Crew Cab Vs. Extended Cabby Cam Merritt
The base models of most pickup trucks have only front seats, so there's room for the driver and one or two passengers. But all full-size pickup models, as well as some compact models, have options for a cab with a rear seat. Those cabs often come in more than one configuration. The names of the configurations vary by manufacturer. Chevrolet, for example, uses the terms extended cab and crew cab.
Rear-seat pickups usually come in two cab sizes, a short version and a long version. In the Chevy Silverado, the shorter cab is the extended cab, while the crew cab is the full-size option. The Dodge Ram uses the term quad cab to refer to its short version and crew cab for the longer version. The Ford F-150's shorter version is the SuperCab and the long version is the SuperCrew. On the Toyota Tundra, it's double cab for the short and CrewMax for the long. The Nissan Frontier is unusual in that it's available only with a rear seat; there's no regular cab. The Frontier's short version is the king cab, and the long is the crew cab.
In terms of function, the main difference between an extended cab and a crew cab is the amount of room for passengers in the rear seat. In the 2010 Silverado 1500, for example, those riding in the front seat had 41.3 inches of legroom, according to specs compiled by Edmunds.com. Back-seat riders in the extended cab had only 34.3 inches of legroom, while those in the crew cab get 38.7. In the 2010 Ford F-150, the difference was even bigger: back-seat passengers in the SuperCab got 33.7 inches of legroom, compared with 41.4 inches in the front seat, but in the SuperCrew, they got 43.5—more legroom than even the driver.
Looking at a Silverado Extended Cab pickup and a crew cab pickup next to each other, it's easy to tell one from the other: The crew cab is simply longer. Absent a side-by-side comparison, your biggest clue is the doors. The rear doors on a crew cab are about the same size as the front doors, and they'll open in the same direction, just like on a four-door car. The doors on an extended cab are smaller, and they're hinged at the rear, so they open in the opposite direction as the front doors. On other truck models, such as the Ram, the doors may be hinged at the front, but they'll still be smaller.
All truck manufacturers specify the same capacity for both their long and short rear-seat cabs. The stated capacity is usually six people.
Choosing the longest version of a pickup cab may require sacrificing space in the bed of the truck, because manufacturers design the trucks so that they fit on the same chassis. On the Silverado, for example, the base model and the extended cab model come with a 6.5-foot or 8-foot bed, but the crew cab offers only a 5.75-foot bed. The Ram quad cab comes with a standard 6-foot-4-inch bed, but when you move up to the crew cab, the bed drops down to 5-foot-7.
Cam Merritt is a writer and editor specializing in business, personal finance and home design. He has contributed to USA Today, The Des Moines Register and Better Homes and Gardens"publications. Merritt has a journalism degree from Drake University and is pursuing an MBA from the University of Iowa.