You’re only as reliable as your truck.

We all know that a good truck is integral to how you operate your hotshot business. You will largely succeed or fail based on the reliability of the trucks in your stable. Therefore, you need dependable and efficient vehicles. But how exactly do you choose the best ones? Brand loyalty is tremendous, there’s heavy competition, and there are few models to choose from. Plus, a conversation with truck people about the best trucks can get pretty intense and contentious.

To help you narrow down your choices, here are our ten favorite heavy-duty trucks that provide the best value in the hotshot hauling business. This is for those of you in particular who have very heavy hauling to do — towing over 20,000 pounds and transporting 7,000-pound payloads.

10.) Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD

Summary Stats:

  • Price: Starting at $33,610
  • GVWR: 9,500 lbs.
  • Payload: 3,233 lbs.
  • Gooseneck Towing: 28,000 lbs.

Short Description:

The Silverado 2500 works as hard as you do. It has received accolades from J.D. Power for the most dependable, large, heavy-duty pickup three years in a row. Its 6.6-liter Duramax turbo-diesel V8 produces 445 horsepower and 910 pound-feet of torque. This enables you to tow up to 14,500 pounds and carry a maximum payload of 3,233 pounds.

Pros:

  • Significant power and high tow rating
  • Can maintain handling and ride quality while towing a trailer or a carrying a load
  • It is a fast truck when it’s unladen

Cons:

  • Light on available towing aids
  • While powerful, it’s still no match to Ford’s 925 pound-feet of torque
  • It struggles with steering; has shaky braking abilities

Key Features:

  • 5-year powertrain/drivetrain warranty or 100,000 miles
  • Standard suspension: 51mm twin tube shock absorbers and 33mm front stabilizer bars
  • With an exhaust brake
  • Backed by an Allison 100 six-speed automatic
  • Trailer brake controller (integrated) with a backup camera
  • Handy corner step rear bumper
  • Has a functional and good-looking hood scoop

EDITOR’S RATING: 9.35 / 10

9.) Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD

Summary Stats:

  • Price: Starting at $35,260
  • GVWR: 13,025 lbs.
  • Payload: 5,761 lbs.
  • Gooseneck Towing: 28,000 lbs.

Short Description:

The Silverado 3500 is like a rock — sturdy and robust — and able to haul huge objects over far distances. The truck comes with two choices: First, a 360-horsepower, gasoline Vortec 6.0-liter V8. It produces 380 pound-feet of torque and uses a six-speed automatic transmission. Second, a 397-horsepower, Duramax 6.6-liter turbo-diesel V8. It can generate 765 pound-feet of torque via a stronger version of the six-speed. Chevrolet also offers a four-wheel drive with both (or in this case, six-wheel drive). The dually trucks max out at 7,180 pounds of payload and 23,200 pounds of trailer. With a maximum 445 horsepower and a high torque rating of 910 pound-feet. The dualies tow significantly more. A crew cab with an 8-foot bed (2WD or 4WD), is rated to tow 20,000 pounds — 2,000 pounds more than the Ram 3500 — and can carry a max payload of 5,381 pounds with 2WD.

Pros:

  • Can tow more weight behind its trailer hitch and carry more in its bed than the Ford F-series and nearly as much as the Ram’s fifth-wheel towing king.
  • Improved fuel economy of the Duramax
  • Quieter operation, especially at idle.
  • A multitude of options in terms of bed length, cab configurations, and even trim levels.

Cons:

  • Its external structure is not the sturdiest or the most massive
  • Compared to Fords, it doesn’t have much to offer by way of towing aids
  • Seating and ride are uncomfortably firm

Key Features:

  • The new diesel V8 is equipped with an exhaust brake. Exhaust braking reduces the amount of braking needed while towing a heavy trailer or driving downhill. This feature works with the transmission’s tow/haul mode and auto-grade braking to help the driver maintain desired speed on steep downgrades.
  • External transmission oil cooler. This prevents transmission overheating and provides optimal transmission performance even when hauling heavy loads or towing a trailer.
  • Allison six-speed automatic in the larger 3500HD Chevy and GMC.
  • Backup camera, trailer sway control, and a standard integrated trailer brake controller.
  • The GMC also offers an optional trailering camera system with three cameras. This is located on the exterior side mirrors, and the other one to the tailgate focused on the hitch ball. This helps when backing and hooking up.
  • New cabin décor, touchscreens for infotainment functions, hands-free functionality, and a range of cutting edge safety features. Not to mention the remarkably low levels of vibration, noise, and harshness.
  • Three cab styles offered with dual-rear-wheel configurations; all pair with 8-foot beds.

EDITOR’S RATING: 9.2 / 10

8.) Ford F-250 XL Super Duty Commercial


Summary Stats:

  • Price: Starting at $32,890
  • GVWR: 14,000 lbs.
  • Payload: 7,630 lbs.
  • Gooseneck Towing: 34,000 lbs.

Short Description:

The Ford F-250 packs the most torque, a class-leading 925 pound-feet. The crew cab 4×2 configuration can handle up to 18,000 pounds of towing and 3,910 pounds of payload.

Pros:

  • A pioneer in adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake support for heavy trailers. Drivers can now maintain speed while climbing steep grades.
  • A trailer tow camera system. This is made up of four cameras that offer a 360-degree bird’s-eye view of the truck.
  • It also has a trailer reverse guidance system that provides visual cues and tips to help ease backing up a trailer.

Cons:

  • Expensive price tag, especially with more options
  • No manual transmission
  • Hard to park in tight spots

Key Features:

  • STX appearance package — bright chrome grille, chrome bumpers (both front and back bumpers), and 18-inch cast aluminum wheels. This gives it a sleek look.
  • Quad-dual beam halogen headlamps. These provide lower and upper beam outputs, allowing more light, and making it ideal for nighttime driving.
  • It also offers AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control and Trailer Sway Control, whether on single or dual-rear-wheel models. It uses gyroscopic sensors and applies engine power and selective wheel braking to maintain vehicle stability, including the trailer it is hauling.
  • Gas and diesel engine models.
  • Optional: Gooseneck hitch kit and 5th wheel hitch kit system
  • (Along with the F-350) Has an aluminum body and bed, which help reduce weight.
  • Has new stronger fully boxed steel frame
  • Comes with an optional 440 horsepower 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbo-diesel V-8. That engine has a six-speed automatic transmission.
  • It also includes an innovative trailer camera that can be put on a trailer to improve visibility when backing up.
  • Aside from a tire pressure monitoring system, the truck’s blind-spot information system includes trailer length of up to 33 feet long.

EDITOR’S RATING: 9.7 / 10

7.) Ford F-350 XLT Super Duty Commercial

Summary Stats:

  • Price: Starting at $38,145
  • GVWR: 14,000 lbs.
  • Payload: 7,630 lbs.
  • Gooseneck Towing: 32,500 lbs. Lbs.

Short Description:

The Ford F-350 can tow 31,200 lbs. when properly equipped. Its regular cab dually can carry 7,260 lbs of payload. You can pair the six-speed transmission with a variety of diesel or gas-powered engines with up to 860 lb.-feet of torque.

Pros:

  • The truck has many options such as single- or dual-rear wheels, etc.
  • This truck’s comfort and capability make it one of the best all-around trucks today.
  • It has plenty of payload and tow capacity

Cons:

  • Traditionalists may not like or enjoy the luxurious look of the interiors.
  • Price tag soars with more options
  • Too big for many parking spaces

Key Features:

  • The F-350 XLT is like the F-250, with a few differences:
  • Transmission TorqShift — the strong gears ably meet the heavy torque demands of the turbo diesel and gas engines. Due to the torque converter, fewer RPMs are needed, thereby minimizing upshifting and reducing brake pressure.
  • SYNC Basic allows you to connect mobile devices and use certain apps. You can make calls and even ask your phone to navigate for you without having to take your hands off the wheel.
  • The 6.2L SOHC 2-valve Flex Fuel V8 engine is another key feature. No other full-size, heavy-duty pickup truck can match the 430 pound-feet torque of the F-350, allowing the gears to shift smoothly.
  • A fifth wheel hitch kit and the gooseneck hitch kit are both optional. However, these trucks come standard with a bumper pull hitch. Maximum gooseneck towing is 34,000 lbs, while conventional towing is 21,000 lbs. The maximum GVWR is 14,000 lbs.
  • The Ford F-350 (2017) also has an aluminum body and bed and a new steel frame.
  • It’s powered by the same 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbo-diesel V-8 with 925 pound-feet of torque and 440 horsepower. The crew cab dually 4×2 dominates in both max towing and payload. The truck’s maximum conventional tow rating is 21,000 pounds, and its max payload is 7,200 pounds.
  • The towing technology available on the F-250 is also present on the F-350. This includes the trailer tow camera system, the collision warning with brake support, as well as the trailer reverse guidance.
  • Ford made its first complete redesign of its Super Duty pickups since 1999, and it produced the class leader in towing.
  • They reworked the F-350’s 6.7-liter turbodiesel in 2015, getting it to muster 440 horsepower and an incredible torque of 860 pound-feet. The F-350 Super Duty dually can pull a trailer of 26,500 pounds.
  • They offer three cab designs with the dual-rear-wheel axle. You can also get the eight-foot long bed.
  • F-350 Super Duty uses a 6.2-liter gasoline engine as its base power plant, generating 385 horsepower and a torque of 405 ft-lbs. You can also get a four-wheel drive. Both have six-speed automatic transmissions.

EDITOR’S RATING: 9.15 / 10

6.) Ford F-450 Lariat Super Duty Commercial

Summary Stats:

  • Price: Starting at $66,080
  • GVWR: 14,000 lbs.
  • Payload: 7,630 lbs.
  • Gooseneck Towing: 34,000 lbs.

Short Description:

Ford’s engineers have reworked the suspension and upgraded the engine. The F-450 Super Duty’s towing capacity is now 31,200 pounds. The potential payload is 7,260 pounds. You also get one choice of cab, bed, and powertrain. The four-door crew cab comes with an eight-foot cargo bed. It’s a four-wheel drive, with dual rear wheels, and Ford’s earth-moving 6.7-liter turbodiesel, yielding 860 ft-lbs of torque and 440 horsepower. Engine exhaust braking comes standard to help the F-450 keep the load in check when going down slopes. A limited-slip differential and a six-speed transmission complete the powertrain.

Pros:

  • Aluminum body — reduces weight and improves efficiency
  • Extra-wide front axle — helps it make tighter turns than the Ford models
  • Spacious cab has many technology and convenience options

Cons:

  • Heavier weight means lower payload compared to F-350
  • 19.5-inch tires are relatively more expensive to replace
  • High price tag, especially with more options

Key Features:

  • 19.5″ polished aluminum wheels — these tires come standard on all F-450 models.
  • SYNC 3 — an easy-to-use, voice-activated touchscreen great for navigating.
  • Premium leather seating
  • Lockable storage box under the seat.
  • Trailer hitch (standard)
  • Gooseneck hitch kit (optional)
  • Fifth-wheel hitch kit (optional)

EDITOR’S RATING: 9.85 / 10

5.) GMC Sierra 2500 Denali HD

Summary Stats:

  • Price: Starting at $57,985
  • GVWR: 10,000 lbs.
  • Payload: 3,233 lbs.
  • Gooseneck Towing: 15,400 lbs.

Short Description:

The GMC Sierra 2500 Denali HD can tow up to 14,500 pounds with its 6.6-liter Duramax turbo-diesel engine. The engine generates 445 horsepower and 910 pound-feet of torque. Yes, it’s a fast truck when it’s unladen, but it’s still no match to Ford’s 925 pound-feet of torque. It can carry a maximum payload of 3,233 pounds. It has a high tow rating and a lot of power.

Pros:

  • Sturdy build quality
  • Powerful towing and hauling
  • A more powerful diesel option

Cons:

  • Visibility is not great due to small mirrors and thick pillars
  • More bumpy ride compared to other 2500 series trucks
  • The brakes are not that good

Key Features:

  • GMC’s Driver Alert Package — this includes a lane departure warning. The driver is alerted when the truck is moving out of its lane without using a turn signal.
  • Forward collision alert — it notifies the driver when the truck approaches another vehicle at an unsafe speed.
  • Safe brake system — a power-assisted heavy-duty brake system. Even under heavy loads or when towing a trailer, this gives you enough stopping power. Anti-lock brakes reduces wheel lockup and maintains steering when braking hard in bad weather.
  • LED lighting on the truck’s cargo box — alternative when you don’t have a flashlight.
  • Towing aids — backup camera and an integrated trailer brake controller.
  • Rear corner step bumper and functional and good-looking hood scoop.
  • The diesel V8 has exhaust brake and an Allison 100 six-speed automatic.

EDITOR’S RATING: 9.6 / 10

4.) GMC Sierra 3500

Summary Stats:

  • Price: Starting at $35,921
  • GVWR: 13,025 lbs.
  • Payload: 6,112 lbs.
  • Gooseneck Towing: 23,100 lbs.

Short Description:

GMC’s Sierra 3500HD pickup truck is one of the latest dually these days. It’s ideal for moving a large amount of freight. It’s available in both 1-ton and three-quarter-ton configurations, so you can be confident that it has the muscle to move your cargo. It has cutting-edge safety features, luxuriously refined interior treatments, easy handling, and robust capability.

You can have either a diesel or a gasoline engine. Both generate nearly 400 horsepower:

  1. The 6.0-liter gasoline engine delivers 380 ft-lbs of torque and 360 horsepower.
  2. The 6.6-liter turbodiesel generates 765 ft-lbs of torque and 397 horsepower.

GM uses the 6.6-liter Duramax turbo-diesel V-8 engine and Allison six-speed automatic in the larger 3500HD Chevy and GMC. It’s GM’s most-powerful diesel ever.

Both come with six-speed automatic transmissions. You can always get the four-wheel drive option if you want. With a fifth wheel, Sierra 3500HD is up to towing 23,200 pounds. Maximum payload is 7,180 pounds.

You can look forward to a quiet highway ride, especially if your truck is working hard to tow a massive load behind you. This truck gets more than 12 miles per gallon when towing 8,500 lbs.

The dualies tow significantly more than a 3500HD with single rear wheels. A crew cab with an 8-foot bed is rated to tow 20,000 pounds (at 2WD or 4WD). That’s more than what the Ram 3500 can do. Its maximum payload with 2WD is of 5,381 pounds.

Pros:

  • A very spacious and versatile interior
  • Attention-grabbing appearance
  • Modern-safety innovations

Cons:

  • Hard to park in congested places
  • Not very fuel-efficient, especially when hauling heavy loads in stop-and-go traffic
  • Quite expensive

Key Features:

  • Exhaust braking system — keeps the truck’s speed in check when going downhill.
  • Towing aids — diesel V8 has a standard integrated trailer brake controller, trailer sway control, a backup camera, and an exhaust brake.
  • Trailering camera system — three cameras — two on the exterior side mirrors, and one focused on the hitch ball near the tailgate. This helps when backing and hooking up.
  • Three cab styles (crew, double, and regular) with an eight-foot bed in dually configuration.

EDITOR’S RATING: 9.2 / 10

3.) Nissan Titan XD

Summary Stats:

  • Price: Starting at $32,290
  • GVWR: 8,990 lbs.
  • Payload: 2,080 lbs.
  • Gooseneck Towing: 12,310 lbs.

Short Description:

Nissan’s Titan XD doesn’t come from a domestic manufacturer. It has a Cummins 5.0-liter V8 turbo-diesel engine, rated at 555 pound-feet of torque and 310 horsepower. It can tow 12,310 pounds (2WD) and can carry 2,080 pounds. Those numbers drop with the Titan’s gas-burning V8. All Titan XD trucks have 7-speed automatic transmissions.

Pros:

  • Great road handling
  • Rugged and beefy appearance

Cons:

  • Sluggish performance of the diesel model
  • No manual transmission available

Key Features:

  • Towing aids — a monitor providing a virtual “bird’s eye” view of the truck and its surrounding area, a backup camera with trailer guides.
  • Tow/Haul Mode — downhill speed control, integrated trailer brake controller, and a trailer sway control.
  • Trailer light check system — it lets you check turn signals, brake lights, and running lights from inside the Titan cab.

EDITOR’S RATING: 9.7 / 10

2.) Ram 2500 Big Horn

Summary Stats:

  • Price: Starting at $42,725
  • GVWR: 10,000 lbs.
  • Payload: 2,570 lbs.
  • Gooseneck Towing: 20,000 lbs.

Short Description:

The Big Horn has a 6.4L HEMI V8 engine, giving you a powerful, responsive driving experience. Power can also be generated by the proven 6.7-liter six-inline Cummins turbo-diesel used in the 3500. It produces 660 pound-feet of torque and 350 horsepower with the six-speed manual. If you go with the more popular six-speed automatic, those numbers go up to 800 pound-feet and 370 horsepower.

This truck has the smallest torque of the lot. Yet, the crew cab Ram 2500 Cummins can tow 17,060 pounds. That’s more than many of the other trucks. Its also has a max payload of 2,540 pounds (2WD).

Pros:

  • Very tough build
  • 100,000-mile powertrain warranty
  • The Mega Cab model has extra passenger room

Cons:

  • Poor gas mileage
  • Expensive for the top-trim model
  • All its functions and capabilities are “overkill” for most people.

Key Features:

  • UConnect — it has a backup camera and park assist. It is useful for navigation and can help call another member of your business. You can also sync to your phone.
  • Unique rear suspension — it uses a five-link coil spring rear suspension like the brand’s 1-ton truck. On the other hand, the Ram 3500 uses the rear leaf spring system. The resulting ride quality is much better. It rides more smoothly than the other trucks.
  • Towing aids — backup camera, trailer sway control, integrated trailer brake controller.

EDITOR’S RATING: 9.4 / 10

1.) Ram 3500 Big Horn

Summary Stats:

  • Price: Starting at $34,225
  • GVWR: 13,910 lbs.
  • Payload: 4,080 lbs.
  • Gooseneck Towing: 24,000 lbs.

Short Description:

Ram has claimed the top spot in the class 3 pickup industry. The undisputed 3500 series heavy duty dually pickup truck class leader in every one of those categories is the Ram 3500HD.

First, regarding engine options, the three engines range from 400 pound-feet of torque and 383 horsepower (for the gasoline-fired 5.7L HEMI V8 engine with dual variable valve timing) to a best-in-class 865 pound-feet of torque and 385 horsepower with the 6.7-liter inline six-cylinder turbo-diesel Cummins engine. Four-wheel drive is offered too.

Its fifth-wheel towing rating and capacity is 30,000 lbs. — more than Chevy, Ford, and GMC offerings in this category. No other truck comes close to this. The Ram also takes the top spot in terms of payload capacity at 7,390 lbs., topping the F-350.

Regarding transmission, it’s the only truck in the class to offer a six-speed manual transmission. However, the power drops to 660 pound-feet of torque and 350 horsepower.

Pros:

  • Outstanding towing and hauling capacity
  • Load leveling rear air suspension system — refined ride quality, comfortable ride
  • Nice interior treatment, exceptionally quiet operation, and confident handling

Cons:

  • Fuel economy is not that great, since this is mainly for towing and hauling
  • It’s hard to park (especially parallel park) because of its hefty size
  • It doesn’t have a lot of driving aids or safety technologies

Key Features:

  • UConnect — voice text reply, hands-free calling, voice command, Bluetooth streaming audio, an AM/FM radio and a 5-inch touchscreen. You can still keep in touch on the road without letting off the steering wheel.
  • 66RFE six-speed automatic transmission — excellent performance in all conditions.
  • Towing aids — a basic backup camera, trailer sway control, and an integrated trailer brake controller.
  • Rambox system — sizable, drainable, and lockable bins on each side of the bed.

EDITOR’S RATING: 9.8 / 10

Editor’s Pick Truck: Ford F-450

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