A pickup truck is a vehicle body style that is defined as having an enclosed passenger cabin and rear cargo bed. The cargo bed is typically open-top and separated from the passenger area by a sheet of glass. In terms of trucks, the usage of 'pickup' generally insinuates a small- or medium-sized truck. However, full-sized trucks may also be referred to as a pickup truck. Popular pickup trucks currently on the American market include the Chevrolet Silverado, Dodge Ram and Toyota Tundra.

Types of Pickup Trucks

Since the introduction of the pickup truck in 1925, several different variations of the body style have evolved. These variations are distinguished by factors such as size of the vehicle and work capabilities. Types of pickup trucks include:

  • Compact pickup trucks: This type of pickup is the smallest and most popular. Though no definitive sizing restrictions are applied to the category, trucks that retain a truck bed approximately 50 inches in width are typically labeled as a compact by the automaker. Compact pickups also tend to have smaller engines than larger truck types.
  • Mid-sized pickup trucks: With a truck bed width in the 50- to 60-inch range, mid-sized trucks emerged in the late 1980s as a compromise between the fuel efficiency of compact trucks and cargo capacity of full-size trucks.
  • Full-sized pickup trucks: Larger trucks with a truck bed width of between 60 and 70 inches are referred to as full-sized trucks. Built for performance and high towing capacities, this category is popular for commercial purposes. Full-sized trucks are available in ½-ton, ¾-ton, 1-ton and 1 ½-ton varieties. In America, the Ford F-150 full-sized pickup is currently the most popular truck model (in terms of units sold).
  • Coupe utility pickup trucks: Coupe utilities are a crossover truck body style that is built on an automobile platform. The Chevrolet El Camino is perhaps the most famous coupe utility in American history. Currently, there are no new coupe utility truck models available in the United States, although Pontiac will be introducing a new utility pickup truck in the near future.
  • Sport utility trucks (SUT): A crossover between an SUV and a truck. This newest truck category includes the Honda Ridgeline and Chevrolet Avalanche.

Types of Pickup Truck Cabins

Many pickup truck models are available with a variety of different cabin sizes. Popular cabin styles include:

  • Standard cabin: A 2-door cabin style with a single row of seats. Maximum cabin occupancy is two or three people. As the smallest cabin style, standard cabins are typically found on compact trucks.
  • Extended cabin: Sometimes called a super cab, these trucks feature a 2nd-row of seating. Extended cabin trucks often include a reverse-hinged design to facilitate loading and unloading of the rear cabin area.
  • Crew cabin: Crew cab trucks (also called double cab or quad cab) are 4-door trucks with room for up to six people. These trucks often compromise cargo bed area to allow for more interior cabin space.
  • Cabin-forward: A commercial truck style in which the driver's seat is directly above the front axle.

Current Types of Pickup Truck Beds

  • Short bed truck: Trucks that feature a truck bed between 6- and 6.5-feet in length
  • Long-bed truck: Trucks that feature a 7- to 8-foot truck bed. The larger storage area makes long-bed trucks popular for commercial purposes.
  • Very short beds: Crossover trucks often have limited cargo space. Very short beds tend to be in the 5-foot range.

What is a Pickup vs  Work Truck

A truck, or pickup truck, is a chassis type that allows for the transport of cargo. The typical configuration for a light duty pickup truck is front-engine, with a rear- or four-wheel-drive drivetrain, and seating capacity from two to six passengers in crew cab models. Aft of the passenger compartment is a large open box designed for carrying cargo. This cargo box is accessible by a tailgate that drops down flat for easy loading.

Mass Consumer Appeal

For many decades, the pickup truck was regulated to commercial uses such as in construction or farm work. Until recently, the average pickup truck was a spartan affair, often minimal interiors, and a stiff suspension designed for hauling loads rather than passenger. As trucks started to see increased acceptance outside of commercial and farm use, automakers began to refine the interior of their trucks and today trucks often exhibit interior, luxury, and convenience features that were once only found on upmarket passenger cars. This blending of passenger car comfort and pickup truck versatility resulted in the rise of the sport utility vehicle and eventually evolved into the crossover, vehicles that combine truck-like attributes on a car-like chassis.