With so many similar and highly capable choices to pick from, we know it can be hard to choose the right pickup truck. But your decision isn’t just about make and model: It’s also about equipment. As a result, we’ve listed a few of the must-have features that you’ll want to be sure your next truck includes.
It might be tempting to get a single cab truck in order to save money. Or maybe you think that you won’t need a pickup’s back seats since you’re only using your truck for work purposes — namely, driving to and from job sites. But trust us: It’s a good idea to have back seats in your pickup, with a big reason being resale value. With so many extra- or quad-cab pickups on the road today, it’s getting harder to sell a single-cab truck, but back seats are also important for those times when you want to secure items in a lockable area rather than the open-air truck bed.
There’s no avoiding it: Modern pickup trucks are big. More to the point, most trucks are so big that it can be hard to know exactly where your truck stops, especially if you aren’t used to driving a pickup truck on a regular basis. As a result, we strongly suggest adding a backup camera to your truck, either from the factory or after you sign the papers. If you choose to go that route, your dealer can likely help you, though we’d remind you to make sure that the screen is large enough and the camera is good enough for you to see everything in the vicinity of your new pickup.
Many modern trucks are available with so-called trailering mirrors that extend the mirror assembly out to the side for better visibility. In some cases, this option even includes larger mirrors designed to improve sight lines when towing. For first-time truck buyers interested in a full-size pickup, we suggest considering these mirrors even if you don’t plan to do a lot of towing. They allow for improved visibility and easier awareness of what’s going on outside the truck, and they can be folded in when you’re trying to fit into a narrow space.
Don’t leave the dealership without at least a few off-road accessories for your truck, especially if you’re getting a 4-wheel-drive model. Even if you may not plan on taking it off the pavement, you’ll want features such as underbody protection and tow hooks just in case temptation strikes. These items usually aren’t very expensive on most modern trucks, and they can often be added after the fact. Be sure to opt for them before your friends call and ask if you want to take your truck on some trails, or you may be sorry that you missed out.
Regardless of whether you plan to use your truck for work or play, it’ll be important to have power outlets somewhere in your new pickup. And we’re not just talking about USB outlets for charging your phone or tablet: Many trucks now offer 110-volt outlets that look just like the kind of outlet that might bring power to your laptop or television. We strongly suggest making sure your pickup has at least one or two of these outlets, since you never know when it might come in handy, whether you’re on a job site or in your own driveway.
Although you may not have any trouble climbing into your pickup, you’ll quickly find that a lot of passengers won’t quite find the jump as easy as you do. This is a problem that especially affects 4-wheel-drive trucks with slightly higher ground clearance than rear-drive models. As a result, we suggest checking to make sure that any frequent passengers you might have can climb inside with ease; if not, side steps will be extremely helpful. If you don’t order side steps from the factory, you can always add them afterward through various aftermarket suppliers.
You may not plan to tow with your new truck, but once you’re cruising around in the pickup and you realize just how capable it is, your plans could easily change. If they do, it’s better to order towing equipment — including a hitch, a trailer-brake controller and other items — up front, as it’s a lot easier to get them from the factory than to retrofit them. That’s especially true of a trailer hitch and heavy-duty suspension, both of which are important for towing trailers, not to mention highly difficult and expensive to add after you’ve bought the truck.