A tale as old as time: should you buy a car or truck?
According to statistics, the passenger car has been the preferred option for American drivers. Business Insider notes that car sales were pulling strong numbers just five years ago. In fact, passenger cars typically sold more than 500,000 units per month over truck sales.
But we, as Americans, always had a soft spot for trucks. After all, these vehicles are one of the best options for tradespeople and contractors. Ford was one of the first car manufacturers in the world so it’s in our American roots to be partial toward their best-selling options like trucks. In fact, the auto manufacturer has supposedly given up making passenger cars for good with 90% of its North American portfolio consisting solely of trucks, SUVs, and commercial vehicles as of 2018. The rest of the portfolio will contain the few popular passenger vehicles we know and love, like the Ford Mustang and the Ford Focus Active.
Regardless, we’ve always managed to stick to passenger cars that make more sense for a growing family. But for the first time in the history of the United States, the sale of pickup trucks has managed to beat out passenger cars in April 2020.
This is shocking given the state of the world right now. Most nonessential businesses have shuttered their doors for good and a growing number of U.S. citizens are busy looking for a bankruptcy attorney instead of a qualified car dealer.
But the average American still needs a car in order to get to work, especially those who are considered essential workers. In fact, most auto dealers and automotive repair shops are considered essential, though the lack of business might cause many smaller shops to close their doors. Regardless, the vast majority of these shops have implemented protocols to keep their workers and customers safe. This includes wearing masks, sanitizing surfaces, and limiting the number of people allowed into the store or shop at a time.
But what exactly caused trucks to outsell passenger vehicles for the very first time? It might seem counterintuitive, but sources claim that the pandemic might have actually contributed to this sudden boom in truck sales.
New car loans with 0% interest loans have fueled the desire to invest in more expensive cars like trucks. These interest rates are commonly extended for up to seven years now, making it a desirable option for people who want to buy new or used trucks outright. Paired with the shockingly low prices of gas as a result of the global pandemic, more people are seeing trucks as a more viable option despite their fuel inefficiency.
A recent report by Car and Driver surmises the trend nicely:
“Cox Automotive data shows Middle America, with household incomes of $50,000 to $99,000, was the segment of buyers who stayed in-market mostly for new pickup trucks and SUVs, while upper- and lower-income buyers shied away,” explains Michelle Krebs, executive analyst for Autotrader. “The middle-class buyers were driven into the market by low- to no-interest financing for long terms, up to 84 months, deferment of first payments, and other payment protection plans.”
Many of these offers might include benefits like auto glass repair, free tire rotation, oil services, and more. You might still have to buy your own auto carpets outright, but these service plants can make or break a sale for someone struggling under quarantine rules in America.
So, with these trends swirling, which is the right option for you: should you buy a car or truck?
Here are some of top factors you should consider when you want to buy a car or truck.
If you like a vehicle with a lot of authority, trucks might be the perfect option for you.
Even smaller trucks are usually more imposing on the road. This, in turn, makes you more noticeable and less likely to get side-swiped because you were in someone’s blind spot. On the other hand, it’s easy for a passenger car to fly under the radar of other cars, making them easier to drive, but also easier to miss.
However, most passenger cars are still able to hold more people than trucks on average. The typical four-door car will have at least five seats for passengers while a truck with a regular cab can only fit three. An extended cab can fit up to five people but it will certainly cost you more out of pocket. Meanwhile, vans are still considered passenger cars to a certain extent, making them a more viable option for big families.
Smaller passenger cars are also able to fit into tight spaces for parking and storage. It’s not uncommon for some folks to rent out storage units to keep their summer vehicle safe from harm during the cold of winter. Trucks, by comparison, won’t be able to fit into those tight parallel parking spots like a small sedan would. If you live in a city without a lot of parking, investing in a car might be the right option for you.
A final note on size comes in the form of storage. Trucks are popular rides for contractors and commercial operations because they have a large bed designed to hold hundreds of pounds of weight. Their struts and suspension are also designed to accommodate these functions, unlike a regular passenger vehicle designed for simple commuting. It’s worth noting, however, that many passenger cars have begun to innovate on their seating options to store more goods. You might not be able to fit that washing machine into the back of your Camry, but you can definitely fit more items today than you could back in the ’90s.
As mentioned in the size category, the function of the vehicle will also play a big role in whether or not you should buy a car or truck. Most trucks are designed with heavy-duty functions in mind: this includes towing large items, hauling heavy pieces of machinery, and storing a large number of goods designed for work. If you’re a contractor, an electrician, a plumber, or involved in a similar job, a truck is a great way to stay organized.
If you’re simply looking for a commuter vehicle, however, you might be better off investing in a passenger car. This is because passenger cars, including sedans, are better equipped for traveling on the city streets. They simply don’t have to be outfitted with a truck bed because they aren’t hauling any goods. As such, they’re more fuel-efficient than trucks and are better able to navigate the tight corners and hard-to-reach parking spots that a truck couldn’t fit into.
You might also want to consider your hobbies when you choose whether to buy a car or truck. If you’re a big outdoorsman, trucks are great options for hauling that used RV or camper that you bought last year. Their bed is also ideal for storing a wealth of tents, coolers, and luggage that you might need while traveling or camping. Their suspension and four-wheel drive capabilities also make them popular for people who like to go off-roading.
However, that isn’t to say that you can’t fill up your passenger car with the right camping materials. There are countless automotive parts designed to make your passenger vehicle work better for you. It’s simple to outfit your sedan with a bike rack, storage fin, or tow line to haul smaller items. Your car might have to work a little harder to move with those heavy items weighing it down, so it’s important to bring it into a mechanic more regularly than you would a truck that’s performing a similar job.
Fuel economy is a huge factor in whether you should buy a car or truck. As stated above, lower gas prices have made trucks a more realistic option for middle-class individuals. However, this becomes a huge problem when gas prices start to rise again.
Most of the time, you can fill a modern sedan’s gas tank for as little as $30. Trucks, on the other hand, might cost double. While it’s easy to pay this amount while gas prices are low, it’s not going to stay that way for long. If gas and fuel economy are the sole factors in whether you’re looking to buy a car or truck, a modern car will win out every time.
This is also important to note if you care for the environment. Electric cars are on the rise, but most people are sticking with traditional gas-powered vehicles for now. Sedans and other passenger vehicles simply use gas more efficiently than their larger counterparts (namely trucks and SUVs). Investing in a car might be the better option if wasting gas will weigh heavily on your conscience.
Most cars and trucks are perfectly safe to drive, but there are a few small considerations to make if you’re particularly concerned.
Trucks are known to hold most of their weight in the front when the truck bed is empty. As such, it’s important to weigh down the truck bed, especially when it’s rainy or if there is snow on the ground. Outfitting your tires with chains or quality winter tires from a tire service is also vital to driving safely on the road.
Car owners also need to invest in the proper tires at certain times of the year. However, these vehicles are typically more balanced than trucks. Because they are lighter though, you should be concerned about spinning out in a snow storm. Be sure to talk to an automotive technician about the best cars for your area of the country before you buy a car or truck.
You should also look into buying a truck with an extended cab if you have babies or other small children. Children must be kept in the back seat for their safety and driving with a baby in the front of your car is not recommended. On the other hand, the same can be said for passenger vehicles that only have two doors instead of the usual four. Talk to your auto dealer about the newest safety measures before you decide to buy a car or truck that was made in the last decade.
Should You Buy a Car or Truck?
When it comes to buying a car or truck, there’s no right answer: your lifestyle will inevitably decide which one is right for you. Most cars can be adjusted to fit your lifestyle if you’re also stuck between a rock and a hard place. Auto detailing and customization is more popular than ever: choosing what your heart is set on will make you happier in the end.
If you have the extra funds, many people have found that investing in both vehicles helps check all of their boxes. As long as you have a garage to store your vehicle, both options should also last for a long time. Just be sure to rely on a quality garage door installation to avoid theft and keep the elements out.
Trucks have officially become more popular than ever before. Rely on these tips when you’re struggling to decide whether to buy a car or a truck this year.