(Ford Motor Company)

It’s a good time to be a truck enthusiast. There’s a lot going on in the pickup truck segment, with manufacturers tweaking their lineups with new, redesigned, and refreshed models to try to stay ahead of the competition. Nothing out of the ordinary, of course — after all, a pickup truck (the Ford F-150) has been the best-selling vehicle in the country for 30 years and counting.

Though a full size pickup truck can be purchased new for just under $27,000, average sale prices creep up into the $40,000 range. That’s a significant difference — and a decent chunk of change to pay for a new vehicle — which makes it important to understand how the truck’s different available configurations are beneficial.

Despite the ongoing popularity of trucks, this vehicle category is a whole new world to those who are unfamiliar with common truck features and terminology, which can be a barrier of sorts to consumers who might be interested in trying out a truck, but have no idea where to start. (Unless you’re literally planning to carry a crew in your truck, these terms aren’t exactly self-explanatory) Let’s take a closer look at crew cab pickup trucks, and what makes them different from trucks with other cab styles.

Trucks with crew cabs are among the biggest in the full size pickup class, and generally offered in the highest trim levels (which, in the truck world, often means there’s some sort of exclusive exterior detailing to go along with it). Crew cabs are recognizable based on the cab’s four doors and two full rows of seating, as compared to most smaller pickups, which have just two doors and can seat just two or three passengers in one row. Another visual cue of a crew cab truck is a short bed (compared to other trucks).

Advantages of a Crew Cab

(General Motors)

Crew cab trucks are some of the most common truck configurations out there, so finding one at your local dealership should be relatively easy. Many modern trucks have functional, yet comfortable interiors. In fact, some critics say that certain truck models have car-like cabs in terms of comfort and amenities; these models tend to be at or near the top of our new vehicle rankings for the truck class. Since crew cabs tend to be among the most expensive configurations in any given model’s lineup, that’s where you’re most likely to find the newest and most high-tech features on offer, although there might be fewer standard features than you’d find in a car.

Accessibility is a crew cab truck’s main asset. The rear doors make it easy to climb in and out of the rear row (rather than squeezing in through the front door and behind the seat, like a coupe). The rear row of a crew cab is generally smaller than the front row, so it might not be comfortable for adults on long trips, but it’ll be perfectly suitable for kids. Most crew cab trucks will offer LATCH child safety hardware in the rear row, so a child’s booster seat can be properly installed. While we don’t really recommend a pickup truck as a family vehicle, it’s doable. Some crew cab trucks offer a folding rear row of seating, making that area very useful for cargo, groceries, valuables, or other items you’d not want to put in the truck bed.

Disadvantages of a Crew Cab

Although the extra passenger space is nice, many crew cab trucks borrow that space from the bed, instead. In other words, to maintain a reasonable overall length, the extended cab means a shortened bed. For reference, trucks with regular cabs generally have eight-foot beds; crew cab beds are typically five feet. Otherwise, the truck would be really long (and probably quite a bit more expensive). So if you’ll regularly need to store or tote items longer than five feet in the truck bed, look for a crew cab truck model that can be configured with the bed size that you need, or consider a bed extender.

Another potential disadvantage of a crew cab truck, as compared to other truck configurations, is the price. Generally speaking when it comes to trucks, the bigger it is, the more expensive it is, too. Ordering your new truck with an extended cab or crew cab is likely to cost more at the time of purchase, but it can also cost more over time, as well, since a heavier truck will use more fuel than a smaller, lighter truck. (However, some experts suggest you’ll be rewarded with a better resale value down the road) Of course, there are plenty of engine options across the current pickup truck market, so choose wisely.

Though many high-end pickups are offered with active safety systems and driver assistance features, it’s still worth pointing out here that trucks can be a little more dangerous to drive than other passenger vehicles. Crew cabs are at a particular disadvantage because the cabs are so long, which increases the driver’s blind spot.

Current Crew Cab Truck Models

(Nissan North America, Inc.)

Some truck manufacturers do keep things fairly simple by using common-sense naming conventions. The Ram 1500, GMC Sierra 1500, GMC Canyon, Nissan Titan, Nissan Frontier, Chevy Colorado, and Chevy Silverado are all models that are currently being offered with a nice, simple crew cab body style.

Other trucks on the market still might suit your needs. The compact Honda Ridgeline comes in just one four-door cab style (which isn’t uncommon for a compact truck). The Toyota Tacoma comes in Access Cab and Double Cab models; the Toyota Tundra gets Regular and Double Cab options. If you’re shopping for the popular Ford F-150, you’ll need to take a look at both the SuperCab and SuperCrew options. In such cases, it’s best to review and consider at the truck’s actual capacities, and maybe go see it in person, to determine if it can meet your needs for a crew cab pickup.