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June 8, 2021
If you have been shopping for trucks, then you may have heard of the terms ½ ton, ¾ ton, and 1-ton trucks.
So what do these terms mean, and what type of capabilities do each of these trucks have?
Here, we will take a look at the different types of trucks and compare their various capabilities.
Want to learn more about trucks before making a decision? Check out our post on truck and cab bed sizes here.
Table of Contents
GVWR stands for Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. This rating describes the maximum total safe weight of the vehicle. For example, let’s say that the truck's curb weight is 5,000 pounds, and the GVWR of the truck is 8,000 pounds. That means that the truck can safely add 3,000 pounds to its weight and still function normally. Exceeding the GVWR of a truck can not only get you a ticket, it can also endanger yourself and your passengers. Therefore, it is important to adhere to a vehicle GVWR.
A ½ ton truck is a truck that is used for light-duty hauling and towing work. The term ½ ton truck came from the fact that older ½ ton trucks could haul up to 1,000 pounds. Modern ½ trucks can exceed this amount. However, the term ½ ton truck remains. Usually, a ½ ton truck can haul about 3,000 pounds in its bed and tow up to 9,000 to 10,000 pounds depending on the powertrain.
A ½ ton truck is an ideal choice for those who primarily use their vehicle as a daily driver and only occasionally use the vehicle for hauling and towing duties. Also, a ½ ton truck is an ideal choice for a blue-collar worker who likes to have fast access to their tools in the truck bed.
Some of the most popular ½ ton trucks include:
A ¾ ton truck is a heavy-duty truck that is popular by many trade workers who use their trucks on a daily basis for heavy towing and hauling work. These vehicles are called ¾ ton pick-ups because older model ¾ ton trucks could haul up to 1,500 pounds in their bed. Today, ¾ ton trucks can easily haul up to 4,000 pounds in their truck bed and tow up to 14,000 pounds depending on the powertrain.
A ¾ ton truck is an ideal choice for someone who intends to use their truck for hauling and towing on a daily basis. For instance, a tradesperson who works on construction sites can make great use of a ¾ ton truck. Also, those who own a boat trailer or an RV will want to consider a ¾ ton truck.
Some of the most popular ¾ ton trucks include:
A 1-ton truck is generally the largest and most powerful truck available. The term 1-ton truck comes from the fact that old 1-ton trucks could haul up to 2,000 pounds in their bed. Today, modern 1-top trucks can easily haul up to 6,000 pounds and tow up to 36,000 pounds with a diesel powertrain.
A 1-ton truck is an ideal choice for a tradesperson who will do heavy hauling and towing for their vehicle. Also, a 1-ton truck is ideal for those who will be doing their hauling and towing up steep grades due to the powerful engine in 1-ton trucks. Finally, a 1-ton truck is a great choice for those who want to tow large boats and large RVs.
Top-selling 1-ton trucks include:
In search of the ultimate work truck? Check out our picks for the best dually trucks here.
The 1500, 2500, and 3500 nomenclature is used by several different automakers, including Chevy, GMC, and RAM. 1500 denotes ½ ton trucks, 2500 denotes ¾ ton trucks, and 3500 denotes 1-ton trucks. In general, the larger the number, the most powerful the truck and the larger the payload and towing capability.
The payload of a truck is the amount that the truck can hold in its bed. In general, a 1/2-ton truck can carry a payload of up to 3,000 pounds. A ¾ ton truck can carry a payload of up to 4,000 pounds. Finally, a 1-ton truck can carry a payload of up to 6,000 pounds.
The United States uses commercial truck classifications according to a truck's GVWR. ½ ton trucks are classified as Class 2a and are the second-lowest rating. The lowest rating is Class 1. Class 1 trucks have a GVWR under 6,000 pounds. Trucks under the Class 1 rating include Chevy Colorado, GMC Canyon, Ford Ranger, Honda Ridgeline, Jeep Gladiator, and Nissan Frontier.
The United States puts all 1-ton trucks in Class 3 based on the GVWR range of 10,001 to 14,000 pounds. There are actually 5 classifications beyond Class 3. For instance, Class 4 trucks with a GVWR from 14,001 to 16,000 pounds include the Chevy Silverado 4500HD, Ford F-450 (Chassis Cab), and the RAM 4500. Larger trucks include Class 5 trucks such as the Chevy Silverado 5500HD, Ford F-550, and RAM 550. Trucks larger than Class 5 are mostly commercial-only trucks.
A ½ ton truck can tow up to 10,000 pounds based on the type of powertrain that they are using. A diesel powertrain will usually allow the truck to tow more.
A ¾ ton can tow up to 14,000 pounds based on its powertrain. Generally, a diesel powertrain will allow the truck to tow on the higher end of the range.
A 1-ton truck can tow up to 36,000 pounds based on its powertrain. Generally, a diesel powertrain will allow the truck to tow on the higher end of the range.
While truck manufacturers advertise that their ½ trucks can haul a fifth wheel, it is not recommended. A fifth wheel is an RV with a hitch and a rear axle. This creates major stress on a ½ ton truck’s limited towing capacity.
A ¾ ton should have the power to tow many types of fifth wheel RVs. However, you will want to reserve the larger fifth wheel RVs for 1-ton trucks.
A 1-ton truck will have the towing capability and the power to tow most fifth wheel RVs.
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