Skip to Content

Are SUVs Considered Trucks?

Are SUVs Considered Trucks?

You have probably seen an SUV before and thought that it looks a little bit like a truck. Well, have you ever thought about if an SUV is considered to be an actual truck?

An SUV is a bit of a cross between the cargo space of a truck but comes with the seating capacity of a van, but they are built more like a truck. So, are SUVs considered a truck, and why?

An SUV is not technically a truck as it is its own vehicle, but because it is built on a truck chassis, it could be considered a truck for license plates. Getting truck plates for your SUV makes them more like a truck than any other vehicle because they are similarly built.

Still not convinced? Well, if you keep reading, we will discuss all the ways that an SUV is like a truck and why it is often considered a type of truck.

What’s an SUV

An SUV is a vehicle that is a cross between a truck and a van. It is known as a sports utility vehicle because it has space in the interior for sports equipment like the bed of a pick-up, but it also has the seating of a van for multiple passengers.

This is why they are considered multiple passenger vehicles as well. SUVs were created in the 1930s, but the name was not coined until the 1980s.

These vehicles are ideal for families because they have lots of space for bags, equipment, and other items. They are also a great option for those who travel often and need space for their luggage and camping or hiking gear.

SUVs are also known for having more off-roading abilities than smaller vehicles, so they can be taken out on tough terrain.

What Are the Differences Between an SUV and a Truck

Although these two vehicles are similar, they also have some major differences that set them apart. Many of their differences have to do with how these vehicles are used.

For example, a truck has a bed in the back that can be used for hauling lumber or scrap metal, which is why they are often used in construction, landscaping, and plumbing. However, a truck doesn’t have the same seating that other vehicles have!

Most trucks will come with two front seats that will sit two grown people comfortably but the back seat, if there is one, is usually very small and only seats two grown people with little legroom. Or, if you have kids, three small children might fit in the back seat.

However, in an SUV, although you get a lot of space for cargo, you don’t as much as a truck. An SUV has a large trunk and interior space but doesn’t have a truck bed for large items. It does come with a lot more seating though, and usually fits three rows that hold up to nine or ten passengers at once.

Another difference between the two vehicle types is the fact that a truck is made for towing heavier weights, and they are expected to be used for towing items more often. Whether they are used as a work vehicle or not, they are often the most common vehicle to use when you need to tow a trailer or boat.

It is not always assumed that an SUV will be towing trailers or other cars often, so sometimes the towing capacity of an SUV is slightly less than that of a pick-up truck. As a passenger vehicle, it is meant to hold more people and not necessarily made to tow a lot of weight behind it even if it can.

Also, because a truck has a different center of gravity, it can be taken off-roading. This is something that is much more dangerous with an SUV because it has a much higher risk of rolling over.

Because of the shape and weight distribution of an SUV, it is not as balanced as other vehicles. This affects the center of gravity and the ability to stay on all four wheels when in an accident or collision.

If you are off-roading in an SUV and you hit a large bump that bounces the vehicle and unbalances the center of gravity, you could be flipped over much easier than if you were in a truck. This is a safety issue that should be taken seriously, especially with large-sized SUVs.

Trucks are made for rough terrain and have a lower center of gravity that will keep the vehicle from rolling over if it goes over extremely uneven ground. Trucks also come with heavy-duty tires that can handle this type of terrain and most SUVs don’t.

Similarities Between SUVs and Truck

Though there are a few main differences between these vehicles, they have a few major things in common which make them more alike than they are different.

1. Truck Chassis

The biggest similarity between these vehicles is the fact that they are both made with a truck chassis. A chassis is essentially the frame and other major parts of the vehicle, which determines much of the weight and towing capacity of the vehicle.

Automobiles and smaller SUVs don’t come with a truck chassis and have a much smaller and lightweight frame that keeps their towing capacity low and the miles per gallon high. Vehicles that are made with a truck chassis have to register their license plates as truck plates because of this heavy-duty frame.

This separates them from smaller SUVs that have more than 50% of their interior meant for seating passengers.

However, if your SUV has a truck chassis and does not have half of its interior dedicated to passenger seating, then you will need to register as a truck and not an SUV. (more in our article on that topic here if you’re curious)

2. Fuel Efficiency

Because an SUV often comes with a truck chassis that is heavier than a sedan frame, they are often around a similar weight as a truck.

This makes it tougher to get good gas mileage when you are driving because the weight will make your engine work harder to accelerate and move the vehicle at a higher speed.

This makes the gas mileage that your SUV get similar to that of a truck. Both have similar miles per gallon, although that depends on if you are driving on city streets or on the highway, which makes them less fuel-efficient.

Because of the weight of the vehicle and the towing capacity, it is hard to find a large vehicle that is a large size that gets good gas mileage. Though, with the introduction of hybrid vehicles, this could change in the future.

3. Front Design

Another similarity that you will find when you look at the front of an SUV and a truck is that the shape of the two vehicles is pretty similar. The square shape and width are very similar to most SUVs and trucks, which affects not just the weight, but also the aerodynamics of the vehicle.

The aerodynamics of the vehicle affect the fuel efficiency because it allows for less resistance so that the engine doesn’t have to work as hard to get the car to move. However, if you don’t have an aerodynamic shape, like an SUV or truck, then the gas mileage is lowered significantly.

This shape also makes both vehicles look aesthetically similar, which can be a selling point for those who want a passenger vehicle that doesn’t look like a minivan. The large size and box-like shape give a meaner look than other options, which makes a preferable choice for many families.

The grills that are placed on the front of the vehicle also adds to this effect because they often look like the ones that would be on a pick-up truck and not like the smaller ones that are placed on sedans and compact vehicles.

4. Towing Capacity

Although we mentioned the towing capacity as a difference, it is also something that makes them more alike than different.

This is because of the truck chassis that allows an SUV to tow a higher amount of weight than other smaller vehicles.

This is the closest that you can get to a towing capacity of a truck, so we included it as a similarity because this can be another reason why an SUV would be bought over other vehicles.


An SUV and a pick-up truck are not exactly the same thing, but they have a lot of similarities. If you were still on the fence about an SUV being considered a truck, just think about the fact that if you have a truck chassis, your vehicle will need truck plates because it is more like a truck than other vehicles.

However, many other similarities make the two vehicles more like. With the same chassis, similar towing capacity, and similar weight and fuel efficiency, an SUV can be considered a truck for multiple reasons.

Although they are a different type of vehicle, because there is no category for them in terms of license plates, they are considered trucks for the time being.

Recommended Reading

Before you go, make sure to also check out these other awesome resources!

Zach Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! Having owned a wide variety of vehicles in my life, I was astounded at how hard it can be to find answers to common automotive questions. Rather than sit idly, I decided to create this website to help others!