Cargo Vans Vs. Straight Trucks: What’s the Difference?

Cargo Vans Vs. Straight Trucks
Photo by Norbert Kundrak

Many people don’t realize that different types of commercial vehicles are available for purchase. There are cargo vans and straight trucks, with each type coming in both standard and extended sizes.


Each type has its advantages and disadvantages, but there are some overarching similarities. 

Cargo vans vs. straight trucks: what is the difference? Can you tell? This article will help you understand what cargo vans vs. straight trucks are.

And help you decide which one may be the best choice for your business or organization.

What Is a Cargo Van?

A cargo van is a light-duty commercial vehicle that provides ample room for your business’s equipment and materials.

These vehicles usually seat two or three people (although many are classified as trucks, they can be just as safe as cars) and have standard doors, windows, and air conditioning.

And they are also heating systems and passenger amenities like cup holders or cigarette lighters to make every trip comfortable for drivers and passengers alike. 

Also, Cargo vans come in a range of sizes. You can choose from full-size vans capable of hauling heavy loads to minivans with five seats if you need something more multi-functional.

Cargo vans vs. straight trucks: what is the difference? Before then, let’s consider what a truck is.

What Is the Truck?

In many cases, a truck refers to an automobile designed for commercial or industrial use.

In some contexts, it also simply means any transport vehicle with wheels, including cars and buses and trailers, and delivery trucks. It also applies to trains and other forms of cargo transportation.

 More rarely (especially in Britain), a truck can refer to a farm cart (colloquially called a truck).

This sense of truck then carries over into big-rig, which refers to large vehicles used to transport cargo. However, what most people call a big-rig truck would just be called a lorry in other countries.

Cargo vans vs. straight trucks: what is the difference? Now we talk about why we choose a van over a truck.

Why Choose a Van Over a Truck?

There are several reasons to choose a cargo van over a straight truck, including their lower cost and increased maneuverability on public roads.

A cargo van requires less paperwork than a truck and can be easier to register for regular operation.

Furthermore, cargo vans are cheaper than straight trucks because of their shorter bodies and more compact construction.

Van drivers may also save time by being able to drive in high-occupancy vehicle lanes. Even where HOVs aren’t available, these smaller vehicles take up less space on public roads (and often can’t use truck lanes). 

Finally, you’ll find that getting around parking garages with shorter vehicles is much easier than with trucks or SUVs! Cargo vans vs. straight trucks: what is the difference? Keep reading to know the difference.

Cargo Vans Vs. Straight Trucks: What Is the Difference?

Four main things differentiate straight trucks from cargo vans. These are payload capacity, fuel efficiency, engine location and aesthetics, and vehicle weight.

Regarding payload capacity, straight trucks typically have a higher maximum gross vehicle weight rating (GVW) than cargo vans. And can carry more weight in volume or load capacity (e.g., cubic feet).

 You can also use straight trucks like dump trucks or trash haulers with a dump box or hopper attached to their rear end. At the same time, most vans aren’t designed for hauling heavy loads back there.

What Is the Payload Capacity Between Trucks and Cargo Vans?

Cargo vans vs. straight trucks: what is the difference? While there are differences between cargo vans and straight trucks, they can use them to transport materials and objects.

When comparing payload capacity, it depends on whether you’re talking about a cargo van or a straight truck.

It is essential to know that there are limits on what can be transported for an individual state or region with a cargo van.

The weight of your vehicle will also play into how much you can carry; some states set lower weight limits than others when it comes to cargo vans (and straight trucks).

Cargo van drivers should check their state’s regulations before hauling large loads like tools or equipment.

What Is the Fuel Efficiency in Trucks and Cargo Vans?

Fuel efficiency in cargo vans and straight trucks varies depending on the make, model, and year of production.

A cargo van has an average combined mileage of 22 mpg, while a straight truck averages 20 mpg. 

With that said, fuel efficiency is important to consider when deciding which vehicle will better suit your business needs.

If you expect to operate both vehicles at least once a week and you typically drive more than 150 miles per day, it may be worth investing in a hybrid or electric powertrain for one or both vehicles. 

However, conventional engines tend to be less expensive for those with smaller budgets and less frequent driving schedules. Cargo vans vs. straight trucks: what is the difference? Yes, fuel efficiency is one of the differences.

Difference Between Cargo Van and Truck: Engine Location and Aesthetics

One of the most noticeable distinctions between cargo vans and straight trucks is engine location. Straight trucks have rear-mounted engines, and cargo vans feature front-mounted engines.

Notably, there are a few other differences to keep in mind. You may want to choose a flatbed for hauling construction supplies or tools; you may want to select an enclosed van for security reasons or if you plan on moving items that can get wet or dusty.

In general, a cargo van has more flexibility than a straight truck regarding what it can be used for.

However, each vehicle comes with its own perks and benefits. So you’ll want to spend some time weighing your options before choosing one over another.

Difference Between Cargo Van and Truck: Vehicle Weight

Cargo vans vs. straight trucks: what is the difference? Vehicle weight is one of the differences. Cargo vans can weigh between 5,500 pounds and 8,000 pounds.

Straight trucks are generally in excess. A standard cargo van can carry roughly 1 ton of goods (the exact capacity varies based on your van model). 

Straight trucks have larger hauling capacities that range from 2 tons to 10 tons or more. A straight truck can haul more than two times as much as a cargo van in some cases!

They may look similar, but there is a difference between them. There are many differences that make each one ideal for specific purposes.

Final thought

When you’re looking to transport anything, it’s essential to know what type of vehicle is best for your purpose—and how each type of vehicle can be used most effectively.

While cargo vans and straight trucks are similar in that they are both excellent for hauling goods from point A to point B, these vehicles have several fundamental differences that make one a better choice than another, depending on your needs. 

Cargo vans vs. straight trucks: what is the difference? Now that you know the difference, you can purchase yours.

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