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5 Things Families Should Look for in Pickup Trucks

CARS.COM — Parenthood is rarely glamorous and the vehicles we drive around often aren’t either. Of course, there is merit to the practicality of a minivan or crossover, but sometimes we parents want the world to know we haven’t lost our more adventurous side.

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To achieve this, parents need look no further than a full-size pickup truck. Pickups can be practical family-haulers and show the world you’ve still got some pizazz. If you long to be a carpool-lane iconoclast, consider a pickup truck for your next family car. Whether you opt for a Toyota Tundra, Ford F-150 or Chevrolet Silverado 1500, spend some time thinking about the features that are most important for you as a driver and for your passengers and consider these five family-friendly features:

 

Four Doors, By Any Name

While truckmakers may have different names for it, parents will want a truck with four full doors, often known as a crew-cab truck. Full rear doors are much easier to open than half doors, and they make loading kids into the backseat much simpler. These pickups make getting in and out easier and provide for more cabin space. They also provide a bit more interior cargo space in the second row for those times when you’re hauling something you don’t want to throw in the bed. Yes, the four-door models are more expensive, but having kids is more expensive than not having kids, so just chalk this up as another expense you never anticipated.

 

Running Boards

Getting into a truck can be difficult for small people, tall people and basically anyone who is not a giant. It’s a long way down from the cabin of a truck to the ground, and running boards function as a stepstool. Ideally, you should look for a pickup truck that has powered running boards that move in and out with each opening and closing of the door. However, even the old-fashioned kind that remain in place are fine, too, so long as they’re there. Without running boards, entry and exit have the potential to cost someone an ankle, and the last thing any family needs is an unexpected trip to the emergency room because someone fell getting in or out of a vehicle.

 

Storage

One of the simple yet beautiful things about a pickup truck is its nearly endless storage. You can fit more than you’ve ever imagined in the bed of a pickup. While full-size models like the Ram 2500 provide the most bed space, smaller, mid-size pickup trucks like the Toyota Tacoma and the Chevrolet Colorado are also pretty roomy. 

Beyond the bed, there are options like the Ram 1500‘s RamBox, which are large, lockable storage boxes embedded in the sides of the truck’s bed. These are useful for securing valuables and groceries. Manufacturers like Chevy, Ford and Toyota also offer additional storage options for keeping cargo secure when in the vehicle’s bed.

Inside the cab, models with front bucket seats offer huge center consoles that can fit a laptop and a handbag without a problem. Models with a front bench seat don’t have the enormous console, but many still offer a roomy bin underneath the center seat cushion. Dual glove boxes, multiple cup- and bottleholders and in-door cubbies are also prevalent in most pickups — and necessary for family life.

 

Seating Versatility

A full-size pickup truck can fit up to six people comfortably if it has a front bench seat. Without the front bench, a truck accommodates five people. The beauty of a truck’s rear seat in a crew cab is that three child-safety seats often will easily fit across the rear bench. This isn’t the case with many other family vehicles.

Additionally, trucks such as the Toyota Tundra are available with a 60/40-split backseat that can be flipped up in various configurations to create different storage and seating options.

 

Comfort, Convenience & Safety Features

When it comes to features, safety and finish, trucks can be bare-bones or the height of luxury these days. Bluetooth connectivity, dual-zone climate control and integrated multimedia systems are all common among trucks, and features like bed covers or fold-up rear steps to create access into the bed are offered, too. When it comes to safety features, trucks can be outfitted with backup cameras, blind spot warning systems and parking sensors.

Cars.com photos by Courtney Messenbaugh, Evan Sears, Joe Bruzek and Ian Merritt

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