Are Pickup Trucks Hard To Drive? Easy to drive & a ton more fun


Pickup trucks have developed a lot since first introduced to the market by Gottlieb Daimler in 1896. Daimler marketed the four hp, 1.1 liter 2cylinder as a horseless wagon. The Ford Model T Runabout put the pickup truck in the limelight in 1925. The pickup truck has since become an American icon as it replaced the horse as the trade tool for the working man.

Cars have developed into strong, lightweight mono-frame designs, making them lighter, safer, and easier to drive than a pickup truck. Modern trucks have developed many features to make them easier to drive, but their size, power, and ladder frame construction; do make them more difficult to drive.

The modern utility vehicle has developed into much more than just a workhorse. Designed to work by day, play by night and go to church on Sunday, all possible in the modern pickup. The growth in popularity of pickup trucks has been among women drivers too. The ride height, good visibility, and the brawn of a 2-ton body, piloted by feather-light power-steering, a powerful engine, auto transmission, and comfortable suspension, make light work of any road and provide a sense of safety.

Let’s look at the aspects that make driving pickup trucks more challenging and overcome these.

Truck climbing dirt track hill

What Are The Challenges When Driving A Pickup?

Pickup trucks come in many seating and load designs, such as a two-seater single-cab, four-seater dual-cabs, two-seater extended-cabs, short wheelbase, long wheelbase, and extra heavy load extra-wide designs. The older model pickup trucks did not feature the modern safety and convenience features that all modern trucks have as standard.

Pickup trucks are heavier, wider, longer, have powerful engines and have a high center of gravity. These factors add to the complexity of driving a pickup versus driving a car. Once you have mastered these aspects, driving your pickup will be just as easy as driving your car and can likely be a lot more fun.

The Key Differences Of Driving Pickups Vs. Cars?

Size And Weight

Trucks are designed to accommodate people and payload. They are larger and heavier than cars and have higher ground clearance.  The compact size and lower ground clearance make cars easy to drive and maneuver in traffic. The smaller size of cars makes them easier to park.

Pickups have been designed for working on construction sites, farms and are not well suited for city traffic as a daily commuter. Trucks have a larger turning circle and require a longer stopping distance due to the higher weight. Power-steering and bigger braking systems are designed to assist drivers, but simple physics require more space and stopping distance than cars.

RAM truck on grass

Higher Ground Clearance

Pickup trucks are fitted with tires and suspension settings that afford them the ability to carry high payloads. The result is that pickup trucks have a higher stance or ground clearance. They are designed to work on farm roads and other off-road conditions. The higher ground clearance also results in a higher center of gravity.

Cars are designed with a low ground clearance to reduce the risk of roll-overs. Pickups are more prone to roll-over accidents due to their higher center of gravity. Drivers have to account for this by driving slower, allowing greater stopping distance, and avoiding sudden changes in direction or emergency braking.

Chassis Design Differences

Pickup trucks have a ladder frame chassis design in which the passenger cabin is separate from the load-bed. The cabin and load-bed are mounted on an H-frame chassis independently. The result is that pickups have more body roll than cars. The higher center of gravity linked to body-roll when cornering requires the driver to execute cornering maneuvers at a lower speed.

Cars are designed with a mono-frame chassis. The light and compact structure, combine the passenger cabin and the powertrain frame into one unit, resulting in torsional stiffness and good cornering ability. Cars have an extremely low center of gravity and low profile tires, resulting in improved cornering at higher speeds.

The Moose-Test was designed to test the ability of vehicles to make emergency lane changes at high speed. Cars pass this test with much greater ease than pickups. The test simulates how cars and trucks behave when required to make emergency avoidance maneuvers as happens when animals or children in the road, must be avoided.

Is Driver Training Required For Trucks?

Driver training is recommended whenever you make a change into a larger vehicle. Airline pilots start out learning how to pilot small aircraft and are required to requalify for larger aircraft.

Advanced driver training is not about driving like a race-car driver. The training enables drivers to drive their vehicles with optimal safety for themselves, passengers, and pedestrians.

Whether laden and un-laden, the driving characteristics of a pickup truck are quite different. The size, weight, and height of pickups require that they be driven with extra care. Driver training is not mandated but is encouraged by manufacturers and dealers of pickup trucks.

Mastering the skill of driving a pickup truck will make driving a pickup as easy as driving a car. You will always have to adjust for a pickup truck’s bigger size, weight, and power, but these skills can be easily learned.

What To Buy? A Pickup Or A Car

Mobility requirements differ and result in the many-body styles and configurations that cars and trucks are made in. Before purchasing a new pickup or car, write down all the places you plan to drive to daily, weekly, monthly, and occasionally.

Pickups are not designed to be daily commuters in city traffic. They are more expensive to run and not designed for the more cramped road conditions. If you only require the occasional use of a pickup truck, consider renting one as needed.

Buick car lot

Conclusion:

Whether renting or buying a pickup truck, make sure that you acquire the new skills and awareness required to drive a bigger, heavier, more powerful vehicle. Get some guidance and training on how to drive a pickup. Make sure you understand the capabilities of the vehicle.

Driving your new pickup truck can be as safe as driving a car. The attitude and skill of the driver is the most important factor in accident avoidance. Your truck can unlock a whole new world of adventure and activities for you.

Before buying any used vehicle, it’s always worth investing a few dollars to check the VIN number against the vehicle database. An audit with a company like VinAudit (links to VinAudit) will guard against Mileage fraud, Salvage rebuilds, Title washing, Vin cloning, and a ton of other uglies.

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John Cunningham

John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. I've been a mechanic for over twenty-five years, and I've worked for GM, Volvo, Volkswagen, Landrover, and Jaguar dealerships. My passion is cars. I use my knowledge and experience to write articles that help fellow gear-heads with all aspects of car ownership, including buying advice, maintenance, and troubleshooting.

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