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Car Buying

Pickup Truck Alternatives

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author photo by Doug DeMuro October 2013

If you need a capable new vehicle, you may have considered a pickup. But some shoppers don't want a truck, whether it's due to driving dynamics, limited seating capacity or the lack of a lockable, closed cargo area. So we've provided some alternatives to pickups for drivers interested in a utilitarian vehicle that's more user-friendly than a truck.

Cargo Vans

Many shoppers dismiss cargo vans because the vans are too big or their fuel economy isn't good enough. But ever since the Ford Transit Connect debuted in 2010, that hasn't been the case. The Transit Connect offers a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, and it returns up to 22 miles per gallon city/25 mpg hwy. Prices start around $22,000, which places it in line with used or midsize pickups -- and the Transit Connect can be outfitted to carry nearly anything, from passengers to 135 cu ft of equipment.

Following the success of the Transit Connect, several automakers are joining the compact-van fray. Nissan, for instance, recently debuted the compact NV200 cargo van, while the RAM C/V offers minivan size with cargo van trimmings. If a pickup doesn't appeal to you, consider a cargo van. You may be surprised at how versatile it is.

Compact SUVs

Truck shoppers often dismiss the compact SUV for not being capable enough. But if "user-friendly" is on your mind, the compact SUV is a great choice. With the seats folded, most models are extremely roomy -- and some can carry more than 60 cu ft of equipment. With the seats up, they're practical vehicles for transporting passengers. Compact SUVs also offer locking cargo areas, unlike trucks, and most offer available all- or 4-wheel drive for snow, ice and rough roads.

Compact Cars

One of the main drawbacks of SUVs, cargo vans and pickups is expense. Because of demand, all three can be pricey on the new or used market. So if you're looking to haul a lot of stuff on a budget, we suggest a compact car.

No, we're not talking about a Volkswagen Jetta or a Toyota Corolla. Instead, we mean cars like the Nissan Cube or Scion xB. They're reliable and fuel efficient -- and, best of all, their blocky designs mean you can fit a lot of equipment inside. The Cube, for instance, has around 60 cu ft of space, which places it in the realm of most compact SUVs -- for a much lower price.

And if you're buying used, you won't feel as guilty about damaging a compact car's interior with work items, since used compact cars are relatively cheap.

Our Take

If you don't want a pickup to shuffle your goods from one job site to another, we understand. We hope our list gives you a few good truck alternatives when it comes time to choose your next vehicle.

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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