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It's important to measure how much truck you actually n... It's important to measure how much truck you actually need (GM).
Trucks are the most popular type of vehicle in America, outselling sedans and crossovers by a huge margin. They're popular because they offer loads of versatility, coming with the ability to tow, store tons of cargo, seat numerous people and tackle nearly any type of terrain.

There are a lot of different kinds of trucks out there right now and they all come at a wide variety of prices. Some are big, some are small. Some are pretty bare bones and some are essentially luxury vehicles. Whether you're buying a truck for everyday driving or for occasional use, there are some important factors to take into consideration to make sure you get the most out of your purchase. This checklist will help you determine which type of truck is right for you and if certain features are worth the extra money.

1. Passenger capacity

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Many trucks come standard as two-seaters, with space for the driver and a single passenger. Trucks with two-person cabs are typically less expensive than trucks with larger cabs, and come with longer beds. If you don't plan on transporting many passengers and need more cargo space, the standard cab configuration might be your best value. If you're going to need more passenger capacity for friends or family, definitely go with a larger cab.

2. Power and engine size

Deciding on engine size is an important decision, and bigger is not necessarily better. If you're buying a truck for everyday commuting and don't plan on transporting large items, then a 4-cylinder engine can save you money on gas. These are available in smaller trucks like the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier. Four-cylinders are fine for transporting small payloads, but if you need to tow something bigger than a small U-Haul trailer, you'll need to go bigger.

If you're buying a truck to tow a boat or bigger trailer, then you will a V6 or V8 engine. Trucks with these engines tend to be heftier, pricier -- the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado are two examples -- and less fuel efficient, but also more versatile and powerful.

Make sure your truck is powerful enough for the items you plan to transport by researching payload and towing capacities. For example, if you have a skiboat and trailer that weighs around 4,000 lbs., you'll need to ensure that the truck you're interested in purchasing has a tow rating of at least that much -- and preferably a bit higher.

3. Two-wheel drive vs. 4x4

Deciding whether a 4x4 truck is worth the extra money has a lot to do with weather and your driving habits. If you live in a place that doesn't see a lot of rain or snow like Los Angeles, and plan to use your truck for commuting, then a 4x4 truck is unnecessary, as opting for this drivetrain will significantly reduce your gas mileage.

If you live in a polar vortex state like Minnesota or Michigan, or you plan to drive the truck off-road the truck for work or pleasure, then the improved traction of a 4x4 truck can prevent you from getting stranded in the muck or snow.

4. Manual vs. automatic

If you're deciding between a manual and automatic transmission, you should take into consideration the traffic conditions where you will be doing most of your driving. If you plan to spend a lot of time in traffic, then an automatic transmission will save you a great deal of unnecessary shifting. If traffic isn't a concern, then a manual transmission can improve your control over the engine without the burden of excessive shifting.

Manual transmissions are pretty rare in trucks -- and vehicles in general -- these days, but they are available on the base trim levels of a few models. They can be more fun to drive, but aren't as effective when it comes to towing and sitting in traffic.

5. Camper shell

If you're buying a truck for the purpose of transporting large items in the bed, a camper shell can be very useful for preventing theft and keeping your belongings safe from the elements. For instance, if you're moving furniture and it starts raining outside, you'll be very thankful that you don't need to worry about your belongings being ruined.

The cost of camper shells can vary quite a bit, but a nice one will generally set you back about $1,000, give or take a few hundred dollars.

Stan Markuze is the founder of PartMyRide, the online marketplace for used original auto parts.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 12 Comments
      George
      • 1 Year Ago
      If it is not a V8 and 4x4 than it is not a truck, do you hear me Ford with your weaknoboost crap.
      Kay
      • 1 Year Ago
      I live in the Polar Vortex part of the country where we have lots of snow. I have had two trucks, one an S-10 with a six cylinder engine. Great little truck. My second was a full sized Chevy with the same engine as my S-10. I loved both trucks and even having to drive back roads to my job I never missed work because of the weather and neither of my trucks were 4x4's! When I was purchasing my trucks from a local dealer, my good friend worked there as the salesman. He was completely honest with me when I was buying the trucks. My salesman lives about two miles from me and also had to travel about 20 miles to his job. Like he told me, spending the extra money on a 4x4 (at least $5000 more) did not make sense. He said that we could call a lot of wreckers for $5000! He also never had a 4x4 and never had a problem going to work or coming home. Funny thing was that when I bought my latest vehicle, not a truck, my son took my old one. The first winter he could not get going one morning and missed work. It all has to do with the big, lead foot on the gas. I remember coming home one morning on one of the back roads with my S-10 making the first tracks down the road in about 4 inches of snow. I just kept it moving and not trying to race and I made it home in normal time!
      forkliftman53
      • 1 Year Ago
      as citizen of this country i have the right and money to drive what i want without the govt telling to what i have to
        clenchersan
        • 1 Year Ago
        @forkliftman53
        True, but it would sure be nice if people used their freekin' heads once in a while.
      jsblackball
      • 1 Year Ago
      i got me A SILIVERADO 2013 LAST YEAR IT HAS 10555 MILES ON IT LOOKS LIKE THE DAY I GOT IT FROM THE DEALERSHIP WELL I PAYED 50,000 FOR THE TRUCK LESS THEN A YEAR LATER I WANTED TO SELL IT WELL IT WAS BAD IDEAL THEY OFFERD ME 29,000 FOR IT WHAT THIVES THEY . IF TO SELL IT TO THEM THEY WOULD PUT A PRICE TAG IT 0F 42.000 I WILL NEVER BUY FROM THE EVER
      clenchersan
      • 1 Year Ago
      Trucks, SUVs, and vans outnumber cars 2:1 in my area (yes I did a few surveys). The funny -or rather, sad- thing is they are obviously used mostly for solo commuting. So to be clear, we have the majority of motorists buy $40,000 V8 4x4 15mpg 6,000lb trucks for carting their 200lb asses around, all while they cry about gas prices. :/ If you need a car or even scooter or bicycle, consider getting just that.
        semperfitexan
        • 1 Year Ago
        @clenchersan
        No one buys what they need ,they buy what they want .
          James Elliott
          • 1 Year Ago
          @semperfitexan
          You are right I bought what I wanted may mot be the one I wanted. Never worred about the gas miliage. When I hooked up a trailor I wanted something that would move it. I have hooked up to some that needed something biger but I still moved it. I bought my first 4X4 in 2005 not because I wanted one but because I had the choice of getting the Dodge or a Chevrolet. I didn't want the Chevy and they didn't have any Fords at the time. I have owned Chevrolet pickups and my wife drives a chevrolet car now but I always like Fords and that is were. My wife has driven Fords, Chevrolet, Ponatic and Crysler cars. She had a chevrolet Van once but I hade a Ford pickup that I drove.
        semperfitexan
        • 1 Year Ago
        @clenchersan
        They outnumber cars 10 to 1 in my area .
      semperfitexan
      • 1 Year Ago
      I don't think this guy who wrote this has ever had to use a pickup . He keeps talking about driving in the city . More pickups are sold in Texas than any other State . I own property in Montana and I make that trip every year . Most people who drive pickups don't need a pickup they just want a pickup which is totally understandable . If you want to get an idea about hard working pickups just go to your local livestock auction . You won't see any Toyotas or Nissans they just won't do the job .
      • 1 Year Ago
      If you want the best truck just buy a Ford!!
      Tom
      • 1 Year Ago
      How come they left out the size of the pickup truck bed? Duh!