can deliver 20 mpg when pulling lighter loads.

Most trucks feature 4-cylinder or V6 engines in the most basic models with an option to upgrade to a V8. You can find some models on the market that have V6 engines that could be mistaken for a V8 due to their powerful load-bearing capabilities. 

Trucks generally come with rear-wheel drive, 4WD, or all-wheel drive. If you plan to drive your truck mostly in the winter or off-road, you can find trucks offering both full-time or part-time 4WD features.

A Final Consideration

The last thing you need to think about when buying your ideal truck is the advanced safety features. Trucks are slowly upgrading safety option to compete with other cars on the market. 

For instance, you can now add on:

  • Forward Collision Warning
  • Airbag Deployment Alerts
  • Lap and shoulder seat belts
  • LATCH connectors

Trucks also now come with the option to get automatic emergency breaks, which are shown to cut truck accidents by at least 43%.

While the safety features of trucks are improving, always have the number of a truck accident lawyer on hand for emergencies.

Buying a Truck for Your Business

When deciding on the type of truck to buy for your newest company vehicle, make sure to follow this guide.

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