Calling anything the “best” is a big claim, and one that should not be taken lightly. While we wish we could test every one of these vehicles and claims it’s just not possible with the sheer number of truck configurations pickup manufacturers are putting out these days. So instead, we’ve compiled a list of the best half-ton truck towing, payload, horsepower, torque, and fuel economy based on the manufacturer’s ratings (and the EPA for fuel economy). Read on to see which half-ton truck is the best in each category.
2021 Half-Ton Truck Class
Chevrolet Silverado 1500
GMC Sierra 1500
| 002 Best Half Ton Trucks Towing Ford F150
Best Half-Ton Truck Towing
Towing titles have been a hot bragging right between manufacturers for decades and seem to trade hands with each new generation. For 2021 Ford has recaptured the half-ton towing crown with a maximum trailer weight of 14,000 pounds. And this isn’t with a stripped-down truck, either. Two-wheel drive F-150’s fitted with the 3.5L EcoBoost V-6 and either SuperCab or SuperCrew can be configured to hit this max weight. Four-wheel drive trucks drop just 100 pounds to 13,900 pounds of max towing ability. Chevrolet’s Silverado and GMC’s Sierra can tow a maximum of 13,300 pounds with a 6.2L V-8 equipped four-wheel drive extended cab truck. A 2021 Ram 1500 can tow up to 12,750 pounds with a 5.7L Hemi V-8 equipped Quad-Cab two-wheel drive. Both the Nissan Titan and Toyota Tundra top out in the 9,000 to 10,000 pound range.
| 003 Best Half Ton Trucks Payload F150
Best Half-Ton Truck Payload
The half-ton truck with the best payload is, you guessed it, the Ford F-150. Ford rates its regular-cab, long-bed, two-wheel drive F-150 with the 5.0L V-8 engine at up to 3,325 pounds of payload capacity. Second place is more than 1,000 pounds behind with Ram rating its Quad-Cab, long-bed, two-wheel drive 1500 with the 3.6L V-6 engine at 2,300 pounds. Chevrolet’s Silverado and GMC’s Sierra both max out at 2,280 pounds with an extended-cab long-bed truck, however neither state which engine this is with. For an apples-to-apples comparison, Ford’s best for the F-150 SuperCab is still quite a bit higher at a maximum of 3,010 pounds. Both the Nissan Titan and Toyota Tundra trail the field with payload ratings of about 1,600 pounds each.
| 004 Best Half Ton Trucks Horsepower Ram 1500 Trx
Best Half-Ton Truck Horsepower
For the time being there is no more powerful pickup on the market than the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX. The folks at Ram found a way to stuff the same bonkers supercharged 6.2L V-8 engine that powers the Dodge Hellcat family of vehicles into their new off-road truck. Churning out 702 hp, there’s not another truck in the class that even comes close. With Ford’s high-output 3.5L EcoBoost V-6 off the table for the moment (Ford has yet to announce output for the 2021 F-150 Raptor as of press time), it’s the 3.5L PowerBoost V-6 hybrid at 430 hp that brings up the second place slot 272 hp behind the Ram 1500 TRX.
| 005 Best Half Ton Trucks Torque Ram 1500 Trx
Best Half-Ton Truck Torque
The title for best half-ton truck torque goes to, you guessed it, the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX. This truck’s supercharged 6.2L V-8 engine pumps out 650 lb-ft of torque. The next closest competitor is, once again, Ford’s 2021 F-150 powered by the company’s 3.5L PowerBoost hybrid V-6. At 570 lb-ft the hybrid Ford is only 80 lb-ft behind the Ram, and the Ford claims 10 mpg better fuel economy and more than 4,000 pounds more towing capability. However, comparing the two is like comparing a hammer to a paint brush, they’re different tools for different jobs.
For those asking where the diesel engines fair when it comes to torque output Ram’s 3.0L EcoDiesel V-6 is best of the bunch with 480 lb-ft of torque. GM’s 3.0L Duramax I-6 is next and produces 460 lb-ft of twist. And rounding out the bunch is Ford’s 3.0L Power Stroke V-6 with 440 lb-ft.
| 2021 Chevrolet Silverado LT
Best Half-Ton Truck Fuel Economy
Best half-ton truck fuel economy needs to be divided into two categories: gas and diesel. On the gasoline side of the equation there’s a pretty clear winner in the 2021 Ford F-150 with the new 3.5L PowerBoost hybrid V-6. This truck in two-wheel drive trim achieved an EPA rating of 25 mpg city, 26 highway, and 25 combined. In fact, Ford currently has the most fuel-efficient lineup of half-ton trucks, with none getting an EPA combined rating lower than 20 mpg.
On the diesel side it’s Ram’s 1500 pickup with the HFE package and 3.0L EcoDiesel V-6 and the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 with the 3.0L Duramax I-6 that tie for the top spot (the GMC Sierra 1500 is in there as well). These trucks are rated at 33 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg in the city. However, it’s the Silverado and Sierra that get a slight edge, with the EPA giving the GM trucks a combined rating of 27 mpg versus Ram’s 26 mpg combined. Because Ford only offers the 3.0L Power Stroke V-6 in four-wheel drive trucks it trails the two-wheel drive competition with an EPA rating of 27 mpg highway, 20 city, and 23 combined. Ram and GM’s comparable four-wheel drive trucks are both rated at 24 mpg combined, narrowing the gap slightly.