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When you are shopping for a truck, one of the best places to start – when it comes to figuring out which model has everything you need – is with the size. You have several different common size options available to you with a truck, and while not every manufacturer will make a pickup in each size, you can certainly find different options for each of them. Let us take a moment to go over each of these sizes, what they mean for a truck, and what kind of experience you get from them.
These are the smaller trucks that you will typically find from manufacturers and include models like the Chevy Colorado and Ford Ranger. A midsize truck will have decent towing capacity and payload, but nothing massive. These are a great option for going off-road since they can handle rough terrain, and their size makes them easy to maneuver in tight areas.
Among the most common and popular trucks on the road, full-size options include the Chevy Silverado 1500, Ford F-150, and Ram 1500. These trucks are light-duty options like midsize pickups, but they are larger than the midsize models and have more power. For most people, these trucks will provide ideal towing and payload, and they are also good choices for going off-road and camping.
The most powerful trucks that most customers will consider, heavy-duty models, are full-size and built for incredible performance. These include models like the Chevy Silverado 3500 HD and the Ford F-250. If you like the size and style of a full-size option, but need greater towing or payload than they can manage, then a heavy-duty pickup will typically be your best choice. There are larger commercial trucks also available, but those are on another level. For most truck owners, these three size categories pretty well cover anything you need.
As you are considering the different sizes and trying to decide on what might be best for you, towing and payload will be major factors. It is important to remember that “towing” refers to the weight that you pull behind your truck, usually a camper or on a trailer, while “payload” is weight on the truck. This includes both passengers and cargo, and many different factors, including the engine, drivetrain, and more, can impact a truck’s payload capacity.
The differences in these capabilities from one truck to another can be significant, especially when you look at different sizes. For example, consider the three major models from Chevy that are available right now: the Colorado, Silverado, and Silverado HD. The Chevy Colorado can tow up to 7,700 lbs when properly configured, while the Silverado can have up to 13,300 lbs of maximum towing. When equipped for it, the Silverado 3500 HD offers up to 36,000 lbs of fifth-wheel towing – so the difference here can be massive.
While big numbers for towing and payload can get a lot of attention, as can horsepower and torque from the engine, another important factor to consider is the drivetrain on a truck. This is certainly less flashy, but it will have a huge impact on the kind of driving experience you actually get with your pickup. Many trucks have either two-wheel drive (2WD) or four-wheel drive (4WD) available, so keep this in mind when you are looking at used models.
A pickup with 2WD means that only two wheels receive power (or torque) from the engine, which turns the wheels and makes your truck go. In the vast majority of cases, a truck with 2WD will have rear-wheel drive (RWD), which means that the wheels that get power from the engine are the ones on the back axle. This is better for trucks than front-wheel drive because it means the wheels are pushing the truck forward rather than trying to pull all of the pickup’s weight behind them. If you are towing, it also means the weight is more evenly distributed before and after the wheels with power, rather than having all the weight behind them.
Trucks with 4WD have power (torque) sent to all four wheels from the engine – specifically, power goes to both the front and rear axles. With 4WD, both axles receive equal power, which means they both turn at the same rate, which is ideal for going up steep inclines with a lot of weight or maneuvering in rough terrain. You might also hear about all-wheel drive (AWD), which is similar to 4WD, but the front and rear axles can actually receive different amounts of power, so they do not always turn at the same rate.
Most trucks will have 4WD as an option rather than AWD, but it really depends on the make and model you are looking at. If you want a truck for going off-road, then 4WD is pretty much a necessity and will make it a lot easier for you to navigate rough trails and mud. On the other hand, if you primarily drive your truck on city streets, then RWD is probably all you really need. Since 2WD/RWD is often easier to find on most truck models, that can make it simpler to find the right pickup.