We often don’t consider the weight of our cars until we’re looking for a new one or we run out of gas and have to push. When it comes to pickup trucks, many buyers prefer them for their weight. Heavier vehicles like pickups give you better traction and momentum. When choosing which pickup to buy, comparing curb weight can help you make the right decision.
A pickup truck has two weight measurements: base weight and curb weight. Manufacturers measure base weight while the truck is empty of everything but essential fluids.
Curb weight takes added features into account. Buyers can choose some of these modifications, like its bed/cab size, version, and powertrain.
The average weight of full-size pickup trucks is 5000 lbs. Popular full-size pickup trucks include the Ford F-Series, the Chevy Silverado, and the Dodge Ram. The F-Series range from about 4,000 to 5,700 lbs. Chevy’s Silverado ranges from around 4,500 to 5,300 lbs. Dodge Rams come between about 4,500 and 5,900 lbs.
The average weight of mid-size pickup trucks is 4000 lbs. Popular mid-size pickups include the Toyota Tacoma, Chevy Colorado, and Nissan Frontier. The Toyota Tacoma ranges from about 3,100 to 4,500 lbs. The Chevy Colorado comes in around 3,900 to 4,500 lbs. Nissan’s Frontier ranges from 3,800 to 4,600 lbs.
The best pickup for carrying heavy items is the Chevy Silverado, with the best tow capacity and camera options. For driving in the city, the best choice is the fuel-efficient and mid-sized Toyota Tacoma. The best for families or frequent passengers, though, is the Honda Ridgeline, with plenty of cabin features and top-rated safety.
No matter what you’re using a pickup truck for, weight matters. Let’s go into what a pickup’s weight means and compare the different options by their size and usage.
How Pickup Trucks Are Weighed
As mentioned, the curb weight and base weight of pickup trucks differ. The curb weight is typically higher because modifications add weight. Everything from a speaker system to a sunroof can take that number up.
Another measurement not mentioned before is the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. The Gross Vehicle Weight includes everything: the base weight, the curb weight, and the payload. Using this number, the U.S. classifies trucks into 8 classes.
Class 1, for instance, covers trucks between 0-6,000 lbs. The Chevy Colorado, Nissan Frontier, and Toyota Tacoma fall under this class. While 8 classes exist, everyday drivers only have to look at Classes 1 and 2.
Mid-size pickups fall under Class 1, with a maximum GVW of 10,000 lbs. Full-size trucks technically fall anywhere from Class 3 to Class 6, maxing out at 26,000 lbs., but the full-size pickups regular buyers are looking for (non-commercial ones) would fall under Class 2A or 2B.
Clearly, pickups can be massive. So, what makes them so heavy?
Factors Affecting A Pickup’s Weight
We know that cabin modifications can add weight, but any vehicle is more than what you see when you get in. Modifications that help it run better–like its trim package, engine, and drivetrain–can affect the weight, too.
A truck’s trim package, or trim level, is a bundle of features that come with that specific model or version. In the 2019 Ford F-150 Raptor, for example, “Raptor” is the trim package. The features might not make a difference individually, but altogether, they add up.
The drivetrain is the truck’s powerhouse. A key part of the drivetrain is whether your truck is 4-Wheel-Drive or 2-Wheel-Drive.
If you’re looking for the lighter option, 2WD is your best bet. 4WD can be a huge weight addition. The engine can add weight, too, with gas engines sometimes being lighter than diesel ones.
It may seem obvious, but the size of your pickup is a key factor in its weight as well. A heavy-duty one will be, well, heavier than a regular one. Take the Ram 2500 and the Ram 1500. The heavy-duty Ram 2500 can have a curb weight up to 7,400 lbs. The Ram 1500 only goes up to 5,500 lbs–a 2,000-lb difference.
A larger cabin or longer bed can also add pounds. If you want a pickup for the family, you’ll want extra seating. You might end up with a heavier truck than someone who only needs one for business. But depending on the business, they might need a longer bed.
Lots of factors go into a truck’s weight, but which trucks set the bar?
Popular Full-Size Pickup Trucks and Their Weights
Millions of pickup trucks get sold every year and most of these vehicles come from Dodge, Chevy, and Ford. The most popular brand for full-size pickups goes to Ford. As the creators of the F-Series–ranging from the F-150 to F-750–many truck owners swear by them.
The Ford F-150 is the most popular pickup truck in America and has stayed in that spot for the last 40 years. The F-150, although full-size, is still light-duty and comes between about 4,000-5,700 lbs.
Among all the full-size pickups, the F-150 is the lightest in terms of curb weight. Ford takes the spot for the heaviest full-size pickup, too. Their F-450 Super Duty Crew Cab weighs a hefty 8,600 lbs.
Next in line is Chevrolet. The Chevy Silverado 1,500 was the second most popular truck bought in 2018, and its curb weight comes in around 4,500-5,300 lbs.
The heaviest version, with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of 7,600 lbs., has a crew cabin, standard bed size, 4-Wheel-Drive, and a 6.2L V8 engine.
Right behind Chevy is Dodge. The Dodge Ram 1500 has a curb weight between about 4,800-5,400 lbs., but its other versions take it even higher. The Ram model comes in 5 versions: 1500, 2500, 3500, 4500, and 5500. The Ram 5500 is the heaviest, ranging between about 7,200 to 8,600 lbs.
Looking at the heaviest full-size pickups out there, the second-place spot goes to the Dodge Ram 3500 Crew Cab at 6,728 lbs., with the Chevy Silverado 3500 HD Crew Cab following closely behind at 6,717 lbs.
While full-size pickup truck owners probably enjoy the roomy cabins and more powerful engines, many opt for a lighter-weight midsize pickup truck. Let’s see how these compare in weight.
Popular Midsize Pickup Trucks and Their Weights
While full-size pickups make up most sales, the midsize pickup market is dominated by Toyota, Chevrolet, and Nissan. When it comes to competition, Toyota takes the lead in midsize pickups, with Chevy and Nissan close behind.
In 2018, the Toyota Tacoma was the most popular midsize pickup in the U.S. and its curb weight falls between about 3,100 to 4,500 lbs. With a seating capacity of 5 and a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of 5,600 lbs., the Tacoma narrowly stays in the Class 1 category.
The Chevy Colorado is another popular choice among buyers. With a curb weight of about 3,900 to 4,500 lbs., this pickup compares closely to the Tacoma in terms of weight. The Tacoma holds the higher GVWR, though, at 5,800 lbs., also narrowly staying in under Class 1.
The Nissan Frontier is only in its second generation, but it impresses with its balance of full-size utility and midsize practicality. Its curb weight falls between about 3,800 to 4,600 pounds, putting it closer to the Chevy Colorado’s range than the Toyota Tacoma’s.
The only downside of this contender is its mileage. Among the three, the Frontier has the worst fuel economy.
The heaviest pickup in the midsize category goes to the Ford Ranger, with the 2020 model’s curb weight falling between around 4,100 to 4,400 lbs. On the other hand, the lightest pickup in the midsize category goes to, once again, the Toyota Tacoma. The lightest curb weight of the various versions falls at about 3,100 lbs.
Now that you know what others are buying, how do you know which pickup is right for you?
Which Pickup Best Suits Your Needs?
We’ve already discussed the most important factors to consider when choosing a pickup, as they all affect its weight. Size, modifications, and durability are all important in your decision.
If you want a pickup simply for casual use, a midsize is a more affordable option. Midsize pickups are great for owners who have too much weight for an SUV or minivan to tow but not enough to justify a full-size.
While the passenger cabins in a midsize pickup are smaller than those of a full-size, the bed is generally about the same. These trucks have fewer cylinders, meaning less horsepower, but better fuel efficiency.
For easier accessibility, or if your passengers aren’t kids, opt for a 4-door option. The cabins on midsize trucks are also easier to get into, making one like the Honda Ridgeline a great family car.
If you’re a business owner, especially in construction or building, you may need a full-size pickup. Most construction materials will need a longer bed, and full-size trucks have many options.
However, if your materials are under 7,500 pounds, you want a regular cab, and your terrain doesn’t require 4-Wheel-Drive (more on that next), then you can go with a midsize option like the Toyota Tacoma.
Do you live in a snowy or gravelly area? If so, an important modification to look for is 4-Wheel-Drive over 2-Wheel-Drive.
4-Wheel-Drive will give you better traction when navigating these environments. This modification is available for most full-size and midsize pickups, so you’ll just have to consider capacity.
The two main capacities are payload capacity–how much weight you can put inside–and towing capacity–how much weight you can tow. You should aim for balance here.
If you’ll be carrying and towing a lot at once, I would check out the Chevy Silverado for its towing capacity and multiple camera systems.
The weight of a pickup truck can vary across the board, even across versions of the same model. Each pickup’s collection of features contributes to its curb weight. Whether you want to haul the most in a Ford F-250 or take a family trip in a Honda Ridgeline, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting now. Do you know which pickup truck you want? Thinking about switching? Tell us about in the comments!