When it comes to choosing between a car or a truck, safety concerns are often at the forefront of buyer’s minds. However, is one safer than the other and which is better for families? To help make this decision simpler here is what you need to know about the differences between cars and trucks.
Comparing Safety Features
Over 15.5 million trucks operate on roads daily, when combined with cars, the combined number of vehicles on the roads can reach 115 million every day in the United States. With so many other drivers to share the road with, having a safe vehicle can help give you peace of mind while driving. However, when trying to decide between a car or truck there are a couple of key points to consider.
Trucks have a couple of significant pros that bear mention. Firstly, in a study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, it was found that heavier vehicles tend to push lighter ones during impact. This results in a lower amount of force being put on the occupants in the heavier vehicle. Because trucks tend to be larger and heavier than cars, this is a point to their side. Additionally, trucks now benefit from many of the same safety features that cars do such as automatic braking, crumple zones, and improved airbags.
Size is also something that can benefit trucks. In the event of a side impact with a car, only the lower bumper will make contact with the truck’s frame. This is opposed to a truck colliding with a car in which the higher bumper could hit nearly halfway up the door. Depending on the force of the impact, this could be devastating for the car’s passengers.
Small cars are the fastest-growing category in the U.S. auto industry. When it comes to front end collisions, where windshields provide nearly 45% of the structural integrity of the cabin — and in a rollover up to 60% — small cars rank high. This, in addition to the improved front end and side airbags, helps to make small cars some of the safest vehicles on the road. In the newest IIHS Top Safety Picks for 2020, four cars made the cut for Top Safety Pick+ while 14 made the cut for Top Safety Pick. As of now, no trucks have been added to their lists.
Also, cars are also much less likely to flip or rollover, making them more ideal in single-vehicle accidents. It’s only when they’re faced with a much larger vehicle that their safety level decreases.
Weight and Size
While the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 features a widened truck bed, it weighs nearly 450 pounds less than previous models. This has helped to boost the Silverado’s fuel efficiency, making it more appealing to money-conscious buyers. Generally, the rule of thumb is that lighter vehicles will get better gas mileage. While this is certainly a plus for more lightweight cars, Chevrolet proves that trucks can be just as efficient. Furthermore, lighter vehicles tend to be easier to maneuver away from collisions or during inclement weather. The major trade-off here is that lightweight vehicles also tend to have increased noise and vibration. This is because there is less weight to dampen the sounds and movement that would otherwise have been hidden.
On the other hand, heavy vehicles, as mentioned above, can be beneficial during accidents; however, the trade-off here is maneuverability and gas mileage. Unless you’re planning on using a truck for hauling large trailers, it’s probably best to spring for a lighter weight alternative.
Families vs Individuals
So, now that we’ve seen the pros and cons of safety, weight, and size, let’s consider which vehicles are best for families and individuals. While the ultimate choice will be up to personal taste, both cars and trucks can make excellent family vehicles.
Trucks today are quite spacious with many seating up to five people comfortably. While cars also have standard seating for five, trucks can be beneficial for families that enjoy driving vacations and day trips. They can also be used for hauling all of your kid’s dirty sports gear without worrying about it getting all over the interior. While we usually wouldn’t think of them as family vehicles they certainly can pull their weight in that area.
On the other hand, cars can have similar benefits for families, and allow for slightly easier maneuvering if you’re not familiar with larger vehicles. Most have ample trunk space for school bags and sports gear, while still allowing passengers enough space to be comfortable.
On an individual level, whether you decide to buy a car or truck will come down to what you are looking to get out of your vehicle. If you need a heavy-duty vehicle for work or if you enjoy outdoor excursions, trucks may be something to consider. However, if you’re looking to a simple, yet reliable vehicle for driving around town, cars are always a safe bet.
Furthermore, cars tend to be more prevalent in urban areas, whereas trucks seen more frequently in rural areas. Where you live could also play a factor in which vehicle you decide is right for you.
While investing in a safe vehicle is important, what’s even more important is investing in a vehicle that you’ll love. If you enjoy driving trucks, take time to speak with different dealers and shop different truck brands before resigning to buy a car. Both cars and trucks have their pros and cons, both can make great family vehicles, and both can help keep you safe on the roads in different ways. While some features might be a must-have, make sure to explore every avenue before making a final decision.
At the end of the day, both cars and trucks can be fun to drive safe choices. If you’re currently in the market for a new vehicle, take a moment to shop around your local area and test drive both to see which one you enjoy most. You may even end up falling in love with a vehicle that you ever would have considered otherwise.
General Motors has announced they will be beginning regular production of a carbon-fiber cargo bed in the 2019 GMC Sierra Denali and Sierra AT4. This material has not been regularly used in automotive production before and GM hopes to apply it to other vehicle models in the future.
While vehicles rely on a lot of materials and substances to be manufactured and run properly, like steel, aluminum, and oil, which is produced in more than four billion metric tons around the world every year, carbon fiber is a durable and lightweight material that is typically not used in vehicles. But with more and more regulations regarding fuel economy being introduced, GM and other automakers are having to find ways to make their larger vehicles, like trucks, more efficient.
Truck beds are typically steel and even though stainless steel can contain more than 60% post-industrial recycled material, it's still quite heavy. Switching to the CarbonPro cargo bed will shave off 62 pounds compared to traditional steel. Furthermore, when the ability to get rid of bed liners is considered, almost 100 pounds can be lost. And although it's much lighter, it still has the same impact resistance of steel.
Not only is the new cargo bed lighter, but it can be designed differently too -- the carbon fiber can be produced with molded floor cavities to help secure motorcycles safely and add extra room for cargo.
GM has been fighting the high cost of carbon fiber by using a combination of as many as 13 different materials to help improve the fuel economy of their vehicles, as well as driving performance and the overall quietness of the truck.
Experimenting with different methods, GM has found a new way to use bonding and adhesion methods to work with the expensive material -- and the automaker plans to continue working on refining the method.
According to Mark Voss, engineering group manager for GM's pickup boxes, GM had to do a lot more development and testing that is usually needed for a standard steel bed -- GM has been working on the carbon fiber box for about eight years.
"Steel boxes have been around for 100 years; you don't have to do that level of developmental work on a steel box. Once you do the production design, you validate it [by the] normal process," Voss explained.
And during tests of their new product, GM was able to show just how much better the new bed is than steel options and even Ford's choice of aluminum. GM put their work to the test, throwing sledgehammers and cinder blocks onto the carbon fiber bed, their own pickup trucks with steel beds, and the F-150. Unfortunately for Ford, some of the objects pierced right through the F-120 bed. GM engineers recorded the tests, showing that the carbon fiber beds were barely impacted by the heavy objects.
With there being about six million car accidents every year, automakers are always striving to make their vehicles more durable and safe. And the use of carbon fiber for new truck beds will increase durability, safety, and sustainability all at once.