Truck vs Pickup: What is the real difference between the two?

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The words pickup, and truck seem to be used synonymously, however you likely have run into it where you have seen someone refer to something that is a truck, but obviously not a pickup. We decided to look into what really constitutes a pickup, and what a truck really is!

So what is the main difference between a pickup and a truck? When someone refers to a truck, it generally is referring to a work vehicle, whether that be a large vehicle that is purpose built or even a larger truck with a cab and a standard bed. Pickups on the other hand are generally meant more for family or light duty use such as towing a camper or transporting passengers.

Ultimately the lines are definitely blurred between the two, however we will do our best to explain throughout this article! It should also be mentioned, this really is my opinion based on my findings, as you will likely get a different answer depending on who you talk to.

How are pickups, and trucks the same?

Before we get into the differences between the two vehicles, let’s quickly talk about how each of these are the same! Below are some characteristics you can expect in most cases in regards to pickups and trucks.

  • Built on truck platform
  • Utilizes a ladder frame
  • Cab and bed are separated
  • Used to tow items
  • Has a bed to store items or transport materials

Now, all of this said, there are of course some vehicles that can be considered pickups that don’t fit this mold, however we’ll talk about that in a following section.

What is a pickup truck?

A pickup truck is generally going to be a vehicle that is used for personal usage (like as a family vehicle)! This will be things like towing campers or small trailers, taking the kids to school, or commuting to work.

These are generally more car like, and less utilitarian than a more truck like vehicle. You will find people referring to vehicles like the Ram 1500, Ford F-150 and Chevy Silverado 1500 as pickups, rather than trucks as they tend to be used by families rather than businesses for work. That doesn’t mean they are not capable, as many of these trucks have large payload capacities and even can tow over 10,000 pounds!

That said, these vehicles are not normally used for these heavy duty purposes, and are generally used as commuter vehicles with the rare off-roading experience or towing.

Most all pickups will have a standard bed with walls and a tail gate, and is what most people see on a day to day basis. You will commonly see these trucks with tonneau covers to simulate a trunk.

Some other vehicles that don’t quite fit into the mold of having a separate bed, or sitting on a ladder frame but still are referred to as pickups are vehicles like the Honda Ridgeline, and even some newer compact trucks like the Ford Maverick and the Hyundai Sante Fe. You can actually read about those here.

What is a standard truck?

The term “truck” spans a much wider range of vehicles than pickups do! Trucks can actually refer to pickups, however can also refer to a much wider range of vehicles than a pickup will.

The most common vehicles that are trucks will be the big brother to the standard pickups, being the heavy duty versions like the Ram 2500 (and up), Ford F-250 (and up) and the Chevy 2500 (and up). Here are some other vehicles that fall into the truck category that aren’t these types of vehicles:

  • Semi-trucks
  • Cement trucks
  • Tow trucks
  • Box truck
  • Fire truck

Essentially a truck is used more for work purposes, rather than transportation. This will generally result in a larger vehicle, with heavier axles, frame and suspension than the pickup.

You will also find much a much larger variety of bed configurations. Some of these being flat beds, storage beds, and more.

Another common trait with these larger trucks, is that they will have a dually rear end, meaning they have 6 instead of 4 wheels.

Which one is for you?

For most people, a pickup is going to be a much better situation than a truck. Trucks tend to ride much harsher (due to stiffer suspension), are much larger (harder to park), and are just much more of a vehicle than most people will need.

On the other hand, pickups are softer, more agile, and have considerably more comfort features than their truck siblings.

That said, if you are someone that is going to be hauling, or carrying large items for longer periods of time on a daily basis, it might be best to take a look at a heavy duty version of a truck, rather than the smaller (1500 series) of a truck.

Is an SUV a truck?

Now, another vehicle that a good portion of people refer to as trucks are SUVs! A common vehicle many people call a truck (that isn’t) is something like a Jeep Grand Cherokee. In my opinion, no SUV is a truck as it does not have a bed built for a payload, and is instead just an SUV.

That said, if there were SUVs that I would refer to a truck, it would be SUVs that utilize a pickup platform. This would include vehicles like the Toyota 4Runner, Mercedes G Wagon, and the Chevy Tahoe. I actually have full article that talks about this here!


Alright, I hope this article helped you discover the difference between a pickup, and a truck! When it comes down to it, a pickup is a smaller truck that is utilized for personal use, while the term truck can span a much wider range of vehicles that are more meant for work (yet still can encompass pickups).

If that isn’t confusing, I don’t know what is.

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