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Pros And Cons Of Choosing A Heavy-Duty Pickup Truck

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When you need a solid work truck for your business, you want to be sure it can get the job done with minimum fuss. For this reason, heavy-duty pickup trucks are a mainstay on work sites and construction yards. But you're probably wondering what a heavy-duty 3/4-ton or one-ton pickup truck offers that a typical half-ton light-duty pickup truck doesn't.

The following explains what separates the two by highlighting the advantages and downsides of a heavy-duty pickup truck.

Better Durability

Increased durability is one advantage of buying a heavy-duty pickup truck, since these trucks use heavier and stronger chassis frames that outperform their light-duty counterparts. Heavy-duty trucks also get stronger and more durable suspension components, along with stronger brakes, upgraded cooling systems and beefier rear axles.

The end result is a pickup truck that offers greater longevity over the long term due to its upgraded and overbuilt components. This means that a heavy-duty pickup truck can stand up to frequent, heavy use longer than a similar light-duty truck.

More Engine Choices

In many cases, buying a heavy-duty pickup truck opens the door to more engine choices. Large-displacement gasoline engines are typically available as standard equipment on heavy-duty trucks, whereas such engines may only be available as hard-to-find options on light-duty models.

Ordering a heavy-duty pickup truck used to be the only way to get a diesel engine under the hood. However, some automakers are making diesel-powered inroads into the light-duty arena by offering diesel engines with smaller displacements than their full-sized counterparts.  

Higher Payload and Towing Capacity

When it comes to payload and towing capacity, heavy-duty trucks have light-duty trucks beat, hands down. With the appropriate configuration and the right options, heavy-duty pickup trucks are capable of towing as much as 20,000 pounds and hauling up to 6,500 pounds or more. Meanwhile, most light-duty trucks can only manage a maximum towing capacity of up to 12,000 pounds and a payload of around 3,000 pounds.

Payload and towing capacity ratings often change depending on a variety of factors, including bed lengths, cab styles, axle choices and engine configurations. If you want to know exact figures, you'll have to check the manufacturer's spec sheets.

Harsher Ride Comfort

Today's heavy-duty pickups are more luxurious than ever, thanks to an ever-expanding list of features that seem better at home in expensive luxury cars. Despite the leather seats, high-quality infotainment systems and other niceties like folding running boards, heavy-duty trucks still work vehicles at heart.

Although there have been plenty of improvements in overall ride comfort, these trucks still offer a somewhat harsh ride and more ponderous handling than a comparable light-duty truck.

Worse Fuel Economy

Another potential trade-off of choosing a heavy-duty truck over a light-duty truck is fuel economy. With more overall weight and higher payloads to carry, you can expect a heavy-duty truck to use more fuel than its light-duty counterpart. The differences become clearer when comparing gas-powered trucks, especially when towing or hauling heavy loads.

Diesel engines can help heavy-duty trucks close the fuel economy gap while providing ample power for towing and hauling. In a recent Consumer Reports comparison, a Ford F-250 equipped with a turbodiesel engine achieved 15 mpg in overall driving. Its light-duty counterpart, a Ford F-150 equipped with a turbocharged 3.5-liter gas engine, achieved 16 mpg.

Higher Initial Cost

Heavy-duty pickup trucks often come with a higher price tag than their light-duty variants. Expect to see sticker prices that are several thousand dollars higher than a comparable light-duty truck when shopping for 3/4-ton or one-ton pickup trucks, especially if those trucks are diesel-powered. Diesel engines can also add extra costs in the upkeep department over the long term.