Which is Right For You? Standard vs Powered Steps for Pickups, SUVs and Jeeps

As vehicles continue to evolve, so do their comforts and features.  Auto manufacturers and aftermarket accessory companies have introduced a number of notable options to enhance convenience and accessibility for drivers and passengers alike. One such feature which we will explore today is the entry step option, which allows for easier access the truck’s cab or bed. There are two primary step options: standard (fixed) steps and powered steps, each with pros and cons. 

  • Standard Steps: Simple and Functional

Standard steps, or “running boards”, are the traditional type of entry aids found on vehicles. They are usually mounted into the frame of the truck, located beneath the doors. Several manufacturers of pickup trucks have recently begun building steps into the bumpers and even bed sides. Despite their simple design, standard steps offer several key benefits:

a. Cost-Effective: Standard steps are generally more affordable than their powered counterparts. This cost-effectiveness makes them an attractive option for buyers on a budget or those who prioritize basic functionality.

b. Durability: As standard steps lack electrical components or complex mechanisms, they are generally more durable and less prone to malfunctions or damage over time as there are no parts to wear out.

c. Reduced Maintenance: With fewer moving parts, standard steps require less maintenance and are easier to repair if any issues arise. This aspect can save both time and money for truck owners in the long run.

Amp Research powered truck step
Powered Step from Amp Research
Go Rhino fixed standard step
Standard Step from Go Rhino
  • Powered Steps: Advancing Accessibility and Comfort

As the demand for more convenience and luxury features has increased, pickups, SUVs and Jeeps have seen a surge in the popularity of powered steps. These steps deploy automatically when the doors are opened, offering the following benefits:

a. Enhanced Accessibility: Powered steps extend outward and downward, providing a lower and more comfortable stepping height. This significantly reduces the strain on passengers’ knees and joints, making it easier for people of all ages to enter and exit the vehicle with grace and ease.

b. Aesthetic Appeal: Powered steps often retract seamlessly into or under the truck’s body when not in use, maintaining a sleek and polished appearance. This enhances the overall aesthetic appeal of the vehicle and contributes to a more refined and modern look.

c. Safety and Convenience: The automated deployment and retraction of powered steps ensure that they are only present when needed. This eliminates the risk of accidentally damaging a low-hanging step when obstacles are present. Additionally, the automated feature means passengers don’t have to remember to engage or disengage the step manually.

d. Vehicle protection: some powered step options, such as those from RockSlide Engineering offer an integrated retracting step and body protection.  This is a great option for off road vehicle builds to give both enhanced protection and passenger access.


In conclusion, both standard and powered steps offer distinct advantages for pickup truck owners, catering to a range of preferences and needs. Standard steps excel in their simplicity, durability, and cost-effectiveness, making them a practical choice for budget-conscious buyers or those seeking a reliable entry aid. On the other hand, powered steps provide enhanced accessibility, safety, and convenience, offering a touch of luxury and sophistication to modern pickup trucks.  Ultimately, the decision between standard and powered steps boils down to individual preferences, lifestyle, and budget considerations. For those who value convenience and are willing to invest in additional features, powered steps can elevate the pickup truck ownership experience to new heights. However, for those seeking a more straightforward and robust solution, standard steps remain a practical and reliable option. Whichever option is right for you, we here at Mount Zion Offroad are ready and eager to assist you in selecting the best brand and style for your vehicle, and of course offer top notch professional installation.

by Jon Tirrell
Mount Zion Offroad Staff Writer