Things have certainly changed over the past few decades in the truck world with half-ton pickups such as the 2021 Ford F-150 now achieving unheard of maximum towing numbers of 14,000 pounds for select models. This number was for 1-ton trucks just 20 years ago, and the leaps-and-bounds growth in towing capacity has us wondering: Where is a 3/4-ton dually truck?
The truth of the matter is while the 14,000 pounds of capacity for the aforementioned F-150 is basically for a unicorn pickup and most owners are reluctant to tow this much with the lighter-weight half-ton, the growth in heavy-duty trucks has seen the same questions raised.
Today, a 2020 Ford F-350 crew cab truck can tow a whopping 35,200 pounds with a fifth-wheel setup equipped with a 6.7-liter turbo diesel, 8-foot box and a 4.10 rear axle ratio according to Ford’s latest RV and Trailer towing guide. Considering a 2001 Ford F-350 could only tow around 14,000 pounds, this is quite the increase.
That isn’t all though. A 2020 Ford F-250 crew cab truck has also seen a massive jump with 21,700 pounds maximum towing capacity equipped with a 6.7-liter turbo diesel, 3.55 rear axle ratio, 2WD and 6-3/4-foot bed.
The truth is a 1-ton of 20 years ago has more similar towing capacities to a half-ton, and a 3/4 now far exceeds what a 1-ton used to be able to tow.
That’s not all though.
You can now even purchase a fifth-wheel gooseneck prep kit for a half-ton pickup! This only used to be available on heavy duty trucks.
While towing capacities have skyrocketed and half-ton pickups are now available with maximum towing packages to help with heavier loads, one has to wonder where the differences are between these trucks beyond what’s on paper. The difference lies in the availability of a dually setup.
Anyone who has towed can immediately speak to the benefits of a dually. The extra set of rear tires allows the load to feel more stable and handle crosswinds much better than a single rear-wheel setup.
This is especially handy when towing high-profile loads like a fifth-wheel RV. For these RVs, you will find many 1-ton trucks pulling them to help reduce driver fatigue and provide a smoother driving experience.
There is really only one issue with this type of setup — it’s overkill. A typical fifth-wheel camper weighs around 12,000 pounds according to the Roving Foley’s website.
This means a 3/4-ton dually truck will easily pull this load with the turbo diesel, yet there is no dually option for a 3/4-ton truck.
Besides the better pulling and towing experience, there is a cost savings to consider here.
Looking at ford.com and choosing the different trucks, we find a difference of around $1,500 between a F-250 and a F-350. This difference grows to about $3,000 when you price out a F-250 versus a F-350 dually truck.
This plays out about the same on the retail side with the difference between trucks being a few thousand dollars according to a search on cars.com.
A few thousand dollars on a $50k+ truck doesn’t seem like much, however, being forced to spend it because there is no dually 3/4-ton option, doesn’t seem right.
Finally, often a 3/4-ton truck will ride differently than a 1-ton depending on the brand. The heavier weight of the 1-ton, the stiffer suspension to handle the extra weight and more can make the truck have a much different ride unloaded like you would do when camping and exploring the area in your truck. Consumers, who want the dually, are also forced to put up with these differences when they should be given more of a choice.
Trucks have certainly changed over the years, and the capability of a new 1-ton is often associated with towing a house. However, there are certain things that haven’t changed like a dually 3/4-ton truck. It seems this needs to change as well to provide customers a more confident towing experience without being forced into a 1-ton. If the truck can tow more than a 1-ton used to, then why can’t it tow this load more confidently?
Tim I think a 3/4 ton dually would have a hard time remaining a 3/4 ton truck. To be a 3/4 ton truck the GVWR can not exceed 10k lbs. Modern day 3/4 ton trucks are already close to if not at 10k GVWR. To stay within the limits, the additional weight of the dually would have to all be subtracted from the trucks payload. A size-able reduction in payload would result in far less towing capability due to the tongue weight transferred to the truck.
Time and Brandon. I appreciate your article and comments. I am a wannabe, likely deciding on 3/4 vs. 1 ton for an RV to be determined. (wannabe first timer on RVs and significant towing, but modestly ambitious). One thing I did not hear in the article was addressing the extra braking capacity of a dually being a big reason to do so, especially when passing 60 to 75% of towing capacity, double especially if one chooses a toy hauler with its additional capacity over dry weight. What do you think about braking capacity as a threshold reason for builders to make a 3/4 ton dually????? Thanks for the discussion about CDL. While I have wanted to stay below 10,000 lbs, the toy hauler versatility is fantastically intriguing whether, for bunks, tools, kayaks, canoes, bikes of any sort, etc., so the CDL is reaching a 50/50 proposition.
Thanks for this nicely written piece about dually trucks. My brother and I are planning to buy a dually truck for our business. We’ve been looking at F-350 XLT too. Having dually wheels will provide additional safety and stability when the truck is used for heavy-duty towing. The extra wheels are also great to help spread out the weight of the payload. I’ll share this article with him.