Keeping Score: Which One-Ton Heavy-Duty Pickups Tow and Haul the Most?

Keeping Score: Which One-Ton Heavy-Duty Pickups Tow and Haul the Most

Ram has released the full towing and hauling specs for its 2011 Heavy Duty pickups armed with the new High Output 6.7-liter Cummins ISB six-cylinder diesel. We've created an updated comparison chart to see how the final numbers stack up against Chevy's and Ford's HDs.

The HO Cummins diesel increases torque 23 percent to 800 pounds-feet (at 1,600 rpm), up from today's rating of 650 pounds-feet (at 1,500 rpm). It will be standard on all 2500 and 3500 models equipped with Chrysler's 68RFE six-speed automatic transmission. The transmission also gets a new torque converter with updated shift calibrations to handle the increased power settings. The only mechanical change to the Cummins is a new crankshaft damper that's said to reduce engine noise and vibration.

When the HO Cummins is paired with the new Max Tow Package option for Ram HD pickups, the Ram 3500 claims bragging rights among one-ton pickups for the highest fifth-wheel towing figure — 22,700 pounds.

The Max Tow Package for the Ram adds a beefed-up rear axle with a new 4.10 gear ratio, new rear-axle pinion, new helical gears, upgraded bearings and an aluminum differential cover with large cooling fins. There's also a new water-to-oil transmission cooler and new power steering cooler to help manage the higher trailer towing ratings.

This table compares the 2011.5 HO Ram vs. the early 2011 Ram with the standard Cummins diesel, plus competitive Chevy and Ford trucks

A two-wheel-drive, regular cab, dual-rear-wheel Ram 3500 can tow up to 22,700 pounds, beating a similarly configured Ford F-350 by 100 pounds and the Chevy Silverado 3500 by 1,000 pounds.

Among two-wheel-drive crew-cab dually heavy-duty pickups, Ford still claims the top fifth-wheel towing rating at 21,800 pounds, beating the Silverado by 300 pounds and the Ram by 2,600 pounds.

Ford can also lay claim to the highest payload and conventional towing figures for one-ton trucks. The Ford F-350 Super Duty can haul up to 7,070 pounds in a regular cab, two-wheel drive, DRW configuration. The Silverado 3500 crew cab can haul the most cargo among four-door HD pickups, at 6,223 pounds.

It's interesting to see the differences in ratings among crew and regular cab trucks, but it's difficult to tell among all the heavy-duty truck makers where engineering capability is outperformed by marketing wizardry to lay claim to best-in-class bragging rights.

[Sources: Chrysler, Ford, General Motors]


These new towing numbers are to the new SAE standards. We will see right numbers from ford and gm yet. Dodge with Cummins is a king.

With the crew cab models( most popular), the Ram still remains way behind in towing, payload and GCWR. Come on Ram build a better frame and hitch your falling way behind even with your upgrade. Not a bad looking truck, but transmission and ability hold it back. The new GM is selling really good around here, i see more of them than the 2011 Ford even, which i drive right now, which i like except for the fuel economy sucks and a few electrical problems getting sorted out. If there is another head to head towing challenge the Ram will have to use a reg cab or they still won't be included in the 29,000 lb towing evaluation with the crew cab being still under at 26,900 lbs. Does everyone notice the Ram has to have the 4:10 reg cab to get the higher numbers. Put the 3:73 gears in the Ram and the numbers are the lowest of the three still.

@ lou, the Cummins H.O WILL have DPF, but not DEF( which is probably what you meant). On gravel the Ram will fall further behind with the lack of traction control and stability control to keep it from spinning off the line and straight in the corners.

Fords heaviest hauler is the F-450, with a 24,400 fifth wheel towing capacity. They didn't need to boost numbers as they have the King of haulers covered. Right Bob?

even though its short on torque. You need to test the 6 speed manual against the autos. I would love to see the results on the long high speed hill and the difference in fuel mileage. Don't forget to do a cost per mile comparison including urea costs.


Any reason given by Ram why the GCWR is different from Regular to Crew cab?

This is rediculous! It's already out of hand. 800 Ft/lb of torque. You might as well go out and buy a medium duty truck for all that matter. a dealership is not going to tell you that you need a class A CDL when you register a truck over 26,000 GCWR. Because they just want to sell the truck! Plus, People are not going to spend the 410.00 a year on the registration. not bashing the trucks, they are all nice, but they are getting really expensive. when diesel hits 4 or 5$ a gallon its not going to help the country either! just my opinion.

I don't know about your state but in mine I can register the truck according to my needs, 10,000 lbs if I want. Just better make sure you are covered for the weight your hauling if DMV stops.

The Ford F-450 has two rear axle ratios available, a 4.30 and a 4.88 So anyone who brags about ford not having to fudge thier tow ratings isn't comparing it to a simular equipped truck.

Max tow ratings are for one purpose, to be able to claim we can tow more than the other guy. Ford wants to be able to claim best in class in towing, payload, ugliest, etc, etc. so they can advertise it to the public. This is like guys bragging about who has the biggest johnson, it's all about marketing.

I can't wait for another round of towing comparisons between Dodge, Ford and GM. My money is on the Duramax.

@TTERsi: No reason from Chrysler.

@Bob: A 4.88 rear axle for the F-450 hasn't been available since 2009.

These numbers are interesting but when will truck makers realize there is a huge hole in their lineups with LOTS of opportunity. There are many people who would rather buy a smaller, more fuel efficient diesel motor (say 250hp/500tq) that gets better fuel economy. Lots of people don't need the maximum payload and towing and would be much happier with better fuel economy using the same platform.

we use f-450 and we order them with the 4.30 ratios and it does not change the tow rating, however we do not pull over 10,000 lbs, and as far as these rating go i would not tow that kind of weight with these truck, regardless if it is a ford dodge or chevy these truck will not take that kind of work load day in an day out


F-450 only comes in one configuration: crewcab, 4x4, diesel, 8' bed, 4.30

That's it.

Another towing comparison is good to see how a truck does in a quarter mile. But it doesn't say how will do in a quarter decade. I'm talking reliability (doesn't break down), dependability (lasts a long time), operating costs, fuel economy, etc.

Ford conducted a study on what reasons people would switch brands.

The top 15 reasons were:
1) fuel economy - diesel power mag rated fuel economy a tie, Ford was better towing, GM empty
2) operating costs - not tested here
3) durability (lasts a long time) - not tested here
4) how far on a tank of gas - about the same
5) reliability (doesn't break down) - not tested here
6) ride smoothness - seen it go both ways depending on publication, TIE.
7) performance fully loaded - in the HD shootout the differences were minimal
8) seat comfort - Ford
9) engine power - both have plenty of power. TIE.
10) visibility for driver - it was said GM's tow mirrors did not extend far enough as would like
11) towing capacity - Ford can tow more weight in a F450. Factory 5th wheel package.
12) overall front seat roominess - Ford.
13) in vehicle electronics, technology - onstar vs Ford sync, productivity screen, work solutions. Advantage Ford.
14) front seat for passenger area - Ford.
15) exterior styling - Ford more modern, Chevy classic styling, take your pick. TIE.

So as you can see, GM Bob, yet another towing test at WOT is good for fanboys like yourself but it isn't going to change a thing in the real world.

Let it be written. It was already done.


If you have a CDL, then good for you. I want to get one but haven't gotten around to it yet. I just think this power war has gotten out of hand. Most people who buy these trucks will never push them to half their capacity. It seems like a waste to have the capacity and never actually use it.

@ Sean - thanks for the catch. I did mean DEF.

@ Tom - you are correct.
Some jurisdictions will let you "down rate" the licensing to a lower capacity. Just do not get caught exceeding the registered ratings.

You do not need a cdl to drive any of these trucks.

RAM GVWR 12000



Non of these trucks are even close to needing a cdl.

@passalacqua: In many states, if you are actively towing at 26K# GCW, you need a CDL. I think I'm going to get mine this year.

@ Jordan L - interesting point about Ram meeting the new SAE tow requirements. I wonder how much the new rules will actually change things for everyone.
Toyota did it first and the CrewMax was the only one to take a big hit.
I suspect that the new SAE standards will affect 1/2 tons more than the HD's. I've always felt that the ratings were bloated.
I don't think a compact should be rated for more than 3-4000lb, a 1/2 ton 4-8,000, a 3/4 ton 8 - 12,000 and I don't hink any 1 ton should be allowed to pull what they are currently rated.
My fear is some 80 yr. old tourist pulling a 18,000 lb fifth wheeler and loosing it and taking out a bunch of other vehicles.
I've seen several crashs with smaller "camper" units and fortunately there wasn't a huge casualty count.

@passalacqua - you will if you tow the maximum trailer rating.
Some jurisdictions have exemptions ie. farmers or you need to get a "heavy towing endorsement" that will cover you ie. personal use or a truck and trailer combination without air brakes.
Any combination of vehicles with a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, providing the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.

It boils down to driver/buyer beware as many car lots and RV outfits will not point out the requirements.

@ Mike Levine - a story covering licencing requirements might be a cool idea.

I just got back from a 1000 mile pull with my 24 foot trailer with my 2011 Chevy. It is all about engine and tranny management with GM. The power wars are over. It's the quality of how you get the power to the ground is the new frontier. Having spent time in the new Ford as well, the rumble in the Rockies results seem right to me.

@ Steve - great comment.
The Michigan shootout seemed to indicate your point. The Ford and Chev diesels were farely close but the GM seemed to put it to the ground better.
Motorcycles have been at the point of usable power instead of max power for a while now. That is where the truck manufactures need to focus, and a huge focus on MPG.

OK here is my wo cents. RITR doesnt mean squat nomatter who wins. It is the farthest thing from real world driving. I use my trucks for towing heavy loads of pipe etc in the oilfield. I tow everythiing from a 24' to a 38' flatdeck trailer loaded to the hilt. On hollidays I tow a 34' high profile 5th wheel weighing in dry at 10,800lbs. So I think I have a preety good idea about what I am about to say. Power stoke tough truck but hard on wheel bearings and fuel. Pulls excellent. D max not so tough of a truck once it hits the leases better suited to the pavement. Pulls excellent but also hard on fuel. Cummins rides like a stone boat but by far have spent less on front ends etc. Also pulls excellent actually when the cruise is set under a load it pulls as good if not better and hands down, by far, the easiest on fuel. I agree if ya wanna tow its gotta have six in a row. But what do I know I only make my living pulling trailers.

@ Red your are right it comes down to Preference, i have towed over 10,000lbs for the last ten years with a construction co. i have used GMC FORD and DODGE they all have there flaws, they switched to ford in '00 and have had 7.3's 6.0's and 6.4's that was shortly after i started for the company prier to that i was driving GMC for another construction company, and i have to say the ford does a much better job over the life span of the over all vehicle than the GMC Fuel, brakes, front ends interior falls apart period, i don,t have much experience with dodge but have plenty of friends who do other than trannys rough ride and small cabs they are ok, as far as trucks go they all have there flaws i am just a guy who will not judge a truck by how fast it can go up a hill it is over all performance, but i have not driven any new '11 yet ether so i don't know, but with fuel going to $5 a gallon this all seems senseless i would rather they make them more fuel efficient

I found that in fact you can very easily "over-pull" many trailers. Mine weighs maybe 7000 pounds. You can yank that thing around at speeds which can damage them. Face it most recreational rv's are built pretty poorly. Now you can go 75 miles and hour down some of the concrete slabbed freeways out here in California and it puts tremendous loads on the trailer. The older trucks were somewhat controlled by the weight of the trailer. Now if you want to go 80 up some hill you just push on the go button and she will do it.

Red, I was following you until you said Ram has the best reliability and fuel economy - two of Ram's weakest links. Ram diesel consistently comes in last in fuel econ everywhere.

If the Ram ratings are based off of the New S.A.E. standards, and the Chevrolet, Ford, & G.M.C. trucks based on the old standard, is it safe to say that the Ford and the G.M. twins numbers might drop? We will just have to wait to see what happens.

I think u guys are bunch babies. I driven all three of the trucks loaded and to me the best pulling truck is the DODGE RAM3500. I must say Cummins DIESEL is the best engine. Look at it this what does it matter anyhow if you are making money with its pointless to even buy one.

I thnk it all comes down to preference. For what you pay they are all junk. But to be honest I could care less what the print says cummins is the easiest on fuel when under a load. That I know from experience not from what is printed. Two friends of mine and myself pulled our campers to Niagara Falls 5000km (3000miles) each way. Two of us with cummins and one D max. The other two guys Dmax & Cummins trailers both around 9000# 5th wheels mine 10,800# high profile. When the Dmax was on empty with its 80ltr tank the Cummins still had just under half a tank. I was usually 10-15 liters (2.5-3.75) less fuel at the pump. Like I said easier on fuel. The Dmax was a 2010 and he just upgraded to a Cummins a few months back. It started off heavy on the fuel but has improved beyond his Dmax so he tells me. The year before we all pulled them out to Revelstoke British Columbia and lets just say he was sure wishing he had the factory exhaust brake.

Hey guys i am happy to see, Dodge , ford, and chevy battle it out. At the end of they day , they are great American trucks so we all win. I would hate to see in a few years time a honda , toyota or even a kia truck being number one...
So lets pat each other on the back and have a beer... Cheers....

I will drink to That !!!!!!!

Sorry to break the news to you but Dodge doesn't meet the new towing SAE J2807. The have said in a couple of the articles they meet the key criteria, but they don't meet it all yet. Keyword is "key", not all.

For one thing, Ram does not have trailer sway - which is one of the requirements. Ram isn't expected to get it until the 2012 model year when federal law calls for all cars and light trucks to offer stability control as standard equipment.

I don't see GM or Ford towing numbers going down when the SAE standards are adopted. In 2013 Both Ford and GM will have new HD trucks. If anything towing will go up and the GM and Ford haters will find that their pinned hopes of Ford and GM towing figures going tumbling down has been overstated by a wide margin. GM and Ford will have no problem. It will be a piece of cake.

First, “GM says the towing specs were calculated using SAE’s new industry J-2807 trailer towing standard that will eventually be followed by all truck manufacturers."

Ford isn't going to have any problems either - all new power trains for their halftons that were updated in 09 and 10 with all new brakes, and all new models for 2013 CY. All new engine and trannies for their HD and all new models for 2013 CY. How is this SAE Jive going to be a problem for Ford when they are ready for it and GM and Ford were involved in writing it?

Second, for the buy American or say goodbye to America crowd, Ram is owned by Chrysler…which is owned by an Italian company called “Fiat.” This was part of the whole government bailout you might have read about in 2009. Since that time, buying a Ram has been sending money to Fiat. And all of the Ram HD trucks are made in Mexico. So how is that buying American? Seems like you are adovcating buying Mexican/Italian and saying goodbye to America to me.

Third, if Dodge is always the best, why did they have the worst quality ratings according to both JD Power and Consumer Reports during most of the last 20+ years?

@ Nick

The new Power Stroke diesel engine is made in Mexico along with F6 and 750s so Ram/Fiat isn't the only truck made across borders. Thats just how it is these days, no sense in getting worked up and bashing one brand when the best selling brand does the same thing.
Honestly I think that when these new tow rating standards take effect, I see both Ford and Ram ratings going down. And I say Ford too because of its downhill performance in the Rumble, Mike reported hot brakes so I think it will suffer a drop in max tow ratings.
However I think GM will see an increase in tow rating mostly because they are about to break out the spring dust within the next year or two, but mostly that their new frame is way underated much like the power ratings were underated on the new PSD when it came out.

@ Nick - how unpatriotic of you to point that out ;)

Mexico is part of North America especially with NAFTA (North American Free Trafficking Agreement)

How else would Border Patrol justify buying Raptors?

Now that is Patriotism -

F150's with 55% USA parts guarding the USA from cheep labor.

its fun to see the dodge boys and chevy boys talk smack on this stuff.
I use to own a 2005 Ford F350 SD long bed dually that was declared a total loss in a wreck with a bus in 2009(I think if I had been driving a Chevy I would be six feet under right now).
so I did my own little pulling test prior to replacing my truck in early 2009.
I pull a 37Ft toy-hauler bumper pull Trailer in the real world, not in Mike Levins made up world of
My trailer weight fully loaded is 17.1K (with 200gal of water, 60-gal of fuel, a sand buggy and three quads inside, etc.), plus we load a Quad and fire wood in the bed of the truck, plus six people in the cab of the truck. Not a world for Tundras…..
So I had a fully loaded rolling weight of 26.5K truck and trailer. I know I know, you guys are going to tell me Im over weight for this truck, join the real world of towing. Not the rumble in the Rockies BS.
I hooked up the beast (toyhauler) to a 2009 Chevy, the truck was very fast, yet I dont race up hills with a 37ft trailer behind me in the real world. The truck felt like it danced all over the road, the steering was loose and the trailer dominated the truck as the truck and trailer would wonder all over the road, the brakes felt weak when it came time to stop. My wife noted the interior of the truck was small and cramped in the front and the back. (we have 4-kids). The truck just did not feel safe pulling these kinds of loads.
We stopped by the dodge dealer and the interior of the truck reminded me of a 1976 Chevy suburban, not to mention I felt like I was on driving an 18 wheeler with the sound of the motor. Lastly Dodge did not have a real crew cab long bed truck, which was a show stopper in my world. So it never even got to get hooked up to the trailer as it did not leave the test ride.
So, we bought a 2009 Ford F350 SD Long bed Crew cab dually. Got to say nothing tows like a SD in the real world. I may get bad MPG, but the truck does the job in the real world, with lots of interior room, and real world towing abilities….This truck is not meant to be driven empty, or for a shopping ride to walmart, its meant for real world truck jobs and towing. I have also put 4k in the bed of the truck and no issues.
That is why it’s the number one truck for industry and famers.

Check it out...
"Fiat, the Italian carmaker that owns 20 percent of Chrysler Group LLC, may boost the holding to more than 50 percent before a planned initial public offering by the U.S. carmaker this year."

@ Red, all your comments about the trucks are outdated. You say Ram has small interior, not from 2010 and up, you say GM weak front end and chassis, have you driven the 2011 GM trucks with the 5 times stronger frame ,60% beefier front suspension, 11,500Lb 3500 SRW( same as a Ram dually). The new GM is kicking some butt, and handles better than any truck out there. You say Ram gets best fuel economy( pre 6.7L ummins maybe, but i have 2010 Cummins and get 12 MPG average 8-9 mpg towing, it is a pig, but looks good. Don't even get me started on the front end issues i've encountered on my Ram 3500, and only 25,000 miles. Transmission has also had a new converter already, i expected that knowing Ram transmissions are the weakest of the trucks. Keep up with the times, GM and Ford have left Ram in the Dust.

quoted by willthiseverend

"The only difference in the situations at GM and Chrysler is GM is owned some 60% by the US treasury and Chrysler is only 6%."

True, but this is also the second time time Chrysler has been bailed out by the US government. Does anyone remember the early 1980's?? Last year when I bought my 2010 Silverado, my father-in-law gave my wife and I some crap about buying Government Motors junk. He didn't have a whole lot more to say when I reminded that he bought a government bailout Dodge Caravan in 1987. Like the pot calling the kettle black if you ask me. Another thing to consider is Ford might have gone under and had to seek government aid if they wouldn't have been bailed out by the banks (mortgaged everything they had). They are lucky that their gamble worked out for them, and it made them look good in the eyes of the American public, which helped them sell more cars and trucks. In all reality though, they were not in much better shape than GM or Chrysler before the economy tanked.

Dodge posted 2013 tow and payload standards results.(per allpars). You can't argue against that.
Those are stardust springs or frames. That a true te3st results. It would sem to point to the fact that Ram may have been low balling all these years.
Let's see what happens to Ford and GM's ratings when they use the new 2013 standards.
We may all be in for a surprise.

Does trailer sway control apply to any of the dual wheel 1 ton trucks. I understood it did not.

Not sure that it is even needed in the dual wheel trucks..
Single wheel trucks have no business towing heavy, large side area trailers or loads.
The need for sway control. Indicates you are over loaded.
Or improperly loaded.

Properly trained drivers hauling legitimate loads for their vehicles. Can apply fuel brakes and steering on their own.

Remember when tow haul first came in effect and the results that came from driving on icy roads. It wasn't pretty when tow haul downshifted unexpectedly.
I can see the same effect with way control in icy conditions.
Let's hope the engineers took that into effect.
Those drivers in the cold regions can make sure their loads are properly loaded and within load ratings.
They can't prevent themselves from driving in icy conditions. Icy roads are a way of life. They have to be driven in many regions every winter.

Brakes being unexpectedly applied on a icy road during a blizzard may be a deal breaker.
Or a life changer.
Or a life 'ender.'.

Ford is the only 1 ton dually with trailer sway control.

Towing a large load on the highway and someone cuts you off, that is ONE reason for trailer sway control. Ever have a trailer jack knife on you? The chances of that happening with this system are greatly reduced. People are human. Even if you think you are loading it properly, you can make mistakes and have an improper load. Even with a proper load, sway will occur (curvy roads, bump, high winds, wet roads).

I bet if it was GM and Dodge that had trailer sway and Ford was the one that didn't, you wouldn't be saying it's not even needed. Dodge doesn't even have it on any of their HD trucks.

ITBC with trailer sway control is one of the greatest features to come out in a long time and it should be on all tow trucks and dually trucks more so since they are more likely to be towing.

Tim, the point is Ford didn't take taxpayer money while shafting their bondholders and stockholders. Sure, they borrowed money from banks, just like most people who buy vehicles and homes. Do you also say these people were bailed out by the banks. I might not understand completely, but looks like GM didn't even have to pay the money back, just issued stock to the US govt. Now they are saying they wont have to pay taxes because of the bankruptcy. Ford is paying back the money they borrowed, and will have to pay taxes. I don't see that as a fair playing field. Don't misunderstand, I didn't want GM to collapse, but I don't want them getting a free ride either. All I can do is make sure none of their vehicles EVER sit in my driveway.

The way I understand it is so much of GM's debt to the gov't was converted into stock, and the rest (around 10 billion or so) remained as a cash debt to be repaid. I believe that the 10 billion portion of the debt has been repaid. Hopefully they can get it turned around and pay back the American people the remainder of what they owe. Don't get me wrong, I don't want them to get a free ride either, and I want to see everything work out well for all of the American auto makers. My point was, each of the big three was in trouble 3 years ago, each a victim of a poor economy and poor management. In the end, Ford did have the better strategy, and it's paying off for them. If you don't want a GM vehicle in your driveway, that's your perogative.

Correction - "Old GMC" 200 billion debt. Of which only 60 billion found its way to the `New GM`who`s debt was covered by the USA Government through stock purchase and loans.
The Canadian government also kicked in cash to bailout GMC Canada. Same deal as USA Government - stock and loans.
The irony is the Candaian Government "loan" was paid off with USA government "line of credit" money.

We do forget that Chrysler got bailed out twice.
This time around one can argue that they got screwed hard by Daimler/Benz.
The last time they screwed themselves with crappy products.


Sway control is.only available on single wheel trucks from ford also. Sway control is different from trailer stability. That is a torsion system
offered by the hitch.

@Buddy: Lou is correct. Ford offers sway control on SRW and DRW trucks.

@Mike Levine and @Buddy sway control systems are common for cars towing Caravans in Europe. They do not use WDH hitches though.

Is Chevy/GM increasing towing to 11,600 on half tons? Scroll down to the right....

Pic says 11,600 but everywhere else says 10,700.

@Bryan: Good eye! I'm looking into it. Just sent an e-mail. Stay tuned.

Post a Comment

Please remember a few rules before posting comments:

  • Try to be civil to your fellow blog readers.
  • Stay on topic. We want to hear your opinions and thoughts, but please only comment about the specified topic in the blog post.
  • Your email will not be shown.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In

Home | Buy or Sell a Truck | News | Special Reports

Powered by By using this site, you agree to our terms of service | © 2017 | Privacy Statement | Contact Us