A Few Things To Consider When Shopping for a Pickup
You may have your heart set on getting a pickup truck. It could be for fun or for work. There are more aspects to consider than you may realize. Here’s how to narrow down the field until you find the perfect ride.
Light Duty or Heavy Duty
Although it is plenty powerful, a Ford F150 is known as a light duty truck. The F250 and F350 are heavy duty pickups as described by the manufacturer. The government still considers them light duty. You’ll find similar nomenclature on Ram and Chevy which go by 1500, 2500 and 3500.
The average person needs a 150 or 1500. If you have a large camper to tow or regularly pull a trailer for work, then you should consider paying more for a 250/2500 or 350/3500.
Medium or Full Size
Medium sized trucks aren’t as strong as full size ones, but the lines are blurrier than they used to be. You measure a Nissan Frontier four-cylinder against a Ford F150, and there’s a stark difference in capability. If you measure a Ford Ranger with its powerful Ecoboost engine against a six-cylinder full size pickup, the Ranger may be able to pull an equally heavy load.
Many manufacturers have quit making regular cabs. These are also the least expensive full-size trucks to buy, and generally they don’t offer the pricey trim levels you’ll find on double cabs.
To get a truly hospitable backseat, the larger, most expensive cab is the most desirable. This increases your costs, but it does allow you to enjoy an SUV-sized cabin.
If you look strictly at the length, you will discover that rival manufacturers keep their beds within an inch or two of each other. Thus, you can pick small, medium or long in any brand without too much concern over the size.
However, you need to look closer. How far apart are the wheel wells? How high are the walls? How much length do you gain when the tailgate is flat? What is the payload limit? These are the aspects that may make a difference.
To get a truck with the same features you want on a car, you will have to spend more. The entry level MSRP reflects the strength of the vehicle more than it does the amenities and technologies. Even so, to get the more powerful models, you’ll have to pay for a midrange trim even if you aren’t interested in the amenities.
Ownership costs will be higher, too. The insurance will be more and the fuel economy will be worse than regular cars and SUVs. Of course, this may be balanced out by the way you put the truck to work.
Although there are many people willing to sell you a truck sight unseen, you should test drive as many as possible. This is one time when you want to know how the seat suits you and if you can climb in or out without too much effort. You may need your family to test it too. You also want to know how the lifting height for the bed might affect you.
Even a few years ago, trucks had poorer safety records and fewer safety precautions than their car counterparts. This is no longer the case. However, if you are shopping for used trucks, be sure to compare the list of the truck’s safety features against those of a modern vehicle.
Whatever you do, don’t buy a truck for its looks and don’t buy the first truck you test drive. You’ll be a happier truck owner if you ignore these temptations and do your research before buying.
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