Buying a vehicle is not like buying a toy. They are serious commitments, and it’s important to have an idea of what you want. Anyone looking for their next ride must think of these considerations when buying a pickup truck. That way, you’ll leave feeling confident and satisfied with your new purchase.
First, you must decide on a budget. One of the most efficient ways to do this is to decide whether you want a new or used truck. Everything on this list pertains to both types of trucks, but you’re going to see pros and cons for either. A new pickup truck will feature the most advanced technology and driving capabilities but will have a higher MSRP. On the other hand, used trucks may have performance issues, higher mileage, and outdated features, but will cost significantly less. Your budget will also determine which accessories to include or exclude from your new ride.
The next consideration to make is the purpose of your truck. This is evident in different ways, but the most notable considerations are the size, towing capability, and terrain you’ll drive in. Ultimately, these factors will determine which type of truck you’ll need. Work trucks are larger with greater towing power, whereas recreational and on-road trucks can be smaller and more compact. A lot of modern trucks come OEM ready for off-road travel, which is another consideration if you plan on doing this.
Pickup trucks come in three main sizes: compact or midsize, full-size, and heavy duty. Midsize trucks are the smallest type and have a separate chassis and four-cylinder or V6 engine. They are typically two-door cabs with small beds, but this can differ too, depending on the make and model. Full-size pickups are bulkier and offer more power, like the Ford Raptor, than compact and midsize trucks. These can run as work trucks or family vehicles. Finally, heavy-duty trucks are specifically designed for work purposes like heavy hauling and towing. They are not efficient for recreational use given their serious power.
You don’t have to limit this to work-related towing or hauling. Pickup trucks are great for towing boats, cars, trailers, campers, and other heavy, movable objects. The towing capability varies depending on the type and size of truck you get. Full-size and heavy-duty trucks obviously have greater towing power than midsize trucks, so keep this in mind. Still, check the owner’s manual for the specific towing weight to carry at one time. Also, OEM pickups should offer a tow hitch, but you may need to consider additional features, such as wiring or special attachments.
Bed and Cab Size
Commonly, the bed and cab size differ based on the trim level. For instance, there are three bed-length options for the Ford F150: 5.5ft, 6.5ft, and 8ft long. There are also three cab sizes: Regular Cab with three-person seating, SuperCab with five- to six-person seating, and SuperCrew with five- to six-person seating. These options all depend on the trim level of the vehicle.
One of the other important purposes to consider is where you plan to drive your truck. While the obvious answer is on streets or highways, many trucks today have greater off-road capability than before. It’s important to keep in mind the various off-road features found in these models. The main feature to look for is four-wheel drive. This makes driving in snow, mud, or on uneven terrain easier. This goes with a high-performance suspension system. While regular pickup trucks can only handle potholes and rough drives for so long, off-road capable trucks with high-performance suspension drive over these smoothly and comfortably. Similarly, the Raptor has these features as well as a Trail Control System to independently operate each wheel during off-road handling.
Of course, you can’t consider buying a truck without looking into its performance. Newer trucks offer serious engine performance today with twin-turbo, six- or eight-cylinder engines being the common choice for manufacturers. The transmission and increasing safety features allow for serious driving while reducing the risk for injury.
Simply put, the better the engine, the faster speed and higher torque you’ll accomplish. Six- and eight-cylinder engines provide a relatively quiet, yet intense performance on the road. This is even better when it’s turbocharged. The 2020 Ford F150 Lariat features a 2.7L EcoBoost V6, but buyers can opt for an impressive 5.0 Ti-VCT V8! The Raptor features an already powerful high-output 3.5L V6 EcoBoost engine. No matter what, the greater the engine, the greater the torque power.
While not the biggest performance enhancer, the transmission is still something to keep in mind. Ultimately, this narrows down to manual or automatic transmission. A manual transmission allows you to feel more connected with your truck, but automatic transmissions don’t require constant gear shifts. While manual transmissions are more engaging and give drivers more control over their vehicle, automatic transmission is better for towing and off-road performance. Manual transmissions do offer slightly better fuel economy, but automatic transmissions allow for consistent performance and speed.
Safety is crucial for any vehicle. Many new trucks offer the best safety technology on the market, like forward collision warnings, automatic emergency braking, and electronic stability controls, in addition to seatbelts and higher trims. Forward collision warnings (FCW) provide a visual alert system that warns drivers of impending collisions. Automatic emergency brakes (AEB) stop the vehicle when the FCW detects the oncoming collision. Additionally, lane-detection systems indicate when drivers change lanes without signaling and centers the vehicle if it starts to drift. The use of blind-spot warnings also warns drivers when vehicles drive in their blind spots. Even electronic stability controls reduce skidding and keep the pickup truck grounded during wet or sleek driving conditions.
Another consideration to make is the fuel economy of the pickup truck. It will help you determine the appropriate mileage once you decide its primary use. Work trucks and full-size pickups may have a reduced fuel economy given their weight and performance. Still, this might not be bad if you don’t drive it for long periods. Midsize or full-size recreational trucks driven regularly or for longer distances should offer higher mileage. Interestingly, though, even full-size off-road trucks offer serious fuel economy today. The Ford Raptor offers an impressive 36-gallon tank for the SuperCrew trim level.
Some of the most common drivetrains you’ll see for pickup trucks are 4X4 and 4X2. 4X4 drivetrain, also known as four-wheel drive, provides torque to all wheels simultaneously. It is ideal for off-roading as the changing landscapes can affect wheel performance. This keeps the wheels functioning properly and weight evenly distributed throughout the ride. Weight transfers to each axle, but this is different for 4X2. A 4X2 drivetrain refers to a four-wheel vehicle in which torque transmits to two axles either at the front wheels or rear wheels (hence front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive).
Lastly, it’s your choice to add any OEM or aftermarket accessories to your vehicle. Some of the most common accessories include bed linings (spray-on and plastic), tonneau covers, camper shells, LED headlights, fog lights, running boards, and grille guards, to name a few. Naturally, you can opt for any of these accessories to enhance your truck’s image and performance.
At Specialty Performance Parts, we specialize in Ford Raptor accessories to make your truck truly stand out above the rest. Check out our light kits, brackets, or any of our top-brand supplies for your Raptor today. Please contact us with any questions or concerns you may have.