Fact Checked

What is a Light Truck?

J. Beam
J. Beam

A light truck is a vehicle classified as a truck or similar to a truck with a payload capacity of under 4,000 pounds (1,814 kg). Also referred to as light-duty trucks, they are in the same fuel economy class as vans, minivans, and sport utility vehicles (SUVs). As opposed to a heavy-duty truck, this style is sometimes built on a unibody frame rather than being built on a body-on-frame chassis and therefore does not have the same towing capacity. Though this classification includes vans and SUVs, a light truck is typically a small to mid-sized pickup truck.

This type of truck typically has a smaller engine and smaller wheel base than a full-size or heavy-duty truck. Gas mileage is often better as well. Both the light and the heavy-duty truck are considered utilitarian vehicles for insurance classifications. Many companies and businesses purchase light trucks for their company fleets because they are less expensive and achieve better gas mileage than full-size models. For the same reasons, many individuals choose them for personal use.

A mid-sized pickup truck.
A mid-sized pickup truck.

It is important to remember that though the light truck is a utilitarian vehicle, it is not built to withstand the same utilization as a heavy-duty model. Many people abuse their trucks by overloading them either with excessive cargo or towing weight. Exceeding the payload or towing capacity of a vehicle can damage its frame and its engine.

If you are considering buying a light truck for personal use, determine how you intend to use your truck first. It is appropriate for transportation, hauling small loads, and towing small trailers. However, if you plan to haul heavy loads or want to tow heavy-weight items, such as a boat or camper, you should carefully research your purchase. Overloading a vehicle can greatly reduce its usage and life span.

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Discussion Comments


I agree with the article where it talks about how light trucks get better gas mileage and save money. Another way you save money with smaller pickups is on tires. Light truck tires are much less expensive than full-sized truck tires. I have a friend who has a truck with the over-sized fat tires and he pays more for one tire than you have to pay for four new tires on a light truck.


In the community where I grew up, about every family had at least one pick-up truck, and they were all full-sized. It was a farm community and a pickup was seen as a necessity, even though many people didn't actually farm anymore. Maybe the truck was more a status symbol.

Anyway, I have always owned pickups and I use them in my business today, but when gas prices started to rise so much I knew I needed to find ways to save money. I realized that for most of the jobs my employees are sent on they don't need the full-sized 4-wheel drive pickups that we had been buying for the business.

When I replace a truck in our fleet now, I buy the smaller pickups. Some of the light trucks get almost twice as many miles to the gallon as the trucks we are replacing, and when you drive as many miles as we do that is a big savings.

Also, like the article says, even though the beds in the smaller trucks don't have as much room, we are able to attach a trailer to them when we absolutely need to, and they have more towing power than we need.

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    • A mid-sized pickup truck.
      By: g0b
      A mid-sized pickup truck.