The design details of such vehicles vary significantly, and different nationalities seem to specialise in different styles of vehicles. Typical North American pickups are large, heavy vehicles weighing upwards of 2500 kg (5000 pounds) and are fitted with exceedingly large, powerful V8 gasoline and diesel engines. They feature a separate chassis and body (as distinct from most modern passenger cars which use the body and its frame as the major structure in a design known as a unibody or monocoque).
Japanese-built pickup trucks, by contrast, are considerably smaller, lighter, and fitted with smaller four or six-cylinder engines. Such vehicles (exemplified by the Toyota Hilux) can be found around the world, unlike the US-built pickups which are regarded as too large and fuel-inefficient by most other markets. Small pickups have much lower cargo and towing capacity, while large capacity and power are the primary advertising points in America. Smaller pickups are also common in America. In recent years, Japanese automakers have started building large V8-powered pickups for the North American market; all these trucks are assembled in North America.
Since about 2001 hybrid SUV/pickups have appeared, which are similar to an SUV except that the 3rd row of seats (or enclosed cargo area) is replaced by a short open truck bed.
The two Australian-built utilities currently in production are rebodied versions of large passenger cars, as were the now out of production American Ford Ranchero and Chevrolet El Camino. Consequently, they are much lower-slung and more carlike both in appearance and performance than other pickups. Volkswagen and other European manufacturers have also introduced similar designs at one time or another, but they have not been popular and the designs were typically dropped after a few years.
Whilst pickups are commonly used by tradespeople the world over, they are popular as personal transport in Australia, the United States, and Canada, where they share some of the image of the SUV and are commonly criticised on similar grounds.
Many pickup trucks are capable of driving all four wheels, have aggressively-treaded tyres and high ground clearance, and thus have all-terrain capabilities similar to SUVs. SUVs developed from pickups with permanently attached cabs.
Pickup trucks have been used as troop carriers in many parts of the world, most notably in Somalia, Chad, and by the Taliban and Northern Alliance forces in Afghanistan. Pickup trucks have also been used as fighting vehicles: see Technical.