Fierce is almost too weak a word for the level of competition in the truck market – even in the Heavy Duty (HD) segment. Why is that? This is a growing segment – and the trucks are expensive. Well over 20% of total North American truck sales are now HD pickups – and of those 90% tow regularly. These are trucks that probably have an average transaction cost of $75,000 each; so, you can see why the Big Three are fighting so hard for market share. Each year the Big Three taunt each other with higher tow ratings and increasing horse power and torque numbers – these are what’s highlighted in the advertising, either in print or on video. For 2021, at least for now, this is how they stack up when looking at those numbers.

  1. Ram comes in first, claiming a maximum tow rating of 37,100 lb on the 3500
  2. Following closely behind is Ford, claiming a maximum tow rating of 37,000 lb on the F-450
  3. Rounding out the list is GMC’s 3500 with a claimed maximum tow rating of 36,000 lb

However, there is a bit of smoke and mirrors involved here. While the numbers are genuine, each of these top numbers is achieved by just one version of each of these trucks. In each case, regardless of manufacturer, the maximum tow rating applies to a regular cab, base model trim, dual rear wheel, 4×2 truck. In other words, a truck that very few will ever buy. If you build the most popular truck – a crew cab, 4×4, mid-level trim package – the average weight goes down. If there is a cautionary tale here, it’s to never take that maximum tow rating number to heart. Build your truck first and then find out what its exact payload and tow numbers are.

For each of the HD builders we’ve compiled a list of what’s new on the trucks for 2021 – current weight ratings and the most recent noteworthy updates. Here they are:​

 

2021 Ford | F-250, F-350 and F-450

 

 

In 2020 Super Duty announced an all-new gas engine – the 7.3L V8. This addition gave HD customers two gas engine choices. The standard 6.2L V8 and now the 7.3L V8 – both are paired with new 10-speed automatic designed specifically for HD transmissions. The new 7.3L gas V8 design is built on decades of Ford’s commercial engine experience, meant to provide durability, ease of maintenance, and the towing and payload capability customers want. As for the diesel option – the 6.7L Power Stroke is now in its third generation; it too is paired with the 10-speed TorqShift automatic.

2021 Engines and Transmission

  1. 2L V8 385 hp 430 lb-ft paired with 10-speed Auto Note: TorqShift heavy-duty 6-speed automatic with SelectShift is paired with the F-250 6.2L gas only
  2. 3L V8 430 hp 475 lb-ft paired with 10-speed Auto
  3. 7L Power Stroke Diesel V8 475 hp 1050 lb-ft

Highlights for 2021 Model Year

  • Manual-folding, manually telescoping, power glass trailer tow mirrors with heated glass and heated convex spotter mirror
  • 10-way power passenger seating replaced with 8-way
  • Floor Mats, All-Weather optional on XLT and Lariat
  • Adaptive Steering – optional on Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum; standard on Limited
  • Deleted — Windshield Wiper De-icer packages

Payload and Towing for 2021

*Each segment report shows the range from lowest to highest across all possible build configurations in that specific segment. 

F-250 SRW 4×2                   PAYLOAD      3,520 lb to 4,260 lb

Conventional Towing        12,900 lb to 15,200 lb

Fifth Wheel/Gooseneck Towing             12,900 lb to 22,800 lb

F-250 SRW 4×4                   PAYLOAD      3,040 lb to 3,820 lb

Conventional Towing        12,500 lb to 15,000 lb

Fifth Wheel/Gooseneck Towing             12,500 lb to 21,800 lb

F-350 SRW 4×2                   PAYLOAD      3,040 lb to 4,500 lb

Conventional Towing        12,500lb to 18,200 lb

Fifth Wheel/Gooseneck Towing            16,100 lb to 22,800 lb

 F-350 SRW 4×4                  PAYLOAD      2,890 lb to 4,960 lb

Conventional Towing        12,100 lb to 20,000 lb

Fifth Wheel/Gooseneck Towing            12,000 lb to 22,400 lb        

F-350 DRW 4×2                  PAYLOAD      5,960 lb to 7,210 lb

Conventional Towing        13,300 lb to 21,200 lb

Fifth Wheel/Gooseneck Towing             12,500 lb to 35,750 lb

F-350 DRW 4×4                  PAYLOAD      5,530 lb to 7,210 lb

Conventional Towing        12,800 lb to 21,200 lb

Fifth Wheel/Gooseneck Towing             12,000 lb to 35,400 lb

F-450 DRW 4×2                  PAYLOAD      5,630 lb to 6,210 lb

Conventional Towing        21,200 lb to 24,200 lb

Fifth Wheel/Gooseneck Towing             34,600 lb to 37,000 lb

F-450 DRW 4×4                  PAYLOAD      5,320 lb to 5,900 lb

Conventional Towing        21,200 lb to 24,200 lb

Fifth Wheel/Gooseneck Towing             32,600 lb to 36,400 lb

 

2021 General Motors Chevy | GMC HD 2500 and 3500

 

 

GMC Sierra HD, for example, features a new Allison 10-speed automatic transmission mated to its 6.6L Duramax turbo diesel.

Duramax 6.6L turbo-diesel is tuned to 445 hp and 910 lb-ft of torque.  Performance is also improved thanks to increased cooling capacity delivered improved air induction.

Sales-wise, GM reports that 2020 was its best HD sales year ever, up 59 per cent over 2019. Also, GMC in Canada led with all-time record Denali sales volume.

2021 Engines and Transmissions – (New in 2020)

  1. All new – 6.6 V8 401 hp   464 lb-ft of torque. Paired with Hydra-Matic 6L90 six-speed automatic (6.6L gas)
  2. 6.6 V8 Duramax turbo-diesel 445 hp and 910 lb-ft of torque. Paired with the Allison 10-speed Auto Transmission

Highlights for 2021 Model Year

  1. The Silverado HD is offering up to a class-leading available 15 unique camera views and eight cameras for towing confidence.
  2. Also, segment-first “transparent” trailer view to virtually see through a trailer in tow.

Special Edition Packages:

  • Carhartt Edition: the Carhartt Edition is offered exclusively on the LTZ
  • Midnight Edition: Available on black LT and LTZ trims
  • Z71 Sport Edition: Available on LT and LTZ trims
  • Z71 Chrome Sport Edition: Available on LT and LTZ trims

Payload and Towing for 2021

*Each segment report shows the range from lowest to highest across all possible build configurations in that specific segment. 

2500HD SRW                      PAYLOAD      3,615 lb to 3,991 lb

Conventional Towing        14,500 lb to 18,500 lb

Fifth Wheel/Gooseneck Towing            16,900 lb to 18,600 lb

3500HD SRW                      PAYLOAD      4,148 lb to 4,493 lb

Conventional Towing        14,500 lb to 20,000 lb

Fifth Wheel/Gooseneck Towing             16,700 lb to 21,500 lb

35000HD DRW                   PAYLOAD      5,944 lb to 7,466 lb

Conventional Towing        16,300 lb to 20,000 lb

Fifth Wheel/Gooseneck Towing             16,200 lb to 35,500 lb

Note: GM makes no distinction between 4×2 and 4×4 weight capacities.

 

2021 Ram 2500 and 3500

 

 

2019 was the major generational update for the HD Rams Having beat both Ford and GM to the punch, they laid down power and weight numbers that sent their Detroit rivals scrambling. For 2021 they have tweaked the numbers to stay ahead of Ford. Specifically, for 2021 they released the following updates.

  • Ram 3500 Heavy Duty with Cummins 6.7L High Output Turbo Diesel brings total torque to 1,075 lb-ft
  • Segment best 37,100 lb gooseneck towing capacity

2021 Engines and Transmissions

  1. Cummins 6.7L H.O. turbo-diesel – 420 hp and 1,075 lb-ft of torque (available only in the 3500) paired with the Aisin AS69RC six-speed auto.
  2. Cummins 6.7L turbo-diesel (standard) – 370 hp and 850 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired to the 68RFE six-speed Auto.
  3. 4L Hemi V8 – base engine in both HD’s – 410 hp and 429 lb-ft of torque. Features VVT with Fuel Saver Technology cylinder deactivation. Paired to the TorqueFlite 8HP75 eight-speed automatic.

Highlights for 2021 Model Year

  • 2021 Ram Power Wagon 75th Anniversary Edition
  • Off-road pages now available on Power Wagon show ride height, transfer case position, pitch and roll and accessory gauges
  • Ram Heavy Duty models offer the Limited Night Edition

Payload and Towing for 2021

*Each segment report shows the range from lowest to highest across all possible build configurations in that specific segment. 

2500HD SRW 4×2              PAYLOAD      2,580 lb to 4,010 lb

Conventional Towing        14,440 lb to 18,600 lb

Fifth Wheel/Gooseneck Towing            16,900 lb to 19,790 lb

2500HD SRW 4×4              PAYLOAD      2,030 lb to 3,680 lb

Conventional Towing        13,560 lb to 18,500 lb

Fifth Wheel/Gooseneck Towing            16,900 lb to 19,330 lb

3500HD SRW 4×2              PAYLOAD      4,420 lb to 7,680 lb

Conventional Towing        13,920 lb to 23,000 lb

Fifth Wheel/Gooseneck Towing             ** lb to 26,830 lb

3500HD DRW 4×2              PAYLOAD      5,950 lb to 7,680 lb

Conventional Towing        14,080 lb to 23,000 lb

Fifth Wheel/Gooseneck Towing            ** lb to 37,100 lb

*A Gooseneck hitch is required for trailers over 30,000 lbs

3500 DRW 4×4                    PAYLOAD      5,420 lb to 7,280 lb

Conventional Towing        13,660 lb to 23,000 lb

Fifth Wheel/Gooseneck Towing            ** lb to 34,660 lb

*A Gooseneck hitch is required for trailers over 30,000 lbs

That wraps up the snapshot of what’s new in HD trucks – till it changes again. Rest assured it will, as this is an uber-competitive market. Lastly, make sure you verify the payload and tow numbers of the truck you’re thinking of buying – before you buy it.

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