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The Definitive Truck Bed Size Guide Which is Right for You? - 2020 Edition

Written By John Linden

Americans love their trucks, there’s no doubt about it. Nearly 2.8-million pickups sold in the US alone in 2019 (across all major brands). While they’re handy if you plan to haul things or tow a load, you don’t have to have a specific “work-related” reason to want one. One of the first things you’ll get asked after walking into a dealer is which cab/box configuration you want. The cab pertains to the amount of interior space, and the box refers to the length of the truck bed.

Choosing the right cab to fit your needs is pretty simple. It comes down to whether you haul passengers frequently or not. Options include regular cab (no back seat), extended cab (half-seats in the rear), or crew cab (full-size rear seats).

In this article, we’re going to focus on the different size truck beds available on the market. We’ll cover each make and model, and offer a few tips along the way to help you choose the best-sized truck bed to suit your needs.

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Mid-Size Pickups

While mid-sized pickups used to lack in terms of capability, nowadays, they’re closer to what full-sized models were 10-years ago. Bed lengths range from just under 5-FT, to just over 6-FT. If you frequently tow a load between 2,000- and 6,500-LBS or carry a payload that’s between 1,500 to 2,000-LBS, a mid-sized truck is all you need. Not only will a mid-sized truck save you a lot of money compared to a half-ton, but it will be easier to maneuver through traffic in as well. You can also expect an extra 3- to 5-MPG compared to a full-sized, which is a money-saver that adds up quickly.

The thing to keep in mind when deciding on a mid-sized pickup is the width of the bed. Since all models fall below 4-FT, you won’t have the luxury of sliding in a 4x8 sheet of plywood. There’s also no 8-FT bed option, so you might want to invest in some tie-downs.

Here’s a list of some of the most popular 2020 models currently on the market, their cab configurations, and the bed lengths that go along with them:

Ford Ranger — (MSRP Range $24,410-$38,675)

Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon — (MSRP Range $21,300-$44,300)

Nissan Frontier (2019) — (MSRP Range $19,290-$37,150)

Toyota Tacoma — (MSRP Range $26,050-$46,665)

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Half-Ton Pickups

The full-sized lineup is the most competitive truck segment there is. On the high end, most can tow between 12,500 to 13,400-LBS and offer a payload capacity between 2,300 to 3,270 LBS. Unlike a mid-sized option, with a full-sized pickup, you have the choice of an 8-FT bed, which is the biggest box available for non-commercial trucks. Each model across the full-sized lineup also features an inside bed width of more than 4-FT.

There are several bed lengths available across all the models, including 5.5- 6.5- and 8-FT. How do you know which is right for you? Some of the most common uses include packing a dirt bike around (6.5- and 8-FT) and hauling a sheet of 4x8 plywood (8-FT) with the tailgate closed. The 5.5-FT option will handle either, but you’ll have to let the tailgate down and invest in some tie-downs. Keep in mind that whatever you choose, you’ll have to drive around every day. For this reason, if you don’t need an 8-FT box, you might consider something shorter.

Here’s a list of the most popular half-ton models currently available on the market. As well as their cab configurations and associated bed lengths:

Ford F-150 — (MSRP Range $28,495-$70,910)

Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra — (MSRP Range $28,300-$58,500)

Nissan Titan — (MSRP Range $30,690-$57,840)

Ram 1500 — (MSRP Range $32,145-$57,265)

Toyota Tundra — (MSRP Range$33,575-$52,930)

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Heavy-Duty Pickups

And then there are HD pickups, the heavy hitters of the truck segment. Not only do you have to decide on a bed length, which ranges from 6.4- to 8.19-FT, but you also have to choose between single rear wheels or a dually. Depending on the configuration (SRW, DRW, 4WD, Gas, Diesel), tow capacity ranges from 14,200- to as high as 35,100-LBS. Payload capacity also reaches staggering numbers, ranging from 3,160- to 7,640-LBS.

The best advice we can give when it comes to choosing the right bed length for an HD truck is to carefully assess your work routine. What are you hauling around? What are you throwing in the bed? The last thing you want is to end up with a crew cab/8-FT box combo if you rarely use it. Can you imagine finding a parking spot? What about parallel parking a 21-FT long behemoth in rush hour traffic?

Here’s a rundown on the most popular HD pickups currently on the market. As well as the available cab configurations with their associated bed lengths:

Ford Super Duty — (MSRP Range $33,705-$86,780)

Chevrolet Silverado HD/GMC Sierra HD — (MSRP Range $34,100-$63,900)

Ram 2500/3500 (2019) — (MSRP Range $33,745-$67,500)

Which Truck Bed Size is Right for You?

It really depends on how you plan to use your truck. If you do light hauling but mostly use it as a daily driver, you might benefit most from choosing a mid-sized pickup with a 5- or 6-FT box. If you need something a little more demanding, a full-sized truck with a 5.5- 6.5- or 8-FT bed might be best. If you frequently find yourself hauling a massive load, and need the extra payload capacity, you might consider an HD with either 6.5- or 8-FT of storage.