Don’t Settle for Anything But the Best
No matter where you live in America, there’s no doubt you’ve encountered a fair share of trucks on the road. As American as apple pie, pickup trucks were designed to be the rugged everyman’s best friend. In recent decades we’ve seen the evolution of trucks as daily vehicles. But we wanted to take a step back to take a look at trucks in their natural habitat. Hard at work. If you’re looking for the best truck for work that meets all your needs, we’re here to help.
What Do the Best Trucks for Work Need?
Everybody needs something different out of a work truck. Some people need a true goliath, a full-sized workhorse that they can pit against the elements and extreme working conditions. Other people don’t need to ask nearly as much from their pick-up truck. Let’s take a look at some important characteristics in deciding the truck that works best for you.
Cab Size vs Bed Size
Cabins and beds compete for space on your truck. If you want an extended cab, you might have to sacrifice some bed space. If you want a long bed, you might want to shoot for a standard cab. But let’s take a step back- what are the standard sizes for cabs and beds?
Cabs come in three standard styles (often with different names among the different makes). And an additional XL option only available among a few select makes and models. A truck with a standard cab is the quintessential style that most people imagine when we talk about trucks. It consists of one row of front seats, fitting two to three people at most.
The next cab size up is the extended cab. It is meant to host up to four people but with limited legroom. In this cab configuration, you’ll typically find a set of short rear doors that are rear-hinged. Last in the lineup is the crew cab. Named rightly so, because you can fit the whole crew in the truck. It features four full-sized doors and plenty of legroom for all passengers.
Beds are often classified as short (5’8”), standard (6’5”), and long (8’), with the numbers varying slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer. Crew cab and XL cab trucks sometimes offer an extra short bed to accommodate the extra spacious cab.
Take a moment to think about what you need your work truck for. Are you going to be carting people around worksites? What kind of gear, equipment, or cargo is going to be traveling in your bed? Maybe you don’t want to sacrifice legroom or bed space. So do you think you can fit a crew cab with a long bed in your garage? Or wherever else you need to park that behemoth?
If you need your work truck to be your daily ride too, you might not want to supersize it. A common trap people fall into is buying a truck with more features and space than they need. Leaving them with a bill for a truck they can’t make the most out of.
Payload and Towing Capacities
Pickup trucks are classified by their payload capacity, but current labels are misleading. Trucks are defined as being half-ton, three-quarter-ton, or 1-ton trucks. But modern pick-up trucks can often carry much more than that. These labels were first used when that was the most a pick-up truck could handle. But modern engineering has blown those numbers out of the water.
Equally as important as a truck’s payload capacity is the towing capacity. Unlike the payload capacity, the sticker number for the towing capacity is often inflated. That number usually represents the best possible towing conditions- an average-sized driver, no passengers, and an empty bed.
The best estimates to use for payload and towing capacity are the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). And the Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating (GCVWR). The GVWR describes the maximum amount of payload a truck can handle, including its own base curb weight. So if a truck weighs 6,000 lbs and its GVWR rating is 10,000 lbs, its payload capacity is 4,000 lbs.
The GCVWR describes the maximum weight of a vehicle and an attached trailer. It doesn’t matter where the weight is distributed as long as you don’t exceed the GVWR of your truck. If the GCVWR is 15,000 lbs and your truck weighs 6,000 lbs, your truck can handle 9,000 lbs between its payload and the attached trailer. However, if your GVWR is 10,000 lbs, you shouldn’t exceed that 4,000 lbs payload capacity.
Tongue weight is another factor you should be aware of when considering GVWR/GCVWR. The tongue weight is the force exerted from the trailer onto the hitch of your truck. And it is considered in your payload capacity. Tongue weight is 10 to 15% of your trailer weight. So if your trailer weighs 2000 lbs, you should subtract roughly 300 lbs from your available GVWR.
Some of the Best Work Trucks on the Market
It’s hard to say that any one truck is the best work truck for all occasions. But it’s safe to say that not all trucks are built equal. There are several makes and models that you’ll see pop up on “best of” lists in magazines and on websites everywhere. So we thought we’d compile a list of of some those A-listers. For our intents and purposes, full-size trucks are the kings of work trucks.
The Ram 1500 is a chart-topper in the work-truck category! With the newer model years being lauded as some of the most capable and comfortable work trucks on the consumer market. Remember when we were talking about buying only as much truck as you need? This truck is proud of its title as a workhorse! It comes with a trim level dedicated to your work needs; the Tradesman.
A base level Tradesman comes in all the standard configurations, from a regular cab up to a crew cab. Older model years sport a 3.6-liter V6 engine with 305 horsepower. But you also have the option of a 5.7-liter V8 engine at 395 horsepower. At the quad and crew levels, you can also opt for a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 engine. It supplies less horsepower but makes up for it in with 420 lb-ft of torque.
With a payload capacity of 2,320 lbs and a towing capacity between 7,750 and 12,750 lbs, 1500 is ideal for smaller loads like boats, ATVs, or trailers. If you want something more heavy-duty, consider going a step up to 2500 or even 3500. Whatever model or trim you decide on, Ram is sure to impress.
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 / GMC Sierra 1500
The Silverado and the Sierra share a spot on this list because they’re both produced by General Motors and share the same powertrain parts. They perform at practically the same level. The main difference is in styling and comfort. The Sierra tends to have the reputation of being the more “luxurious” ride.
The two models offer the same engine options. Including a 4.3L V-6 engine, a 5.3L V-8 engine, or a 3.0L I-6 turbo-diesel engine. As usual, the diesel option provides less horsepower than its gas counterparts. But for towing purposes, the return on torque power is well worth the switch. The better fuel economy doesn’t hurt either!
The 1500s are considered light-duty but can tow up to 12,000 pounds. If that’s still not up to snuff for the wear and tear you need to put on your truck. So take a step up to the 2500s.
America’s best selling truck, the Ford F-series is a classic workhorse with boundless potential. Rugged and reliable, there’s nothing an F-series can’t take on. The F-150 is a well-trusted light-duty truck, but its cousins in the F-250 and the F-350 are nothing to overlook.
One advantage of the F-150 is its lightweight body construction. The body and panels are made from high-strength aluminum, giving it best-in-class payload and towing capacities. The F-150 lands at a payload capacity of 3,270 lbs and a towing capacity of up to 13,200 lbs. Twin-turbo V6 engines give the F-150 solid fuel economy and handling. And the Raptor trim level features a whopping 450-horsepower motor.
If you want a workhorse that just won’t quit, the F-150 and its heavy-duty cousins deliver. There’s a reason they’ve been the best selling truck in America for so long.
Work Trucks Should Push the Limits
Trucks are a symbol of determination and hard work, some of the foremost American values. If you’re looking for the best work truck, you’re looking for a truck that’s not afraid to push the limits and take on any challenge. We hope our celebration of work trucks helps you find the best work truck for your needs! Think you can find the best truck for work now?