How to Know if You Need a Super Duty Pickup

October 18th, 2019 by

A black 2020 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD's front end.

Although the pickup market might not exactly be flooded these days, there are still quite a few options out there for someone looking to buy a truck. If you’re trying to research what you need, then all of the terms and options can quickly seem overwhelming: full-size, midsize, heavy-duty, light-duty, crew cab, short bed, etc. Here at Raceway Chevy in Bethlehem, located in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania, we have a lot of customers coming to us in a state of confusion, wondering about a 1500 vs 2500 and asking, “Do I need a Super Duty pickup?”

Fortunately, that’s a fairly easy question to answer, but you need to think about and know exactly what you need from a truck. This is something only you can really know – after all, you’re the one that’s going to be using your pickup, and you know the kind of work you need it to do. The short answer is this: if you need a truck that can handle a lot of work and haul massive amounts of weight behind it, then yes, you need a super duty. The longer answer depends on the following…

Payload vs. Towing Capacity

Before we go any further, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page with what some of the most important terms mean when discussing trucks. While you should certainly look at the different engine options and the horsepower and torque they provide, the bigger overall picture really comes down to two things: payload and towing. Unfortunately, a lot of people get these two terms confused or even think they are synonymous – they are not.

Payload refers to how much weight you can physically load onto a truck, onto the vehicle itself. This includes anything you place in the bed of the truck, cargo in the cab, and the driver as well as any passengers. Towing capacity, on the other hand, refers to weight not on the truck but instead pulled behind it, usually in a trailer or camper. The weight of the driver and passengers and anything else loaded into the bed of a truck does not usually affect the towing capacity.

How Much Payload do You Need?

Now that we understand these two specific terms, we can talk about what you are looking for in a truck and whether or not you need a super-duty model, like the Chevy Silverado 2500HD (that HD stands for “Heavy Duty,” which is the same as super duty). The maximum payload capacity of a truck is one of the main differences between a standard and heavy-duty pickup. Something like the Silverado 1500, sometimes just called Silverado, is a standard truck, while the 2500HD is a super duty.

Looking at these two trucks, we can see that the 2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 has a maximum payload of up to 2,250 lbs. That means that the absolute most you should ever load onto or in a Silverado 1500 is 2,250 lbs, including the driver and any passengers. Of course, only the right configuration will have that payload limit, and other models will have lower maximums.

A red 2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 is parked in a driveway with a sunset in the background near Bethlehem, PA.

The 2020 Chevy Silverado 2500HD, on the other hand, as a super duty pickup, has a maximum payload, when properly configured, of up to 3,979 lbs. As you can see, that’s a pretty huge difference in how much weight you can load up onto the 2500HD even if you go with a crew cab and a heavier engine, which both impact maximum payload, the 2500HD can still handle up to 3,553 lbs of payload.

So, as you can see, you need to look at how much weight you think you’ll need to load up on your truck and use that to decide on if you need a super-duty or heavy-duty model. There’s a reason these pickups are often preferred by people working in trades – it’s a lot easier to load up stacks of drywall or lumber in a super-duty model than in a standard truck.

How Much Towing Capacity do You Need?

The second major question to ask yourself is just how much you might need to two behind your truck, as this is also a serious distinction between standard and heavy-duty models. The more weight you tend to haul behind you, the more likely you are to need a super duty pickup to handle it. Once again, let’s look at the Chevy Silverado models to see how they compare.

The 2020 Silverado 1500 has a maximum towing capacity of up to 13,400 lbs when properly configured. That includes any weight you pull behind you, including the weight of a trailer itself and all the stuff you have loaded onto it. If that is enough for you, or you need less than 10,000 lbs in general, then a standard pickup will probably be sufficient.

On the other hand, if you know you need to pull a lot more weight than that behind your truck, then you probably need a super-duty model. The 2020 Chevy Silverado 2500HD, for example, has a maximum towing capacity when properly configured of up to 18,500 lbs with a crew cab. Even without a crew cab, the 2500HD has maximum towing of up to 14,500 lbs. The least powerful version of the 2500HD for towing can still handle more than the 1500, and at its best, it really blows it away.

2500HD vs 3500HD and Your Best Option

So, as you can see, to determine if you need a super-duty truck, you really have to figure out how much weight you are likely to load up on your pickup and how much you want to be able to tow behind you. This can take some work on your part, but it’s well worth it to make sure you can handle anything you need to do. Be sure to be generous with your estimates and err on the side of caution – a heavy-duty truck can always tow less, but you risk seriously damaging a standard truck if you load too much onto it.

If you decide that you need a super duty pickup, then you’ll probably notice you actually have a couple of different options for that. In the Chevy lineup, for example, there are two super duty models: the 2500HD that we looked at above and the even-more-powerful Silverado 3500HD. If you need to haul more weight than what the 2500HD can handle, then consider the 3500HD.

A 2020 Silverado 3500 HD is towing, something you want to consider when asking yourself '1500 vs 2500 and asking, “Do I need a Super Duty?', a large trailer.

Looking at payload and towing again, for example, let’s compare these trucks. As we saw, the 2020 Chevy Silverado 2500HD has a maximum payload of up to 3,979 lbs and a maximum towing of up to 18,500 lbs. By comparison, the 2020 Silverado 3500HD has a maximum payload of up to 7,442 lbs when properly configured, and can have a maximum towing capacity of up to 20,000 lbs. So yeah, if you need to handle a lot more weight than a standard pickup can deal with, then something like the 3500HD is definitely the right choice.

A Final Word about Gooseneck Towing

Those numbers are for conventional towing, by the way. If you are interested in 5th wheel or gooseneck towing, then you get even better performance out of a super-duty pickup like the 3500HD because it is designed for that kind of work. A 2020 Silverado 2500HD with a gooseneck can still only tow up to 18,500 lbs. But a 3500HD can handle up to 35,500 lbs when properly configured and using a gooseneck.

Those numbers pretty well speak for themselves. Now you just have to figure out how much weight your truck needs to be able to handle and go from there.

When you are ready to purchase your next heavy-duty Silverado, visit us at Raceway Chevy in Bethlehem, PA. We are proud to serve everyone in the Lehigh Valley and beyond. We’d love to discuss what your needs are and put you in the truck that works best for you with the power you need to get the job done.