Difference Between SUV and Truck

Last Updated on January 31, 2023 by Paul S.

Before I owned my Toyota FJ Cruiser, the first 4×4 SUV I ever owned, I had to understand the difference between an SUV and a Truck.  It is a common question when you are choosing your first larger vehicle. 

The typical answer is that a Truck is the workhorse of the automotive world, it can haul, transport, and get work done. It is typically a massive vehicle that has many different uses. If you own one your friends probably like you a little more because you are going to help them move and take them up into the mountains. 

The SUV is going to be typically smaller than a truck and has a wide variety of sizes and uses. It doesn’t come close to the utility of a truck but is in general more useful to many more families and pocketbooks. Some of my favorite uses for SUVs is going on the trails and getting away from people. 

In this article, we set out to provide you with a breakdown of each vehicle type and where one might excel for your needs, and where they might be lacking. It is a great guide before you make this big decision! I have owned both so I try to provide my experiences in this comparison article. 

Truck Vs SUV For Family

If you have a big family or small family this can make or break your decision. The easy answer is a big family will need to go for the SUV because you are going to be able to fit more kids in the back without having to tie them down in the bed of your truck! 

SUV With Family

For this article, a big family is considered greater than 4. 

Truck with a Small Family

If you have a small family a truck can be a great solution. A truck with a crew cab (four doors) will allow you to get young ones in and out of their child safety seat with ease. 

The great thing about having a truck will be the bed in the back that allows you to transport many different family things around. Think, camping supplies, moving supplies, and kid’s sporting goods. 

If you need to protect the things in the back from the elements then you can stick a cap on it or a tonneau cover. This will severely limit what you can transport in the back but it will give you a more secure way to transport your things!

SUV For the Large Family

SUVs for most large families are going to be the best choice. This is because of the seating they offer. If you are four family members and over unfortunately you won’t be able to get into any great off-roading vehicle but the extra-large vehicles will be able to handle a lot of terrain.

The larger SUVs will have a third row of seating that will suit your family for a long time. 

The only problem will be the transportation of your camping, sports, and general family needs. Many SUV owners have to opt for rooftop storage boxes or hitch storage devices even if they have a large SUV. 

The best thing about being a small family is if you don’t need to haul a lot of things then you can also fit into an SUV as well. You are a lot more versatile. 

If you are a large family you could also have your second vehicle be a truck as well! 

Truck Vs SUV In Snow

SUVs will typically win out in this category because trucks tend to have less weight over the rear wheels due to the open truck bed. 

SUVs are the opposite and have a lot more weight in the back. This allows your tires to gain more traction on the road no matter the conditions. 

Combine the lack of weight with rear-wheel drive the truck will spin out after stops in snow and can fishtail while driving. Like most vehicles, the truck’s engine is over the front two tires while the back only has the bed. There are no seats or people in the bed of the truck. 

As the automotive industry grows there are more and more vehicles that have either AWD systems or 4wd so perhaps in the future which one is better in the snow will not make a difference. I believe that SUVs will still have a little bit of an edge over the trucks because of the weight thing. The next question will be, which system is better in the snow AWD or 4WD? We write about that here, AWD or 4wd for the snow. 

If you want to check out some tips on how to make your Truck a little better in the snow, check out the bottom of this article!

Are Trucks Safer Than SUVs?

A study performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) published a report that 

Drivers and passengers of pickup trucks are 2.5 times more likely to suffer fatal injuries in a traffic accident. 


Many pickup truck drivers have a false sense of security because their truck is so large. But because of its size, the truck can roll over easier and has many blind spots. Also, many trucks are modified by their owner even more and that compounds these issues. 

Trucks also do not have great protection like many family SUVs have. Side airbags are often more found in SUVs than in trucks. 

Trucks have been getting better in protection but if you are in the market to buy a used vehicle that is older just understand their limits in safety. Check out another article by IIHS that provides some more background on truck safety and some really great data on crash testing of different vehicles.

Overall we have to give the safety award to the SUV!

That is of course unless you drive a Jeep Wrangler like me! Those things aren’t the best in safety but amazing on the trail!

SUV vs Truck For Camping

The truck beats out the SUV for camping. This is because of the truck bed. It makes packing up and breaking camp a lot easier than an SUV. You can also fit a lot of gear in the back while also bringing 4 adults. 

Here are some more benefits of having a truck while camping:


  • Most trucks have 4wd which you can’t say for many SUVs. So that will allow you to access many more campsites and get even further away from people. 
  • If you do want to beat a truck on the trail you will need to get an SUV like the Jeep Wrangler, Ford Bronco, and Toyota 4Runner. 

Fuel Tank

  • Trucks typically offer larger fuel tanks which means you can get back in the woods farther and stay out longer without needing more gas. They tend to be a lot thirstier than most SUVs but for some, the difference can be minimal. 

Ride Height

  • When you tend to be camping you are most likely going to be driving through beautiful places. Riding at the height of a big truck allows you to take in more of the views. Especially when you cross beautiful bridges that have high crash walls. I love being able to see over them and check out a grand river or rocky canyon. 

Truck Vs SUV Pros and Cons

Let’s break down the differences between the SUV and the Truck from what we have covered above so that we can pick a winner. We will use some of the information above plus some of the typical characteristics used to compare vehicles. 


Family Vehicle
Snow Capability
Vehicle Safety
Camping Utility
Fuel Economy

So from these rankings, the SUV wins. But this doesn’t mean that the SUV is right for you it just means it’s a little more versatile for the average person! If I had to pick I would pick an offroad SUV with a small family!

How To Make a Truck Driver Better In Snow – TIPS

Here are some tips to help make a truck drive better in the snow. 

Add Weight

If you don’t have four-wheel drive adding weight to the bed of the truck can get you some more traction. Be sure to add it as close over the rear axle as you can so the weight doesn’t get distributed to the front. You can add sandbags, or cinder blocks or there are even some products you can purchase online to assist in this. 

Make sure to tie down the extra weight because you do not want it to be sliding around in the back of the truck. Another tip is to not add too much weight. 

Get Winter Tires

Winter tires are designed for snow and ice and they will help any vehicle get better traction. 

Snow Tire From Truck
Winter Tires (w/ sipes wavey cuts in tread)

They are designed with a softer rubber compound to help attain more traction in the cold weather. The tread design has more openings to allow for more bite into snow and ice and pushes snow out of the way. They also have sipes which are small slits into the tire that also act as teeth. 


Chains are an instant way to get your truck safely through a snow storm. They are made up of steel but can also be made up of polyurethane, rubber, and other materials. 

The tough thing about chains is that you have to get them on your vehicle and typically in cold conditions. They can take a long time if you are not familiar with how to install them.

They are definitely an option but not typically used by the average driver. There are also laws regarding them. In some locations, you are not allowed to use them during certain times and in other locations such as remote mountainous areas you must have them on. Check out tirechainsrus for the tire chain laws per state. 

If you are traveling to a mountain town in the winter it’s good to check the local websites to see if there are any requirements to have chains. I know that in Sequoia National Park they may have days that you are required to put them on or at least carry them in your vehicle.

Overall chains would be the last resort because of the hassle to put them on. 

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