Video: 2021 Heavy-Duty Diesel Truck Wars! The Most Capable and Powerful Truck Is…

2021 ford super duty ram hd f-350 3500 chevy gmc silverado sierra

Which new 2021 heavy-duty diesel truck is the most capable and the most powerful? Is it the 2021 Ford Super Duty, 2021 Chevy Silverado HD / GMC Sierra HD, or the 2021 Ram HD? All of these trucks get a towing rating increase and/or engine output increase. We collected all the data in a single place, so it’s easy for you to compare. You don’t have to dig for numbers on three or more different websites.

This topic is also part of our TFL Talkin’ Trucks Podcast series.

Let’s start with the power output specs! While the GM and Ford engine specs carry over from 2020, the guys at Ram and Cummins are raising the output. Here is the break down by the numbers!

2021 Chevy/GMC HD2021 Ford SD2021 Ram HD
Engine6.6L V8 turbo-diesel6.7L V8 turbo-diesel6.7L I6 turbo-diesel H.O
–Power445 hp475 hp @ 2,600420 hp
–Torque910 lb-ft1,050 lb-ft @ 1,6001,075 lb-ft
Transmission10-speed auto (Allison brand)10-speed (Ford)6-speed (Aisin)

As you can see, the Ford Super Duty remains the king of diesel horsepower among 3/4-ton and 1-ton heavy duty pickup trucks with 475 hp. GM keeps their ratings for now. Ram’s H.O. version of the 6.7-liter Cummins engine (in their 1-ton / 3500-series trucks) gets a boost in power to 420 hp and class-leasing 1,075 lb-ft of torque. The Ram high-output engine remains paired to the heavy-duty 6-speed Aisin transmission.

How about the towing and payload ratings? These three major truck makers are fighting for your dollar with very high tow ratings. The maximum tow ratings you see below apply to the latest diesel-powered 2021 one-ton dually trucks configured with a regular two-door cab and rear-wheel-drive only. On the flip side, the maximum payload ratings are listed for gasoline-powered versions of the two-door 2WD trucks.

While the diesel-powered trucks have the torque and power to tow great big trailers and the exhaust brake systems to slow them down, the diesel engine itself adds weight to the truck. As such, if you want maximum payload from your heavy-duty truck, you need to choose one that is powered by a lighter gas engine.

2020 Ram 3500 HD Cummins Towing Highway MPG test
2020 Ram 3500 HD Cummins – with 30,000 lbs
2021 Chevy/GMC HD 35002021 Ford SD F350/4502021 Ram HD 3500
Max. Tow Gooseneck36,000 lbs35,750 lbs/37,000 lbs37,100 lbs
Max. Tow 5th-wheel?32,500 lbs?
Max. Payload7,442 lbs7,850 lbs7,680 lbs

Alright, the above numbers are very impressive, but many people and businesses prefer to purchase crew cab trucks with 4WD to carry more people and have additional traction. How do these manufacturers stack up if you choose a 2021 dually in a crew cab 4×4 configuration? Here it is.

2021 GM HD 35002021 Ford SD F-3502021 Ram HD 3500
Max. Crew Cab 4×4 Towing31,800 lbs34,700 lbs34,120 lbs

While the 2WD short-cab Ram HD currently leads the segment with 37,100 lbs of towing, the Ford Super Duty edges ahead when you look at the 4×4 crew cabs. Now you can really see how close this “Heavy Duty Truck War” actually is.

2020 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD Ike Gauntlet
2020 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD – Ike Gauntlet

Now, let’s consider the 3/4-ton trucks. These HDs sell in greater numbers than 1-ton trucks. The 2500-series trucks don’t ride quiet as rough as 1-tons when unloaded, and they are a little easier to live with on a daily basis if you do not need those massive payload and towing numbers of a 1-ton.

Here is a quick breakdown of how the 3/4-ton diesel-powered HD trucks stack up against each other. As you can see, Ford is edging ahead here as well.

2021 GM HD 25002021 Ford SD F-2502021 Ram HD 2500
Max. Tow Gooseneck18,500 lbs22,800 lbs19,680 lbs
Max. Tow Conventional18,500 lbs20,000 lbs19,680 lbs

It is difficult to gather precise payload and towing ratings for each class of HD truck. These number depend on a lot of additional factors, such as rear differential ratios and configurations. Some manufacturers do not make it easy to find some of this information. Often time, the gooseneck trailer weight ratings are significantly higher than 5th-wheel ratings. This is primarily due to the hitch strength and design.

This page will continue to be updated with additional information. If you find additional data for the 2021 HD trucks, please let me know in the comments below or by sending an email to Thank you!