Tow to Tow: Truck Ratings Vastly Different These Days

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Remember the good old days when a half-ton was a half-ton? If you wanted to carry more or tow more than what a half-ton truck offered, you upped to a three-quarter-ton. Finally, there was the one-ton. Everything made sense, and it was all well and good in the neighborhood. Today, it’s not so cut-and-dry.

Let’s just take a look at the 2015 Ford F-150 as an example. If you purchase a 2015 F-150 with the 5.0L V8, the regular cab, and the Heavy Duty Payload package, you can put 3,300 pounds in the bed of that truck safely. That’s a ton-and-a-half-ton pickup truck, by my basic math skills!


What about towing? We recently highlighted that today’s Ford F-150 has nearly as much towing capacity as the Super Duty trucks of not that long ago.

Today’s Super Duty and Heavy Duty trucks are becoming more powerful and more capable than ever. Ram Trucks recently introduced a heavy duty with 900 lb-ft of torque. Ford is expected to have their 2017 Super Duty make more than that. Maybe we’ll see as much as 1,000 lb-ft of torque? We’ll find out in Texas soon.

2016 Nissan Titan Pro 4X

Then, there’s the new Nissan Titan XD. Have you heard of it? Probably not. Nissan hasn’t updated their pickup truck in ages and it has fallen off the radar. But the new one is powered by a 5.0L Cummins turbodiesel making 555 lb-ft of torque. It’s also built on a different body than the normal half-ton Titan. The best way to describe it is a “three-quarter-ton half-ton.” It’ll even do things a heavy duty truck will do, like haul a gooseneck trailer.

2016 Nissan TITAN XD

So if you’re looking to go buy a new pickup truck, how do you decide which one you need to get based on your needs? Simple, you need to look at towing and payload numbers.

If you know you need to tow a 12,000 pound trailer, you need to find a truck that can tow 12,000 pounds. For some manufacturers and models, that might be a heavy duty truck. For others, it might be a properly-equipped F-150.


The beauty of towing ratings these days is that it’s not just a made up number. All manufacturers are complying with the SAE J2807 towing standards, which means truck buyers can get an apple-to-apples comparison of trucks across vehicle classes and manufacturers.

2015 Ford Ranger Wildtrak - Jungle

So when will the mayhem stop? Probably never. As new holes are created in the marketplace, manufacturers will come along and try to plug them. Right now might be a good time for the Ranger to return since the F-150 is so capable buyers might want a truck that doesn’t need to pull 10,000 pounds.

In the end, you all are the winners. Trucks are extremely hot sellers, and make companies generous amounts of profit. No manufacturer, including Ford, is going to leave money on the table by not meeting a customer’s needs.

There’s the perfect truck out there for just about everybody, you just sometimes need to rethink how you look for it. The classification systems of old just don’t seem to make a lot of sense these days.

What do you think? Let us know over in the forums!

Chad Kirchner is a regular contributor to Corvette Forum and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other auto sites.

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