Sometimes, the word car is generically used to refer to all kinds of motor vehicles, including trucks. But can a truck be classified as a car? Is a truck a car? What is the difference between a car vs truck?
In technical terms, a car is very different from a truck. Basically, most cars are built to carry passengers, while most trucks are designed to haul cargo. Some would use the word car when they generally mean all vehicles. These are the instances when you would hear somebody refer to a truck as a car.
The rules that differentiate a light truck from a conventional car are really very simple. One of these rules is that the car should have a gross weight (curb weight plus payload capacity) that should not exceed 8,500 pounds.
Read on to learn more about the difference between a car and a truck, as well as the different types of cars and trucks.
Is a Truck a Car? Car vs Truck
A car is very different from a truck. Most cars are built to carry passengers, while most trucks are designed to haul cargo. Some would use the word car when they generally mean all vehicles.
Vehicles are defined according to their design, size, weight, function, and purpose. The design and build of cars are primarily to carry people and not things. In cars, carrying luggage comes only as an afterthought. Modern SUVs and vans can carry people plus luggage, so they are bigger than average cars.
Trucks are for hauling things like cargo and goods. Although they are for hauling, they can also carry people like transport buses. However, their primary purpose is not to carry people but to carry cargo. Their design is for work and not for play.
The auto industry has neatly categorized vehicles into different classes. And cars belong in Class A vehicles. These vehicles include all passenger cars such as sedans, coupes, and convertibles.
When vehicles are slightly bigger than Class A cars, they belong to Class B. They include minivans, light vans, pickup trucks, and SUVs. Real trucks, those huge vehicles with powerful engines and long bodies, are in the Class C category. These vehicles are the medium-sized and large-sized trucks primarily used for commercial purposes.
In short, most trucks are for work. More than anything else, it is focused on the job it is designed to perform. But it can also carry people. A car, on the other hand, is mainly built to carry people. Its capacity to carry things is only second to its main purpose of carrying people.
Can You Consider a Truck as a Car?
Some etymologists believe that the word car originated from the Latin word carrus/carrum and the French word carre. The Latin word means wheeled vehicle, while the French word means two-wheeled cart. Both words came from karros, a Gaulish word that means a horse-drawn vehicle like a carriage, wagon, or cart.
So, the modern term car can be regarded as a short form for carriage. In this case, both cars and trucks are carriages, generically speaking. So, in this respect, you can consider a truck a car. When the car was invented, it was originally called a self-propelled carriage. This term was later shortened to just car. A truck is also a self-propelled carriage. So, there goes the definition.
Cars and Trucks
In the United States, cars are generally vehicles that can move or transport a few people. So, there is very little confusion in this area. It is in the truck section that a lot of confusion arises.
Pickups are also considered trucks in the United States. There are compact pickups and full-size pickups. Both vehicles are trucks in this country. But they surely pale in comparison to the real big trucks that are hauling and transporting cargo from coast to coast.
I guess you can call the compact and full-size pickups as cars. In many states, people consider privately owned pickup trucks as passenger vehicles for insurance and vehicle registration purposes.
These pickup trucks are, in reality, hybrids of passenger cars and cargo-hauling trucks. Most of these trucks are for private use and not for commercial purposes. They are closely related to cars, so they can be alternately called cars.
But it will be unnatural for you to call huge tractor-trailers as cars. The main purpose of these humongous trucks are for commercial use and not for personal activities. Moreover, you can’t fit these commercial trucks in a garage made for conventional cars, no matter what you do.
What Are the Technical Definitions of Cars and Trucks?
Let us delve into the technicalities of the issue. Is there a way to technically define trucks and cars? Yes, there is.
There are different kinds of trucks because of the nature of their business. Some trucks are called day trucks because they haul their cargo from point to point in just one day. Some trucks continue to roll day and night until they reach their destination. There are also light-duty trucks, which are actually hybrids of passenger cars and cargo trucks.
So, for the purpose of this article, we can technically define trucks into two general categories. These categories are:
1. Tractor-trailer Trucks
The use of these trucks is for business-related haul freight or cargo. Another term for these trucks is heavy commercial vehicles. They can carry cargo from 80,000 to 300,000 pounds. These are the trucks that you wouldn’t want to drive alongside on a highway.
2. Light-duty Trucks
These trucks generally weigh from 4,000 to 8,500 pounds. They are commonly called pickup trucks, crossovers, SUVs, and minivans. In addition, these trucks don’t have big rigs like that of semi-trucks or tractor-trailer trucks.
Light-duty trucks can haul boats, small trailers, and carry large families, but not the 80,000-pound cargo that commercial rigs carry. It will not be unnatural for you to call these LDTs as cars.
There are also different kinds of cars. These cars are generally called passenger cars. Vehicles that weigh between 2,500 and 4,000 pounds are considered passenger cars. Smaller families mostly use them. These cars are also more fuel-efficient than trucks. The technical definitions of cars are as follows:
- Subcompact Cars: Examples of these cars are the subcompacts such as the Nissan Versa and the Honda Fit.
- Compact Cars: Examples of these cars are the Honda Civic and the Ford Focus.
- Mid-size Cars: Examples of mid-size cars are the Hyundai Sonata and the Toyota Prius.
- Full-size Sedans: Examples of these cars are the Ford Taurus and the Chevrolet Impala.
- Station Wagons: Examples of station wagons are the Kia Rondo and the Subaru Outback.
We’ve answered the question, “is a truck a car?” And the difference between a car vs truck. Now, let’s look at the different types of trucks and cars, including the pros and cons of owning these vehicles.
Different Types of Trucks
The classification of trucks is primarily according to weight. Since weight is the determining factor, it is not unusual for certain trucks to fall into several categories. There are four main categories of trucks. They are the following:
1. Heavy Trucks
These trucks weigh more than 11,793 kg. Most of these trucks are also included in the medium category, but only heavier. Examples of these types of trucks are cement mixers, fire trucks, mobile cranes, tractor-trailer units, and tank trucks.
2. Medium Trucks
Medium trucks in the United States weigh over 6,350 kg but not over 11,794 kg. They can include fire trucks, vans, and other vehicles that belong to this weight range.
3. Light Trucks
These vehicles weigh 6,350 kg or less in the United States. Light trucks can include minivans, SUVs, pickup trucks, and tow trucks.
4. Special Trucks/Transporters/Ultra-heavy Trucks
Other terms for these trucks are mining haul trucks and heavy haulers. They are mostly 4x4s and typically need special permits to be allowed to run on the road. These trucks have a specific category because of the special type of work they perform.
Different Types of Cars
There is information contained in this section that is somewhat similar to the technical definition of passenger cars. However, this section discusses the most common way of classifying cars in detail. That said, the different types of cars are as follows:
This saloon car has four doors with the purpose of carrying passengers. Cars of this type can vary in size, length, and volume. The engine is usually located at the front, while some are installed at the rear. Examples of these cars are the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz and the Hyundai Elantra.
2. Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV)
This car is a hybrid of an SUV and a hatchback. Its frame and body are also built as one piece, utilizing unibody architecture technology. Some examples of these cars are the Hyundai i20 Active and the Volvo S60 Cross Country.
This passenger car has a hatch-type door at the rear that opens upwards. There are two-door hatchbacks and four-door hatchbacks. Some examples of these are the Maruti Suzuki Swift and the Hyundai Grand i10.
This car has a non-rigid roof system, which you can open or close as needed. Examples of convertibles are the 2020 Toyota GT 86 and the Audi A3 Cabriolet.
5. Sports Utility Vehicle
This type of car is one of the most popular passenger cars in the United States. Moreover, some of these cars have powerful engines with four-wheel drives for off-roading adventures. Examples of these cars are the 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Mahindra Thar, and the Land Rover Discovery.
6. Multipurpose Vehicle
Also called a multi-utility vehicle, this car offers more comfort and amenities to passengers. These cars are ideal for families. Some of its examples are the Maruti Suzuki Omni and the Datsun GO+.
This is a sporty passenger car. The majority of them are two-seaters only. They also have a fixed roof. Some examples of these cars are the Ford Mustang, the Audi R8, and the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe.
Pros and Cons of Owning a Truck
To many people, the advantage of owning a truck eclipses the disadvantages. If you want to know the pros and cons, here they are:
1. You Will Be More Confident Going Off-roading
If you own a 4×4 pickup truck, you can go to places where there’s no road. Your truck will not only be efficient in handling challenging trails, but it will also provide you safety. Most modern off-road trucks possess technology that makes off-roading easier and safer.
2. You Will Have More Power to Tow and Haul
The engines of pickup trucks can deliver more powerful performance. There are more horses and torque that will enable you to carry loads to make your weekend adventures more exciting and enjoyable.
3. You Will Have More Space
Space is everything when you want comfort and convenience. Pickup trucks have bodies that can accommodate five passengers, including the driver, plus extra cargo in the bed.
1. Pickup Trucks Are Gas Guzzlers
Because of their bigger and more powerful engines, pickup trucks are not as fuel-efficient as passenger cars.
2. Driving Is More Difficult
A bigger vehicle is more difficult to drive than a smaller one. It takes time before you get used to driving pickup trucks.
3. Repair and Maintenance Is More Expensive
Since pickup trucks have bigger engines and 4×4 parts, their maintenance is naturally much more expensive than passenger cars.
Pros and Cons of Owning a Car
Owning a car also has its own advantages and disadvantages.
1. It Is More Convenient
If you have a car, you are not dependent on public transport. You can drive away anytime you need or want to.
2. It Is Fuel-efficient
If you have the right car size for your need, you will discover that it is more fuel-efficient than pickup trucks.
3. Repair and Maintenance Is Cheaper
If you practice regular preventive maintenance, you will find that a car is cheaper to maintain than a pickup truck.
1. Cars Have Limited Power
Compared to the average pickup truck, the average passenger car doesn’t have a chance of overtaking a pickup truck on the highway.
2. Cars Have Limited Space
You can only carry so much in a passenger car, whereas you can carry a lot of weight in a pickup truck.
3. Cars Have Unlimited Choices
Buying a car is more difficult because of the almost unlimited choices in the market. Car dealers have made many marketing strategies and techniques to convince customers that buying decisions are somewhat tricky.
Conclusion – Is a Truck Considered a Car? Truck vs Car
In technical terms, a car is really different from a truck. Basically, the design of most cars is to carry passengers. On the other hand, the design of most trucks is to haul cargo.
Some people would use the term car when referring to vehicles in general. These are the instances when you would hear somebody refer to a truck as a car.