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Pickup Truck vs Crossover

A collage photo of a pick up truck and a crossover car.

You want a vehicle that will help you transport your stuff, get out into the world, and have adventures. Pickup trucks and crossover vehicles are both popular choices, but what is the difference between them, and which one is right for you?

In this article, we’ll look at some of the similarities and differences between pickup trucks and crossover vehicles, so you can see for yourself which is best for you. 

What is a Pickup Truck?

A pickup truck is any 4-wheeled truck with a flatbed cargo area behind the body of the truck. 

A pickup truck is designed “body on frame” to situate the driver above the engine and chassis. The body that contains the driver and cargo is separate from the frame that bears the energy of towing or turning.

This design is perfect for towing capacity, traction, and torque, which make pickup trucks ideal for hauling cargo over difficult terrain, or heavy towing. It also means pickup trucks are typically raised slightly, requiring a step up into the cabin. 

There is a lot of variation among pickup trucks, and you can find mid-size models with rear seating that operate almost like minivans, as well as full-size pickup trucks with massive towing capacities that are intended for functional work.

What is Crossover?

 A crossover utility vehicle (CUV) is technically different than a sports utility vehicle (SUV), although the terms have become confused in popular jargon so that they can refer to each other.

An SUV uses the same “body on frame” construction that a pickup truck does, giving it superior torque and traction and higher towing capacity. A technical SUV will usually also have a step up into the cabin. 

A CUV or Crossover vehicle is designed to look like an SUV, with ample space for gear, but it is constructed more like a car, where the body and the frame are the same structure. This unibody construction makes a crossover less performant, but it can also increase gas mileage and makes the driving characteristics closer to a sedan. 

Crossover vehicles can be used for many of the same purposes as SUVs and are convenient for hauling around a lot of gear, but when it comes to their construction and characteristics they are closer to cars than trucks.

Related: What is the Typical Profit Margin on Crossover Vehicles?

What are the Features of a Pickup Truck?

A grey chevrolat silverado photographed sideways in a parking space.

You can identify a pickup truck by its distinctive appearance: a cabin at the front and a flatbed cargo area in the back.

Although there are a lot of other features, this is the one that stands out most, and the ability to easily and comfortably throw things into the flatbed cargo area of a pickup truck is a defining feature.

Traditionally, pickup trucks are workhorses, and they are built and equipped to be functional in the kinds of environments where workers are needed. 

That means they need stronger engines to give them the greater towing capacity. Although there are light-duty and luxury pickup trucks that have fairly average engines, most pickup trucks have engines with more power than a comparable car, because they are designed to go to work.

Some pickup trucks will have 4-wheel drive to help them reach off-road work sites – although not all will. In general, pickup trucks are designed to be higher with more clearance and more powerful engines so that they can more easily go off-road in remote areas.

What are the Features of a Crossover?

A photo of Crossover SUV displayed at the park.

A crossover looks like an SUV, with a boxier design and a lot of interior volumes. They can be narrowly larger than a typical sedan, or big enough to transport a family with all of their luggage and sports gear. 

The term “crossover” refers to the space between an SUV and a car. While an SUV has more truck-like features, a crossover incorporates the interior space and carrying capacity of an SUV with the low clearance and driving characteristics of a sedan. 

Crossovers might look like SUVs on the outside, but they tend to drive more like cars. They have a lot of functionality thanks to their interior and cargo space, but they are constructed like cars and perform like them in most cases.

In general, crossovers benefit a lot from the best features of cars – lower gas mileage, smaller dimensions and maneuverability, and more convenient city-driving features.

It’s hard to nail down exactly what makes a crossover, however, because there are so many on the market and in some cases, they are so unlike each other. There are crossovers that are basically slightly larger cars, and crossovers that are as big and powerful as SUVs or trucks. The demand for functionality and driving comfort combined has led to an explosion in different designs. 

What is the Design and Construction of a Pickup Truck?

Side view angle of a brand new GMC Sierra 1500 Hybrid 2018 model in metallic silver colorway.

The principle behind pickup trucks is that the frame of a vehicle can bear the pressure and torque while carrying a cabin on top. This method of construction allows for increased towing capacities and better performance, although it requires a step up into the cabin.

Designs range from compact and light-duty pickup trucks with 2-wheel drive, intended for urban or suburban driving and working, to full-size one-ton pickup trucks with 4-wheel drive that can be off-roaded to work sites where they can tow thousands of pounds.

Pickup trucks are typically constructed using a range of durable automobile materials: steel where it is needed for strength and durability, aluminum for its lightweight, and molded plastic. The most crucial parts of the frame are made from high-tensile steel. 

What is the Design and Construction of a Crossover?

A red mitsubishi eclipse crossover parked near at the river with mountain background.

A crossover has a unibody design, like a sedan, and they are built in a similar way. 

Maximizing interior and cargo space is one of the central goals of a crossover design, so most crossovers look boxier or bulkier than cars, although many designs smooth out the edges to give them a more sedan-like look.

Crossovers are designed and built like cars, with the same durable materials – steel, aluminum, stainless steel, and molded plastic. They don’t have the most powerful engines, but they are optimized for better gas mileage and a smooth ride on maintained pavement.

Which is More Durable – a Pickup Truck or a Crossover?

Pickup trucks are overall more durable and will last longer, than most crossovers. 

A pickup truck is built to withstand difficult conditions. This is more true of a full-size pickup than a light-duty compact pickup truck, but it basically holds true across all trucks: there is an expectation that this vehicle is going to be put through some work.

A pickup truck often includes additional bracing and frame support that crossovers don’t, and a stronger engine.

Crossovers aren’t meant for off-roading or towing. They are city-driving machines that bring all the best features of SUVs into a convenient, gas-sipping, luxury-feature having package. The designers of crossover vehicles intended them to be used the way cars are – not driven offroad and tested by heavy towing.

Pickup trucks have more durable construction, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that your pickup truck with outlast a friend’s crossover. A crossover that is well-maintained and used as intended on city roads and highways should last as long as a pickup truck, and breakdowns and issues can happen with either design.

Which is More Expensive: a Pickup Truck or a Crossover?

Brand new RAM 150 in chili red colorway in doing a test drive in a desert terrain.

Pickup trucks are more expensive than crossovers.

There are also many more crossover vehicles to choose from than there are pickup trucks, so you are more likely to find a model that meets your exact needs.

Pickup trucks have stronger engines and more technical requirements than crossovers, which benefit from being designed much like cars.

There is a wide range of pricing in both pickup trucks and crossovers, but for similar levels of quality, luxury, and functionality, it’s reasonable to expect to pay more for a pickup truck.

What are the Benefits of a Pickup truck?

Functionality and ease of use are big with pickup truck owners, who want a vehicle that is also a tool to help them reach their goals and run their businesses. 

With a pickup truck, it’s easy and convenient to throw anything you need into the flatbed of the truck. 

You can also tow pretty much anything you need: from a trailer full of yard brush and debris, to a speedboat.

With a pickup truck, you also get more torque and traction, which can be helpful even if you are not going off-road. In heavy snow or ice, a pickup truck often has the extra engine power to get up a hill or get out of a snowy area, where a sedan would get stuck.

Although some people see it as a negative because you need to step up to get into the cabin, many people love how high you are in the driver’s seat in a pickup truck. With a high vantage point, it is easier to see the traffic around you.

What are the Benefits of a Crossover?

Side view of white toyota rav4 photographed in the countryside.

A crossover brings all the benefits of a luxury SUV into a design that fits into your lifestyle.

The reality for most people is that – even if they love sports, exploration, and travel – they will not be taking their vehicle off-road or towing anything very heavy.  

What matters isn’t the technical capacity of the vehicle, but the experiences it can provide. A crossover has plenty of room to pack in sports gear, luggage, and friends or family, but it is built like a car. It’s easy to drive, intuitive, and comes with all of the features that average drivers want.

Crossovers are lower to the ground than pickups and are easy to slide into. 

They are also cheaper overall – starting with gas mileage. Smaller engines and lighter frames lead to cost savings on gas, especially when compared to full-size SUVs and pickup trucks.

You can find great value in purchasing one, too. There is a huge amount of selection for crossover vehicles due to their popularity and the diversity of designs available. While there are a couple of different pickup truck options, you’ll find dozens of crossovers to choose from, and you’re likely to find one that suits your needs pretty closely.

Which is Better: A Pickup Truck or Crossover?

Pickup trucks and crossover vehicles are both great for drivers who want to get out into the world and explore while bringing their gear and their friends or families with them.

Which one is best for you will depend on your lifestyle, your goals, and the kind of exploration you want to do.

A pickup truck is ideal for people who want engine power – whether it is to tow something heavy, get out of the muddy or snowy ground, or drive up steep hills or over rough terrain. If you plan on transporting heavy cargo or going off-road, a pickup truck is probably the better choice for you because it is designed to meet those needs.

A crossover is perfect for people who want all the benefits of a pickup truck or SUV, but never actually intend to go off-road or do heavy towing. A crossover has plenty of space to help you transport your gear from point A to point B, whether you’re going to a work site or a surf break. With a crossover, you’ll pay less in gas and get more luxury features and comforts for the price. 

It’s not always clear which is the right choice, especially with so much variety. For example, a light-duty pickup truck might actually have a less powerful engine than the strongest crossover. However, in general, if you are looking for technical power a pickup is the better choice, and if you want comfort and convenience, a crossover is right for you.