The Best Work Trucks of 2020 [w/Comparison Tables]

The Best Work Trucks of 2020

Class 1 to Class 8 Work Trucks & Vans

Welcome to the wide world of work trucks.

From the Ford Ranger to the Freightliner Cascadia, there are dozens upon dozens of options for work truck models and trims.

Merchants Fleet has worked directly with the top names in work trucks for over 50 years. Read on for our picks of the best models for each work truck Class and vans, as well as tips to choose the best work truck for your business.

Why You Need a Commercial Truck

There are just some jobs that are better done with a truck. Compared to smaller vehicles, work trucks provide greater towing and payload capabilities, and are built to withstand long hauls and lengthy road trips.

As an added benefit, the IRS’ Section 179 tax deduction allows businesses to deduct up to 100% of lease payments for commercial vehicles in the first year.

Most trucks are designed to be upfitted, meaning they can be customized to suit your vocational needs. Some applications include:

  • Snow Plows
  • Dump Trucks
  • Cement Mixers
  • Refrigeration Trucks
  • Delivery Trucks
  • Tow Trucks
  • Cranes
  • Bucket Trucks

But the capabilities of a work truck first start with its gross vehicle weight rating. Read on for the details.

Why is Gross Vehicle Weight Rating Important?

All trucks are classified by their gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). This is a safety standard that regulates the maximum safe operating weight of a truck to prevent overloading. The manufacturer of the vehicle sets the GVWR by considering the weight-bearing components like the axels, and weaker components such as the frame, body, suspension, and tires. The final GVWR of a truck includes the net weight of the vehicle plus passengers, fuel, and cargo.

GVWR is important when considering work trucks because it determines a vehicle’s Class. The Class of the vehicle then comes with other regulations, like drivers needing certain licenses to operate the vehicle.

Truck Classifications

GVWRModel Example
Class 1Under 6,000 lbs.Chevy Colorado (5,400 lbs.)
Class 2a6,001 lbs. to 8,500 lbs.Ford F-150 (6,100 lbs.)
Class 2b8,501 lbs. to 10,000 lbs.Nissan Tital XD (8,600 lbs.)
Class 310,001 lbs. to 14,000 lbs.RAM 3500 (14,000 lbs.)
Class 414,001 lbs. to 16,000 lbs.Chevy Silverado 4500 HD (14,001 lbs.)
Class 516,001 lbs. to 19,500 lbs.RAM 5500 (18,000 lbs.)
Class 619,501 lbs. to 26,000 lbs.Ford F-650 (20,500 lbs.)
Class 726,001 lbs. to 33,000 lbs.Ford F-750 (25,600 lbs. – 31,000 lbs.)
Class 833,001 lbs. and UpInternational WorkStar (27,500 lbs. – 73,000 lbs.)

Half-Ton, Three-Quarter Ton & One-Ton Trucks
You may also see trucks listed as being “half-ton,” “three-quarter ton,” or “one-ton.” This classifies trucks by their payload capabilities, also known as the maximum amount of weight they can hold in the cargo and passenger areas. Therefore, a half-ton truck would have a payload capacity of 1,000 lbs.

This classification has become very flexible. Many modern half-ton trucks can have payload capacities of up to 3,000 lbs. Here are a few examples of models by their capacity:

Half-TonThree-Quarter TonOne-Ton
– GMC Sierra 1500
– RAM 1500
– Ford F-250– Chevy Silverado
– GMC Sierra 3500

How to Choose the Best Work Truck for Your Business

Does your business need a work truck with high towing capacity for local hauls or cross-country transportation? Will you need a truck that can be upfitted to plow snow or transport cement?

There are many factors to consider, with a few of the most important ones being:

  • Payload Capacity
    How much weight will you need to carry? Overestimate here, if possible.
  • Towing Capacity
    How much weight will you need to tow? Again, it is better to overestimate.
  • GVWR
    You may already have an idea of the GVWR you need for your vehicle. This is important to verify because it may affect the driver’s license necessary to operate the truck.
  • GCWR
    The gross combined weight rating (GCWR) includes the weight of the vehicle and the fully loaded trailer.
  • Cab Configuration
    Work trucks are available in different configurations: regular cab (two front doors), extended cab (two front doors and smaller half doors), or crew cab (four equal full size doors, for four or more people).
  • SRW or DRW?
    Do you need single rear wheels (SRW) or dual rear wheels (DRW)? Trucks with higher GVWR are more likely to come with DRW.
  • Drivetrain
    Rear-wheel drive (RWD), front-wheel drive (FWD), all-wheel drive (AWD), two-wheel drive (2WD, 4×2), or four-wheel drive (4WD, 4×4)? All classes come equipped with 4×2 or 4×4, which will affect payload and towing capacities.
  • Fuel Type
    Would you prefer a truck that uses regular gas or diesel? All classes contain either gas or diesel. Also note that trucks and vans over 1/2 ton are not rated by the EPA. You can visit fueleconomy.gov for more information.

The Best Class 1 to Class 8 Work Trucks: Comparison Table

Note: The information in these comparison tables refer to the base models of each vehicle. When it comes to work trucks, there are limitless options for the cab configuration, towing and payload capacities, drivetrain, and other specifications. This is especially the case for Class 6 vehicles and above, which vary greatly depending on application. Since there are no true “base models” for these vehicles, they are not included in this table. However, we recommend that you work with your fleet management company to find available models that may be right for you. Here are some examples of available models in Class 6 and above:

  • Freightliner M2 106
  • International DuraStar
  • Peterbilt 330
  • Peterbilt 220
  • Ford F-750
  • Freightliner Cascadia
  • International WorkStar
  • Freightliner M2 106
  • Isuzu NPR, NQR, NRR, FTR
  • Kenworth

If you have any questions about the features or mechanical specifications available for any of these models, you can always contact our team and we will find a model and trim that best suits your needs.

Class 1 Trucks | GVWR of 0 to 6,000 Pounds

Chevy Colorado
Car and Driver says, “With the right size and the right amount of versatility, the Colorado blends practicality and functionality.”

The Chevy Colorado features a fully boxed frame, CornerStep rear bumper, corner hand grips, and cargo tie-downs, and has the option of a crew cab or extended cab design. It is also available in three powerful engine options:

  • 2.5L 4-Cylinder (Standard)
  • 3.6L DOHC V6
  • Duramax® 2.8L Turbo-Diesel

Safety features available with this model include:

  • Standard Rear Vision Camera
  • Lane Departure Alert
  • Rear Park Assist
  • Forward Collision Alert

This classic Class 1 truck is also the proud recipient of Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com Best Buy Award for 2020.

GMC Canyon
U.S. News & World Report says that the GMC Canyon, “takes corners confidently, and body motions are generally well-controlled.” They also report that the steering may make it feel more like an SUV than a truck.

Both the Extended Cab and Crew Cab models are available in 2WD or 4WD. The Extended Cab model comes with a 6’2” bed, while the Crew Cab model has a short (5′ 2″) or long (6′ 2″) bed. The Canyon’s diesel engine option boasts impressive EPA-estimated fuel economy numbers: 20 MPG/City and 30 MPG/Highway.

Available safety features include:

  • Rear Park Assist
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Forward Collision Alert

Toyota Tacoma
The Toyota Tacoma is rugged, reliable, and highly-rated. In fact, Edmunds calls the Tacoma, “one of the most well-rounded pickups on sale today.”

Although it is on the more expensive side of our list of Class 1 trucks, the Tacoma offers six different models to choose from and each one is incredibly versatile. Off-roading features include an electronically locking rear differential, hill start assist control, multi-terrain monitor, and crawl control.

Toyota offers some of the best safety features in the industry, including:

  • Toyota Safety Sense™: Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert (LDA), Automatic High Beams (AHB), and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC)
  • Driver and Front Passenger Advanced Airbag System
  • Tire Pressure Monitor System
  • Engine Immobilizer
  • Hill Start Assist Control (HAC)

Ford Ranger
After a few years off the market, the Ford Ranger is back with a turbocharged 2.3L four-cylinder engine and 10-speed automatic transmission.

There are three trims to choose from: XL, XLT, and Lariat. Car and Driver calls the XLT “reasonably swift” with a silky output, while the lighter XL trim offers surprising speed and agility.

Ford’s safety features include:

  • Automated Emergency Braking
  • Forward Collision Warning
  • Lane-Keeping System
  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Rear View Camera

Nissan Frontier
The Nissan Frontier comes in five different trim levels that range from a simple base model to a serious off-roader. The Pro-4X model seems to be the most highly rated option due to its rugged off-roading capabilities. You can also choose between two cab configurations: The four-door Crew Cab or the extended King Cab.

Nissan is by far one of the more affordable options on our list. Edmunds says, “If you have modest requirements for modern creature comforts in a pickup, the Frontier is still a good deal.”

The Frontier’s safety features include:

  • Anti-Lock Braking System
  • Electronic Brake Force Distribution
  • Traction Control System
  • Vehicle Dynamic Control
  • Advanced Air Bag System
  • Zone Body Construction

Honda Ridgeline
If you’re looking for a Class 1 work truck that feels more like a car, the Honda Ridgeline offers maximum comfort and maneuverability. There are four trims to choose from: Sport, RTL, RTL-E, and Black Edition. A 3.5L V6 engine and nine-speed automatic transmission comes standard in each trim.

U.S. News & World Report lists the Ridgeline as the #1 Compact Pickup Truck due to its versatile bed, effortless acceleration, and efficient fuel economy ratings.

Safety features include:

  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Traction Control
  • Brake Assist
  • Four-Wheel Anti-Lock Braking System
  • Daytime Running Lights

Class 2a Trucks | GVWR of 6,001 to 8,500 lbs.

RAM 1500 Tradesman & Laramie
There are many reasons why the RAM 1500 topped Car and Driver’s list of 10 Best Cars and Trucks for 2020. 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.

Both the Tradesman and Laramie trims are available in 4×2 or 4×4 drive options, with the Tradesman being the more affordable model. Overall, Car and Driver sums it up perfectly: “The Ram 1500 isn’t just the best truck out there, it’s one of the best vehicles.”

Safety features of the RAM 1500 include:

  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Guided Parking
  • High-Strength Steel Frame
  • Advanced Airbag Technology

Chevy Silverado 1500
The Chevy Silverado 1500 comes in eight different trims, each with its own distinct grille and wheel design. Whichever trim you choose, the Silverado is a traditional, rugged work truck that can handle off-roading and towing.

Edmunds reviewed the 2020 Silverado as having, “improved fuel economy, a roomier cabin, and new styling to help it stand out from the crowd.”

Chevy’s safety features include:

  • Standard Rear Vision Camera
  • Forward Collision Alert
  • Lane Departure Alert
  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Rear Park Assist

GMC Sierra 1500
With several powertrain options to handle various towing and hauling needs, the GMC Sierra 1500 work truck is listed as Edmunds’ #3 large truck model.

The Sierra is based on the Chevy Silverado 1500, so there are many similarities. However, the Sierra has a higher price tag due to additional options like a MultiPro rear tailgate, carbon-fiber composite bed, and a higher-end interior design.

Similar to the Silverado, the Sierra’s safety features include:

  • Forward Collision Alert
  • Lane Keep Assist
  • Lowe-Speed Forward Automatic Braking

Ford F-150
Number 2 on Edmunds’ list of top work truck models is the Ford F-150. The experts at Edmunds call this model “the perfect example of the tough yet modern full-size pickup truck.”

The F-150 features a six-speed automatic transmission for the basic work truck trim and a quick-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission for trims with more powerful engine options. For all trims, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot comes standard.

Ford’s safety features include:

  • Pre-Collision Assist
  • Automatic Braking
  • Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go
  • Lane Keep Assist

Nissan Titan
Car and Driver reviews the Titan as having a “tranquil interior, supremely comfortable seats, configurable cargo box.” Each trim features a V8 powertrain that produces 400 horsepower and standard rear-wheel drive, but you have the option to add on all-wheel drive capabilities.

Every trim of the Titan can tow at least 9,250 lbs., features a spring-assisted tailgate, and offers discreet in-bed cargo boxes.

Safety features of the Titan include:

  • Anti-Lock Braking System
  • Electronic Brake Force Distribution
  • Traction Control System
  • Vehicle Dynamic Control
  • Advanced Air Bag System
  • Automated Emergency Braking

Toyota Tundra
Standard in every Tundra is 5.7L V8 powertrain, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. The 26-gallon fuel tank makes it great for daily use and long hauls, and the towing capacity is around 10,000 lbs. for each of the six trims they offer.

Just as the Tacoma, Toyota offers some of the best safety features in the industry:

  • Toyota Safety Sense™: Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert (LDA), Automatic High Beams (AHB), and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC)
  • Driver and Front Passenger Advanced Airbag System
  • Tire Pressure Monitor System
  • Engine Immobilizer
  • Hill Start Assist Control (HAC)

Class 2b Trucks | GVWR of 8,501 to 10,000 lbs.

GMC Sierra 2500HD
A model above the Sierra 1500, the 2500HD is bigger, bolder, and better overall. Car and Driver calls this model “A hot rod of a high-tech workhorse.”

The 2500HD features an increased ride height and seating position, which is to be expected from a massive, heavy duty work truck. And speaking of heavy duty, this GMC model boasts one of the highest maximum towing capacities in its class at 35,500 lbs.

Similar to the Silverado, the Sierra’s safety features include:

  • Forward Collision Alert
  • Lane Keep Assist
  • Low-Speed Forward Automatic Braking

Ford Super Duty F-250
Best-in-class towing capability meets incredible power and torque with the Super Duty F-250. This model is loaded with the latest technology features including voice-control, a Wi-Fi hotspot, heated and cooled front seats, and ambient lighting.

Edmunds says that the Ford F-250 “combines impressive utility with everyday usability,” making it a front-runner for businesses in need of a new, reliable work truck.

Ford’s safety features include:

  • Pre-Collision Assist
  • Automatic Braking
  • Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go
  • Lane Keep Assist

RAM 2500
RAM’s heavy duty 2500 work truck features the best of the best when it comes to towing, hauling, and comfort. According to Car and Driver, “with a new, stronger frame and powerful standard 6.2-liter V-8 engine, this wide and award-winning range of rigs can handle everything from dirty jobs to family trips.”

RAM’s safety features include:

  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Guided Parking
  • High-Strength Steel Frame
  • Advanced Airbag Technology

Nissan Titan XD
Nissan’s Class 2 version of the Titan falls somewhere between a regular duty and heavy duty work truck. If you are on the fence about whether you need a Class 1 or a Class 2 vehicle, the Titan XD might be a safe choice

The biggest difference between the Titan and Titan XD are the five trim levels available in the XD model. All trims offer four-wheel drive, a Crew Cab design, and towing capabilities of up to 11,000 lbs.

Safety features of the Titan XD include:

  • Anti-Lock Braking System
  • Electronic Brake Force Distribution
  • Traction Control System
  • Vehicle Dynamic Control
  • Advanced Air Bag System
  • Automated Emergency Braking

Chevy Silverado 2500HD
Like the comparable GMC Sierra model, the Chevy Silverado 2500HD has a best-in-class towing capacity of 35,500 lbs. This Chevy features a standard gas-powered 6.6L V8 engine and 401 horsepower.  There’s also an option for a Duramax diesel V8 that has much higher horsepower and torque capabilities.

The Silverado’s safety features include:

  • Standard Rear Vision Camera
  • Forward Collision Alert
  • Lane Departure Alert
  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Rear Park Assist

Class 3 Trucks | GVWR of 10,001 to 14,000 Pounds

Ford Super Duty F-350 & F-450
Compared to the Ford Super Duty F-250, the F-350 and F-450 are larger models with higher towing capacity. The maximum for the F-350 is 13,100 lbs. and for the F-450 is 32,500 lbs.

Both the F-350 and F-450 come with the option of dual rear wheels, gasoline or turbodiesel V8 engines, and high payload capacities. If you have a lot to tow, either model is a great option; the F-450 just offers a little more in terms of capacity.

Ford’s safety features include:

  • Pre-Collision Assist
  • Lane Keep Assist
  • Automatic Braking
  • Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go

RAM 3500
Car and Driver rates the RAM 3500 as having the best interior in its Class, smooth ride quality, and the hauling capabilities of a big rig. As a beefed up version of the 2500, this model has a maximum towing capacity of 35,100 lbs. and a maximum payload of 7,680 lbs.

The RAM 3500’s safety features include:

  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Guided Parking
  • High-Strength Steel Frame
  • Advanced Airbag Technology

Chevy Silverado 3500 Chassis Cab
A step above the 2500, the Chevy Silverado 3500 Chassis Cab has a stronger frame featuring high-strength steel and heavy duty axles. This model was made to work with a variety of bodies, including service and utility, dump, flatbed, and more.

If you are hauling heavy loads, the Duramax 6.6L Turbodiesel V8 engine option comes highly recommended by Car and Driver.

The Silverado’s safety features include:

  • Forward Collision Alert
  • Lane Departure Alert
  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Rear Park Assist

GMC Sierra 3500HD
GMC’s Sierra 3500HD shares a lot of the same features with the Chevy Silverado 3500. However, the exterior of the work truck may look a bit different. GMC’s model is less rugged-looking, but it still boasts similar features and benefits as the Chevy.

As with the other GMC models, safety features for the Sierra 3500HD include:

  • Lane Keep Assist
  • Forward Collision Alert
  • Low-Speed Forward Automatic Braking

Class 4 Trucks | GVWR of 14,001 to 16,000 Pounds

Chevy Silverado 4500HD Chassis Cab
Built with a robust single-piece frame rail, Chevy’s 4500HD Chassis Cab was designed for maximum durability and impressive towing capabilities.

Chevy boasts that their Chassis Cabs are created with the driver in mind, which is why they feature a downward sloping hood for enhanced visibility as well as up to 13 easy-to-reach auxiliary switches within the cabin. Every Silverado Chassis Cab features a Duramax® 6.6L Turbo-Diesel V8 engine and an Allison® transmission.

Safety features include:

  • Forward Collision Alert
  • Lane Departure Alert
  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Rear Park Assist

RAM 4500 Chassis Cab
With a GCWR of 37,500 lbs., the RAM 4500 can truly haul it all. The 6.7L Turbodiesel V6 engine combined with a steel rear frame strength of 50,000 PSI can accommodate an incredible variety of towing needs, making it a top choice for any commercial application.

This Chassis Cab comes with the following safety features:

  • Automatic Emergency Braking
  • Front and Rear Park Assist
  • Adaptive Forward Lighting System

Class 5 Trucks | GVWR of 16,001 to 19,500 Pounds

Ford F-550HD Chassis Cab
Ford’s Class 5 F-550 features military-grade aluminum alloy, making it lighter than steel but just as tough. The most recent updates to the Chassis Cab include the largest brakes in its class for reliable, long-lasting stopping power. The F-550 also has a heavy duty, best-in-class maximum payload of 12,750 lbs.

The F-550’s safety features include:

  • Remote Keyless Entry System
  • Inclination and Intrusion Sensors
  • Trailer Tow Mirrors

RAM 5500 Chassis Cab
The RAM 5500 features a 6.4L HEMI V8 engine and an upfit-friendly, flat frame that can work for a variety of applications. The 5500 was also designed for maximum fuel efficiency; oil change intervals are 12,000 miles for diesel and 10,000 miles for gas.

Here are a few of the 5500’s safety features:

  • Automatic Emergency Braking
  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Front and Rear Park Assist System
  • Adaptive Forward Lighting System

Peterbilt 325
The Peterbilt 325 is a lightweight, all-aluminum cab designed for a wide range of applications, some of which include:

  • Towing
  • Pick Up and Delivery
  • Landscaping
  • Construction
  • Delivery

This model is also equipped with steel bumpers, an aerodynamic hood, and fenders that can easily withstand minor bumps and scratches. Driver will not need a commercial license to operate the Peterbilt 325.

Safety features include:

  • Collision Mitigation Systems
  • Anti-Lock Braking
  • Robust Rear Suspension
  • All-Weather Tires

Chevy Silverado 5500HD Chassis Cab
Chevy’s 5500HD Chassis Cab comes equipped with a dual fuel tank capacity of 65 gallons, several wheelbase options, and a Duramax® 6.6L turbodiesel V8 engine. Plus, this model comes with the latest technology, including Bluetooth®, a Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.

Chevy’s safety features:

  • Rear Park Assist
  • Lane Departure Alert
  • Forward Collision Alert
  • Adaptive Cruise Control

Class 6 Trucks | GVWR of 19,501 to 26,000 Pounds

Ford F-650
Powered by your choice of diesel or gasoline, the Ford F-650 is built with a work-ready frame that can accommodate a variety of vocational bodies. Features include a Power Stroke® Turbo Diesel V8, a TorqShift® HD 6-speed automatic engine, and a range of alternator options.

Safety features include:

  • Anti-Lock Brake System
  • Front Safety Belt Reminder
  • Electronic Stability Control

Peterbilt 330
This highly adaptable Peterbilt model is a versatile work truck that is relied on for specialized operations all over the country.

Some of the 330’s safety features include:

  • All-Weather Tires
  • Anti-Lock Braking
  • Robust Rear Suspension
  • Collision Mitigation Systems

International DuraStar
The International DuraStar® is an indestructible Class 6 work truck. Applicable vocations include anything from fire and rescue to streets and sanitation.

The DuraStar offers four automatic transmissions including:

  • Allison Highway Series (5 and 6 Speed)
  • Allison Emergency Vehicle Series (5 and 6 Speed)
  • Allison Rugged Duty Series (5 and 6 Speed)
  • Eaton Procision (7 Speed DCT)

Safety features include:

  • Air Disc Brakes
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Collision Mitigation System

Class 7 Trucks | GVWR of 26,001 to 33,000 Pounds

Ford F-750
The Ford F-750 comes standard with a 6.8L Triton® V10 gas engine, which has a lower purchase price than diesel. This engine can easily power your Class 7 work truck with 320 horsepower and 460 lbs./ft. of torque.

Safety features include:

  • Bosch HydroMax® Hyrdraulic Brakes
  • Safety Belt Reminder
  • Electronic Stability Control

Peterbilt 220
Described as a “compact package for urban applications,” the Peterbilt 220 features a low chassis weight for better fuel efficiency and lower emissions. Tight turns are no problem for this model. A single axle provides added maneuverability for confined driving spaces.

Peterbilt offers these safety features:

  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Automatic Traction Control
  • Collision Mitigation

Class 8 Trucks | GVWR of 33,001 Pounds +

International WorkStar®
The International WorkStar is a lightweight heavyweight. The single-frame rail system means you will have a lighter chassis, but the WorkStar still delivers a tough performance. This Class 8 work truck is used for everything from construction and concrete mixers, to snow plows, utility, and beyond.

Like the DuraStar, the WorkStar’s safety features include:

  • Air Disc Brakes
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Collision Mitigation System

Freightliner Cascadia
The Cascadia Class 8 work truck offers 350 to 605 horsepower and up to 2,050 lbs./ft. of torque. Manual transmissions range from nine-speed to 18-speed, but you will also have the option of an automated manual or automatic transmission.

A few of the Cascadia’s many standard features include:

  • Aerodynamic Mirrors
  • Rugged Three-Piece Bumper
  • Enhanced Stability Control
  • Cab Insulation and Pre-Stressed Walls
  • Air Disc Brakes

Let’s Talk About Your Fleet Needs

Whether you need a Class 1 light duty truck, a Class 8 heavy duty, or a cargo van, we are ready to help you get moving.

Contact Us

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

Join our email list for access to exclusive resources.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.