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Ram trucks for towing jobs

Truck Talk: Types of Trucks, Towing Capacities and Drivetrains

Written By, Chloe L.

As a website that offers customers a way to purchase new vehicles 100 percent online, NowCar has a large selection of brands and several types of trucks ranging from mid-size pickups to heavy-duty chassis cab trucks.

One of the most frequently asked questions from our customers is, “can this truck tow this?” and we want you to know that we’re here to help. Here’s a rundown about the different types of trucks, towing capacities and 4x4 or 4x2 drivetrains. If your truck-related question isn’t answered below, please reach out to us here! Also, check out Quick Guide to Trucks and Boat Towing.

Types of Trucks

Trucks are generally broken down into a few different segments - midsize truck, half-ton or light-duty truck, heavy-duty trucks, and chassis cab trucks.

A few years ago, there were more mid-size trucks on the market, but when gas prices were peaking a few years ago, demand for them went down because people either wanted something that was more fuel efficient or if they had towing needs, they went with a more powerful truck, so  manufacturers slowly started ending production on them. One example of a midsize truck that is currently on the market is the Chevy Colorado and it was named the Motor Trend Truck of the Year for two consecutive years (2015 and 2016).

Light-duty trucks are a step up from mid-size trucks. They are larger trucks and generally can tow more weight. Examples of light-duty trucks include the Ram 1500 and the Chevy Silverado 1500.

The next class of trucks are heavy-duty trucks and they are even bigger and have larger maximum towing capacities. Some heavy-duty trucks, like the Ram 3500, are available as dually trucks, which further increases towing and payload capabilities. Dually trucks, also referred to as DRW have a dual rear wheel axle, so there are four wheels on the rear axle.  

Built for commercial needs and jobs that require special heavy equipment, chassis cab trucks do not have a truck bed, only chassis rails and they are generally not a truck a consumer is going to purchase, so we aren’t going to discuss them too much.

Towing Capacity

As mentioned midsize trucks, like the Chevy Colorado, have lower maximum towing capacities than the average light-duty or heavy-duty truck, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t great pickups. Drivers that want the convenience and utility of truck bed for various types of cargo or light towing jobs (jetskis, small boats small trailers) love midsize trucks. Unlike the bigger truck models, midsize trucks are generally more fuel efficient, easier to park and they are often have a lower retail price.

To put it in perspective, the  2017 Chevy Colorado is available with three different engines and depending on the engine the Colorado has a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds, 7,000 pounds or 7,700 pounds. Additionally, highway fuel economy for the various engines are 24 mpg, 25 mpg or 30 mpg, which is great for a truck.

Light-duty trucks, like the Ram 1500 or Chevy Silverado 1500, are generally available with more configurations to help buyers get a truck with an engine that is big enough to handle their needs but not unnecessarily too big or powerful. Both the Ram 1500 and the Chevy Silverado are available with three engine options, in a variety of axle ratios, different truck bed lengths and truck cab sizes.

Depending on the configuration, a Ram 1500 can have a towing capacity of 4,850 pounds all the way up to 10,700 pounds. A Chevy Silverado 1500 can have a towing capacity of 5,500 pounds all the way up to 12,500 pounds when equipped with the available 6.2-liter EcoTec3 V8 engine and a 3.42 axle ratio.

Then there are heavy-duty trucks, like the Ram 2500 and 3500 and the Chevy Silverado 2500HD and 3500HD. These trucks are equipped with some very powerful engines and they can tow some serious weight like boats, RVs and horse trailers. Some people like these trucks for their size, but most people stick to a light-duty truck model unless they need the power of a heavy-duty model.

The Ram 2500 and 3500 models are available with four engine options and the Silverado HD trucks are available with two engine options. Additionally, Ram and Chevy 3500 models are also available with a dual-rear wheel axle (DRW), or a total of four wheels in the back. The extra two wheels increase payload capacity and provide extra stability while towing a heavy load.


Almost all trucks are available with the option of a two-wheel (4x2) drivetrain or four-wheel (4x4) drivetrain and there are a couple benefits of each. When equipped with a 4X2 drivetrain torque (or turning power) is delivered to only two wheels. With a 4x4 truck, there is additional equipment to push torque to all four wheels.

Due to the extra weight of the 4x4 equipment, a 4x2 truck has a better fuel economy and a higher towing capacity, sometimes by about a few hundred pounds. On the other hand, a truck with 4x4 is much better when towing on slippery surfaces, whether caused by weather conditions or a wet boat ramp. So before making a commitment to either drivetrain a buyer should evaluate their needs and uses for the truck.

Have any more questions about trucks and their capabilities? Let us know on our Facebook! You can also view all of our available Chevy and Ram truck models here.