Are Heavy-Duty Pickup Trucks Truly More Expensive?

Heavy-duty pickup trucks boast higher payload capacities and tow ratings than their light-duty “half-ton” counterparts. You might think that light duty is the way to go if you want a less expensive full-size Ram truck. If so, you’ll be surprised that some heavy-duty truck MSRPs are barely higher than light-duty MSRPs. Moreover, as you upgrade a half-ton with features such as a V8 engine, this price difference becomes even less.

How much more does a heavy-duty pickup truck cost?

The difference between a 3/4-ton truck’s MSRP and its 1/2-ton counterpart depends on the manufacturer. A Ford F-250 starts at almost $10k more than an F-150. But the GMC Sierra 2500 is only $5,100 more than the 1500.

Black Ford Super-Duty pickup truck parked in a herd of cattle, hooked up to a livestock hauler.
Ford Super Duty truck | Ford Motor Company

Another example: Ram is advertising a $37,410 MSRP for its 2023 half-ton 1500, while the 2023 Ram 2500 starts at just $44,675. Did Ram make a mistake with its light-duty and heavy-duty MSRPs? No, the catch is that Ram only builds its fifth-generation 1500 with a four-door cab. The heavy-duty Ram 2500 has such a low MSRP because this price is for a two-door regular cab. A Crew Cab and 6’4″ box configuration bumps the 2023 Ram 2500’s MSRP to $47,825.

The Ford F-150, on the other hand, still comes with a two-door regular cab, making it the cheapest of the current generation of half-ton trucks. This may be why the F-250 costs so much more. The price differences between each 1/2-ton and corresponding 3/4-ton are broken down by manufacturer in the table below:

Manufacturer1/2-Ton MSRP3/4-Ton MSRPDifference

The cheapest way to option a half-ton may be to buy a heavy-duty one instead

A RAm 2500 heavy duty pickup truck tows a livestock trailer down an empty road, the desert visible in the background.
Ram 2500 Heavy Duty | Stellantis

The entry-level Ram 1500 comes with a naturally aspirated V6. A Ram 1500 upgraded with a V8 and a towing package costs nearly as much as the heavy-duty Ram 2500–which comes with a V8 anyway and trailer hitch anyways. In fact, the Ram 1500’s top-trim engine is the 5.7-liter HEMI V8, while the Ram 2500’s base engine is the 6.4-liter HEMI, giving it an even higher towing capacity than even the most expensive 1500s.

Even if you upgrade to a crew cab (the Ram 2500 doesn’t even come with a smaller four-door quad cab), those prices stay very close. If you plan on upgrading to a V8 anyway, you might want to consider a 3/4 ton truck. In the following table, you can compare similarly optioned half-ton Ram 1500s and 3/4-ton 2500s:

Ram 1500Ram 2500
Base MSRP$37,410$44,675
Net Price$39,305$46,570
V8 Price$42,300$46,570
Tow Package/V8 Price$43,595$46,570
4WD/Tow Package/V8$46,690$49,500
Crew Cab/4WD/Tow Package/V8$49,690$53,315

Is a 3/4-ton pickup truck a smarter buy than a half-ton?

The best pickup truck choice really depends on what you will use it for. While certain 3/4-ton pickup trucks have appealingly low MSRPs, they can have poor fuel mileage and be much more expensive to maintain than half-ton trucks.

Red Ford super Duty pickup truck towing a red farm tractor, a pasture visible in the background.
Ford Super Duty truck | Ford Motor Company

In addition, modern half-ton trucks are engineered to hit the sweet spot between capability and daily comfort. Many drivers who commute in their trucks prefer a half-ton for this reason.

Next, see everything you get when you upgrade from a Ram 1500 to a 2500, or watch a buying guide to all the 2023 heavy-duty pickup trucks in the video below: