Moving from 1/2 ton truck to HD truck

   / Moving from 1/2 ton truck to HD truck #1  

Blue Mule

Gold Member
Jan 11, 2021
Central Kentucky
New Holland Workmaster 40
Have a very sweet Ram 1500 Hemi truck I got new (leased) last year.

Been thinking about moving up to a HD pickup to make towing my big enclosed trailer easier. Diesel HD trucks are insanely high in price. Even with 150k miles on them, you’re looking at $50k around here. So I opened my search up to gasoline HD trucks as well. I found a 2021 Chevy Silverado 2500HD with the new 6.6 gas engine. Sweet truck, extremely well cared for. Problem is, the 6.6 gas is a 400 HP engine. The axle is a 3.73. The trans is the old 6L90 that’s been around since 2006 and the ratios are really tall. So, I threw that combo into a spreadsheet along side the same info (power, trans ratios, axle ratio) from my Ram 1500. Looks like my Ram has significantly more pulling power in every gear, despite the 3.21 axle ratio. If my truck had the 3.92s it would be a bloodbath. But yeah, power/gearing advantage from 0 to 70 miles per hour. AND my truck is 1,500 lbs. lighter so that increases performance even more over the HD. I get that a HD truck is heavier and therefore in theory should handle/steer better with a trailer but I have a hard time justifying a move up to HD to get worse acceleration, fuel economy, and maneuverability. Sigh…

The Ford gas HD trucks can be had with 430 HP, 10 speed trans, and 4.30 gears which is a stellar combo but they are like finding a needle in a haystack. I can’t find one in my price range anywhere in this entire region.

The Ram HD gas trucks are nice but they seem to be abused on construction sites or work sites and by the time I find them on the used market they’re pretty rough.

"When going to HD trucks, go straight to 1 ton"? That’s what I was thinking too. But I looked up the tow chart from GM’s own website and it is surprising. The 2500 gas can tow more than the 3500 gas (only a couple hundred lbs., likely the difference in weight between the 11.5 and 12.0" axles). The payload gain on the 3500 is less than 500 lbs. If you go diesel then there’s a couple thousand lb. advantage for the 3500, but that’s not really a huge deal either. Surprising though that on the gas trucks the difference between “3/4 ton” and “1 ton” is almost zero on paper.
   / Moving from 1/2 ton truck to HD truck #2  
I have been a Ram guy since way before Ram was a thing. My current truck is a 2021 Ram 3500 DRW with the "Max Tow" package. It came factory with the 50 gal tank, 4.10 gears, 4WD, Cummins 6.7L HO, Aisin Transmission, and the Ram Air Ride (auto leveling airbags). It also came with the Ram puck system for 5th wheel hitches or goosneck ball. I pull a 2021 Alliance Valor 40V13 triple axle toy hauler, that is very heavy. I also have a 35+5 22GN Big Tex goose neck trailer, for my tractor and such. This truck has been amazing. For me, my needs dictate a dual rear wheel truck, and this Ram 3500 tows like a freight train. It will, however, beat your fillings out driving it daily, with no load... very rough.
   / Moving from 1/2 ton truck to HD truck
  • Thread Starter
I forgot to mention that I have a $45k budget, which means I'm shopping used trucks because ALL new HD trucks surpass that price now. And since I'm shopping used it is a lot harder. There are HD pickups that are beat all to hell but cheap, and then there are used ones that are nice but expensive. Hard to find that perfect mix. I did find one that fit the bill but it sold fast and I missed out on it this morning.

On paper the Silverado 2500 HD I found maybe isn't worth it, but sometimes the real world doesn't match paper. I wonder how the new 6.6 GM gas engine really pulls a trailer out in the real world?
   / Moving from 1/2 ton truck to HD truck #4  
About 15 months ago I got a 2020 Ram 2500 with the 6.4 gas engine and 4.10 alex ratio with 63k miles on it. I like the truck and it tows good. I can’t speak to how it will do over the long term since it’s been just less than 10k miles that I’ve owned it.

The Ram 8 speed transmission is nice and I really enjoy it.

Over the last +5700 miles it’s averaged 15.9 MPG, but I hand calculated my MPG it is about .5 to .7 less than the computer shows. That 5700 miles includes multiple trailer towing trips (hay, tractor and camper trailer) and haul hay.

It’s a Bighorn with cloth seats, but it’s nice. In an another 9 years I‘ll know for sure if its a good truck.

One thing is Ram has a 10,000 lb limit on 2500 HD trucks gross, but I have 2800 pounds of payload.

The rear coil springs on the 2500 ride nice. Air rear springs are a factory option that replaces the coil springs.

It replaced my 2000 Chevy 2500 with the 6.0 and 3.73 gears and the Ram at 70 mpg gets better MPG than the Chevy at 60 mph.


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   / Moving from 1/2 ton truck to HD truck #5  
My Dodge 2500 2003 5.9 averaged 15.3 mpg pulling between
10k to 12k camper going from Big Spring, TX to Salena, Colarado
and 200 miles speed was up and down from 15 to 45 mph. Now
have no need for it and just fixing it up to sell with an enclosed 14 ft

   / Moving from 1/2 ton truck to HD truck #6  
I know this may not what you want to hear but when it comes to towing it’s not really about acceleration it’s about payload and towing stability. What’s the payload of your Ran1500? Unless it’s lightly optioned I bet that gas powered 3/4 ton has nearly double the payload. That 3/4 ton Chevy will handle a heavy trailer much better.
   / Moving from 1/2 ton truck to HD truck #7  
If you can find a plain jane truck, the price will be better. All these luxo-Barbie-princess haulers with heated and cooled leather seats... moon roofs... heated steering wheels... 100K for a truck is just stupid. Turn in your man cards, ladies.

I know, I should form an opinion already and stop sitting on the fence...

Anyway, a base model gas truck would probably leave enough money in your budget to get any accessories you may need, like a gooseneck hitch, or 5th wheel hitch (or both, love my turnover ball B & W). Maybe a fleet return truck, a lot of utility companies rotate their vehicle stock at a specific mileage point, whether the trucks have issues or not. Most fleet trucks would at least have air, cruise and power windows.

I bought my F-250 brand new in Nov of 2012. It's a gas 6.2 with a 6 speed auto and 3.73 gears. The engine makes 80% of it's power at 2000 rpms. Perfect for a truck engine (gas). The XLT package comes with basic options like cruise, air, power windows and door locks, cloth seats and basic carpet. It's quiet to drive and pulls trailers very well. It's not a diesel, but 420 ft/lbs of torque will get you there and home again with no drama. Handles my 12K lb 5th wheel and my 9K lb flatbed (with tractor-because TBN!). It will haul a basic car on the same trailer like it's not really there. It's got 77K miles on it now and the only issues I've ever had since new, was 1 blown power steering hose in 2016(?) covered under warranty, and I'm on my 3rd battery (and probably last-Optima for the win!) because the cold winters here (-40F) are hard on batteries. It's parked outside year 'round, and never sees a heated garage in winter.

   / Moving from 1/2 ton truck to HD truck #8  
The HD trucks have a stiffer suspension and chassis. When you tow, you want the stiffest chassis available.

The HD trucks have torque, couple that with gearing, and you get pulling power.

I have both a Powerstroke and F150. The F150 has too soft of a suspension for any real pulling. I wince when I see people pulling big trailers with a 1/2 ton.
   / Moving from 1/2 ton truck to HD truck #9  
The dually offers stability that single wheels just dont have

I wouldn't go with a gas for towing unless you hate yourself. But I also wouldn't buy an automatic either.

hitting a short entrance ramp or big hill with a gasser is no fun and around here we have short ramps.

If you can score an 05-early 07 5.9 cummins, those are great trucks and if they aren't abused will last for ever. If I was buying an emissions truck, I would make sure it's under warranty and sell it before the warranty was up.

1 failed EGR cooler or a number of things and your out a motor. Along with the extra complexity the emissions systems bring with them. Beyond the dpf.
   / Moving from 1/2 ton truck to HD truck #10  
I wonder how the new 6.6 GM gas engine really pulls a trailer out in the real world?

The neighbor that has a fleet of trucks (excavating business) still run many with the 6.0 gas engines. The trucks are heavy with tools and equipment and tow skids etc all the time.