Car Buying

How to find the right vehicle to haul gear for work or play

Here’s how to choose the right vehicle for the job.

You've got stuff to move: toys or gear for work. It could be a fishing boat, a utility trailer, or a load of gravel for the work site. If you work for a large company, the vehicle you use to do these things for work might be a fleet truck, in which case unless you're the fleet manager you won't have much of a say in what you drive. But if you're self-employed or buying a vehicle for personal use, the range of choices can be nearly overwhelming. There are vans, midsize pickups, SUVs, and full-size trucks that can all tow, haul, and carry. Even pickups can haul people, if that's what you need to move, with quad cab arrangements and seating for as many as six. Here's how to choose the right vehicle for the job.

And there's one big pitfall to avoid: buying a "ten percent" truck or van. We often buy vehicles thinking about that unlikely situation in which we'll need its extra capacity or ability. Something you might only do 10 percent of the actual time you drive the vehicle: go off-roading, haul an extra large trailer you've rented, that sort of thing. And the risk in this situation is that you'll spend considerable extra money buying that extra capability that, really, you will never use. For trucks and vans, this often means in practice that a buyer will purchase a 2500 or 3500-grade truck when a properly-optioned 1500 could save them money and fuel, and be perfectly adequate for their needs. Not to mention that 1500-class trucks and vans tend to ride considerably better, with softer suspension that better soaks up bumps and reduces fatigue on the road.

2019 Ram 1500 Big Horn

Now, sometimes a person wants the rugged appearance and the extra margin of capability, and that's perfectly fine. As manufacturers have made great strides in improving the on-road comfort of 1500-class pickups, so too have they improved 2500-grade trucks. The Ram 2500 Power Wagon is an excellent example. It's stiffer than a Ram 1500, and the new 2019 Ram 1500 is plusher still, but it's no bucking bronco of heavy-duty trucks past. And it looks the business, too. But even if you make a conscious decision to buy more truck than you "need", at least consider the 10 percent concept to make sure you're really getting what you want.

Onto the good part: the right truck for you, in particular. Our Car Finder tool's powerful towing and hauling filters help sort through several considerations to lead you right to a group of vehicles suited to what you need and want. You can filter in three ways: towing, cargo space, or payload. For towing, the filter excludes towing capacities rated at less than 6,000 lbs. That is a solid cutoff that separates light-duty towing needs that some unibody crossovers can meet from the stuff that requires real truck frames (or truck-like frames). Likewise, the payload filter is set at 1,500 lbs, which is a significant amount to carry. Lastly, if you need volume rather than weight, the cargo space filter is set to 100 cubic feet, which is a massive volume.

In addition, you can use the other filters to set price, number of passenger seats, size, style, years, and you can even double up on the other category filters. Maybe you're extra tall, and so headroom is just as important to you as towing capacity. Select the head room filter and the towing capacity filter, and see what comes up. Play around with it and enter as many criteria as you'd like.

Try Autoblog's Car Finder tool for yourself to find the perfect truck, SUV, or van

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