When doing side by side comparisons of trucks, look at size, the drivetrain, fuel economy and safety. Depending on the truck's intended use, its overall towing ability should also be considered.
Trucks come in three general sizes: light, medium and heavy. Light trucks are pickup trucks. Medium trucks include vans, flatbed trucks and panel trucks. Heavy trucks are work vehicles such as cement mixers, log carriers and dump trucks.
Drivetrain is a broad term used to address a vehicle's transmission type and wheel drive. A transmission is either manual, wherein the driver switches gears, or automatic, in which the gears are electronically switched. Wheel drive can either be two- or four-wheel and may include extra traction control.
Fuel economy is determined by the truck's engine. Light trucks have engines ranging from four to eight cylinders, making them slightly more economical than medium trucks, which are typically eight to 10 cylinders. Heavy trucks have diesel engines that increase fuel economy.
Seat belts and airbags are standard safety features on any new vehicle. Some trucks also offer side airbags and stability control for further protection.
If the vehicle is intended to haul a boat or trailer, towing capability is a factor worth addressing. Light trucks can tow 3,000 to 7,000 pounds. Medium trucks tow 8,000 to 10,000 pounds and heavy trucks can tow as much as 30,000 pounds, depending on their axle ratio and the presence of a fifth wheel connection.