When you decide it’s time for a truck or pick-up truck you might think all trucks are built the same – cab, bed, and tailgate. When faced with a decision between so many trucks, how do you decide which one will best serve your needs? It depends on what you’ll use your truck for – towing a boat or hauling construction equipment, as a day to day vehicle for your family or for a camping adventure. Here are some things to know about what various trucks have to offer.

Horsepower & Torque

Not all truck engines are created equal, and how much horsepower or torque you need will depend on your reasons for buying a truck. Horsepower is how much energy your engine produces, while torque is the ability of the engine to do the work you want. The greater your need for towing or hauling heavy objects, the more torque you will want.

Diesel engines commonly offer plenty of low-end torque. This means at low engine speeds, these engines can pull massive trailers up severe grades. Some trucks have TurboCharged 4 Cylinders that outperform many V8s and others have V8s that can run on as low as 2 Cylinders to conserve fuel but fire up to all 8 when needed. Six Cylinders are both Inline and V6 that have different power curves designed to mirror your daily demands.

Fuel Options

You might not have considered fuel options other than gas until now. A truck that takes gas may cost less than one that requires diesel, however, in addition to better fuel economy, diesel also offers more power for your heavy jobs. FlexFuel is another option, allowing a truck to run either on gasoline or ethanol. Ethanol offers less energy per gallon but burns cleaner with fewer gashouse emissions and most of the time costs less at the pump.

Rear Wheel Drive or Four Wheel Drive

For most people, it’s a given that they want a truck with Four Wheel Drive. This option allows greater control on the road, especially in bad weather conditions. However, 4X4 adds considerable weight to a vehicle and has more rotating mechanical parts, which compromises fuel economy. In a mild climate where you don’t expect to drive on snowy or muddy roads, a Rear Wheel Drive truck will probably be the better and more economical choice.

Cab & Box Sizes

Trucks come in all kinds of cab and box sizes, or even Chassis Cab (no Box), and your choice will depend on your needs. From two-door Regular Cabs to four-door Crew Cabs and Mega Cabs, this is a matter of preference, how many passengers you expect to transport, and how much room you require. Even if you don’t expect to have more than one passenger, you might find the four-door Crew Cabs offer the room you want to store certain gear inside your truck.

There are usually 3 sizes of bed for pick-up trucks. You will find short, standard, or long box. Sizes vary by manufacturer and what you choose depends on your needs. Are you putting firewood or drywall in the bed of your truck? Drywall and plywood are standard 8-foot sheets, so a long box might be in order, however, a short box with the tailgate down can also do the job. Consider the use you expect to get out of the truck when deciding what box size you need in addition to the way it drives, parks, and of course fits in your garage.

Stay tuned for part 2, when we look at truck options and accessories!