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What Does 3/4 Ton Pickup Mean?

by Michael G. Sanchez

Pickup trucks typically come in three weight classes: 1/2-ton, 3/4-ton and 1-ton. These numbers don't directly refer to the payload of the trucks, however. Rather, they are a hold-over from past. Back in the mid-20th century, these categories indicated the actual maximum payload capacity of the truck. For instance, a 1/2-ton truck could carry half a ton -- or 1,000 pounds -- of passengers and cargo in its bed and cabin. Today, though, all pickups can carry substantially more than their weight classifications indicate. The system has been retained for historical reasons and because of industry and customer familiarity. In general, a 1/2-ton truck is considered light-duty, a 3/4-ton truck medium-duty and a 1-ton truck heavy-duty.

Light, Meduim or Heavy

Popular models such as the Ford F-150 and Toyota Tundra are 1/2-ton trucks. They have the lowest payload capacities, but are also the best-suited for light-duty and daily driver use. Moving up to a 3/4-ton truck -- such as the Ford F-250 or Chevrolet Silverado 2500 -- is only a good idea if you actually need the additional towing and hauling ability. To handle the extra weight, these trucks feature stiffer, beefed-up suspension components. The trade-off is that this makes for a harsher, less comfortable ride, particularly when the bed is empty. As an example of the difference between contemporary 1/2-ton and 3/4-ton trucks, the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 3/4-ton pickup has a base payload capacity of 3,670 pounds. The lighter-duty, 1/2-ton 2014 Silverado 1500 has a base payload capacity of just 1,933 pounds.

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