What Is The Difference Between Sedan vs. Truck?

Dustin Hawley | Feb 24, 2021

Cars and trucks are both standard consumer vehicles. But while sedans and trucks have certain commonalities - like four wheels, an internal combustion engine, a transmission, and loosely similar capabilities - it goes without saying that the sedan and the truck are two completely different vehicles. This truth not only applies to their stylings but also their design and construction.

sedans vs trucks

This article discusses the primary differences, advantages, and disadvantages of both sedans and trucks, and brings some clarity to their distinct qualities.

Sedans: An Overview - Find the best car deals!

A true automotive guru knows that the sedan form does not have to be based on a unibody construction. If you look at almost any car produced before the 1930s, nearly all of them were a body-on-frame design. The last body-on-frame sedan, the Lincoln Towncar, ended its production run in 2011. 

Today, most three-box vehicles (including sedans) are built on a unibody construction design. Compared with trucks, sedans have several distinctive advantages:

Reduced Weight

By combining the body and frame structure into one, the auto industry gained one of the most important advancements of all time when it came to vehicle design. In this configuration, body profiles make up the vehicle’s frame, allowing automakers to manufacture lighter vehicles. They could do this by dispensing with large steel rails, thus dramatically cutting the bodyweight while improving performance and efficiency.

Better Overall Safety

In the unfortunate case of an auto accident, having a vehicle with a unibody construction allows the car’s entire structure to help cushion the impact’s trauma. Early adopters of the unibody construction soon found out that they had far more protected passenger compartments than vehicles constructed with a body-on-frame design. The unibody shell absorbs a foreign body’s impact in more or less the same way as a helmet, distributing the energy across all structural points.

Better Fuel Consumption And Better Performance

With reduced weight, increased rigidity, a lower center of gravity, and less torsional flexing, unibody construction sedans are dramatically better performers on the road than the conventional truck. In fact, many of the most efficient vehicles on the market today are sedans.

Trucks: An Overview - Find the best car deals!

With their body-on-frame construction, trucks have unique characteristics that can provide certain benefits no other unibody car can match. While they are higher in mass due to their sturdy and rugged construction, trucks offer numerous advantages over sedans, including:

Towing Capacity

The average sedan has a towing capacity from 750 lbs to 4,000 lbs (on models like the Volvo S80). On the other hand, standard trucks, like those offered by automakers like Ford, have a towing capacity ranging from 12,500 lbs (Ford F-150) to an astounding 32,500 lbs (F-450 SuperDuty).

More Powerful Engine

It’s common sense to assume that trucks, with their larger size and heavier payload, need large and powerful engines for propulsion, hauling, and towing. In many cases, trucks are utilized in a utilitarian fashion more than merely as a means of transportation.

Easier To Modify

A body-on-frame design is a construction where the frame, the engine, and the suspension sit entirely independent from the truck’s body. Essentially, only a few rivets link the body with the frame and the drivetrain. This creates a bevy of opportunities for modifications, where one can easily improve the suspension, body kit, or even replace the truck’s engine with far more flexibility compared to a traditional sedan.

Improved Storage

Though trucks often have less room for passengers in the cabin than the standard sedan, they have far more cargo space in the back with the truck bed. 

Sedan vs. Truck: What Is The Difference? - Find the best car deals!

As two of the best-selling vehicle types on the US market, comparing sedans and trucks still feels like comparing apples and oranges. However, in recent years, advancements in truck designs have elevated the experience of driving and owning a truck for more than just its work-performance capabilities. 

While it is still easier to drive and own a sedan in many cases, driving a truck certainly has its appeal, with the latest advancements including:

  • Collision mitigation technology
  • Rearview camera tech
  • A more roomy, functional cabin
  • Blindspot system
  • Hands-free driving system for the highway (like Ford's Active Drive Assist on the new F-150)

Over the past decade or so, trucks have adopted many of the same technologies pioneered by sedans and SUVs. Despite this, the crux of the matter is that trucks cannot offer many of the same driving abilities or the fuel efficiency of most sedans. The average car can achieve a fuel-efficiency of 34 miles per gallon, compared to the 26 miles per gallon of the average truck. In the most basic sense, sedans are best for transporting passengers, while trucks are best for hauling cargo.

Summary

Though trucks and sedans are at completely different ends of the scale, consumers still find themselves in a conundrum when deciding between the two in many cases. Both concepts have their individual merits, but in the end, the thing that matters most is what you want and need in your next vehicle.

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