Should I Buy a Half-Ton or 3/4-Ton Pickup Truck?

You want a pickup truck-great! But what do you need? Hauling and towing more sounds better; more is always better, right? But do you need a ¾-ton truck, or would a half-ton be better for you? And what’s the difference, anyway?

Among the many choices you must think about before venturing out to look for a new or used pickup, one of the key decisions is to go with a half-ton or a ¾-ton truck? Or do you really need a one-ton? While a one-ton is the king of pickup truck hauling, it is somewhat extreme. So let’s look at the half-ton and ¾-ton choices first.

How much can a half-ton pickup truck tow?

The 2022 Ford F-150 parked in grass
2022 Ford F-150 | Ford

Each of those designations is not related to what the truck can haul or tow. The half-ton, ¾-ton, and one-ton monikers refer to payload capacity classifications. So a half-ton truck can handle a 2,000-pound payload, which is the combined weight of passengers in the cabin and cargo in the truck bed. 

A ¾-ton truck can take on two tons or a 4,000-pound payload, while the one-ton manages more than 6,000-pounds, in some cases. For hauling around furniture, towing certain trailers, or pulling some ATVs or a race car, a half-ton full-size pickup is the answer to your dreams. Over the years, half-ton interiors have become as luxurious as passenger cars. 

The suspensions underpinning them have been adjusted to offer the best handling, but also the most comfortable ride. Other than the added interior dimensions, sometimes you might forget you’re driving a truck. Ford’s designation for its half-ton F-Series truck is F-150. Ram, GMC, and Chevy all use 1500 for their full-size half-ton trucks. The Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan don’t. 

When do I move up to a 3/4-ton truck?

A dark blue 2022 Chevy Silverado against a white background.
2022 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD | Chevrolet

When you need hauling chops for heavier payloads or towing, then you may need to step up to a ¾-ton pickup. But as capabilities go up, characteristics and handling change from that of a half-ton. Suspensions are usually lifted a bit from half-ton riding heights. The suspension also gets a bit stiffer, to be able to handle those heavier loads. As you move up in capabilities, the price goes up too.

A Ford Powerstroke V8 gives its ¾-ton trucks 21,000 lbs towing capacity, with Ram and Chevy slightly below that. For payload, most trucks in this category can handle up to 4,000 lbs. These figures can vary with engine and transmission choices. Most truck makers offer quite a range of powertrain options, so you’ll have to weigh mileage economy versus power and capacities.  

Designations are F-250 for the Ford ¾-ton, and 2500 for Ram, Chevy, and GMC trucks. Base prices for ¾-ton trucks start at around $35,000

What about one-ton pickups?

2022 Ram 3500
2022 Ram 3500 Heavy-Duty Longhorn Mega Cab Dually | Ram

Touching briefly on one-ton trucks, they vary between four-wheel and six-wheel “dually” configurations. Some are capable of towing 35,000 lbs. Though ride and handling are infinitely better than they were in the past, you’ll never forget you’re driving a heavy-duty pickup. Designations are F-350 for Ford’s version, 3500HD for the Chevy Silverado, and Ram 3500 Heavy Duty.