Light trucks include pickup trucks, minivans and full-size vans, and sport utility vehicles (SUVs). The engines, transmissions, and brakes of light trucks are usually similar to those used in passenger cars. Some light trucks offer four-wheel drive for off-road driving or driving on mud or snow. Light trucks are often used as passenger cars are for everyday driving, particularly in rural areas, but they also provide the ability to carry extra cargo when needed. They are used primarily for light hauling and construction work.
Most pickup trucks have a cab with two doors and a single bench seat that holds up to three passengers. Some have extended cabs with a rear seat or additional doors. The cargo area behind the cab is called the bed. It has raised sides and a fold-down tailgate at the back for loading and unloading cargo.
Vans are mechanically similar to pickup trucks, except that the cargo area is enclosed and is part of the body. Vans typically have side doors and a rear door in addition to the front doors. A cargo van is equipped with only a front seat, and the unfinished rear area is reserved for hauling items. Cargo vans are often used to deliver small parcels and goods in urban areas. A passenger van has multiple seats for carrying extra passengers, as well as side windows. Some have lengthened bodies to carry up to 15 or more passengers and are used like small buses. A conversion van is a cargo van that has been specially modified to carry passengers in luxury. Conversion vans typically have plush interiors, numerous accessories, and individual seats. Minivans are smaller vans intended primarily for hauling six to eight passengers. Minivans have mostly replaced station wagons as a family vehicle. Some minivans have rear-wheel drive, but most have front-wheel drive. They also have the same engines, transmissions, and suspension components as front-wheel-drive passenger cars. In addition to the two front doors, most minivans have one or two sliding side doors and a rear liftgate that opens vertically.
Many light trucks are adapted for special uses. Tow trucks have a derrick and winch for towing vehicles, or a tilting bed for carrying disabled vehicles. Many ambulances are also built on light-truck frames. Large police trucks, nicknamed paddy wagons, have an enclosed confinement area in the back for transporting groups of people who have been arrested. Some police departments in large cities also have specially armored trucks for use by riot teams or bomb disposal units.