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Car Buying

Can Pickup Trucks Really Be Family Cars?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro

Yes, shoppers, it's true: Pickup trucks really can be family vehicles. That may be hard to believe if you're familiar with older trucks, which were sparsely equipped workhorses for use on job sites. But modern trucks boast many convenient family-friendly features, meaning you can now combine your family needs and your truck wants in one vehicle. For proof, we've listed evidence below that shows trucks really can double as family cars.

Size

Modern trucks are bigger than ever. They offer bigger engines, grilles and beds, allowing you to carry more -- and look more muscular. But they're also bigger inside. A growing number of pickups are being sold in Crew Cab configurations, which offer at least five usable seats. That's enough for most families -- especially considering all seats offer considerable legroom, headroom and hip room. And since all modern trucks are offered as a Crew Cab, the truck you want should be available in that family-friendly body style.

Storage

One of the main issues of a pickup is lack of storage space. Sure, trucks offer a large bed that can hold basically anything. But it isn't covered, which means items placed there are subject to the elements or possibly theft. We have a few solutions for this problem. The first is using the in-cabin storage in modern pickups. Today's trucks offer a lot of storage space inside, from cubbyholes to large center consoles that can swallow entire laptops.

Many of today's pickup trucks also include split-folding rear seats. That means you can get up to four passengers in a pickup plus their gear, just like in a sedan or an SUV. And if an item is just too big, drivers always can add a camper top or a locking bed cover. Those features are easily removable, allowing you to take them off if you have to carry a larger item later on.

Safety

Probably the most important advancement in modern trucks is the addition of safety equipment. Not long ago, trucks still used drum brakes, skipped traction control and had only enough airbags to comply with federal mandates. That's no longer the case. Not only do most modern trucks offer side airbags, they even boast head-protecting side curtain airbags that span the length of the first and second rows. And an ABS is far more common on modern trucks, as are anti-skid and traction control systems.

In addition to airbags, brakes and traction control, modern trucks increasingly offer several safety gadgets. For example, a number of upscale models boast forward collision warning systems, which alert you to an impending collision. Lane departure warning is also commonly available, warning you if you drift from your lane. And most trucks offer cameras and parking-assist systems to make low-speed maneuvering easier -- and safer. Those features can be especially important if you have small children who may otherwise go unseen in a driveway.

Gadgets

Forget the practical concerns: Kids love gadgets. And, increasingly, modern trucks have them. Today's pickups boast a long list of electronic options and features to satisfy children. Several upscale models have rear-seat DVD players with wireless headphones and a remote control. That makes it easier to keep kids quiet on long trips or even on quick runs to the grocery store. Modern trucks also offer auxiliary power outlets, which can allow children to charge iPads or other electronics, if they cannot agree on what to watch.

Although a truck isn't the perfect family car, a properly equipped one may offer a better solution than buying a family car and a truck. And if you spring for one vehicle instead of two, you may even be able to add options and accessories that make driving -- and riding -- safer and more enjoyable.

What it means to you: If you think you'll have to compromise on a new truck to get a family car, think again.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
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Can Pickup Trucks Really Be Family Cars?