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Automobile vs. Truck: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on November 13, 2023
An automobile is a general term for a self-propelled passenger vehicle, while a truck is a specific type of automobile designed for carrying cargo.

Key Differences

The term "automobile" broadly refers to any motor vehicle designed for personal transport, whereas "truck" specifically denotes a vehicle built for transporting goods or heavy loads.
Automobiles encompass various vehicle types, including cars, trucks, and SUVs, while trucks are characterized by their cargo-carrying capacity and larger size.
Automobiles are primarily designed for passenger comfort and efficiency, contrasting with trucks, which are focused on utility, strength, and cargo space.
In urban settings, automobiles like cars are common due to their size and maneuverability, while trucks are more prevalent in commercial or industrial settings for transportation of goods.
Automobiles can range from compact cars to luxury sedans, differing from trucks which include pickups, lorries, and larger commercial vehicles.

Comparison Chart

General Definition

Any self-propelled passenger vehicle
Vehicle specifically designed for cargo transport

Types Included

Cars, SUVs, trucks, vans
Pickups, lorries, heavy-duty trucks

Primary Function

Personal transportation
Transportation of goods, heavy loads

Typical Features

Designed for comfort and efficiency
Built for utility, strength, cargo space

Common Usage Contexts

Urban, personal use
Commercial, industrial, heavy-duty tasks

Automobile and Truck Definitions


A car or other motor vehicle.
She took her automobile for a service checkup.


A vehicle with a powerful engine and a large cargo area.
He used his truck to haul equipment for his landscaping business.


A road vehicle, typically with four wheels, powered by an internal combustion engine.
Automobiles have revolutionized personal travel.


A large, heavy road vehicle for transporting goods and materials.
The truck delivered the construction materials on time.


A wheeled vehicle for personal mobility.
The city was filled with automobiles during rush hour.


A pickup or lorry used for specific transport needs.
They rented a truck to move their furniture to the new house.


A motorized conveyance for individuals or small groups.
He preferred using his automobile over public transport.


A commercial vehicle for freight transport.
A fleet of trucks carries goods across the country.


A self-propelled road vehicle for passenger transport.
Her new automobile has the latest safety features.


A motor vehicle designed for heavy-duty tasks.
The fire department dispatched a truck to the emergency site.


A self-propelled passenger vehicle that usually has four wheels and an internal-combustion engine, used for land transport. Also called motorcar.


Any of various heavy motor vehicles designed for carrying or pulling loads.


Of or relating to automobiles; automotive.


A hand truck.


A type of vehicle designed to move on the ground under its own stored power and intended to carry a driver, a small number of additional passengers, and a very limited amount of other load. A car or motorcar.


A wheeled platform, sometimes equipped with a motor, for conveying loads in a warehouse or freight yard.


To travel by automobile.


Self-moving; self-propelled.


A self-propelled vehicle used for transporting passengers, suitable for use on a street or roadway. Many diferent models of automobiles have beenbuilt and sold commercially, possessing varied features such as a retractable roof (in a convertible), different braking systems, different propulsion systems, and varied styling. Most models have four wheels but some have been built with three wheels. Automobiles are usually propelled by internal combustion engines (using volatile inflammable liquids, as gasoline or petrol, alcohol, naphtha, etc.), and sometimes by steam engines, or electric motors. The power of the driving motor varies from under 50 H. P. for earlier models to over 200 H. P. larger models or high-performance sports or racing cars. An automobile is commonly called a car or an auto, and generally in British usage, motor cars.


To travel in an automobile.


4-wheeled motor vehicle; usually propelled by an internal combustion engine;
He needs a car to get to work


Travel in an automobile


Are all cars considered automobiles?

Yes, all cars fall under the broader category of automobiles.

What is an automobile?

An automobile is any self-propelled vehicle primarily used for personal transport.

What defines a truck?

A truck is defined as a large vehicle used for transporting goods and materials.

Can trucks be used for personal transport?

Yes, trucks like pickups can be used for personal transport as well as cargo hauling.

What are common features of an automobile?

Common features of an automobile include passenger seating, a compact design, and fuel efficiency.

Are trucks only used for commercial purposes?

While trucks are often used commercially, they can also serve personal and utility purposes.

Do trucks have different licensing requirements?

Yes, larger commercial trucks often require special driver's licenses to operate.

What distinguishes a truck's design?

Trucks are distinguished by their large cargo space, heavy-duty build, and powerful engines.

Is an SUV a type of automobile?

Yes, an SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle) is a type of automobile.

What types of engines do automobiles typically have?

Automobiles typically have internal combustion engines, although electric models are increasingly common.

Can automobiles be electric?

Yes, there are many electric automobiles on the market.

What's the difference between a truck and a lorry?

"Truck" and "lorry" often refer to the same type of vehicle, though "lorry" is more commonly used in British English.

Are motorcycles considered automobiles?

Motorcycles are not typically categorized as automobiles due to their design and function.

Can trucks be used in construction?

Yes, trucks are widely used in construction for transporting materials and equipment.

Are all trucks large and heavy?

Not all trucks are large; there are smaller models like pickups and medium-sized trucks.

Do automobiles include race cars?

Yes, race cars are a specialized type of automobile designed for high-speed racing.

What is a pickup truck?

A pickup truck is a smaller type of truck with an open cargo area in the back.

Do automobiles include buses and vans?

Yes, buses and vans are categories of automobiles, typically designed for carrying more passengers.

What is the typical use of an automobile?

The typical use of an automobile is for personal or family transportation.

What are heavy-duty trucks used for?

Heavy-duty trucks are used for tasks like hauling large loads, towing, and industrial work.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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