Buying Guides

2017 Best Heavy Duty Pickup Trucks

These trucks do more than just tow and haul

Wade Thiel, Senior Staff Writer

Pickup trucks are some of the most versatile vehicles on the road. They're powerful and capable while still being comfortable, safe, technologically advanced. In some cases, they're even fun to drive. The most impressive performance when pertaining to towing and hauling heavy loads comes for the heavy-duty truck segment. These pickups can tow ridiculously large trailers, and get jobs done that no other vehicle could even attempt to do. Heavy-duty trucks are civilized, too, offering inviting interiors and most amenities you'll find in other vehicles. If you have a lot of physical work to do these are the best trucks to buy.

2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty

 
  • PROS: More torque than its competitors, sharper steering than expected, upscale interior in high trims, unparalleled available tech.
  • CONS: Huge and feels it, firm ride, thirsty gasoline engine, no standard backup camera.

Ford completely redesigned its heavy-duty truck for 2017, and the F-250 Super Duty ($32,535 base MSRP) is considered by many to be the best truck you can buy right now. The pickup offers a number of three different cab configurations, two different bed lengths, a couple different engines, two or four-wheel drive, and five different trim levels. You can go from the basic XL trim, single cab pickup all the way up to the Platinum trim, crew cab truck that’s as swanky as a luxury car on the inside and has as many tech features, including Sync 3, Bluetooth, navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s also plenty of safety and driver aids, which get the Super Duty a five-star safety rating from the NHTSA.

Ford offers two engines. A 6.2-liter V8 that makes 385 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque and a 6.7-liter turbodiesel V8 that makes 440 hp and 925 lb-ft of torque (a segment-best). The gas engine can tow up to 15,000 lbs and the diesel up to 18,000 lbs. Need more towing capacity? Upgrade to the F-350 or F-450 for the same package but higher towing and hauling ratings.

2017 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD

 
  • PROS: Great exterior styling, powerful Duramax diesel, smooth Allison transmission, and a quiet and comfy interior.
  • CONS: Not as much torque as Ford’s truck, jarring ride without a load, back seat isn’t as large as rivals.

The Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD ($33,610 base MSRP) and GMC Sierra 2500HD ($34,190 base MSRP) are essentially the same truck. GMC comes with a slightly better interior and a small base price hike, but for the most part, it’s the same. Both trucks offer a quality and upscale towing and hauling experience. The interior is attractive and well-laid out, and GM’s infotainment is simple and easy to use. It offers Chevrolet MyLink, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, navigation, and Onstar features. The Silverado can be had in three different cab configurations, two bed lengths, two engine choices, two or four-wheel drive, and four different trim levels.

The standard engine is the 6.0-liter V8 that makes 360 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. The next step up is the Duramax diesel V8 that makes 445 hp (segment best) and 910 lb-ft of torque. The towing capacity for the gasoline engine is 14,800 lbs, and with the diesel, it’s 18,100 lbs. If you need to tow more consider bumping up to the 3500HD model.

2017 Ram 2500 Power Wagon

Best

for the off-roader

  • PROS: Superb off-road capability, good on-road manners, powerful HEMI engine, 12,000-lb winch on the front.
  • CONS: Gas hog, no diesel option, have to get Power Wagon in crew cab configuration, over-the-top styling.

The Ram 2500 Power Wagon ($51,695 base MSRP) is based on the Ram 2500 crew cab pickup and is then outfitted with some of the most badass off-road equipment available on any stock truck out there. The Power Wagon model doesn't come in any other configurations, and it is only offered with one engine option and either two or four-wheel drive. It’s a purpose-built, off-road truck, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad on the road. It offers a commendable experience thanks to a comfy interior and FCA’s Uconnect infotainment system with navigation, Bluetooth, satellite radio, and a number of apps.

The engine under the Power Wagon’s hood is the 6.4-liter HEMI V8 that makes 410 hp and 429 lb-ft of torque. The point of the Power Wagon isn’t to tow. It’s to go off-road. Therefore the towing rating for the big truck maxes out at 10,030 lbs. If you need to tow more and are a fan of Ram trucks, consider one of the other trim levels, which can tow considerably more.

2017 Nissan Titan XD

 
  • PROS: Fantastic seats, feels composed on the road, powerful engine options, smaller size than true heavy duty trucks.
  • CONS: Not a true heavy-duty pickup, feels heavy on the road, larger turning radius than expected.

You may say the Nissan Titan XD doesn’t fit here, and we can see why. It’s not a typical heavy-duty truck. It falls between full-size and heavy-duty trucks. However, if your needs exceed the regular full-size truck capabilities, it’s a logical next step. The Titan XD offers three different cab configurations, three bed lengths, two engines, two or four-wheel drive, and five different trims depending on your configuration. Pair all that with a well-designed interior, fantastic zero-gravity seats in the upper trim levels, and a competent NissanConnect infotainment system with Bluetooth, satellite radio, navigation and many apps.

Power for the Titan XD is supplied by either a 5.6-liter V8 engine that makes 390 hp and 394 lb-ft of torque or a Cummins 5.0-liter turbodiesel V8 that produces 310 hp and 555 lb-ft of torque. The gasoline engine can tow up to 11,590 lbs and the diesel can tow up to 12,640 lbs when properly equipped. If you need to pull more than that, you’re going to have to go to a different automaker as Nissan doesn’t offer a truck with more capability.

Why are heavy duty trucks fantastic?

  • They can tow and haul massive loads that other vehicles can't.
  • Exceptionally spacious and comfortable cabins.
  • Available with top notch materials and technology
  • Superior cabin storage options for maximum gear stowage.

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