Half-Ton or Heavy Duty Pickup? Which Truck is Best for You? (Video)

2017 chevy silverado 2500 hd gmc sierra 1500 comparison review specs
2017 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD or 2017 GMC Sierra 1500

Which truck is best for you? This time it’s the decision between a heavy duty pickup (3/4 ton or 2500 series) and a half-ton (1500 series). This choice is not as clear cut as you may initially think, and we are here to help.

As an example, we are comparing a 2017 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD with the 6.0L gas V8 (not a diesel) and a 2017 GMC Sierra 1500 with the 6.2L V8.


This is perhaps the most obvious comparison. Indeed the heavy duty truck has a higher payload (approx. 3,500 lbs versus 2,000 lbs in the half-ton). The 3/4 ton truck is also rated higher than on maximum towing (approx. 14,500 lbs versus 10,000 lbs). We are not listing precise numbers here because the rating can vary drastically dependent on the manufacturer, configuration and options.

Some half-ton trucks are rated at upwards of 12,500 lbs of towing, but we do not recommend towing that much with a half-ton. You want a heavier truck and a longer wheelbase for confident and safe towing. The heavy duty truck is the choice if you are looking to tow much more than 10,000 lbs. Consumer data shows that most half-ton truck owners rarely tow over 6,000 lbs. We performed dozens of highway MPG towing loops with trailers between 6,100 – 7,000 lbs. If loaded properly (with about 10% tongue weight) half-tons handle these loads without a problem. If you want to carry a truck camper and tow a boat, you need the payload capability of a heavy duty truck.

Comfort / Livability

Although heavy duty trucks have improved drastically over the last decade in terms of seating position, cabin noise, suspension comfort, and handling; a half-ton truck can still do these things better. HD trucks are taller, which makes egress a little more difficult. The taller hood offers a bit less visibility, so HD trucks are more difficult to maneuver it tight spaces. Still, trucks like the 2017 Ford Super Duty are ever more comfortable and easier to use on the daily basis.

Fuel Economy

Half-ton trucks will generally be more fuel efficient than heavy trucks, with the exception of turbo-diesel HDs. We registered about 14 MPG in the Silverado 2500 HD you see here, versus about 17 MPG for the GMC Sierra 1500 on a combined city/highway loop.

Price / Value

A heavy duty truck will cost approximately $6,000 more than a 1500 truck, when comparing starting prices. When you load up all the options and add a turbo-diesel to the HD truck, the price gap grows much larger.

Bottom line is, if you are looking to tow or carry heavy loads, a heavy duty truck is up your alley if you are willing to pay more, give up a small bit of comfort, and likely get lower fuel economy in the process.

Let us know your thoughts on this subject!