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Pickup Truck Terms: A List for Truck Shoppers

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author photo by Doug DeMuro June 2013

If you're searching for your first pickup, it's easy to be confused by the array of truck terms used in reviews and by dealership staff. So, we've explained a few common terms to make it easier to understand what everyone is talking about when it comes to trucks.

Bed Length

Most pickups offer varying sizes for the bed, which is the box behind the passenger compartment. Typically, trucks feature two or three sizes. Drivers looking to carry big items usually go for longer beds. Those buying a truck for less utilitarian purposes often prefer a smaller bed, as it usually makes the truck easier to maneuver.

Chassis Cab

A chassis cab truck is aimed at commercial buyers who plan to add a bed that fits a particular business. These trucks are sold with a cab and nothing behind it. Examples of businesses that might buy a chassis cab truck are ambulance services and towing services.

Crew Cab

A crew cab pickup has four full-size doors. That's different from an extended cab pickup, which usually has two full-size doors and one or two smaller doors that provide access behind the front seats.

Double Cab

Double cab is the name some brands give to their crew cab pickups, which feature four full-size doors.

Extended Cab

An extended cab pickup has two full-size doors, as well as one or two smaller doors that provide access behind the front seats. Some older extended cab pickups didn't offer rear doors but did include seating behind the driver and passenger seats.

Flareside

A flareside pickup, also called a step-side pickup, has wheel arches that look like they're flared on the outside of the bed. In other words, the truck has a sculpted rear fender that some drivers feel offers more style. In the past, it provided an area to step as you removed things from the bed. Flareside pickups are increasingly uncommon, as they decrease the pickup's bed size.

Half-ton

 Many people refer to light-duty trucks as half-ton pickups, because payload capacities of these trucks used to be a half-ton, or 1,000 pounds. These days, light-duty trucks can carry much more than 1,000 pounds, but the name has stuck. Likewise, 1-ton trucks are heavy-duty models, which also tend to carry much more than one ton.

Heavy Duty

 This is one of the most common truck terms. A heavy-duty model, or a 1-ton truck, is typically purpose-built for towing or hauling heavy equipment. Heavy-duty trucks are usually bigger than their light-duty counterparts, and they often boast larger engines.

Light Duty

 A light-duty truck, also known as a half-ton truck, offers payload and towing capacities that can handle common jobs and daily driving. A light-duty truck differs from a heavy-duty truck, which is usually larger and purpose-built for towing or hauling heavy equipment.

Payload Capacity

 Payload capacity is the maximum weight a vehicle can carry. It's different from towing capacity, since payload capacity specifically refers to the weight a truck can carry in its bed or passenger compartment, rather than behind it on a trailer.

Regular Cab

 A regular cab pickup has just one row of seating. Typically, this is a bucket seat for the driver and passenger. Some older regular cab trucks have a front bench that includes a middle seat belt for a third passenger.

Towing Capacity

 Towing capacity is the maximum amount a pickup truck can tow. Usually quoted in pounds, towing capacity can differ depending on whether the trailer has its own brakes.

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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Pickup Truck Terms: A List for Truck Shoppers - Autotrader