Pickup trucks define the American automotive landscape. They’ve gone beyond utility and into the realm of lifestyle accessory. Nothing can shock a European visitor to a middle-American city like the preponderance of pickups in parking lots and roadways. In keeping with the bigger-is-better ethos that we love, many of the pickups we drive here are of the ton variety.
When Truck classification began, letting buyers know about payload was important. Pickups were work vehicles, and they were largely replacing horse-drawn Wagon. The significant categories that emerged were half-ton, three-quarter-ton, and ton (or one-ton). Buyers understood what they were talking about. Things have changed, but the terminology has remained. For the purposes of this list, we’re going to gang together the three-quarter-ton and ton pickups and find the 9 Best Ton Trucks.
2019 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD
Chevrolet has just celebrated its 100th year of building pickups. The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD is a very different beast than that first Chevy Truck, but it still retains the same essential formula that has lasted over a century. A robust frame and chassis support a rugged cab and bed, motivated by a workhorse powertrain.
The current 2500HD can be fitted with either a 6.0-liter Vortec V8 gasoline engine with 360 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque or a 6.6-liter turbocharged diesel Duramax V8 (445 hp/910 lb-ft of torque), mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with rear-wheel drive or available four-wheel drive. Trim levels start with a basic WT (Work Truck) and go all the way to a luxurious High Country, with prices starting at $34,400 and going to $60,295 plus options.
2019 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD
For even more towing and payload capacity than Silverado 2500HD, you can choose a 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD. When fitted with a 6.6-liter Duramax turbocharged diesel V8 and dual rear wheels, the 3500HD can tow a conventional trailer of up to 20,000 lbs – or a fifth-wheel trailer of up to 22,700 lbs. The dual-rear-wheel option is available with all trim levels, with rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, Crew Cab and long box.
So, you can get a 4x4 work Truck (WT) Silverado 3500HD with a turbodiesel and dualies for maximum utility and minimum frills, or you can get a 4x2 High Country single-rear-wheel model with a gas V8 for style and comfort. Prices for the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD start at $35,500.
2019 Ford Super Duty F-250
While it shares a lot of features and engineering with Ford’s popular F-150 light-duty pickup, the 2019 Ford Super Duty F-250 is a very different animal. Designed for work, it has a much more robust frame and chassis that makes extensive use of high-strength steel. Like the F-150, the F-250’s body panels are all constructed of aluminum alloy for weight savings and torsional rigidity.
A choice of a 6.2-liter flex-fuel gasoline V8 engine (385 hp/430 lb-ft of torque) or a 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbocharged diesel V8 engine (450 hp/935 lb-ft of torque) is available, teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive or four-by-four versions are available in all trim levels. Prices start at $33,150 for the XL Regular Cab 4x2 with a gas engine and go up to $80,440 for the Limited Crew Cab 4x4 diesel.
2019 Ford Super Duty F-350
When an F-250 just doesn’t have what it takes to do the job, it may be time to step up to the 2018 Ford Super Duty F-350, an even more robust model from the pickup Truck leader. One of the significant capabilities that you can choose on the F-350 that is not available on the F-250 is dual rear wheels. Not only does this feature allow for greater maximum towing and hauling capability, but it also creates a viable platform for gooseneck trailering.
The F-350's frame is designed to accommodate a gooseneck mount without additional bolstering or alteration. F-350 prices start at $34,320 for a gas-powered XL Regular Cab 4x2 with single rear wheels and go up to $84,085 for the Limited Crew Cab 4x4 diesel with dual rear wheels.
2019 GMC Sierra 2500HD
GMC trucks have long carried the slogan “Professional Grade.” Relative to their mechanical twins on the Chevrolet side of the fence, this has been interpreted as a more big-rig-influenced exterior appearance, along with more available luxurious interior appointments.
The Sierra 2500HD can also be upfitted to run on compressed natural gas or liquid propane gas fuel in addition to conventional gasoline, an option that can deliver savings and convenience to many business users. The option of a CNG/LPG-capable engine is just $300 (plus the cost of upfitting). For maximum towing and hauling capability, the 6.6-liter V8 Duramax turbodiesel ($9,395) is the best option, as that engine produces 445 hp and 910 lb-ft of torque. Sierra 2500HD prices start at $34,940.
2019 GMC Sierra 3500HD
For the man who has everything, the 2019 GMC Sierra 3500HD is available in the luxurious Denali trim level. GMC’s top trim level has filtered out to every GMC model, and the 3500HD is no exception.
While retaining such work-worthy capabilities as a 4,930-lb payload, 20,000-lb conventional towing limit, and 22,700-lb fifth-wheel towing ability, the Sierra Denali 3500HD comes with such luxury features as power-adjustable pedals, a heated steering wheel, a universal home remote, wireless charging, GMC Infotainment System with navigation and an 8-inch diagonal touchscreen interface, Bose audio, a built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, and a theft-deterrent unauthorized entry system. The Denali doesn’t come cheap. Prices start at $57,895 and go up to $70,485 plus options. But you’re worth it, right?
2018 Nissan Titan XD
The 2018 Nissan Titan XD just squeaks in to the classification of ton trucks with a GVWR of 8,592 lbs, the lowest of the nine trucks in our list. When the XD version of Titan was introduced as a 2016 model, Nissan positioned Titan XD as a 'tweener – more capable than the light-duty trucks, yet not as cumbersome as the heavy-duty competition.
The Titan XD rides on a commercial platform shared with the Nissan NV full-size work van, which includes a heavy-duty frame. The XD can be ordered with a 5.6-liter gasoline V8 engine (390 hp/394 lb-ft of torque) or a 5.0-liter Cummins turbocharged diesel V8 (310 hp/555 lb-ft of torque). Gas engines get a seven-speed automatic transmission, while diesels are matched to a six-speed, each with a choice of rear-wheel drive or four-by-four. Single cab/98.5-inch bed, King Cab/67.0-inch bed and Crew Cab/78.7-inch bed models start at $32,290 and go up to $64,110.
2018 Ram 2500
In the battle between the big three truckmakers, Ram has been the ambitious overachiever. While sales of the 2018 RAM 2500 haven’t matched its GM and Ford rivals in recent years, the capable and intelligently designed Ram has gathered and retained plenty of loyal fans for its innovative features.
The available RamBox Cargo Management System is reason enough to buy for some. Using the bed rails for easily accessible and secure locking storage, the RamBox turns the 2500HD into a mobile workstation. Available LED bed lighting and a cargo-view camera bring additional convenience and utility. The Ram 2500HD can be ordered with a 6.4-liter Hemi gasoline V8 (410 hp/429 lb-ft of torque) or a 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel inline six-cylinder engine (370 hp/800 lb-ft of torque). Prices start at $32,645.
2018 RAM 3500
If you want the best-in-class diesel towing capability, you have to choose a 2018 RAM 3500 pickup truck. The available 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel inline six-cylinder engine and six-speed Aisin automatic transmission team up to deliver 930 lb-ft of torque and a maximum towing capability of 31,210 lbs when properly equipped. Adding the $495 5th Wheel/Gooseneck Towing Prep Group package includes a frame reinforcing beam that beefs up support for the unit, accommodating maximum towing.
This Ram also boasts a maximum payload of 7,350 lbs with the venerated 6.4-liter Hemi V8 gasoline engine – which is rated at 410 hp, the highest of any truck in its class. Prices start at $34,045 for Tradesman 4x2 gas models and go up to $64,295 for Limited diesel 4x4 examples, plus options.