Choosing Between A Truck And An SUV

November 8th, 2019 by

A blue 2020 Chevy Silverado 1500, a popular choice when someone debates choosing a truck or an SUV, is towing side-by-sides

Once the vehicle of choice primarily for farmers and contractors, the pickup truck has increasingly become popular with families and outdoor enthusiasts. This market penetration is similar to the path taken by SUVs almost a generation ago, as suburban families began to see the benefits of a larger vehicle that provided improved safety, roominess, and efficiency through size. Today, pickup trucks provide larger cabs, particularly with the popular crew cab design, better fuel economy, and more features and creature comforts than ever before. Of course, with more options comes greater difficulty in making a choice. At Frank Kent Country, we offer the full range of General Motors trucks and SUVs, including two of the most popular brands, GMC and Chevy. We provide you with the best guidance possible when it comes to choosing a truck or an SUV. So if you are thinking, “do I want to buy a new Chevy truck or a family SUV?” Frank Kent Country in Corsicana, TX, is the place to go.

The best way to address this issue is through knowledge, an understanding of what each vehicle choice does, and does not provide. In the following, we will walk you through each of the key decision points so that when the time comes to visit Frank Kent Country, you will know which of the choices between a truck and an SUV suits your lifestyle the best. The key factors to consider are everyday handling and ride, roominess, gas mileage, towing, and payload capacity.

Full-Size Trucks vs Large SUVs

  • Chevy Full-Size Trucks: Chevy Silverado 1500 and Chevy Silverado HD
  • GMC Full-Size Trucks: GMC Sierra 1500 and GMC Sierra HD
  • Chevy Large SUVs: Chevy Suburban and Chevy Tahoe
  • GMC Large SUV: GMC Yukon

Everyday Handling and Ride

In general, most drivers are going to find that larger SUVs are slightly easier to handle than full-size trucks. Both models are large, so moving from a compact car will present some period of adjustment for all but the most skilled drivers among us. This is caused by the longer wheelbase in both types of vehicles. Unless the full-size truck is carrying a large payload, the ride is not going to be as comfortable as in a large SUV. That has to do with the suspension system of large SUVs, designed to distribute weight more like in a passenger car. As a result, passengers in an unloaded full-size pickup truck could find it more jostling and rough. This is why the nod for everyday handling and the overall ride goes to a large SUV.

Roominess

Having a third row of seats gives the large SUVs an edge over the full-size trucks. True, most full-size trucks now feature room for six in their crew cabs, and are more roomier than ever. For example, the 2020 Chevy Silverado HD has 43.03 inches of headroom, 44.53 inches of legroom, and 66.02 inches of shoulder room in the front seat, while its rear seat features 40.12 inches of headroom, 43.40 inches of legroom, and 65.30 inches of shoulder room.

Contrast this with the 2020 Chevy Suburban, which has 42.08 inches of headroom, 45.30 inches of legroom, and 64.80 inches of shoulder room in the front row, 39.10 inches of headroom, 39.70 inches of legroom, and 65.10 inches of shoulder room in the second row, and 38.50 inches of headroom, 34.50 inches of legroom, and 62.60 inches of shoulder room in the third row.
Entry and exit from the large SUVs and the full-size trucks may take some getting used to since both are well off the ground. This could even make it difficult for young children and elderly passengers to enter and exit the vehicle. The addition of running boards can help matters by cutting the distance between curb and car in half. Of course, the higher level makes both the large SUV and full-size trucks ideal for getting through some of the worst winter snows. The edge goes to the large-size SUVs because of the third row of seats. These vehicles are the perfect choice for large families due to the ability to seat up to 8 passengers comfortably.

Gas Mileage

While both large SUVs and full-size trucks are featuring better fuel efficiency than ever before, the pickup trucks are being a bit more economical than the SUVs. For example, the 2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 has an EPA estimated gas mileage of 23 mpg in city driving and 33 mpg on the highway. By contrast, the 2020 Chevy Suburban is estimated to provide 14 mpg in city driving and 23 mpg while out on the highway. This gives an edge to a full-size pickup truck.

Towing and Payload Capacity

If you need to tow or carry large payloads, then the choice should be for a full-size truck. Most full-size trucks come with a trailer hitch standard, and upgrades to specialized trailering packages are available. Full-size trucks are also designed for towing heavy loads. The 2020 GMC Sierra 2500 HD is rated to be able to tow up to 18,500 pounds. While most large SUVs come with trailer hitches as well, this is not always the case. It is best to check with your dealer if towing is a large part of your lifestyle. Full-size trucks also have larger payload capacity. The payload capacity on a 2020 GMC Sierra 3500 HD is 7,442 pounds. Clearly, if you need to move stuff, you will choose a full-size pickup truck.

Midsize Trucks vs. Midsize SUVs

  • Chevy Midsize truck: Chevy Silverado
  • GMC Midsize truck: GMC Canyon
  • Chevy Midsize SUV: Chevy Traverse
  • GMC Midsize SUV: GMC Acadia

Everyday Handling and Ride

Most folks are going to find a midsize SUV easier to handle than a midsize truck. The design of these vehicles favors a smooth ride over the ability to carry or tow large loads. This has to do with the suspension and smaller wheelbase of a midsize SUV. However, the placement of cargo in the payload should improve the ride of the midsize pickup truck.

Roominess

Midsize SUVs are also going to be roomier than midsize trucks. The Chevy Traverse provides a third row of seats, something not found in either the Chevy Colorado or the GMC Canyon. As a result, the midsize SUV will provide greater seating capacity, up to 7 passengers as compared to 4 in the pickup trucks. However, both midsize pickups do provide a crew cab, with plenty of room.

The Chevy Colorado crew cab has 41.4 inches of headroom, 45 inches of legroom, and 57.5 inches of shoulder room in the front row, 38.3 inches of headroom, 35.8 inches of legroom, and 56.2 inches of shoulder room in the rear row. Not to be outdone, the GMC Canyon also has 41.4 inches of headroom, 45 inches of legroom, and 57.5 inches of shoulder room in the front seats, with 38.3 inches of headroom, 35.8 inches of legroom, and 56.2 inches of shoulder room for rear-seat passengers.

This contrasts with the Chevy Traverse. The Traverse has 41.3 inches of headroom, 41 inches of legroom, and 62.1 inches of shoulder room in the front row, 40 inches of headroom, 38.4 inches of legroom, and 62.2 inches of shoulder room in the second row, and 38.2 inches of headroom, 33.5 inches of legroom, and 57.5 inches of shoulder room in the third row.

Gas Mileage

This one is pretty much a draw. Both the midsize SUV and the midsize pickup truck have excellent fuel economy. The Chevy Traverse has an estimated gas mileage of 18 mpg for city driving and 27 mpg on the highway. Both the Chevy Colorado and the GMC Canyon midsize trucks actually hold their own in this comparison, with an estimated of 20 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway for each vehicle.

Towing and Payload Capacity

In this comparison, the midsize truck is the choice for those looking to tow and haul large loads. The Chevy Colorado is rated to tow up to 7,700 pounds, and carry up to 1,578 pounds. The GMC Canyon has similar specifications. By contrast, the Chevy Traverse can tow up to 5,000 pounds. Also, as with most midsize SUVs, there is a compromise with payload, as most of the interior space is used for three rows of passengers. If you need to take a great deal with you, then you will have to fold down one or two rows of seats, depending on the size of the load.