Pickup trucks come in all shapes and sizes. So do the preferences of those that drive them, so making the correct choice when shopping, particularly for a heavy duty truck, is important.
In the heavy duty pickup segment of the automotive world, there are three big players, and all of them call the United States home. Ram, General Motors, and Ford are the names traditionally associated with powerful pickups, and all three produce trucks that are not only strong, but capable and (largely) dependable, depending on who you ask. Ford has been producing the best-selling vehicle in America for years, but both Ram and GM have kept tabs. It goes to show that if there’s anything that Americans love, it’s pickups.
When trying to determine the correct match, there are a multitude of things to look at when comparing and contrasting. Here, we’re going to take a look at the three top heavy duty trucks on the market: Ford’s F-250, the Ram 2500, and the Chevy Silverado 2500HD/GMC Sierra 2500HD. We’re combing the Silverado and Sierra into one, as GM produces both, and they are more or less the same pickup underneath some extra features and a different suit. We’ll also be comparing the basic models, with the 4×2 driveshaft, as all three have numerous trim levels and offshoots that offer different levels of power and comfort.
Taking into account many different factors, including powertrains, towing capacity, speed, price, and interior offerings, we hope to provide a detailed and accurate picture of each pickup’s strengths. All statistics are taken directly from the manufacturer’s data and presented here.
Read on to see how the top heavy duty pickup trucks stack up to one another, and which one ultimately comes out on top.
The 2015 Ford F-250 XL Super Duty picks up where the models before it left off. This truck really provides a well-rounded driving experience, and can likely handle anything thrown in its way. First things first: the F-250 has a starting price of $31,045. Under the hood, Ford outfitted the F-250 with a 6.2-liter SOHC 2-valve Flex Fuel V8 engine, which not only provides drivers with improved fuel economy, but can also produce 385 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque. For the diesel model, both engine size and power get a boost. As far as strength, the 4×2 F-250 has a maximum conventional towing capacity of 12,500 pounds, and 5th-wheel gooseneck towing capacity of 12,700 pounds for the base trim level.
The F-250 weighs in at 5,941 pounds in the curb weight category, and is just under 19 feet long. From side mirror to side mirror, the truck is 8.74 feet wide. It definitely has some girth, but is light enough to remain nimble relative to its segment. It’s also equipped with Ford’s SYNC infotainment system, making it easy to stay connected and control every aspect of your trip.
Finally, the F-250 ranks rather highly in safety ratings. The F-250 is the quintessential American pickup truck, and there’s a reason that its younger brother, the F-150, has remained so popular over the years.
All of the F-250’s manufacturer data can be found from here.
Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD & GMC Sierra 2500HD
General Motors built both the Silverado and Sierra 2500HD pickups with a Vortec 6.0-liter Variable Valve Timing V8 SFI engine, which is a bit smaller than Ford’s engine, and therefore results in slightly less power. The GM trucks can make up to 360 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque in the base model, with a regular cab/long box. As far as max payload, the Sierra and Silverado can hitch up and pull 13,000 pounds in a conventional manner, and as much as 14,800 pounds with 5th-wheel trailering, according to GMC’s specifications.
There are a number of available options on both trucks, ranging from rear-view cameras, trailer sway control, and hill start assist. From bumper to bumper, the Silverado measures in at 18.7 feet long, a little smaller than the F-250. Without counting the side mirrors, it’s 6.7 feet wide, also notably comparable to its Ford competitor.
As far as price is concerned, the Silverado is a hair less expensive than the Sierra. The Silverado has a starting price of $31,310, and the Sierra starts ever so slightly higher at $31,565.
For comparison purposes, we will use the Ram 2500 Tradesman trim, which comes saddled with a starting price of $30,115. That’s the least expensive of the three trucks, but not by much. It also has the smallest engine, sporting a 5.7-liter HEMI V8, which is ubiquitous throughout the Ram brand. Of course, if you opt for the diesel engine, power increases substantially. But for the sake of comparison, we’ll stick with the gas-powered option. With the HEMI V8, drivers can expect 383 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque, from Ram’s specifications — handily outperforming GM’s 6.0 liter unit on paper. Good things come in small packages, it seems.
For trailering and towing, the Ram can haul up to 11,850 pounds, and has a max payload of 3,034 pounds. Exclusive options include the Rambox cargo management system, rear-view camera and available tailgate lift assist, and more. The Ram is also available in a number of different upfits, perfect if you plan on plowing snow, hauling dirt, or putting your truck to use commercially.
In terms of dimensions, the Ram 2500 comes in at 19.25 feet long, and 6.58 feet wide. The curb weight clocks in at between 6,000 and 7,000 pounds, depending on which transmission you opt to go with.
To conclude the comparison, it’s difficult to really declare a winner between the three, since the results are truly subjective, and it completely depends on what you are looking for as a consumer. For instance, if you want the most bang for your buck, the Ram 2500 is probably your best bet. For power, the F-250 Super Duty is likely calling your name. Plan on towing often? Then the Silverado/Sierra 2500HD should be your choice.
All three of these trucks have their own individual strengths and weaknesses, and consumers should stick with the selection that best suits their lifestyle or circumstances. But choices likely won’t be limited to these three for long. There are rumors floating around that Toyota may be looking to enter the heavy duty game, with an upticked version of its Tundra pickup. If foreign trucks are more up your alley, it may be worth waiting for.
Otherwise, know what you need ahead of time before heading to the dealership, and select what works best for you.