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Are pickup trucks practical? What are the real-world pros and cons?
The most practical vehicle you can get is a pickup truck. These vehicles are built tough and suited for all types of situations. Pickup trucks are designed today to provide passenger comfort, haul stuff, and handle different types of terrain.
If for anything else, if you have a truck, make sure you invest in a good bedliner or at least a tarp for protecting the bed area.
If All Pickups Are Trucks, Are All Trucks Pickups Too?
Pickups belong to the truck category. But, although all pickups are technically trucks, not all trucks are pickups.
Trucks vary in size. They’re grouped into classes based on gross vehicular weight rating. Anything under class 7 can still be considered a pickup provided it has these qualities: a cab with an extended hood and a bed.
The cab and the bed are two separate units on top of the chassis (although light ‘utes like the El Camino and Datsun are one-piece units with a pickup design.) Anything under the class 1 category, (ultra-lights, micro-trucks, and mini-trucks), can have a cab over engine design and still be considered a pickup.
Check the more detailed explanation listed below.
Different Type Of Pickup Trucks And Their Uses
Before we get into the pros and cons, here are the different types of trucks, classifications, and maximum payload.
- 1 Class – Light Truck – 0-6000 pounds
- 2a Class – Light Truck – 6001-8500 pounds
- 2b Class – Light/Medium Truck – 8501-10,000 pounds
- 3 Class – Medium Truck – 10,001-14,000 pounds
- 4 Class – Medium Truck – 14,001-16,000 pounds
- 5 Class – Medium Truck – 16,001-19,500 pounds
- 6 Class – Medium Truck – 19,501-26,000 pounds
- 7 Class – Heavy Truck – 26,001-33,000 pounds
- 8 Class – Heavy Truck – 33,001-and up
We also have ultra-light trucks, very light trucks, micro-trucks, and mini-trucks. These variants can come in three, four, and/or six-wheel combinations. These trucks fall under the Class 1 classification as a sub-category. These trucks can haul loads under 6000 pounds.
You can’t use these trucks on the highway. You can haul stuff over short distances with these trucks.
The limited range on these trucks allows them to run on gas, diesel fuel or batteries.
Now For The Real World Pros And Cons For Pickup Trucks
Pickups are an odd sort. What makes pickup trucks practical also makes them impractical. Such is the duality of these vehicles.
A good example would be the engine size and displacement.
Engine Size And Displacement
Pros: A big engine provides a lot of power;
Cons: A big engine uses up too much fuel even for the smallest tasks.
Pickups have large engines that supply a lot of torque useful for hauling or towing. The oversupply of power means a large amount of fuel is displaced every time you use your truck. So, you’re basically using the same amount of fuel for hauling light cargo over a short distance and driving over the same distance without any cargo at all.
Superior Suspension Systems
Pros: Pickup trucks have better suspension systems than cars; higher ground clearance
Cons: These suspension systems are sometimes too bouncy for regular passengers; vehicles with a high ground clearance is prone to turning over; independent suspensions have a limit to the angle of attack
Dedicated off-road machines have independent suspensions that allow their wheels to go off at odd angles when tackling difficult terrain. When pushed to the limit, these suspension systems can break, leaving you with a very rugged paperweight in the mud.
The high ground clearance allows you to easily skip over large rocks in your path. But beware, turning to sharp at a corner can turn your off-roader on its side.
Super-Sized And Overweight
Pros: Pickups are larger than conventional cars
Cons: Pickups are heavier than conventional cars;
There’s something about the size of a pickup that boosts the driver’s confidence. You feel invulnerable. There’s a ton of sheet metal surrounding you. The elevated sitting position also gives you an excellent vantage point over all the other cars on the road.
But with great size also comes great weight. And that weight needs more fuel to move from one location to the next.
Pickup Trucks Practically Pay For Themselves Over TIme
Pros: Pickups have a vast usefulness about them; you can use pickups for a variety of purposes
Cons: More expensive than conventional cars; more expensive preventive maintenance and parts replacement
It’s true when they say pickups literally pay for themselves over time. The vast amount of usefulness these vehicles embody make pickup trucks practical for any situation. The downside to this is that, when it comes to upkeep and preventive maintenance, pickups can rack up the amount of expenses incurred.
Can You Say Gas Guzzler?
Pros: Pickups come in three variants, gas, diesel, and electric; large fuel tank capacities
Cons: Big engines and heavy bodies use up a lot of fuel; pickups aren’t as economical as small cars
One of the biggest gripes automobile owners have is the price of fuel these days. Pickups may be useful, but they sure do guzzle up a lot of fuel. You’ll need deep pockets to keep your pickup truck running.
Durable Until It Breaks Down
Pros: Pickup trucks are hardy, rugged, and highly durable
Cons: Most repairs, like changing a flat tire, requires two people; once it starts breaking down, the entire system eventually fails
You can practically throw anything at a new pickup truck, and it’ll handle everything without so much as a hiccup. But, once the system starts failing, you’re facing a countdown to vehicular extinction and the prospect of owning a very large and rugged paperweight.
Expect To Be Called A Red-Neck At Social Events
Pros: You can take your truck anywhere
Cons: Pickup trucks aren’t entirely suited for all types of events unless fitted to conform;
Today’s trucks are a far cry from their primitive ancestors. All of the creature comforts you’ll ever need are present in trucks today. You basically have a car that’s lifted up and ready to start hauling everything and the kitchen sink at the back.
Going to an ultra-exclusive party for the city’s movers and shakers in the mountains? No problem.
Just don’t expect to be respected as an upstanding member of society at some posh events though. Everyone who sees you exiting a pickup truck will just regard you as a red-neck with a tie.
Practical Uses For Your Pickup Truck
Your Pickup Truck As A Daily Driver
What makes pickup trucks practical is that you can use it for a variety of purposes. One of which is getting to drive it as your daily driver.
Today, pickup trucks are equipped with the same creature comforts found in cars. Plush seats, an entertainment system, and an effective A/C system, makes driving a joy.
Even if you’re stuck in traffic.
As a daily driver, pickup trucks are practical for maneuvering in and out of traffic without worrying too much about road imperfections. Steep hills and rough roads? Not a problem. You’ll still get there in one piece and with enough time to spare.
Your Pickup Truck Used For Commercial Purposes
Another thing that makes pickup trucks practical is the ability to use it for commercial purposes.
For branding purposes, you can install a vinyl wrap with your logo and/or other graphics that represent your company well to potential customers. You can use stickers if you don’t want to spend that much on a vinyl wrap.
For a more permanent branding solution, have the car repainted to bear your company colors, logo, and other contact details.
Pickup trucks are overly large and rolling around with all that advertising makes you an attractive business card for potential customers.
You Can Drive For Uber
Interested in making money from driving people around? Take customers from point A to B on your Uber-enrolled truck.
If you have a four-door pickup truck that’s five years old or less, you can use it to become an Uber driver. You will have to pass the Uber driver test though before getting the chance to earn money becoming someone’s red-neck chauffer.
Pickup trucks are perfect for driving people to locations with difficult terrain. Don’t worry, most people will just ask you to drive them to certain points within the city. It’s just good to have off-road capability if the situation calls for it.
Just remember to keep your pickup well-maintained to avoid getting into embarrassing situations like asking your passenger to alight from the vehicle to help you out with a flat tire or to give you a push to jumpstart your truck.
Driving Around The Farm In A Pickup Truck
Ever been to a farm? Chances are you’ll find a pickup truck sitting in the driveway.
What makes pickup trucks practical is that they have the power and robustness to handle daily use in a farm setting. You’re subjecting the vehicle to a lot of abuse when driving down farm roads filled with potholes, rocks, and other obstacles.
Towing A Boat With A Pickup Truck
One of the many reasons why people buy pickup trucks is to be able to tow a boat behind it. Even the smallest pickup truck can tow a boat behind it, given the right conditions.
This is one advantage pickup trucks have over all other vehicles in the world.
Towing A Trailer With A Pickup Truck
People with trailers or trailer homes can attest to the usefulness of pickups when it comes to transferring from one place to the other.
Pickup trucks have strong engines. These engines have enough torque to pull large rolling objects behind the vehicle. You just have to put the size of the trailer into consideration, based on your vehicle’s GVWR, to pick the right one.
Since we’ve discussed towing, here are some after-market hitches you can attach to your truck for your convenience.
Using Your Pickup Truck As A Home
Believe it or not, you can live inside your pickup truck comfortably. This trend is popular with the mobile home owners and tiny home enthusiasts.
Living small became a necessity when the recession started. The pickup came to the rescue.
Being larger, that meant more comfort. More comfort if you compare it to a car. Vans and dedicated RV homes still win in this category but still, put a cab or an on-bed cabin at the back, and you have a serviceable home long enough to put a bed in that fits your frame.
Unless you’re over 6‘6”. If you’re that tall, get an RV or a van. A pickup won’t do. There’s just going to be too much clutter. To reduce that, get a Drive Auto Organizer to lessen the clutter.
Or try becoming an NBA player. Recession can’t hit you if you’re decent at shooting hoops.
Using Your Pickup Truck Off-Road And Other Types Of Terrain
One of the most popular reasons why anyone would get a pickup truck is to use it for off-road purposes. Pickup trucks can be used for light off-road use, rock crawling, mudding, and bogging. These hardy vehicles can also be used on sand as desert racers with appropriate sand tires.
For recreational activities like these, pickup trucks often have excess weight removed to lighten the gross weight. A roll-cage is installed inside to protect the driver. A tubular exoskeleton is installed as an optional measure to protect the body if it rolls on its side or roof.
Truck beds can be removed or replaced with a fiberglass, aftermarket piece to further lighten the weight. There are also fiberglass replacement parts for the hood, doors, and entire cab.
The wheel wells can be enlarged to accommodate oversized wheels. A specialized suspension is used as a final measure to raise the ground clearance.
Got The Need For Speed?
Are pickup trucks practical for racing down the speedway? NASCAR seems to think so. Pickups, when properly set up, can give regular race cars a run for their money.
Think of it this way: pickup trucks have a wide body. Lower the suspension and bring the entire body down to the ground, and you increase its stability when racing around the track. Replace the doors, hood, bed, and/or cab with fiberglass, and you’ve cut down a massive amount of weight.
Kick the windshield and windows out and replace them with plexi-glass, and you’ve cut it down even further.
Scrap the A/C, sound system, and passenger seats, install a roll cage and race-appropriate driver’s seat and you’re almost there. You’re not going to need your headlights, tail lights, and side mirrors, so place them in the trash bin too.
For the engine, whether you keep it stock or tune it to your specs, it’ll be more than capable of handling high speeds.
Oh, and putting on a rear spoiler optional. You know what? Scrap that. You don’t need it. It won’t make your pickup truck any faster than it already is.
Turning Your Pickup Truck Into A Show Stopper
Last but not least, you can turn your pickup truck into a show truck. Car shows have a special category reserved for pickup trucks, and these are filled with all types of interesting transformations.
Tricked out trucks are always delightful to see. So are those that have been restored to look the way they came out of the production line decades ago. Whatever type of customization you choose for your truck, if done right, will always make it stand out.
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to car show classifications. Oftentimes, classifications overlap.
Antique Class Category
Antique pickup trucks are set by the state law. This is for pickups that are over 45 years old. These rules vary from state to state. No modifications are allowed for antique pickups.
Classic Class Category
Pickups 20 years or older but not more than 40 or 45 years old belong in this category. In addition, vehicles manufactured after 1925 do not belong in this category. Most vehicles are produced 20-30 years after their first inception.
Vintage Class Category
Vintage pickups are those manufactured between 1919 and 1930. Some modifications can be made, as long as it does not greatly alter the appearance of the vehicle.
Stock Class Category
The stock class is reserved for trucks with no modifications save for the ones done by the manufacturer. This class features pickup trucks the way they came out during the production period. It serves as a nice time capsule and a brief look back into history.
The stock class can also be used by car manufacturers presenting cars for potential buyers during these shows.
Although the general rule for the stock car category is to remain unchanged, a few modifications here and there are acceptable provided they do not alter the pickup’s general appearance. These modifications can be installed for better performance without going overboard.
This rule varies from state to state.
Dually Class Category
Dually trucks are pickup trucks practical for hauling heavy loads on their beds. These trucks have double wheeled axles mounted on the back end of the chassis. Dually trucks are offered as stock vehicles. You can order these from the manufacturer as a production car.
Duallies can enter other categories. Provided they are modified to conform as such.
Restored Class Category
Restored pickup trucks can fall under the vintage, classic, antique or stock category providing all of the conditions set are met.
These are usually beater trucks that have gone into disrepair and have meticulously been built up to look stock or in original form. Aftermarket parts can be used, provided they are period-correct. Manufacturing lost or missing parts are allowed providing they conform to period-correct standards.
Resto-mod Class Category
Resto-mods are pickups restored to look like their original form with a few modifications to bring it up to modern standards. Modifications to the lights, interior, engine, and tires are allowed. Modern paint jobs are allowed. Provided it does not go overboard.
Modified Class Category
The modified class category is subjective in nature. You basically have a stock car with a few modifications on it to make it show more of your personality. The modifications are more than just for aesthetic purposes. They do serve a purpose.
As long as they don’t interfere with normal usage, any type of modification is allowed.
Custom Class Category
Custom class pickup trucks are modified to suit the owner’s desires. The modifications done to these vehicles run the gamut of mild to wild, depending on what the owner wants.
Engines can be modified to have more power with non-stock turbo, supercharger or NOS systems installed. Swapping the engine out and/or changing its position, is also allowed.
Body modifications are also allowed in this category. You can chop the top shave the door handles or alter the body as seen fit.
Using aftermarket body kits can also be used for this category.
The interiors on custom trucks are vastly different from stock. A variety of materials from leather, vinyl and cloth can be used inside. Gauges, dashboards, and other electronics can be updated to whatever is offered latest in the market.
The entertainment system can also be updated as seen fit.
Custom paint is where this class truly shines. Custom cars sport paint graphics, non-stock colors, pearls, flakes, and matte finishes
Highly Modified Class Category
There is a no-holds-barred approach to modification applied. This is where you can see out of this world transformations.
You can do extreme body modifications without fear of disqualification. Chopped, slammed, lengthened, shortened, lifted, dropped, or a combination of any of these can be applied.
Shortened Truck Class Category
The shortened truck class category pertains to trucks with modified chassis and beds. Although it goes against the basic idea of practicality, this style is pretty popular with a select niche of pickup owners.
Even cabins gets shortened as well. You should see one in real life. It’s amazing how cool they look up close.
Extended Cab Class Category
The extended cab class category is the exact opposite of the shortened truck class category. The more modest ones usually just have the bed extended a foot or two. The more extreme ones, well, you could say a limo can’t hold a candle against it.
Extended cabins are part and parcel of this category as well. So, we’re talking pickups the length of a small trailer home. That’s not just a tall (or long) tale. There are extended pickups 40 feet in length.
Slammed Class Category
Slammed pickup trucks can fall under any of the class categories. The one defining quality of slammed pickups is how close it sits to the ground. These road scrapers have their suspensions lowered to extreme levels. There is very little ground clearance for these pickups.
· Dropped Class Category
The dropped class category is for pickups who have lowered suspensions that are not as extreme as slammed trucks. The lowered stance for these pickups is more noticeable than mildly modified trucks.
· Bagged Class Category
The bagged class category includes slammed or dropped trucks with the added modification of installing airbags or hydraulics to lift or lower the entire vehicle.
Another competition these bagged trucks can join is the truck dancing competition. This is where the owners compete in showing off their expert manipulation of the hydraulic system. This makes the truck look like it’s dancing to the beat provided.
Check this Universal Air Ride Suspension with Single Port Double Bellow to enter the bagged class.
Lifted Class Category
The lifted class is the extreme opposite of slammed trucks. The higher the ground clearance, the better. Lift kits are available as aftermarket parts. There are owners who custom manufacture lift kits to achieve even loftier heights.
One way to demonstrate how high these vehicles sit is by parking another vehicle under it without any of the surfaces touching.
The lifted class overlaps into the off-road class if the pickup is designed to handle off-road conditions. Get Bilstein 5100 Monotube Gas Shocks to enter the Lifted Truck class.
Off-Road Class Category
These are highly durable monsters with one specific purpose: tackle difficult terrain. Basic off-road pickup trucks have special tires for handling imperfect roads and wild trails. The suspension employed by these pickups allows the vehicle to body roll as needed.
Off-road pickups often employ an exoskeleton to protect against damage from rolling over. A roll cage is also mandatory to protect the passengers inside. The body is also modified. This is done to reduce weight and allow more space for tire travel.
The pickup beds on these vehicles are next to useless. Cutting into it provides more space for the over-sized tires.
Get Fox Racing Performance Shocks if you’re planning to enter the Off-Road Category.
These pickup trucks have mud tires installed. These fall under the off-road category but have their own sub-category to further define their purpose.
These pickup trucks have oversized tires with treads specifically built for crawling over rocks and boulders. These fall under the off-road category but have their own sub-category to further define their purpose.
These pickup trucks have smooth tires with paddle-like treads to travel over sand effectively. These fall under the off-road category but have their own sub-category to further define their purpose.
Racing Class Category
Pickup trucks can also double as racing machines. In fact, there are pickup truck racing competitions all over the world. Even NASCAR has one.
Because of this, dressing pickup trucks up in the same manner as race cars has become a popular segment in any truck show.
Sound System Class Category
This category isn’t just for pickup trucks. Cars, vans, even motorcycles can sport a sound system with enough bass to sink an island.
Now imagine putting all of those speakers on a truck bed.
Better get those earplugs out.
Interior Class Category
Another non-exclusive category that trucks also participate in. The number of modifications one can do to a pickup’s interior is almost limitless. The only thing stopping most owners is when they run out of space.
Any of the other class categories can participate in combination with their specified class category to increase their chances of winning something else other than “Best Interior”.
Paint Class Category
The most colorful part of any truck show is the paint segment. Owners can go wild with how they design their pickups and slap on some paint from matte to glossy pearl and everything in between.
Pickup trucks can enter in any of the class categories above, have a combination of one or two, and go home bringing two or more trophies and a few bragging rights. If you’re planning on entering your pickup truck in a local show, pick a style and run with it.
Just keep in mind what category you’re entering in and the rules and regulations that apply to that. Adhere to the stipulated items in the checklist, and you’ll increase your chances of winning.
And please make sure that you have a pickup truck that can “go and isn’t all show.”
Can An Ultra-Light Truck Tow A Boat?
Yes. With the right conditions, an ultra-light truck can tow a boat. These minute trucks drag these vessels to and from the edge of the water because they can easily maneuver in very small spaces. The tight turning radius on these vehicles also lets them position these boats with ease.
Can You Drive A Pickup Truck For Uber?
Can you earn money from your truck by driving people around? Using your pickup truck for Uber is actually possible. You just need to make sure it is a four-door, under 10 years old truck that hasn’t figured in any accident or accumulated violations. You also need to pass Uber’s driver standards.
What Classification Is The Tesla Cybertruck Under?
The Tesla Cybertruck is classified as a Medium Duty truck. It falls under Class 2B with a maximum payload of 10,000 pounds. This is still speculation at this point. The Tesla Cybertruck still has to be released to the public as a production vehicle before this can be confirmed as a fact.
Pickups are practical machines that you can use for a variety of purposes. The vast amount of tasks it can perform make pickup trucks practical for any situation.
Pickups come in all shapes and sizes so you can buy one best suited for your needs. Pickup trucks can perform the most basic task of carrying passengers to and from one location to the other to towing trailer homes and boats.
Pickups are also used for racing events or for show. A racing truck can give any race car a run for its money. Its size and shape lends well to customization. You can apply practically anything you can dream of to a truck.
Pickups are excellent recreational vehicles. They can tackle any terrain with ease. Provided they are custom-fit with the right tires and engines. Mud? Sand? Water? No problem! Even big boulders don’t stand a chance against these vehicles.
You can also use these vehicles for commercial purposes which makes pickup trucks practical for businesses or entrepreneurs. And, here’s more good news: you can use your pickup for Uber.
A pickup is just as comfortable hauling hay and livestock on the farm as it is on city roads. After all that dirty work, just wash the bed off and you’re good to go.
As a mobile home, pickups are spacious enough for one to comfortably live in. A small family can find pickup trucks practical enough to be a temporary home. With the right on-bed trailer, pickups can provide the same creature comforts found in conventional cars. They can also run on gas or diesel. With the Cybertruck coming, they can now run on batteries. This vastly improves the vehicle’s fuel economy making pickup trucks practical for all types of situations.