Why pickup trucks are America's new family vehicle: Edmunds

American drivers in search of a new family-friendly vehicle are increasingly turning to pickup trucks to complement or replace traditional minivans or crossover SUVs, according to online auto database Edmunds.

While crossover SUV sales have spiked in recent years as consumer tastes shift away from sedans, the vehicles lack the power and outdoor versatility of pickup trucks, notes Dan Edmunds, the website’s director of vehicle testing, in a post for the Associated Press. Crew-cab trucks – referring to vehicles with increased seating capacity compared to traditional models – account for roughly 70 percent of truck sales in 2018, compared to 57 percent in 2013.

The outdoor capabilities of pickup trucks, such as the ability to haul camping trailers or dirt bikes, is only part of the appeal, Edmunds wrote.

“None of this would matter if pickups didn't also meet the must-have criteria of a well-equipped family car,” Edmunds wrote. “The latest crop of pickups scores well here. They have comfortable seats and overall spaciousness, especially in the backseat, that puts many cars to shame on an extended road trip.”

The rise of crossover vehicles has pushed auto manufacturers to deck out pickup trucks with family-friendly gear, such as new “infotainment” consoles, heated seats and smartphone support. Newer model pickups, such as the 2019 Ram 1500 crew cab, also score highly on safety testing.

“Yes, they're big and their gas mileage is unspectacular. But modern full-size pickups are roomy, well-equipped and capable,” Edmunds wrote. “That makes them well-suited to families with active outdoor lifestyles.”

Edmunds breaks down the best full-size pickup trucks on the market here.