Pickup Trucks 101: How Do SRW 2500s and 3500s Differ?

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By Matthew Barnes

From the outside, it can be hard to tell the difference between a three-quarter-ton (Class 2B) and one-ton (Class 3) single-rear-wheel pickup truck. Even the pricing can look similar, with 3500s usually costing $1,100 to $1,300 more than 2500s. Dual-rear-wheel pickups have higher payload and towing ratings along with other significant structural changes, but in this piece we'll focus on single-rear-wheel trucks to keep comparisons as consistent as possible.

What are the differences between the two? And is a 3500 worth the extra money?

In most cases, you'll find the interiors and exteriors of these two truck types are similar except for badging. Mechanically and structurally many things are similar as well, like frames and brakes, but there also are many differences. Engines, transmissions, axles, transfer cases and suspensions can all vary to some degree between the two classes no matter the manufacturer.

Chevy 2500 Leaf Spring Pack copy

2018 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 Vs. 3500

Engine options are the same for the 2018 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 and 3500: the 6.0-liter Vortec V-8 gas engine and the turbo-diesel 6.6-liter Duramax V-8. The maximum gross vehicle weight rating and gross combined weight rating for the Silverado 2500 are 10,000 and 25,300 pounds, respectively. Ratings for the Silverado 3500 are predictably higher for payload, with a higher GVWR at 11,600 but the GCWR is identical to the 2500 at 25,300 pounds. Chevy uses two six-speed automatic transmissions for its heavy-duty trucks. The Vortec gas engine is mated to a Hydra-Matic 6L90 while the Duramax diesel is paired with the heavier-duty Allison 1000.

Two Magna transfer cases are offered and are available for both the 2500 and 3500. The MP1225/6 NQG is a floor-mounted, manually shifted unit and the MP1625/6 NQF is a rotary-dial, electronically shifting unit.

Chevy uses an AAM 11.5-inch rear axle and 9.25-inch front axle for both the gas and diesel drivetrains in the 2500 and 3500 models. The gear ratios are the same for both the 2500 and 3500: 4.10:1 for the gas and 3.73:1 for the diesel. Both these facts are the single biggest factor in why the 2500 and 3500 have the same GCWR numbers.

Additionally, both the Chevrolet Silverado 2500 and 3500 have the same independent (torsion bar) front suspension and rear leaf sprung suspensions; however, the shocks are different depending on trim level/option packages. Finally, while a tire pressure monitoring system is required for all vehicles with a GVWR less than 10,000 pounds, Chevy is the only one of the Detroit Three that doesn't include TPMS on its one-ton trucks yet.

Editor's note: Since GM's Chevrolet and GMC trucks are twins, everything above also applies to the 2018 GMC Sierra 2500 and 3500.

F-350 Rear Axle copy II

2018 Ford F-250 Vs. F-350

The engine options for the 2018 Ford F-250 and F-350 are the same: the gas 6.2-liter V-8 and turbo-diesel 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8. The F-250 has a maximum GVWR of 10,000 pounds and a base GCWR of 23,500 pounds, yet it can be optioned to have a maximum GCWR of 25,700 pounds. The single-rear-wheel F-350 has a maximum GVWR of 11,500 pounds and a maximum GCWR of 28,700 pounds. Ford uses its six-speed automatic transmission for both the F-250 and F-350.

The gas F-250 uses the more refined TorqShift-G 6R100 transmission, while the gas F-350 and Super Duty diesels all use the stronger TorqShift 6R140. The two transmissions also have different gear ratios, with the 6R100 being geared slightly lower for stronger work duty.

Transfer cases for both vehicles are BorgWarner models with a 2.64:1 low range. The MSOS/ESOF 6R100 transfer case pairs with the TorqShift-G 6R100 transmission and the MSOS/ESOF 6R140 pairs with the TorqShift 6R140 transmission. The heavier-duty 6R140 transfer case is built to handle the higher power output rating of the 6R140 transmission.

Front axles for the Ford F-250 and Ford F-350 are the same Dana 60s with a 10.08-inch ring gear. The rear axle for the gas F-250 and F-350 along with lighter-duty diesel F-250s is a Ford 10.5-inch rear end. The F-250 diesel can be optioned with the standard diesel F-350 rear axle: the Dana M275, which offers a 10.8-inch ring gear. Available axle ratios are the same for the F-250 and F-350; choices include 3.73:1 and 4.30:1 for the gas, and 3.31:1 and 3.55:1 for the diesel.

Suspensions on the front of Ford's Super Duty trucks are the same, but the rear suspensions have differently tuned shocks and springs. The shocks for the F-350 are designed for the higher load capacity, while the F-250 shocks are tuned for a smoother ride when empty. Additionally, the F-350 offers standard auxiliary rear overload springs, while the F-250 can be optioned with them.

Ram 2500 Rear Coil Spring copy II

2018 Ram 2500 Vs. 3500

Ram has the most variances between its 2500 and 3500 models when compared with competitors. Where Ford and Chevy heavy-duty models have two transmission options and two engine options, Ram offers four transmission and engine options. The 2018 Ram 2500 and 3500 single-rear-wheel pickups have the same maximum GCWR rating of 25,300 pounds; however, the maximum GVWR for the 2500 is 10,000 pounds and the maximum GVWR for the 3500 is 12,300 pounds.

The four different six-speed transmissions are the A6 66RFE (automatic), A6 68RFE (auto), A6 AS69RC (auto) and M6 MT-G56 (manual). The 66RFE and 68RFE are made by Ram parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, while the AS69RC is made by Aisin and the MT-G56 is made by Getrag. The 66RFE is paired with the 5.7-liter and 6.4-liter V-8 Hemi engines; the MT-G56 is paired with the turbo-diesel 6.7-liter Cummins inline-six-cylinder (the down-rated version that yields 660 pounds-feet of torque); the 68RFE is paired with the middle-rated Cummins turbo-diesel (800 pounds-feet of torque); and the AS69RC is paired with the max-rated Cummins diesel (930 pounds-feet of torque) and is available only on the Ram 3500 dually (the other engine/transmission combinations are available for both the 2500 and 3500).

Ram offers two Borg Warner 2.64:1 low-range transfer cases — the BW 44-46 electric shift and BW 44-47 manual shift. Either one can be used in any four-wheel-drive application on the Ram 2500 or 3500.

Interestingly, Ram uses the same front and rear axles for everything in the 2500 and 3500 trucks, except the dual-rear-wheel applications where the max-torque Cummins is available. Similar to Chevrolet, the front is an AAM with a 9.25-inch ring gear and the rear axle is an AAM with an 11.5-inch ring gear. The Ram 2500 Power Wagon has locking front and rear axles that are not available on any other Ram application. The axle ratios available for 2500 models and single-rear-wheel 3500s are 3.73:1 and 4.10:1 for gas and 3.42:1 for the Cummins turbo-diesel.

All front suspensions for the two trucks are the same (meaning live front axles and coil springs) except for the Power Wagon, which adds an electronically disconnecting sway bar. The rear of the 2500 has a five-link coil spring setup with an optional supplemental air spring for extra load carrying capacity. The rear of the 3500 has leaf springs, also with an optional supplemental airbag.

Silverado 3500 copy II

Summing Things Up

While three-quarter and one-ton pickups often look similar on the surface, the differences underneath can be quite significant depending on how you order them. Those differences are enough to warrant a closer look when deciding on which one is best for you. Make sure you know what you need. Generally speaking, the GM three-quarter-ton truck will ride smoother than the one-ton when empty but will not be able to carry as much payload, but it is likely able to tow just as much as the one-ton. Knowing the difference will help you make the right choice and determine if you need to spend the extra money for a diesel.

Cars.com photos by Matthew Barnes and Mark Williams



Chevy 3500 Leaf Spring Pack copy

Chevy 3500 Rear Axle copy


FORD F-350

F350 Leaf Spring Pack copy

F-350 Rear Axle copy II


RAM 3500

Ram 3500 Rear Leaf Pack copy II

Ram 3500 Rear Axle copy II



And that is why you need more than an ecoboost to get real towing done. All those underpinnings really do matter.

Man, those chevy's with the functional Ram air hood look amazing.

Whatever you do. Don't buy an aftermarket diff cover for any of these trucks. Waste of money kills power and efficiency.

Watch the Banks vids on diff covers.

Good article, thanks PT.com.

The Ford is by far the best seller in this category.

all very capable trucks.

I'll take the Duramax and its menacing looking hood. Love that thing!

I give it by 2020...ford and ram will have hood scoops. Just watch

Its a nice upgrade to the looks, especially when its out on the road coming at you....

Saw many new Duramax on Interstate this past weekend.

Biggest difference is the number of wheels. The 3500 has 6 wheels and the 2500 only has 4 wheels like a car.

So now you think GM invented hood scoops.

@ just the truth

Again did I say that?

Stop twisting my words. It got you in way to much trouble already!

BTW. Answer my question Mr. Truth.

You got me in trouble in your dreams. You are not the one who proved himself an idiot. So now you want to start your insults and ruin another thread.

There is no difference in the Silverado truck brand. The 1500, 2500 and 3500 are just options of capability. It's why Silverado is the #1 selling truck brand/company for 47 years. FACT!

@ Just the truth

I never insulted you here.

I asked you not to twist my words, which you do constantly to your liking's!


@ Just the truth

I never insulted you here.

I asked you not to twist my words, which you do constantly to your liking's!


More lies from a GMShill.

Silverado is not the best selling. Even GM acknowledges that fact.

How many think tntgmc has shown himself to be a.complete idiot that he should be ignored from now on?

So now you think GM invented hood scoops.

Posted by: Just the truth | Sep 11, 2018 12:10:14 PM

GM has patents on this scoops function.

There is no difference in the Silverado truck brand. The 1500, 2500 and 3500 are just options of capability. It's why Silverado is the #1 selling truck brand/company for 47 years. FACT!

Posted by: GMSRGREAT | Sep 11, 2018 12:25:14 PM

I did not post the above. Brick, Just the truth who ever you are, grow the phuck up.

@; gms I don't know what you think I posted but then I don't care. But you have no control over what I post.

Regular cab is the only real truck. Real trucks don't have back seats. An accountant that uses a truck to look tough driving to the office always in crews. The ladies know the difference and when they see a regular cab they know that it's a real truck doing work, getting paid.

@ Just the truth

How many people think this guy has 20 different user names and doesn't ever tell the truth?

He spews nonsense and twists words to his liking's!

@ tntOnline You have exactly described yourself.

@ Just the truth

Hey genius! My name is always in blue. I have one username.

Man you seriously have issues that can't be fixed.

Especially since you don't even drive a TRUCK!

@ Just the truth. Your admission of sleeping over at MJ's place has messed you up. You should have used the settlement money to seek quality professional help, instead you bought a Ford. That is one double negative you may never recover from.

@ gms Your buddy tntOnliine swears MJ is not a pervert. I think you and tntgmc have something going.

@ Just the truth

You are the one starting crap and twisting things that other people say. Your a fool.

@ Just the truth. You admitting that you know the facts about MJ was all to revealing. Clearly your current obsession with MJ is a result of flashbacks you're experiencing brought on by TNTGMC song suggestion. I suggest you seek professional help.

Gms I suggest you and tnt quit sleeping together.

@ just the truth

Everyone can see past your lies and nonsense

All u do is twist words around to make it look like you know something. Your the childish one and we all see it

Maybe you'll wake up, face the man in the mirror and see the truth!

Or you can go to the escort forum. They probably would love a new member.




@ tntOnline you and your gms buddy are two Michael Jackson perverts in a pod.

Ford's slow and always break not even good enough for groceries

@ jaunfro All that and pros still liken them better than Chevy.

Goodness, there has to be a grownups section somewhere on this site. Anyone who ACTUALLY spends time around commercial and work environments knows that all three companies are very well represented on job sites. Ford makes some good deals on fleet sales so their numbers aren’t necessarily a reflection of consumer confidence or actual reliability. But they do make a good truck and if that’s what the fleet manager wants then that’s what he’ll spring for. These childish forays into who did what with Michael Jackson sound like a bunch of middle schoolers trying to one up each other.

The 5 amber lights on the cab of H.D. trucks is for weight. If you see one in your review get out of the way. lol


MLS956 is the only one who made any sense with his post.

Can someone start moderating this website's comment system?

Every story I read has comments from the same 6 people just brand bashing back and forth. Will you guys just get a job? It's really worth your time to continually post one-liners at each other?

Ram 3500 SRW can be bought with Aisin/930 torque Cummins but you are limited to 3.42 ratio gears

Biggest difference is the number of wheels. The 3500 has 6 wheels and the 2500 only has 4 wheels like a car.

Posted by: Snowman | Sep 11, 2018 12:09:58 PM

You need to get out and look at trucks more often. There are many 3500-350 trucks that aren't dual rear wheels. Wow.

Rammaniac you are correct. I own a SRW with the HO 6.7L and the Aisin trans. Got lucky and found a 2018 with 5864 miles on it.
I caught that same line in the article stating the above option was only available on the DRW, not true.

I think that Bell Ranger (helicopter) has ZERO chance of lifting that big Chevy off the ground. Any takers?

Rammaniac and Laredo Tugger, you are both correct, we actually tested a SRW HO 6.7 cummins in our 1-ton challenge that was recently posted, not sure how this one got by us.

Wrong Wrong Wrong.

AS69RC is available in 3500 srw (and yes even with a shortbed)

When is GM going to replace or significantly upgrade the tired, old 6.0-liter Vortec V-8? While it's supposed to be a reliable/durable engine, it's a dog. Low hp, low, torque, low mpg's......and what I assume is......low cost (to build).

When is GM going to replace or significantly upgrade the tired, old 6.0-liter Vortec V-8? While it's supposed to be a reliable/durable engine, it's a dog. Low hp, low, torque, low mpg's......and what I assume is......low cost (to build).
Posted by: nperr@yahoo.com | Sep 24, 2018


What would you think of a much bigger V8 gasser such as a 454?

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