6 Best ½ Ton Trucks for Towing [2024 Comparison]

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Written By: Joe Birren, Fleet Operations Manager - Truck & Upfit Engineering

Is your business considering a ½ ton truck for towing? Merchants Fleet has a large stock of towing trucks to best meet your needs.

What Qualifies as a 1/2 Ton Truck?

Traditionally, trucks were categorized into how much payload weight they could haul. A ½ ton truck had a payload capacity of a half a ton, or 1,000 pounds. The following chart illustrates how trucks were historically categorized by average tow weight.


Truck Size Tow Weight (average) Best For
½ ton 1,000 to 1,500 pounds Light-duty tasks and everyday use
¾ ton 1,500 to 3,000 pounds More demanding tasks such as towing large trailers and hauling heavier loads
1-ton 3,000 to 6,000 (reduced if carrying a 5th wheel) Heavy-duty tasks such as towing large trailers, hauling heavy equipment, and handling other demanding workloads

The maximum loaded trailer weights for current ½–1-ton trucks are much higher than those in the chart. Weights can typically range from 5,000-14,000 pounds for ½ ton trucks, 13,000-22,000 pounds for ¾ ton, and 13,000-30,000+ pounds for 1-ton trucks (depending on how the truck is specified)

Half-ton trucks are great all-purpose vehicles that allow for some light load carrying or towing capacity. If you’re driving an overloaded truck or carrying the incorrect payload or trailer weight, you’ll end up with higher fuel and maintenance costs for things like brakes, transmission/driveline repairs, excessive tire wear or failure, and possible liability issues if you are involved in an accident. You may also be out of compliance with Department of Transportation regulations. If you have questions about what size truck is right for your fleet, get in touch!

What to Consider When Choosing a New Truck for Towing

When considering a new truck intended for towing, it’s important to consider what kind of hitch and trailer you will be hauling as well as your payload and trailer weight. Will you only require a conventional receiver hitch, or are you planning to use a gooseneck or fifth wheel?

There are several factory options that will provide different levels of towing packages that will increase the Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) and maximum trailer weight. Considerations include trailer brake controller, locking rear axle, rear axle gear ratio, suspension, and tires you may need based on the operating conditions and mileage. New technology packages specifically for towing include a 360-degree camera system and reverse trailering assist options. It’s important to consider important factors to get the best towing capacity truck for your needs, including:

Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW)
The Gross Vehicle Weight is the current weight of a vehicle or trailer with occupants, fuel and fluids, aftermarket body or equipment, and loaded payload weight at any given time. The GVW of a vehicle changes often as the weight changes due to things like numbers of passengers, fuel burning, cargo weight, etc. The GVW should not go past the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating at any time.

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)
The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating is the maximum legal operating weight of a vehicle as specified by the vehicle manufacturer. This is a federally set rating and should not be exceeded. This weight rating includes all components such as the chassis, any aftermarket body or equipment, driver/occupants, fuel/fluids, and total payload weight excluding any trailers.

Federal Truck Classifications by GVWR


Class 1 0 – 6,000 lbs.
Class 2 6,001 – 10,000 lbs.
Class 3 10,001 – 14,000 lbs.
Class 4 14,001 – 16,000 lbs.
Class 5 16,001 – 19,500 lbs.
Class 6 19,501 – 26,000 lbs.
Class 7 26,001 – 33,000 lbs.
Class 8 33,001 lbs. +

Half-ton trucks are generally in Class 1 or 2.

Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR)
The Gross Combined Weight Rating is the maximum legal combined operating weight of a vehicle with a trailer as specified by the vehicle manufacturer. This weight includes all components as outlined in GVWR as well as the trailer and trailer payload weight.

Gross Trailer Weight (GTW)
The amount that a trailer and anything on it weighs at the present time. This weight is dynamic and changes when something is added or taken off a trailer.

Trailer Tongue Weight
The optimal trailer tongue weight we typically recommend is between 10-15% and is based on the loaded trailer weight. Too low of a tongue weight or having the payload weight more to the rear of the trailer could cause unstable driving conditions, while too much trailer tongue weight can cause the rear of the truck to sag and possibly damage and break the receiver hitch.

Trailering and CDL Requirements

When towing a trailer with a GVWR of 10,001 pounds or more, and the GCWR of the truck and trailer is 26,001 pounds or more, a commercial driver’s license (CDL) will be required. For example, if a trailer has a GVWR of 12,500 pounds and is towed by a 1-ton truck with a GVWR of 14,000 pounds, the resulting GCWR would be 26,500 pounds, and the operator would require a CDL.

If the trailer has a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or less, the CDL requirements allow for a greater GCWR for both the truck and trailer. For example, a truck with a GVWR of 26,000 pounds or less can tow a trailer with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or less and NOT require a CDL.

What Businesses Typically Use 1/2 Ton Trucks?

Here’s a list of businesses that typically use ½ ton trucks in their fleets.

  • Construction
  • Supervisors and Managers
  • Forestry Service
  • Plumbers
  • Electricians
  • HVAC Professionals
  • General Contractors
  • Landscapers
  • Painters
  • Mobile Service Technicians

Top 6 1/2 Ton Truck Models for 2024

What’s the best ½ ton truck for towing? Here are our top six picks:

1. Ford F-150


Ford F150Starting Price: $36,770

Seats: 3–6

Towing Capacity: 13,500 lbs.

As the recipient of the Kelley Blue Book Best Buy award for full-size pickup, the 2024 Ford F-150 stands out as a favorite in the ½ ton truck category.

The F-150 offers a variety of features and options across different trims, including a 2.7L V6 EcoBoost engine, advanced Ford Co-Pilot 360 technology, and a high towing capacity of up to 13,500 lbs. Trims range from the basic XL ($36,770) to the high-performance Raptor ($78,330), with amenities such as 12-inch touchscreens, Wi-Fi connectivity, and hybrid engine options. Safety enhancements and luxury touches like leather seats are available in higher-end trims.

Towing capabilities are enhanced by technology including Pro Trailer Backup Assist and Pro Trailer Hitch Assist, which work in tandem to make each tow job as smooth as possible.

2. Ram 1500 Tradesman & Laramie

If you live in a wintry area, the RAM 1500 is a pro in the snow. Its rich interior offers a luxurious aesthetic with maximum utilitarian capabilities, making it one of the most versatile Class 2 vehicles on our list — even if it is a little light on towing capacity. J.D. Power awards the 1500 the #3 Best Large Light Duty Pickup of 2024; our choice is a toss-up between the RAM Tradesman and Laramie trims, both favored for their versatility.

Ram 1500 Laramie

The 2024 RAM 1500 Tradesman is designed to offer practicality and performance, equally suited to daily commutes and demanding job sites.

Starting Price: $39,420

Seats: 3–6

Towing Capacity: 7,760 lbs.

Key features include a robust engine lineup that provides efficient power for towing and hauling up to 7,760 pounds, and a Uconnect system for connectivity and control. The Tradesman trim also prioritizes safety with advanced driver-assistance technologies including:

  • Forward Collision Warning
  • Active Braking
  • Rear Backup Camera System
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Blind-Spot Monitoring
  • Adaptive Cruise Control

The 2024 RAM 1500 Laramie also features a blend of luxury and performance, with a refined interior and advanced technology options.

Starting Price: $54,880

Seats: 3–6

Towing Capacity: 6,520 lbs.

The Laramie offers a 12-inch touchscreen display, leather-trimmed seating, and a powerful audio system. The vehicle also boasts significant towing capacity and engine choices that provide a balance of power and efficiency, suitable for both daily driving and heavy-duty tasks. Enhanced safety features include:

  • Advanced Airbag Systems
  • Parking Assist Technologies
  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Blind-Spot Monitoring

The Laramie’s blind-spot monitoring includes rear cross-path and trailer detection, which helps maintain safety while maneuvering and towing.

Both the Tradesman and Laramie trims are available in 4×2 or 4×4 drive options, with the Tradesman being the more affordable of the two.

3. Chevrolet Silverado 1500

Chevrolet Silverado 1500

Starting Price: $36,800

Seats: 3–6

Towing Capacity: 13,400 lbs.

The 2024 Chevrolet Silverado offers enhancements in technology, interior design, and towing capacity, helping it snag the distinction of this year’s best pickup truck for towing from Cars.com.

Silverado trims come with a range of powerful engines including the TurboMax, EcoTec3 V8s, and a Duramax Turbo-Diesel (new in the ZR2 trim); this is notable because the Ford F-150 and the RAM 1500 no longer offer turbo diesel engines. Advanced towing technologies include Trailer Side Blind Zone Alert and up to 14 camera views to aid in trailering. The Silverado is equipped with Super Cruise, a hands-free driving technology designed for efficient highway use — even while towing. The Silverado also comes with a versatile Multi-Flex tailgate and a durable bed design for enhanced utility.

Important safety features include:

  • Forward Collision Alert
  • Automatic Emergency Braking
  • Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning
  • Rear Cross Traffic Braking
  • Intellibeam High Beam Assist
  • Teen Driver Technology

4. GMC Sierra 1500

GMC Sierra 1500

Starting Price: $39,695

Seats: 3–6

Towing Capacity: 13,300 lbs.

The Sierra is based on the Chevy Silverado, so the two share many similarities, including a similar towing capacity. The GMC Sierra 1500 was named the #1 Best Large Light Duty Pickup of 2024 by J.D. Power.

The 2024 lineup offers diverse trims, including the PRO, SLE, Elevation, SLT, AT4, AT4X, Denali, and Denali Ultimate, each with distinct features. Engine options range from the TurboMax™ engine with 310 horsepower and 430 lb.-ft. of torque, available across several trims, to the powerful 6.2L V8.

The Denali Ultimate introduces high-end comforts such as ventilated seats with massage and advanced technology including Super Cruise™ for hands-free driving. Other key features include advanced LED lighting, a 13.4″ center touchscreen, off-road capabilities with factory lifts and skid plates for AT4 models, and luxurious appointments like perforated-leather seating in higher trims.

Towing is simplified through an advanced trailering system that features a trailer load calculator, departure checklists, and trailer health monitoring. Other safety features include:

  • Front & Rear Park Assist
  • Automatic Emergency Braking
  • Following Distance Indicator
  • Forward Collision Alert
  • IntelliBeam

5. Toyota Tundra

Toyota Tundra

Starting Price: $39,965

Seats: 3–6

Towing Capacity: 12,000 lbs.

Available in six trims (soon to be seven), the 2024 Tundra offers handling capabilities for various terrains, including Multi-Terrain Select and Crawl Control, alongside a durable bed and multi-link rear suspension for a blend of comfort and capability. It also introduces advanced technology such as a 14-inch multimedia touchscreen and the comprehensive Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 system (TSS 2.5), which includes:

  • Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection
  • Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
  • Automatic High Beams
  • Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist
  • Lane Tracing Assist
  • Road Sign Assist

The 2024 Tundra’s safety system earned it recognition as one of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) safest large pickups of the year.

6. Nissan Titan

Nisan Titan

Starting Price: $46,040

Seats: 3–6

Towing Capacity: 11,050 lbs.

The 2024 Nissan Titan is designed for power, durability, and practicality, featuring a 5.6L V8 engine with 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque. It offers a maximum towing capacity of just over 11,000 lbs. and includes cutting-edge technologies like NissanConnect® Services, Dual Zone Automatic Temperature Control, and a Memory System for the driver’s seat. The Nissan Safety Shield® 360 suite features:

  • Blind Spot Warning
  • Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection
  • High Beam Assist

Half Ton Truck Towing Capacity Comparison Chart

This chart provides an at-a-glance comparison of our top six picks for ½ ton towing trucks.

wdt_ID Model Starting Price (USD) Maximum Towing Capacity (lbs) Top 3 Safety Features Seating Capacity Notable 2024 Awards
1 Ford F-150 $36,770 13,500 Blind Spot Information, Lane-Keeping System, Pre-Collision Assist 3–6 Kelley Blue Book Best Buy
2 RAM 1500 Tradesman $39,420 7,760 Blind-spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Path Detection, ParkSense 3–6 J.D. Power’s #3 Best Large Light Duty Pickup
3 RAM 1500 Laramie $54,880 6,520 Advanced Brake Assist, Blind-spot Monitoring, ParkSense 3–6 IIHS Top Safety Pick
4 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 $36,800 13,400 Forward Collision Alert, Lane Keep Assist, Automatic Emergency Braking 3–6 J.D. Power’s #4 Best Large Light Duty Pickup
5 GMC Sierra 1500 $39,695 13,300 Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Alert, Automatic Emergency Braking 3–6 J.D. Power’s #1 Best Large Light Duty Pickup
6 Toyota Tundra $39,965 12,000 Pre-Collision System, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert 3–6 Kelley Blue Book Best Resale Value
7 Nissan Titan $46,040 11,050 Blind Spot Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking, High Beam Assist 3–6 J.D. Power’s #2 Best Large Light Duty Pickup

How to Choose the Best Truck for Your Business

Here are some things to consider when choosing the best ½ ton truck for your business:

Towing Capacity
How much weight will your truck(s) be towing? Don’t forget to include machinery, materials, and tools. Anything over 10,001 lbs will require documentation from the Department of Transportation.

Consider your monthly or annual mileage, operating conditions, payload, and towing requirements when considering the engine and drivetrain. Will you be towing a loaded trailer through mountainous regions, or will it be mostly flat highways across the Midwest?

Working with your fleet management company to compare different truck models and the total cost of ownership (TCO) can be a big help when determining which truck will meet your application requirements and budgetary needs.

Fleet Savings Calculator

Fuel Type
If your vehicle drives between 30,000-35,000 miles annually, a diesel engine would be recommended depending on application requirements. A diesel engine is more expensive upfront and can have a higher overall maintenance spend but can save money over the lifecycle of the vehicle. If you’d like to learn more or discuss gas, diesel, hybrid, or EV options, get in touch!

Maintenance/Warranty Package
When purchasing your fleet, it’s important to consider the fleet maintenance programs and warranty package. Do you want to be responsible for maintenance, or do you want to outsource? Make sure to read the specifics of the warranty. If you have a maintenance program only eligible in part of the country, that may not be beneficial to long-distance drivers.

Let’s Talk About Your Fleet Needs

We’ve helped others, so let us help you! A roofing company recently came to us with concerns about transitioning from buying trucks out-of-stock to factory ordering. We proposed setting up a bailment pool to mitigate their concerns about OEM ordering timelines. With around 150 vehicles slated for replacement this year, they are anticipating approximately $300,000 in savings.

Let us help you choose the perfect ½ ton towing trucks for your fleet.


Frequently Asked Questions

What types of trucks are available?

We offer multiple trim levels of popular full-size pickups including the Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado, Ram 1500, and a wide selection of commercial trucks, including ½ ton, ¾ ton, 1 ton, and EV models. We also offer cargo vans, which are a great option if you’re looking for a business truck rental with more space since cargo vans are designed with storage in mind.

Can I tow or go off road with the vehicle?

Our truck rental custom packages allow off-road use and towing. Some vehicles may be better suited for certain terrain or towing capabilities, so it’s best to contact us to discuss your specific situation.

Will my fleet be eligible for any government-specific discounts and services?

Discounts and benefits include low, guaranteed fixed rates, tax-exempt leasing and registration, and unique lease structure. There are also options for flexible payment terms.

What utility upfits do you offer?

We provide vehicle upfitting services for any type of vehicle — Class 1 to Class 8 trucks; light, medium, and heavy duty vehicles; commercial buses, vans, and shuttles; and passenger vehicles. No matter your industry, our truck and van upfitting services will be tailored to your business, fleet size, and goals.

What are the advantages of towing a trailer vs. getting a larger vehicle?

Towing gives you the option of disconnecting the trailer, resulting in a far more maneuverable vehicle that gets better gas mileage with lower maintenance costs than a large box truck or other similar vehicle.

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