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Pickup Truck vs Jeep

A photo of pickup truck and jeep side view shot.

Pickup trucks and Jeeps are both really cool-looking and versatile vehicles, especially when it comes to driving on rough roads and spending time in outdoors. But I’ve been wondering about which one is best, and if it’s possible to compare the two types of vehicles.

So I searched through the Google results and came to a conclusion: you can compare them! Here’s what all my homework taught me, in an easy-to-understand format, so you can learn more about Jeeps and pickup trucks without doing any research yourself:

What Is a Pickup Truck?

A picture of a black pick-up vehicle against a white background.

Pickup trucks are made for moving heavy loads from one location to the next. Simply put, they are trucks with separate frames and open boxes. Pickup truck designs are based on trucks, but they’re made of two pieces and have more interior space while also being much smaller than trucks.

Pickup trucks are made in different sizes to handle different carry loads. They have sufficient engine power without reaching the power that big trucks have.

Related: Pickup Truck vs Sedan | Pickup Truck vs Crossover

What Is a Jeep?

Side view shot of yellow jeep displayed at the dealership.

Jeeps are rugged cars made to be driven in difficult, off-road conditions. They are ideal for driving across sand and unpaved roads. Many military vehicles are actually Jeeps.

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These lightweight vehicles can transport heavy loads, and their robust designs make them great for tough terrains. Although their designs make them ideal for the outdoors, they do require some good driving skills, or the vehicles can be damaged.

Pickup Truck vs Jeep Features Comparison

This comparison aims to take a good but brief look at the differences between Jeeps and pickup trucks. When you know all these differences, you’ll know whether you should get yourself a Jeep or a pickup truck. 

Jeeps are better suited to off-road adventures rather than everyday driving, while pickup trucks are good for daily use. However, many Jeep lovers drive their vehicles all the time, so that’s not a comparison I’ll make. 

Whether or not you use your pickup truck or Jeep every day will depend on you.

Let’s look at the main features of Jeeps and pickup trucks, and how they compare to each other:

Fuel Efficiency 

At the gas station, hand-filling the white pickup vehicle with gasoline, oil, and gas energy.

When it comes to fuel efficiency, Jeeps don’t perform as well as pickup trucks. The miles per gallon you can get out of a Jeep isn’t very good. Some Jeeps can only reach 13 miles on a gallon of fuel, but Jeep manufacturers are making their vehicles more fuel-efficient as technology advances.

The latest Jeep models are much more fuel efficient and have improved torque outputs as well. Eventually, Jeeps might be able to match pickup trucks in their efficient fuel use.

That said, pickup trucks are pretty average regarding fuel efficiency and can still be worse than you’d hope. Still, for now, pickup trucks are much more fuel efficient than Jeeps.

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Comfort

A modern pickup truck image with a dark interior.

Although many Jeep and pickup truck users feel that features such as carpeted interiors and heated cushions are not necessary for these vehicles, most of them come standard with these comforts to improve drivers’ driving experience.

Standard pickup trucks have softer suspensions than Jeeps, which have tough suspensions, so they can drive on rough terrain. As a result, Jeeps are not as comfortable as pickup trucks.

However, modern Jeeps have many comfort features installed that make them a joy to use, such as media players, infotainment systems, and more. Pickup trucks also have good comfort features and seem to beat dust in the Jeep’s eyes in this category. This is mainly because of the difference in suspension systems.

Handling

A wide angle photo of white jeep on the road.

The on-road handling of a pickup truck is much better than what you’d get from a Jeep. That’s mainly because Jeeps are designed to be used in off-road situations rather than on standard roads.

Pickup trucks can perform well in cornering (how well a vehicle deals with corners) and can handle high speeds better than Jeeps. Jeeps come with solid axles for better off-road performance, which makes on-road experiences less-than-perfect.

Also, Jeeps are known for what is referred to as ‘Jeep Death Wobble’, when the vehicle becomes very difficult to control. When that happens, it can feel as if the Jeep is trying to shake itself apart and this can lead to accidents.

Safety

Back shot of jeep wrangler parked at the countryside road.

This category depends on whether you’re talking about on-road safety or off-road safety. Obviously, Jeeps are much safer in off-road situations, and pickup trucks provide more safety when used on standard roads.

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That does not mean Jeeps are completely unsafe to use on roads, they’re just much safer when driving over difficult terrain. After all, Jeeps are made for use in difficult terrain rather than on normal roads.

However, newer Jeep models come with tire pressure monitoring, traction control, anti-lock braking, and other safety features to keep drivers and passengers safe.

Pickup trucks also have good safety features, they’re just safer for on-road use than Jeeps because that is what they’re made for.

Maintenance Costs

A picture of a red pickup vehicle against a stunning backdrop.

The cost of maintenance of Jeeps and pickup trucks depends on many factors. When you’re using your vehicle often and making it work hard, it’s only natural that maintenance is going to be rather costly.

Generally, Jeeps and pickup trucks have about the same maintenance costs. However, if your Jeep is modified or you’re using it for off-road purposes a lot, it will cost more to keep it in good condition. The same goes for pickup trucks – if you haul heavy loads regularly, maintenance costs will increase.

Modifying Capabilities

Driving through city streets in the morning is a blue Jeep Wrangler.

Jeeps offer more modification capabilities than pickup trucks. You can build your Jeep to be exactly as you wish, and doing so isn’t overly complicated.

Jeeps can be built in many unique ways, and there are many custom parts to choose from. These vehicles are especially versatile when it comes to performance upgrades. Jeeps can be upgraded with lift kits, fitted with different tire sizes, different bumpers, rims, and more.

Also, you can remove a Jeep’s top and doors for a more open-air experience if you so wish. That’s not something you can do with a pickup truck.

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Of course, you can modify your pickup truck as well, but it doesn’t have as much versatility as you get from a Jeep.

Height and Weight

Low angle shot of red pickup truck on the grass with dirty tires.

The size of your Jeep and pickup truck plays a big role in what you’ll be able to do with it. The weight affects the vehicle’s towing capacity, for example, and even using a trailer depends on the vehicle’s size. Towing capacity is typically better with pickup trucks than Jeeps.

Jeeps are generally more lightweight than pickup trucks, but that doesn’t mean they can’t work just as hard. In fact, the Jeep Gladiator is more of a workhorse than most pickup trucks you can think of.

Because Jeeps are lightweight and compact, they’re better suited to driving narrow trails and moving through tight terrain.

Affordability and Reliability

Front view of a white pickup truck amid a pine-filled woodland in the fall.

Instead of looking at affordability on its own, I’ve decided to look at affordability and reliability together. I feel that a vehicle’s reliability should be factored in when looking at how much it costs.

When it comes to Jeeps, affordability and reliability are pretty good. They are sturdy, reliable vehicles that you will likely use for many years, making them worth the money you’ll spend on them. Jeeps tend to be more expensive than pickup trucks.

Also, Jeeps have a high resale value even after being used for many years, whereas pickup trucks depreciate in value the same as normal cars do. Unless you’re abusing your Jeep, it will last longer than a pickup truck.

Off-Roading And On-Roading Capabilities

Extreme off-road adventure with a black Jeep Wrangler.

This is not really a difficult comparison to make. Jeeps are much better for off-roading, and pickup trucks perform better on standard roads.

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Jeeps are considered the kings of adventure driving and off-roading because that is what they’ve been designed for. Sure, pickup trucks can do well on tough terrain, but they’re not as good at dealing with it as Jeeps are.

On the other hand, pickup trucks can be driven easily on standard roads, and Jeeps don’t perform so well here. In the end, it comes down to Jeeps being built for off-roading and pickup trucks for working hard on standard roads.

Wheelbase

In a snowy lot, a gray Jeep Wrangler Rubicon was parked.

A vehicle’s wheelbase affects its steering angle, which is how sharply it can turn. Depending on where you drive (off- or on-road), a vehicle with a shorter wheelbase can be better. Also, the kind of off-roading you want to do will also need to be considered.

Jeeps with a shorter wheelbase will be better at crawling in a desert and rock climbing, for example. On the other hand, a Jeep with a longer wheelbase will perform much better in muddy or bumpy situations.

Pickup trucks typically have longer wheelbases than Jeeps, but that won’t improve your driving experience if you don’t have the right driving skills. 

You’ll find that the kind of Jeep you buy depends on what you plan to do with it, and pickup truck drivers don’t have to worry as much about the wheelbase because they won’t really get into situations that call for a short wheelbase.

Towing and Lifting Capabilities

Close up photo of hand towing a car.

As mentioned earlier, pickup trucks perform much better when towing trailers and other vehicles. That doesn’t mean Jeeps can’t tow at all, they’re just not as good at it as pickup trucks are.

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The kind of heavy lifting involved with towing is what pickup trucks are made to be good at, so it comes as no surprise that they outshine Jeeps in this category.

Technical Aspects

Comparing the pros and cons between pickup trucks and Jeeps won’t end with all the features I’ve already mentioned. There are many technical aspects that should also be taken into consideration.

Here are a few other elements to keep in mind when choosing between a pickup truck and a Jeep:

Traction

Close-up of a car's off-road tires that have been installed.

The traction of a vehicle refers to its ability to not get stuck, which is really important when you’re off-roading. When your Jeep is also able to get a good grip with the right kind of tires, you’ll have much better traction than you could ever get with a pickup truck.

Breakover, Departure Angles, and Approach

These elements of your vehicle make it possible to overcome difficult obstacles while you drive. Breakover refers to the angle from the bottom of the front or rear tires to where the other tire meets the lowest point on the vehicle.

Approach is the angle between the vehicle’s front tires and the lowest point of whatever is in front of the vehicle. Departure angles are the reverse of approach and refer to what happens in the back of the vehicle.

Although this can be a bit confusing, you should just know that you want bigger for all three angles. Jeeps perform better with these elements, making them better at overcoming obstacles while driving.

Gearing

On the streambed along the river, a Jeep Wrangler is parked.

This is what helps your vehicle move over steep inclines and descents. Gearing works with the vehicle’s EBS (engine braking system), and you need low gearing for off-roading adventures. Jeeps do great in this category, while pickup trucks don’t perform as well.

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Articulation

Articulation refers to the wheel’s ability to travel up or down in relation to the wheel opposite to it. Higher articulation means the wheels are more in contact with the ground. Although articulation isn’t necessary for off-road adventures, it is good to have it present.

Jeeps have more articulation than pickup trucks because they’re made for off-roading.

Pickup Truck vs Jeep: Which One Wins?

There you have it — a detailed comparison between pickup trucks and Jeeps. So, which one wins?

That comes down to what you are hoping to achieve with your vehicle. If you run a business and need to haul loads over long distances or need to tow trailers often, you’ll want to invest in a good pickup truck.

But if you’re looking for a vehicle that can easily handle difficult and tough terrain and you’re itching for some off-road adventuring, you’ll be better off with a Jeep.

Make your decision of which one is the winner based on your needs and wants. Hopefully, this comparison article helped you decide which is best for you.