How Much Truck Do You Really Need?

When I was given the assignment to write a blog on "how much truck do you need," I chuckled to myself. For about 12 years I only owned and drove a couple of big old Ford Broncos with overbuilt, oversized engines, full 6" suspension lifts, rolling on 35" tires. Why? Because I liked them! I had fun in them. I mudded.., hard. I drove on the beaches. I drove them in the mountains. I drove them off-road every chance I got, and I drove them on the highway. For me, the only answer I had when folks asked me why I drove such a big truck? I liked it! 

For the purpose of this blog, I'm going to discuss consumer based "Light Duty" trucks. Commercial needs for selecting a pick-up are defined by different criteria because the needs are typically a lot more specific.

So? I think the real answer for how much truck do you really need is based on a person's budget, your purpose for owning a pick-up (work or play) and finally, how much truck do you want. How do you decide the right size truck for your needs?

US DotLet's talk about how trucks are classified by the government. Our US DOT classifies trucks based on their Gross Vehicle Weight Rating or the GVWR. The GVWR is based solely on vehicle weight and includes the maximum weights the truck can carry in the form of payload, fuel, and passengers.

GVWR classifications are in place for safety, highway and bridge regulations, commercial designations and finally for vehicle registration purposes, aka' taxes.

The GVWR truck classifications run from 1 - 8. Pick-up trucks fall classes 1, 2 or 3.

The Class 1 or Light Duty Trucks are obviously the smaller of the three and in the US would include older trucks like the Ford Ranger, the Chevy Sonoma, the Dodge Dakota. In the US today only Toyota Tacoma and the Nissan Frontier are generally available in the "new truck" market. They come with a GVWR rating of 6,000 pounds or less. 

The Class 2 trucks include trucks like the Ford F-150, GMC Sierra 1500, Ram 1500, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Toyota Tundra, and Nissan Titan. These trucks have a GVWR rating of 6,001 - 10,000 pounds.

Note: Truck manufacturers also have a Class 2B truck that has an 8,500 to 10,000-pound rating. Federal regulations state that vehicle manufacturers no longer have to include EPA MPG estimates on their window stickers. So while not an official government classification Class 2B is used by the manufacturer to rate "heavy duty trucks" like the Chevrolet 2500, the GMC 2500, Ford Super Duty and the Dodge Ram 2500.

The Class 3 trucks are the beefiest of the bunch with a GVWR of 10,001 - 14,000 pounds. This class includes trucks like the Dodge Ram 3500, Chevrolet Silverado 3500, Ford F-350, and the Ford F-450. These typically are pick-ups purchased for medium to heavy duty work purposes, but truck manufacturers realize that people like their trucks so they include a lot of comfort and styling so you can haul the big stuff in style.

The way the different truck manufacturers classify their trucks has been an enigma and mostly a marketing competition since the post WW2 era. The various "in-house" pick-up classifications have evolved in naming classifications, like the Ford F-100 to the Ford- 150 or the old Dodge "D" classifications that were restructured with the introduction of the Dodge Ram and Chevy's "C' classes that are now more simply stated as Chevy 1500, 2500, etc.  No matter what the various manufacturer's fender badges state, all pick-up trucks are regulated by the US DOT GVWR. 

There are so many other variables when it comes to purchasing a pick-up; engine size, 2WD vs. 4WD, dual rear wheels, etc., that a person also must consider need vs. want.  

  • Do you need a truck for work?
  • Do you need a truck for hauling a boat or an equipment trailer?
  • Do you want a truck just for show and play?  

So the answer to the question of how much truck you need doesn't always have a simple answer. It's more often a style choice and how much truck you want.

Increase your buying power and get more Truck by using your tax refund!  The Du-Man has some great ideas for you and can even give you credit if you have not received your refund yet!