Just like most other things in technology, the capabilities of pickup trucks have improved tremendously from what it once was. Today, an average compact truck can tow and haul almost the same way as a heavy duty pickup truck would have done many years ago. Trucks have become less of a workhorse and more of a head-turner, the same way there is greater fuel efficiency than before. The implication of this is that there is a tendency to buy more truck than you actually need.

In order not to make an error in judgment it is important you start your selection process by carrying out a realistic assessment of your needs. If you are not planning on carrying large loads or pulling a very heavy trailer then there won’t be any need to buy a heavy-duty pickup truck, instead, you can opt for a lighter-duty full-sized truck. Similarly, if you don’t plan to haul construction debris, dirty cargo, or manure, then a minivan or SUV can easily fit the bill.

Below are a few factors to consider when choosing a pickup truck to buy;

  1. Cab size:

Although regular cabs are least expensive, extended cabs are way more useful. Extended cabs often have rear seats which are okay for kids, but may be too uncomfortable for full-sized adults. The main advantage of this type of cab is in its extra interior storage.

  1. Bed:

This is one of the most important parts of a truck, it is what sets it apart from other vehicles. The open cargo bed can be used for accomplishing major jobs, such as transporting bulky furniture, heavy appliance, motorcycles, equipment, and other cargo such as manure, trash, and lumber. These tasks can’t be achieved (or will be done with tremendous discomfort) using an SUV or a minivan. The downside to the open bed is that it leaves cargo prone to theft or vulnerable to weather.

A full-sized pickup comes with a standard bed length of 8 feet while a truck with an extended cab has a bed size of just about 6 feet. A four-door crew cab truck comes with a 5 feet bed. For compact pickups, bed size often falls between 5 to 6 feet depending on the configuration of the cab.

  1. Access:

Access is another key consideration when thinking about buying a truck. Trucks with a tall cabin can posse difficulty for people to climb in. It is advisable that if you buy a 4X4 truck you should consider adding a running board as this would help passengers to get in. Full-sized pickup beds often have side rails that are very high above the ground this can make loading and unloading items difficult. Some models, however, come with integrated steps in the bumper or folding steps on the tailgate which makes access easier for short owners or passengers.

It is equally important that you check to see if the seat meets your standard and expectation. You should be on the lookout for trucks with an acceptable amount of room for both your cargo and your passengers. Another important thing to take notice of is the amount of room for knees, headroom, and legroom in all seating position. If you are considering an extended-cab truck check if the rear seats can be folded easily to allow for greater room for cargo.

  1. Towing:

When it comes to towing, there are a couple of factors that determine a truck’s towing capacity. Some of which include its engine power, wheelbase length, cab and bed size, rear axle ratio, and presence or absence of factory towing package. The differences in the towing capacity of trucks can be drastic, a typical properly fitted pickup truck can safely tow more than 12,000 pounds, but some have the lesser capacity and may be able to tow as little as 5,500 pounds. It is important that you carry out proper research to determine the safe towing capacity of a truck.

But generally, a typical compact pickup truck is able to tow between 3,000 and 7,000 pounds and the majority of the full-sized 1,500-class trucks can tow anything between 5,000 and 10,000 pounds. Heavy-duty pickups are configured to tow as much as 31,000 pounds.

  1. Axle ratio:

This is concerned with how much torque is transmitted to the rear wheels of the truck. A ratio of 3.5:1 translate to mean that for every rotation of the rear wheel the main drive shaft from the transmission revolves three and a half times. The lower number helps to maximize fuel economy while a higher number is apt for towing and hauling capabilities.

It is recommended that you select a number at the middle of the range for extensive towing. A higher ratio is only apt for someone who drives a lot hauling heavy loads.

  1. Fuel economy:

Recent compact pickups tend to come with a large four-cylinder engine. The majority offer an optional V6 which provides greater power but allow for smoother and quieter operation. Base full-sized trucks come with a V6 engine which offers a great balance between power and fuel economy, making it great for light consumer use. Some new V8 engines come with cylinder deactivation, this allows the engine to operate on fewer cylinder carrying light loads thereby saving fuel.