The words pickup and truck are used synonymously; however, you likely have run into it where you have seen someone refer to something that is a truck but not a pickup. We decided to look into what constitutes a pickup and what a truck is!

When someone refers to a truck, it generally refers to a work vehicle, whether a large, purpose-built vehicle or even a larger truck with a cab and a standard bed. Pickups, on the other hand, are generally meant more for family or light-duty use, such as towing a camper or transporting passengers.

Ultimately, the lines are blurred between the two. However, we will do our best to explain throughout this article! It should also be mentioned that this is my opinion based on my findings, as you will likely get a different answer depending on who you talk to.

How are pickups and trucks the same?

Before we understand the differences between the two vehicles, let’s quickly talk about how each is the same! Below are some characteristics you can expect regarding pickups and trucks in most cases.

  • Built on a truck platform
  • Utilizes a ladder frame
  • The cab and bed are separated (although this is changing lately)
  • Used to tow items
  • Has a bed to store items or transport materials

All this said, some vehicles can be considered pickups that don’t fit this mold. However, we’ll talk about that in the following section.

What is a pickup truck?

A pickup truck is generally going to be a vehicle that is used for personal usage (like as a family vehicle)! This will include towing campers or small trailers, taking the kids to school, or commuting to work.

These are generally more car-like and less utilitarian than a more truck-like vehicle. People refer to vehicles like the Ram 1500, Ford F-150, and Chevy Silverado 1500 as pickups rather than trucks, as they tend to be used by families rather than businesses for work. That doesn’t mean they are incapable, as many of these trucks have large payload capacities and can even tow over 10,000 pounds!

These vehicles are not commonly used for heavy-duty purposes. They are generally used as commuter vehicles with the rare off-roading or towing experience.

Most pickups will have a standard bed with walls and a tailgate, which is what most people see daily. You will commonly see these trucks with tonneau covers to simulate a trunk.

Some other vehicles that don’t quite fit into the mold of having a separate bed or sitting on a ladder frame but still are referred to as pickups are vehicles like the Honda Ridgeline and even some newer compact trucks like the Ford Maverick and the Hyundai Sante Fe.

What is a standard truck?

The term “truck” spans a much more comprehensive range of vehicles than pickups do! Trucks can refer to pickups but can also refer to a much wider range of cars than a pickup will.

The most common vehicles are trucks, which will be the big brother to the standard pickups, being the heavy-duty versions like the Ram 2500 (and up), Ford F-250 (and up), and the Chevy 2500 (and up). Here are some other vehicles that fall into the truck category that aren’t these types of vehicles:

  • Semi-trucks
  • Cement trucks
  • Tow trucks
  • Box truck
  • Fire truck

A truck is used more for work purposes rather than for one. This generally results in a larger vehicle with heavier axles, frame, and suspension than the pickup.

You will also find much a much larger variety of bed configurations. Some of these are flat beds, storage beds, and more.

Another common trait with these larger trucks, is that they will have a dually rear end, meaning they have six instead of 4 wheels.

Which one is for you?

A pickup will be a much better situation for most people than a truck. Trucks ride much harsher (due to stiffer suspension), are much larger (harder to park), and are much more of a vehicle than most people will need.

On the other hand, pickups are softer, more agile, and have considerably more comfort features than their truck siblings.

That said, if you are hauling or carrying large items for more extended periods daily, it is best to look at a heavy-duty version of a truck rather than the smaller (1500 series) of a car.

Is an SUV a truck?

Another vehicle that a good portion of people call a truck is an SUV! A typical vehicle many people call a truck (that isn’t) is something like a Jeep Grand Cherokee. No SUV is a truck as it does not have a bed built for a payload; instead, it is just an SUV.

That said, if there were SUVs that I refer to as trucks, it would be SUVs that utilize a pickup platform. This would include vehicles like the Toyota 4Runner, Mercedes G Wagon, and the Chevy Tahoe.


Alright, I hope this article helped you discover the difference between a pickup, and a truck! When it comes down to it, a pickup is a smaller truck utilized for personal use. In contrast, the term truck can span a much more comprehensive range of vehicles meant for work (yet still can encompass pickups). If that is clear, I know what it is.