I was watching football last week and about a hundred different truck commercials came on. That’s pretty typical, but for once I actually listened to the commercials. They kept talking about all their special cab styles and what’s available on which model. Confused, I started doing some research.
The three styles of pickup truck cabs are regular, extended, and crew cabs. Regular Cab is the smallest and only seats two or three people with two full-sized doors. Extended Cab is the in-between trim of these options with four doors but the rear doors are smaller in size. Crew Cab is the largest and has two full-sized doors which can seat up to six people.
In this guide, I’ll fully explain each type, give the pros and cons for each, and even help you to decide which is right for you. Let’s get started with some definitions.
What Is a Truck Cab?
It makes sense to start off with a quick definition. When I’m talking about a truck’s cab or cabin, I’m referring to the part where the driver and passenger(s) sit. This distinction is important because trucks are equipped with those big beds at the rear of the vehicle.
The same term is also used for semi-trucks that haul cargo across the country.
Intuitively, you probably already realize that trucks can have different cab sizes. After all, how could one truck be a two-seater and another truck be a five-seater?
Well, the cab size isn’t as simple as just how many seats are offered in the pickup. It also has to do with how many doors you’ll find, the price of the vehicle, and the configuration of the cab. I’ll get into more detail later.
The 3 Different Types of Truck Cabs
Each manufacturer has its own naming scheme when it comes to the cab style. There are differences when it comes to price, weight, payload, and even fuel efficiencies between these styles. The same truck model can have trim levels of any and all cab configurations.
As I mentioned, trucks are equipped with a number of different cabs. How many different styles, specifically? Three. From smallest to largest for a typical pickup truck, they are:
- Regular Cab
- Extended Cab
- Crew Cab
There are also 3 options for freight trucks like semis and box trucks.
- A Sleeper. This is the area of the cabin where the driver can sleep while they’re on the road hauling their cargo. It can be anywhere from 2 to 12 feet long and contain a range of different amenities and comforts. It can be added on to a semi, regardless of the cab style.
- Cab Over Engine. Also called a flat nose, this is a cab style where the driver is sitting right above the engine and front axle. The visibility is typically better
- Conventional. The most common semi-truck configuration in America uses a conventional cab. This is the style you’re used to seeing, where there’s a sloped hood that leads to the cabin, and the door is not right above the front wheel.
Since most people reading this care about pickup cabs, I’ll stick with the first three that I mentioned.
Other Names for These Types of Pickup Truck Cabs
With the three traditional cabs for pickups, you’ll find a ton of different names. This is all up to the manufacturer that’s trying to put their own spin on an otherwise-identical cab.
For example, Chevy, Ram, and Ford make cabs with almost the exact same dimensions, but they have three different names for the same thing.
It’s all a matter of what the manufacturer wants to call it.
Regardless of the specific name used, there are still only three cab sizes for consumer-level pickup trucks.
It seems like the whole market is in agreement here. The only term used to refer to this cab type is “regular cab”. That makes things easy.
You might hear it referred to as a standard cab, but no manufacturer officially sells a pickup with this nomenclature.
The extended cab has a number of different names that it gets marketed as. It goes by the double cab, quad cab, club cab, SuperCab, cab plus, king cab, XtraCab, and access cab.
Like the previous cab size, crew cabs have some different names that they’re called. A crew cab might also be called a CrewMax, double cab, mega cab, or SuperCrew. You read that right, the term “double cab” is used to describe both an extended and crew cab. That makes things pretty complicated.
It gets even more confusing if you look at a specific truck’s lineage like the Toyota Tundra.
Their 2004-2006 models with crew cabs were labeled a “double cab”. Tundras from 2007 to today with extended cabs are also called “double cabs”.
Even each manufacturer can’t keep their naming scheme consistent.
Examples of Each Pickup Truck Cab
I’m a big visual learner, so seeing a picture of something helps me to understand it better. In an effort to do that, here are some actual examples of different pickup trucks with the varying cab styles I just talked about.
The interesting thing is that you can find a 2022 Ford F-150 with any of the three cab styles. This is one of many flagship pickups that offer the same.
2021 Ford F-150 XL or XLT trim
2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 WT trim
2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Regular Cab
2001 Nissan Frontier Regular Cab
2012 Ford F-150 FX4
2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LD
2019 Ram 1500 Laramie
2015 GMC Canyon Extended Cab
2019 Honda Ridgeline
2021 GMC Canyon Crew Cab
2018 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab
Explanation of Each Pickup Truck Cab Type
At this point, I haven’t fully explained what’s different between each truck cab style. Let me take a little time to do so.
The smallest option is the regular cab. It is the stock option that the following two styles base their design on before adding more.
The regular cab has two doors that are both front-hinging and full-sized. They also have a windshield, back window, and door windows (obviously).
Once you open the door, you’ll find either a bench seat or bucket seating. This cab ranges from two to three seats in total.
Despite the low number of seats, the level of space each person gets is pretty remarkable. You can put three people in the truck and hardly feel like you’re squeezing in — everyone will have sufficient headroom, legroom, and elbowroom.
Once you add a row of seating behind the driver, you have an extended cab. This option can come with either two or four doors.
If there are four doors, the chances are that they won’t all be full doors. Hidden handles will be used to open the rear set of rear-hinged half-doors so passengers can climb in.
Most of the time, the front seats will need to be folded down and climbed over to get into the rear seats.
Pickups with an extended cab will have half-windows where the back passengers are sitting.
This style of cab can accommodate five to six passengers. However, the folks in the back are going to have a more cramped seat than the driver and passenger in the front. The legroom can get pretty tight and the headroom could be limited too, depending on the style of the truck.
The largest option on this list is the crew cab. The name comes from the idea of taking a construction crew with you to the site — all of whom are comfortably seated in the truck and can get in and out easily.
This style of cab has four full-size, front-hinged doors. There are no more fold-down seats in the front that need to be hopped over. A crew cab can fit four or five people comfortably.
Within the world of crew cabs, some manufacturers add even more space to comfortably seat people. This means higher ceilings, deeper seats, and more space between people in the back seats.
This style of cab typically also means a shorter bed since the cab extends backward.
You might also find a section for storage within the cab behind the rear bench of seats. Again, this depends on the size of crew cab you go with.
Some crew cabs also allow you to flip down the rear seats. Like an SUV, this gives you plenty of cargo space within the cabin.
Pros and Cons of Each Pickup Truck Cab Style
Since each of these cabs has different configurations, I want to talk about the pros and cons of each style. This will help later when I walk through which option is perfect for you.
Since this cab style is the smallest, a lot of the pros and cons are built from the size.
- Best fuel efficiency
- Least expensive option
- Easier to navigate, maneuver, and park
- More bed space (typically)
- Fewer seats for passengers
- Lower towing and payload capacities
- Little space in the cabin for cargo
With more seats, the extended cab has a different set of pros and cons over the smaller regular cab and larger crew cab.
- Room for more people within the truck
- A good intermediate option
- Higher towing capacities as compared to regular cab
- Fuel efficiency, maneuverability, and price are better than crew cab
- Potentially slightly reduced bed size
- Back seat can be uncomfortable
- Back seats are hard to access and require jumping over the front seats
Finally, let me walk through the pros and cons of the biggest option.
- Most spacious option for passengers
- Can seat up to six people
- Might have additional storage space behind rear seats
- Four full-sized doors make entrance easy
- Best towing capabilities
- Flip-down rear seat for more cargo space
- Worst maneuverability
- Worst fuel economy
- Most expensive option
- Potentially shortest bed
Identifying the Cab Type from the Outside
It’s surprisingly easy to know which cab type a truck has just from the outside. This is a good exercise to do if you’re walking through a parking lot and can check out a lot of different trucks.
If you only see two doors, it’s a regular cab.
If you see two, full-size, front-hinged doors, it’s a crew cab.
If you see two full-sized windows and two smaller windows at the rear half of the cabin, then it’s an extended cab.
The overall bed length can also give away the style. The longest possible option is a crew cab with an extended bed. All three cabs can be the same length, but a regular cab will have the longest bed if that’s the case.
If you see any more than three people get into the vehicle, you know for sure it’s not a standard cab.
Identifying the Cab Type from the Inside
If you’re already in the truck, things get a little easier. This is probably going to be the case if your buddy is picking you up and you want to know what cab size they have without asking them.
All you have to do is look around you. If there is a back row, then it’s not a standard cab. If you have to crawl over the front seats to get to the rear ones, then it’s an extended cab.
If you’re sitting in the back and feel like a king with all the space around you, it’s a crew cab.
Not All Cabs Are the Same
Even if two trucks have crew cabs, the interiors could be dramatically different. Cabs with the same name can be much larger than other ones.
For example, one crew cab can have even more legroom, cargo space, and headroom than another truck that has a crew cab.
The cab style is more of an umbrella term to describe the truck. It’s the same theory when you look at two different V-6 engines. One could easily produce double the horsepower of the other, but they’re both still V-6’s.
Comparing the Three Cab Styles of a Ford F-150
The F-150 is the most-sold vehicle in America — a stat that I bring up all the time. Within the F-150 trim levels, you’ll find all three cab options. That makes this truck a perfect contender for comparing cab prices.
The following matchups will look specifically at the three different cab styles of a 2022 Ford F-150. Keep in mind, there are dozens of trim levels within each cabin style for the F-150 alone. I’ll stick with comparing the base versions of each trim level, and I might throw out a few outlier cases to really drive my points home.
Comparing the Costs
I mentioned that price is a big differentiator between cab styles. Here are some physical values for you to sink your teeth into.
Regular Cab: from $29,640
Extended Cab (called super cab): from $33,725
Crew Cab (called SuperCrew): from $37,350
The most expensive F-150 is the Limited 4WD SuperCrew 5.5′ Box, and it starts at $76,880. No surprise here, but it’s a crew cab configuration.
Looking specifically at the base trim levels, you’re looking at an almost $8,000 difference between a regular and crew cab.
Curb Weight of Each Cab
Next up is how the weight differs. Again, these figures are going to tell the same story.
Regular Cab: from 4,021 lbs
Extended Cab (called super cab): from 4,345 lbs
Crew Cab (called SuperCrew): from 5,100 lbs
As you gain more passenger space, the truck will naturally get heavy. How much heavier? About a thousand pounds.
If the truck has the same engine, that means a worsened top speed, acceleration, and fuel efficiency.
The Different MPG’s
Speaking of fuel efficiency, this is another interesting matchup. Fuel efficiency is given in terms of “miles per gallon” (MPGs), which tells you how many miles you can drive on a single gallon of gas.
Regular Cab: Up to 20 city / 26 highway
Extended Cab (called super cab): Up to 20 city / 26 highway
Crew Cab (called SuperCrew): Up to 20 city / 26 highway
You’ll notice that all three have the same estimated fuel efficiency. However, the crew cab has a trim level that offers 16 combined mpg.
The reason it can offer up to 20mpg city and 26mpg highway is due to an improved gas/electric hybrid engine.
How the Towing and Hauling Capacities Differ
Another important stat to look at is how much you can carry in or behind your truck. This is its payload and towing capacity, respectively. If you plan on pulling a boat or camper behind your truck, you’ll want to pay attention to the towing capacity.
Regular Cab: from 5,000 to 8,200 lbs
Extended Cab (called super cab): from 5,000 to 9,400 lbs
Crew Cab (called SuperCrew): from 5,100 to 11,300 lbs
You’ll notice that the towing capacity gets bigger as the truck’s cab gets bigger. While it might seem counterintuitive, it makes sense if you remember that Ford drops bigger engines in these bigger trucks.
The biggest player in the towing capacity is how much weight the engine can handle. Sure, the curb weight is about 1,000 pounds heavier with the crew cab, but the engine can also be a lot larger and stronger (depending on the trim level).
The payload capacities are nearly identical across these three cab styles.
The thing to recognize is that a lot of your payload will be taken up by the weight of your crew if you have a six-seater as opposed to a two-seater.
The payload starts at around 1,700 lbs for each of the three cab styles. Six 200-pound guys will take up more than 70% of that total capacity.
So, how exactly does the overall size differ from one cab style to the next?
Regular Cab: 209-228″ L x 80″ W x 75-77″ H
Extended Cab (called super cab): 232-250″ L x 80″ W x 76-77″ H
Crew Cab (called SuperCrew): 232-244″ L x 80-87″ W x 76-80″ H
How do these dimensions translate? Well, a regular cab can be 35 inches shorter, 7 inches more narrow, and 5 inches closer to the ground than a crew cab F-150. That’s a pretty huge difference, especially since they’re just different trims of the same truck.
The reason the length can be so massive on a crew cab is due to the extended bed at the back. Since the cabin eats into the bed length, the manufacturer will make the truck longer to preserve the full bed size.
Does the Bed Length Depend on the Cab Style?
A big misconception is that the cab style forces the bed to be a certain length. The truth is that you’ll find crew cabs that have the same bed length that a regular cab has.
Keep in mind, this means that the vehicle will be overall a lot longer. Still, you aren’t forced to choose between cabin size and bed size.
If you keep the overall length the same, then the answer changes. Since you have to fit more seats in bigger cabs, then you will lose out on bed length. This might be the case if someone has a tight parking spot or a shallow garage that can’t accommodate a longer cab with a longer bed.
Why Don’t Cars Have Cab Styles?
As I mentioned, pickups need to differentiate between the bed and the seating area for passengers. With a car, you don’t have the same necessity.
The seating area of a car is still called a cabin, but you won’t see a car with a “super-extended ultra cabin” style.
Technically, the cab style is driven by the type of sedan you’re talking about. A two-seater roadster and a five-seater grand sedan have very different cabins. You can consider this the “cab style” in the car world.
This is equally as important as the cab styles of pickups. After all, it’s where you’ll spend most of your time while using your vehicle.
While it doesn’t change anything about truck cabs, I just thought it would be an interesting point to bring up. Anyway, back to trucks.
Can You Change a Truck’s Cab Style?
This is one of the things that you can’t alternate on a truck. The cab size is dependent on how the manufacturer makes it.
If you try to do a little DIY project and extend your cab yourself, you’ll run into a ton of problems. You’ll need to redo the framework, bed, and a ton of bodywork. Still, it’s not impossible. Would I recommend doing it? No way.
It’d be way cheaper and easier to just buy a truck that has the right cab style for you. After all, major manufacturers tend to release their trucks in at least 2 different cab styles. Kinda like how standard compact cars like to release 2-door and 4-door options of their more popular models.
Which Style Is Right for You?
This all leads to a single question: which truck cab style is right for you? The answer depends on who you are and what you’re looking for.
For people who routinely drive around 3 people, you’ll probably want a crew cab. The added space ensures everyone is comfortable as you take them around.
If you’re only ever driving one or two people, you can get away with a regular cab. It’s a much less expensive option that still provides all the benefits of owning a truck.
If you’re on the fence and can’t decide between either side of the spectrum, you’d be best to go for the middle option which is the extended cab.
Truthfully, the biggest deciding factor is how many people you want to fit in your truck. Any other performance, aesthetic, bed length, drivetrain, or price point can be whittled down thanks to picking the right trim level.
Now you know all about the three different pickup truck cab styles. From here, it’s just a matter of picking the right one for you. If you want to read some more helpful guides, take a look at my blog. I also have a list of products I highly recommend, if you want to check that out too.