Are Trucks Faster Than Cars: The Vehicle Showdown!

Trucks are built differently than cars, and with the bigger body and engine, some people might wonder: are trucks faster than cars? We wanted to find out, so we take a look at both to see what is faster. 

Generally speaking, trucks are slower than cars primarily due to their lower weight to power ratio and less aerodynamic shape. Their higher clearance also makes them less agile in turning and braking compared to that of smaller and lighter cars.

We have looked at the reasons behind this and found out all the information about why a truck is slower than a car. If you would like to know more about why this is, then keep reading to get all the facts you need. 

Why are Trucks Slower than Cars?

The weight of a truck is significantly more than that of a car, and this affects many different parts of a truck’s abilities.

From having a higher rate of flipping over to being much less fuel-efficient, the weight of the truck plays a major part in why they are slower than cars.

There are a few different ways that the weight of the truck affects the engine and the power of the vehicle, but that is not the only reason why trucks are slower than cars. Here are the reasons why the build of a truck makes it slower. 

Weight to Power Ratio

The weight of the truck is a big factor because it takes much more work to get a heavy object to move than a lighter one. The same applies to cars. 

The engine must be able to do a lot more work and use more power to get a heavy vehicle to accelerate to a certain speed. This takes much more power than needed for a small car. 

If a truck weighs 5,000 pounds and it has 300 horsepower, then it will have 16.6 horsepower per ton. If a car weighs 1,000 pounds and has a 150-horsepower engine, then the ratio will be 150 horsepower per ton. 

This makes the car engine able to accelerate the vehicle faster because it has about 9 times more horsepower per ton than the truck. This allows the car to get to higher speeds faster without working the engine so hard and enables you to have faster speeds overall. 

Rev Speed 

The weight of the vehicle isn’t the only thing that makes a car faster than a truck. The rev speed of the engine also plays a role in how fast the vehicle can go. 

With engines that run on petroleum, which is the average gasoline engine seen in most cars, they can rev two times faster than diesel options put into large trucks. 

This allows the speed of the car to get to higher numbers than that of the truck since it starts up and accelerates at a faster rate. This also ensures that the car will be able to get to those high speeds more quickly as well. 

Aerodynamic Shape (or lack thereof) 

The shapes of sedans and compact cars are made to be aerodynamic. From the front of the car to the slope of the back window, a car is designed to have less wind resistance and be able to go faster than larger vehicles. 

A truck is not made with the same design in mind and often has a boxy shape that allows for more wind resistance. This puts more stress on the engine because it needs to work harder to get the truck to a higher speed. 

This might not be as big of a difference when it comes to a mid-sized truck, but when you have a larger truck like a full-sized option or semi-truck, then there is a major difference.

Especially when they are being used for industrial purposes like towing trailers or hauling equipment because there is often a box shape for the trailer of the back end to hold more items.  

The added weight puts even more stress on the engine so it has to do more work to get the vehicle to a normal speed. Cars come with a shapelier design that allows the wind to flow over it, which gives it better aerodynamics and allows it to have less resistance. 

Safety Reasons 

Trucks might not be able to go as fast as smaller cars, but one of the reasons for this is because it is much safer this way. Large vehicles that carry lots of cargo weight can be a hazard at high speeds because they need to keep a larger space between them and the vehicle ahead of them. After all, they need more braking room. 

If large trucks can reach the speeds that cars can get to when on the freeways, which can be between 65 and 85 mph, then they would not have enough space to allow them to brake in time to stop the vehicle when needed.

A car doesn’t need as much room as it enables them to stop on a dime when it is necessary, so if they are driving at a high speed, they will still have enough room to make a complete stop. Trucks are simply too large and heavy to do this.

But this is a good thing for those around them who might be at an increased risk of a collision due to their high speeds and inability to brake in time. So, although truck owners might like to be able to drive at higher speeds, it is a benefit that they can’t.

Risk of Rollovers 

Having a truck going at a high speed is also unsafe because of the high center of gravity. This issue increases the risk of the truck rolling over. 

A truck at 70 miles an hour would have to stop very far back to stop in time to not hit another vehicle, but it would also be very difficult to control. If a turn or sudden move is required to stay on the road, then the driver would not be able to handle the vehicle, which could cause it to roll over.

This is a major issue when it comes to vehicles that are taller and that have a high center of gravity, but the heavier and taller the truck is, the bigger the problem will be.

It will also be a bigger issue if the road that the truck has to drive on has many twists and turns because the chances of a rollover are even higher.

Gas Mileage 

Just with any other vehicle, the faster the engine runs, the more gas its uses. When a car goes fast, it won’t use that much gas because the lightweight nature of the vehicle still doesn’t make the engine work that hard. 

However, if a large truck goes at the high speeds of a car, then the engine would have to work much harder than before and would use a lot more gas. The cost of this amount of gas would be a lot for any business or individual to spend. 

Also, not only would this make the gas usage extremely expensive, but it would also take a huge toll on the engine. This would make the engine work so hard that it would not have the same durability and longevity as it would otherwise.

This is another issue that can arise on top of the gas being more expensive, and it would raise the overall cost of the maintenance for the truck engine and repairs that will be needed. 

Not Designed For It 

Though all of these reasons make it clear why a truck doesn’t go as fast, but the number one reason for this is much simpler. Trucks are not made for high speeds. 

Many trucks are used for towing or hauling loads, which is the main purpose of the vehicle. Cars are made to hold passengers, and this makes the design different to adapt to the use it is made for. 

So, although trucks are not as fast, they are not meant to be.

Final Words 

Driving a car is fun because they can get to high speeds on the freeway when traffic allows and are easy to drive on curvy and windy roads. However, because they are made for this, it makes sense. 

Trucks are not made for the same purpose and they come with abilities that cars don’t have, which also makes sense. So, trucks are not faster than cars, but that doesn’t mean they are not powerful. 

Trucks have powerful engines that work hard to get the truck and the load to its destination, and with the design of the truck made to do this work, it comes with exactly what it needs. 

It might not be smart to try to drive around tight corners or attempt to reach higher speeds with a large truck, but that just comes with the territory. So, use your car or truck for the intended purpose, and you won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything. 

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Hi, I'm the founder of VehicleAnswers.com! 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!