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What Is a Box Truck?

Differences Between Box Trucks and Cargo Vans


box truck

Box Truck Image Provided by the FBI

In 2002, the hunt for the D.C. sniper resulted in confusion about how to tell a box truck from a cargo van. For those who aren't sure about the differences, here's some information to help you sort it out.

What Is a Box Truck?
There are numerous manufacturers who produce box trucks for the US market. While there are differences in each model, the trucks as a whole have many similarities.

  • Box trucks have separate, box-like cargo areas that sit on the frame.

  • The box on some trucks is totally separate from the cab. The cargo area if those trucks cannot be accessed from the cab.

  • Some box trucks have a cargo area that is grafted to the cab. The cargo area in some box trucks built like that can be accessed from the cab.

  • Most box trucks have a roll-up rear door that's similar to a garage door.

  • Box trucks are generally used by companies that need to haul large items such as furniture, appliances, and large boxes.

  • You probably see box trucks every day. They are frequently used as rental moving vans by companies like U-Haul and Ryder.

  • Box trucks aren't all large. They come in all sizes.

What is a Cargo Van?

  • A cargo van is a one piece vehicle.

  • Many cargo vans do not have windows in the rear cargo area.

  • Some cargo vans are similar in design and size to family passenger vans. Vans of that type may or may not have cargo guards to separate the rear cargo area from the cab.

  • Some cargo vans are much larger, like the vans used by FedEx and UPS. Larger cargo vans often have roll-up rear doors, but unlike box trucks, they are still vehicles of one-piece construction.

  • Cargo vans are commonly used by businesses such as plumbing and electrical repair services and courier services.

As you drive around during your daily routine, notice the different types of trucks you see, and try to identify them. It won't be long before you recognize the differences between box trucks, cargo vans, and other types of trucks. That information will be critical if you ever have to give a vehicle description to law enforcement agencies.

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