Help me understand 1/2, 3/4 and 1 ton pickups differences

shogun1313shogun1313 Member Posts: 17
edited September 2016 in Toyota
the differences in these three classifications with respect to the trucks offered by Dodge, Ford, Chevy/GMC, and Toyota. I see compact, full-size, and heavy duty variations, but I do not know if these associate or not with the 1/2, 3/4, and 1 ton designations.

I am trying to get a better understanding so that I may better consider apples to apples and oranges to orianges. Any help would be greatful. Thanks!

See Also: Everything You Need To Know About Truck Sizes & Classification


  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,610
    but 1/2 ton, 3/4 ton, and 1-ton usually refer to full-size pickup trucks. Usually the model hierarchy follows something like "1500", "2500", and "3500".

    Most pickup trucks that you see on the road are of the 1/2 ton variety. They're a good all-purpose vehicle, great for hauling light loads, light duty trailering, etc, or just commuting back and forth to work but for those that want more versatility than a car

    3/4 ton trucks have stronger suspensions for hauling/towing heavier loads. I think they're the best choice for using a slide-in truck camper, for example.

    1-ton trucks are usually the ones that you see pulling big horse trailers or big 5th-wheel RV trailers. In addition to stronger suspensions, I think they also have beefier frames. And I think most 1-ton trucks are duallies (dual rear wheels in the back).

    I'm sure some of the pickup truck people on these boards can explain it better than me, but hope this helps some.

  • obyoneobyone Member Posts: 7,841
    Toyota only makes half ton pickups. Nothing more nothing less. The Big three makes the full range.
  • redsilveradoredsilverado Member Posts: 1,000
    actually, the Tacoma is a 1/2 ton. it's still not known what the Tundra was built for. just wanted to clear that up, you know, so more people don't end up buying the Mighty Moe(tundra). LOL
  • navy4navy4 Member Posts: 44
    The "ton" rating of a truck is from way back, the 20's or 30's. It used to refer to the payload of the truck. A 1/2 ton could carry 1000 lbs in the back and so on. That really doesn't apply anymore. Like Andre said people refer to the 150(0) as 1/2 ton, 250(0) as a 3/4 ton and 350(0) as a one ton. I like to think of it as small (Toyota and Nissan), medium, large and extra-large. The latter three being the full size models.
  • markbuckmarkbuck Member Posts: 1,021
    GVWR's. Most american 1/2 tons are 6400lbs +/-. Most 3/4 tons are in the 8000lb range. Most one tons are in the 9000-1000 lb range.

    Most 1/2 tons weigh 4400lbs. Most 3/4 and 1 tons weigh around 6,000 lbs. Rough payload capacity is the difference between the empty weight and the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating.

    GVWR is found on the sticker on the driver's side door jamb or door.
  • shogun1313shogun1313 Member Posts: 17
    When I compare the Ford line I can see a difference in the overall deisgn and construction between the 150 and the 250/350. Ford clearly states that the frame of the truck on the 250/350 shares not much if anything with the frame of the 150.

    When I look at the Ram 1500 and compare it to either the 2500 or 3500 I am not sure I see this difference in frame, which makes me pause for further investigation.

    I am not sure if I can begin to understand the differences on the GMC/Chevrolet trucks, because not only do they designate via # (a la 1500, 2500, 3500), but also distinct via HD and non-HD.

    I have no loyalties since I've never owned a pickup, neither new or used. I have no real friends that own pickups except compact units (one has a 95 Dakota, one has a 97 Tacoma, and the other an early 90s Ranger), with the exception of one friend that has a '93 F150.

    So, when I try to compare apples to apples for what my yet undetermined minimal needs/desires are, I would like to compare a proper Ford to a properly equipped Chevy and Dodge.

    One thing that has bothered me is Dodge's decision to not explicitly state the curb or unladen weight of its Ram pickups. This is annoying in that one must subtract the payload value from the GVWR to get a sense of the vehicle's weight.

    So, the research goes on. I will be buying around April-May 2002 when the lease on my car ends. So far, I will only consider extended cabs with functional extended cab doors and also four-doors. A 6.5 foot box is a minimum requirement. Diesel is no option due to costs. The truck's role is primarily daily driver and box hauler secondary.

    I'm in Atlanta, but I've seen and am getting the strong feeling that I could acquire a Ford 250/350 for dang near Invoice. Also, I was surprised that brokers ( could get me into a Ram 2500 Cummins for about $26K.

    My problem is that I am months away from test driving these rigs and haven'y even determined if maybe a compact 4-door 2WD pickup could fill my needs and desires. I'd appreciate any additional feedback.

    It is difficult dessimating through the information, talk, and arguements when there is a lot of hearsay, rivalry, lies, etc.
  • cspauldingcspaulding Member Posts: 159
    or hauling heavy objects, you would probably be fine with a F-150, Chevy 1500, or Dodge 1500(? half ton model). They would all be 1/2 tons, carry 1000 lbs., and be fine for daily driving. When you get up to the 3/4 or 1 tons, you lose some of your comfort, fuel economy (generally), have more you can haul, but I'd say the 1/2 ton is the most common of the trucks...only in recent years are you seeing more of the 3/4 (F-250, or 2500s) & 1 tons (F-350 or 3500s) out there...I'm not sure of the reasoning, maybe people are just on the "mine is bigger than yours" kick. We just bought a new 3/4 ton last year, for pulling horse trailers, hay wagons, etc.

    Lots of luck.
  • akjbmwakjbmw Member Posts: 231
    1. Marketing people directly influence the description and configuration of most vehicles.

    2. Underneath there somewhere was an original designation of the load carrying capacity of the different models of truck. Half Ton, Three-quarter Ton, One Ton.

    3. The "rated" load capacity of a vehicle is dictated by the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating as restricted by the brake system that is installed. It appears that the physical weight capacity of the tires, axles, and suspension is not the "weakest link" in the equation.

    4. The actual load capacity of a vehicle is the actual unloaded weight subtracted from the GVWR. A bare-bones, stripped of accessories, vehicle will have a greater load capacity than a luxo-barge. My K1500 ext. cab weighs about 5300 pounds according to the scales at a local truck stop. GVWR is 6550. No bed mounted camper for me unless it's a Four-Wheel Camper aluminum job.

    5. Since the distinction between model capacities has been clouded, you have to decide what your needs and requirements are and shop accordingly.

    6. If you are going to get a commuter/weekend project truck, a half ton will probably suffice. If you are looking at a camper (pickup bed mounted) or towing a trailer (pull behind or fifth wheel), then the heavier duty models will apply.

    7. BOTTOM LINE. The capacity of the vehicle brakes appears to be the limiting factor and salespersons are usually clueless...

    8. May the Force be with you and your calculator.
  • amoralesamorales Member Posts: 196
    Heavier duty Radiator, tranny cooling, lower, higher numerically axel ratios ie
    3:73, 4:11 and higher torque. Many 3/4 ton reg cab pick-ups can handle greater
    abuse that 1/2 tons and are quicker due to axel ratios. If you want to soup up,
    increase performance, 3/4 ton will handle extra power, torque without significant upgrades
    to tranny and rear end....example my '00 C2500 will smoke 98 % of F150 5.4's andl all
    F250/F350's due to greater power from 5.7L vortec.
  • tucsonjwttucsonjwt Member Posts: 265
    a 4 door mini truck. So why bother with the 1/2, 3/4, 1 ton differences? Unless you have a heavy load to carry on a regular basis, you would not want to buy the 3/4 or 1 ton and pay the mileage and purchase/repair cost penalty. I would not by a mini truck because you can get a full size half ton for almost the same price if you get a V6 and base model. Plus the gas mileage is the same in a minitruck or a full size truck. I would check out all of the base model 4 door trucks, both mini and full size, and see what you get for your money. I think you will be surprised with how nicely equipped new full size base model pickups are. You should be able to get any of these trucks under invoice since there is a lot of competition in the marketplace, and most people still want SUVs.
    Personally, I have a base model V6 Silverado and also have on old 73 3/4 ton beater for the heavy/dirty jobs. I can't see paying over 20K for a truck - I still think they are trucks, gussied up or not. But each to his or her own. Good luck.
  • bobsquatchbobsquatch Member Posts: 136
    Hi Shogun1313, I would agree with tucsonjwt that you do not need anything larger than a 1/2 ton. The differnce between the 1/2 and 3/4 is much more than the difference between the 3/4 and the 1 ton. The half tons are basically cars with a bed. They ride nice and are capable of light hauling and short distance infrequent medium hauling (ie a 6000lb boat 10 miles to the launch 5 or 6 times a year). If you do more than that you need a true truck, 3/4 or higher. The difference is huge over the 1/2 ton. Much bigger drive shafts, axels, brakes, wheel bearings, cooling system, trans cooler, etc... 3/4 and 1 tons usually share all of these beefier items and the only differences between them are usually spring rates and sometimes dual rear wheels. If you tow frequently or haul heavy loads the 3/4+ vehicles are for you. Note that the lightest weight rating you can get that suits your needs will make financial sense as the DMV charges are higher with payload capacity.
  • jbothjboth Member Posts: 2
    Hi all. I have a 93 Toyota SR5 V6 xcab 4x4. Occasionally my check engine light comes on. I diagnosed it as a code 12 which is the RPM signal. Anyone know what I can do from here otherwise I'll have to take it to a dealer. Thanks.
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