What is more practical to buy, a truck or an SUV?

Pickup trucks are useful equipment that may also function as family cars, but they are not for everyone. True, some are purchased to work, but most are acquired for the “what if I need it?” mentality. What if I purchase a boat? What if I need to transport lumber? When clients examine their wants rationally, they will often discover that the vehicle they need is smaller than the one they now own. Or that they don’t need a vehicle at all.

In fact, one of the best pickup trucks on sale today isn’t too dissimilar from a crossover with a bed. It is not a criticism, but rather a thing to examine. SUVs may perform many of the same functions as pickup trucks. But in many day-to-day scenarios, it’s the SUV that’s the better buy.

When is an SUV the better choice?

Alex Dykes hosts the YouTube channel Alex on Autos. Recounts how, despite his preference for trucks, an SUV often meets his demands.

2019 Dodge Durango SRT
2019 Dodge Durango SRT | Dodge

Dykes employs a Dodge Durango Citadel, as well as a Ram 1500 and 2500, in his video. Comparing the Durango to the Ram 1500, Dykes notes that the SUV offers several advantages. For starters, the Durango is about 3′ shorter than the 1500, yet it still has a third row of seats. The SUV’s smaller size makes it easier to maneuver and park, especially in city streets where pickup trucks spend an increasing portion of their time.

For example, Dykes believes that SUVs are often less expensive than a pickup with comparable options. And, comparing Durango trims to Ram 1500 trims, this seems good. Overall, to option a Ram 1500 to the same equipment. Buyers would have to spend roughly $2000 extra to get the same level as the Durango.

2020 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel
2020 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel | Ram

Dykes finally brings up the bed. Putting anything into an SUV or onto a trailer being pulled by an SUV is much simpler than lifting it up and over the bed of a pickup truck. There’s a reason why so many modern full-size trucks have stairs built into the tailgate.

Simply, SUVs are more convenient and comfortable on a daily basis. cheaper to live with, and can fit more people. Nevertheless, there are certain exceptions, that pickup trucks edge SUVs out.

Where do pickup trucks excel?

2019 Ram 2500HD Kentucky Derby Edition
2019 Ram 2500HD Kentucky Derby Edition | Ram

In the r/cars sub-Reddit, several users pointed out that a pickup’s bed separates its contents from the truck’s passengers. This is useful for some objects, such as a cooler full of fish. Therefore, although loading a trailer carried by an SUV is simple, parking the whole ensemble is not. In this instance, pickup vehicles are preferable. A bed is also generally larger than an SUV’s trunk.

Nonetheless, Dykes admits that pickups are superior in several areas. Suitable for towing and lugging. SUVs, for instance, can’t do 5th-wheel towing, such as with RVs, but pickup trucks can. Trucks are increasingly prevalent. Towing-centric vehicles often have more powerful engines than SUVs or crossovers. However, whereas SUVs and pickup trucks have about comparable payload and hauling capacity, trucks can usually tow and haul more.

The 2020 F-150 trim levels including the Lariat XLT on the left
The trim levels of the 2020 Ford F-150, including the Lariat XLT on the left | Ford

Pickup trucks are also frequently body-on-frame. Having the two separate meaning pickups are quieter when loaded up with a trailer than a unibody SUV or crossover.

2019 Toyota Land Cruiser
2019 Toyota Land Cruiser | Toyota

Nevertheless, not all current SUVs are unibody. We recently showcased three durable but low-selling SUVs that are all body-on-frame. When it comes to towing, more numbers aren’t necessarily the better option.

How much do you actually tow?

When the Ram 2500HD was named Truck of the Year, Motor Trend said as much. Then Alex Dykes says it again in his video. Having a vehicle that claims big towing numbers is rarely as important as having a vehicle that feels good behind the wheel when its towing something. The Ram 2500HD, which Dykes also shows in his video, does not tow as far as some of its competitors. Yet, it earned TOTY for its poise when towing.

So, returning to the truck vs. SUV debate, how much do you really tow? How much cargo do you really carry every day? Certainly, some folks who own horses or agricultural equipment will haul large trailers. But a one-horse trailer, with horse and all necessary gear, food, and water, is only about 3000 lbs. It is no issue for the V6 Durango.

Dodge Durango Citadel with trailer
Dodge Durango Citadel Trailer | Alex on Automobiles via YouTube

It is critical to understand how much you tow—not only the equipment dry weight, but also with all fluids, attachments, and so on. Not just for understanding what kind of hitch you need, or if you need a commercial license. Body-on-frame trucks and SUVs may be excellent towers, but they make up for it in fuel economy, even when not towing.

Owning a large pickup vehicle may satisfy a psychological need. But does it meet your requirements? Or is it all a bit much?

The issue of safety

IIHS vs NHTSA barriers
IIHS (white) vs NHTSA (yellow) barriers | IIHS

Another important area where SUVs outperform pickup vehicles is safety. Certainly, both trucks and SUVs have become better over time. But there are significantly more SUVs on the IIHS Top Safety Pick list than trucks. In addition, the IIHS recently announced it would have to scale-up the speed and size of their crash-test barrier because SUVs and trucks had gotten so much larger.

IIHS developing new crash test
IIHS developing new crash test | IIHS

Nonetheless, the IIHS found that SUVs are less risky than trucks in crashes involving autos. Statistically, in a car-SUV collision, the car passengers are only 28% more likely to die than if they hit another car. In a car-truck accident, however, that figure rises to 158%. It is not to argue that SUVs perform flawlessly in crash testing; far from it. SUVs, on the other hand, are generally safer than pickup vehicles. Not just for the occupants, but also for those outside the car.

And if you’re looking for a family car, that’s a must, a point worth considering.

Related Questions

  • Is it better to buy a truck or an SUV?

    Pickups are great for exploring nature and tackling tough hauling jobs, while compact and mid-size SUVs may be better for maneuvering through tight spaces or parking in the city. Depending on the model, both may have competitive off-road and bad-weather driving skills.

  • Is it harder to drive a truck than an SUV?

    An SUV is a lot easier vehicle to operate than a truck. It is typically easier to move in and out of parking spots and driving lanes in an SUV than in a truck. However, it’s worth noting that it is still slightly more difficult to maneuver an SUV than a regular-sized car.

  • Why are pickups better than SUVs?

    Pro: Better Towing Performance
    While SUVs are more than capable of towing most light loads, they’re not equipped with a towing package like most trucks are. Trucks can haul much heavier loads than SUVs, including large 5th wheel campers and toy haulers. With an SUV, this is just not an option.

  • Which is safer a pick up truck or an SUV?

    The report states: ‘Most cars are safer than the average sports utility vehicle [SUV], while pickup trucks are much less safe than all other types. Minivans and imported premium vehicles have the best safety records’.

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