If you need serious towing and hauling capability, check out these top 10 used heavy duty trucks with their massive power outputs and no shortage of style.
In the world of pickups, heavy duty trucks sit atop the capability heap. Midsize trucks are typically enough for the weekend warrior. Light duty or half-ton pickups are very capable and handle plenty of big jobs. However, if you’re hauling payloads and trailers into the tens of thousands of pounds, enter heavy duty truck land.
The term heavy duty applies to three-quarter-ton and one-ton pickups, which is defined by American automakers with the 250/2500 and 350/3500 designation. In fact, Nissan is the only foreign brand that dabbles in this arena with their Titan XD, and it’s a sort of in betweener.
While the three-quarter and one-ton classification used to correspond to payload capacity, these trucks now offer far more than 2,000 pounds of hauling. Particularly when you add a second set of rear wheels. Here are 10 used heavy duty trucks worth considering when you need maximum capability.
Ford’s F-series is a perennial bestseller in light duty, F-150 trim. The F-250 adds to this winning formula with a beefier chassis to support heavier payload and towing needs. The 18,500-pound towing and 4,332-pound payload max figures, for a 2019 model, are touted in the ongoing battle between pickup truck manufacturers for the most capable heavy duty truck.
Like most competitors, those targets are achieved with the available diesel power plant. In this case, it’s a 6.7-liter, Power Stroke V8 making 450 horses and a mammoth, 935 lb-ft of torque. The base engine isn’t exactly a weakling, displacing 6.2 liters across eight cylinders to produce 385 hp and 430 torques. Available in a range to trims from basic work truck to leather swaddled Limited models, the F-250 can be had with amenities like deployable running boards, voice activated navigation and hill start assist.
With Chevy’s Duramax brand of turbodiesel V8, a two-year old Silverado 2500 HD can handle 18,600 pounds of towing thanks to 910 lb-ft of torque and 445 horses. Available in regular, crew, or double cab and standard or long bed configuration, a used model can be found for virtually any need. WT, or Work Truck, trim has the basics which includes the standard 8” infotainment display running Apple and Android phone mirroring software. Move up to a High Country for fancy features like 20-inch rims and climate controlled leather seats.
If 17,000 pounds of towing from a Cummins diesel hooked up to a 6-speed manual sounds good, a used Ram 2500 is for you. Stick shifts used to be commonplace in heavy duty trucks, but Ram was the final holdout, offering a manual until the 2018 model year. Granted, the stick dropped torque output to only 660 versus a round 800 when equipped with the automatic, but that’s still a whole lot of hauling power. Something else setting the Ram apart is its available Mega Cab setup that gives the 2500 something of a mini-big rig look and tons of cab storage. Standard features like hill start assist come in handy for trailering duty and options like adaptive cruise control make long hauling more relaxing.
As the corporate sibling to Chevy’s Silverado, a used GMC Sierra heavy duty pickup will sport identical powertrains. Along with the 6.6-liter turbodiesel, there is the standard gasoline-powered 6.0-liter V8 that makes 360 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque. And if you’d like to add a bit of posh to your hard-working half-ton truck, GMC’s Sierra 2500 HD lineup is worth considering. An in-your-face chromed grille separates the Sierra from its less expensive Silverado sibling and standard features like 4G LTE Wi-Fi, heated steering wheel, and dual-zone climate controls make the top-spec Denali trim enticing.
If you’re looking for a bit more capability than the typical light-duty pickup, but don’t need to rip tree stumps from the ground on a daily basis, Nissan’s Titan XD might be for you. It won’t directly compete with the Big Three on torque and towing figures, but the Cummins 5.0-liter diesel V8 can handle 12,760 pounds of trailering. The Nissan Titan XD’s strengthened frame helps with this capability and a 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty is notably longer than the domestic competition. Available in two- or four-wheel drive, the Titan XD has a 7” infotainment screen standard and fancy options like open-pore wood trim and heated seats. Check out the Rear Seat Delete option on a King Cab model for plenty of cab cargo space.
The one-ton, heavy duty truck realm is as brawny as it gets within consumer facing pickups. A used Ford F-350 can be had with a single set of rear wheels or in dually configuration, which brings the total number of wheels to six. Trim levels are the same as you’ll find on an F-250, as are powertrain options. But thanks to revised suspension, heavier duty transmissions, and upgraded axles, the F-350 can tug around over 21,000 pounds of your stuff and handle a payload of nearly 4,400 pounds in single-rear wheel (SRW) setup on a 2019 model. Standard features like trailer sway control and LED bed lighting are key when doing a lot of hauling.
A two-year old Silverado 3500 HD in Duramax diesel-powered, SRW setup can pull 21,500 pounds of trailer, which happens to be the same max figure as a Ford F-250 of the same year. So, much of the decision-making at the one-ton truck level gets down to brand preference and of course cost. There is a dizzying array of cab, powertrain, and bed configurations on a Silverado 3500 HD, but even a mid-range LT model comes standard with driver-assistance aids like forward-collision alert, lane departure warning and parking sensors front and rear; a key feature for maneuvering this beast in and out of a Home Depot lot.
When only the burliest heavy duty truck will do, look no further than a lightly used Silverado 3500 HD with dual-rear wheels (DRW). Adding a pair of wheels also adds structural enhancements, suspension upgrades, and transmission bolstering to allow for huge towing and hauling capacity. Using a fifth-wheel setup, this translates to a whopping 35,500 pounds of trailering ability with the Duramax and more than 7,500 pounds of payload capability when fitted with the 6.0-liter V8.
2019 is a good place to start when evaluating a used Ram 3500, as that model year introduced the fifth generation Ram with enhancements like an optional air suspension to offer an unusually comfortable ride for a one-ton pickup. Not to mention the optional Cummins diesel with its headlining 1,000 lb-ft of torque. Configured properly, this model doesn’t miss Chevy’s high towing mark by much with 35,100-pound towing and 7,680-pound payload figures. The integrated exhaust brake furthers the feeling of driving a big rig and downhill speed control adds a layer of security when running mountain roads with a 17-ton load behind you.
With GMC’s Sierra 3500 HD series pickup, you can combine the incredible utility from its Silverado stablemate with exclusive features like a signature chrome grille and body-color bumpers on Denali trim. The standard, automatic locking rear differential reacts in the blink of an eye to improve traction – and confidence – in slick conditions, while the two-tier cargo box and EZ Lift-and-Lower tailgate with remote locking functionality makes hauling a breeze. The fact that ventilated, perforated leather seats and a heated steering wheel are available on this beast of burden just makes it that much more compelling.