Suggested Truck/Engine Options?

DouglasB12

New Member
Jan 19, 2020
15
Minnesota
I'm beginning to do my research on getting a newer used truck. I'm primarily interested in getting a Chevy 1500. I have been keeping an eye on the 2016 models. In a couple years when I'm ready to buy, they should be dropping down into my price range. It will be used almost exclusively for hauling - typically with a trailer. If I'm hauling wood, the trailer weights will top out usually around 7-8,000 pounds. I'm also looking at getting a toy hauler travel trailer that will top out between 10-11,000 pounds.

The truck will definitely need to have the "Max Towing Package" (NHT). My biggest question is which engine I should get. Most trucks available have the 5.3L engine which appears to have a max towing capacity of 11,000 pounds. The same truck configuration with the 6.2L engine bumps towing capacity up to 12,000 pounds. Either engine should have the ability to tow what I plan on pulling. The 6.2L would likely get worse gas mileage while not towing, however, it probably also would not lug down as much while towing a load, so would the mpg be better than the 5.3L? With a 10,000 pound load, how different would the acceleration times be?

Any other suggested options or features that I should look to include or avoid?
 

zrock

Minister of Fire
Dec 2, 2017
806
bc
The 6.2 is a fuel pig and thats why you really dont see alot out their.. Personally i would be stepping up to a 2500 or 3500 and stepping into a diesel if you want to use it for hauling.. Better fuel and power and it will be able to haul what ever you throw at it...
 

stee6043

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2008
2,648
West Michigan
The 6.2 is a fuel pig and thats why you really dont see alot out their.. Personally i would be stepping up to a 2500 or 3500 and stepping into a diesel if you want to use it for hauling.. Better fuel and power and it will be able to haul what ever you throw at it...
My 2011 GMC 6.2L ran consistent 14/15 mpg city. My 2019 6.2L runs 19+ mpg city. You might be amazed by the economy of the newer engines with all the new fangled tech...like auto start/stop.
 

DouglasB12

New Member
Jan 19, 2020
15
Minnesota
....Personally i would be stepping up to a 2500 or 3500 and stepping into a diesel if you want to use it for hauling.. Better fuel and power and it will be able to haul what ever you throw at it...
If I was understanding the engine options right, a 6.2L Max Towing 1500 actually tows more than a 2500 - at least until you start stepping up into the bigger more expensive engines in the 2500 series. Then it's back to the lousy gas mileage anyway.
 

DouglasB12

New Member
Jan 19, 2020
15
Minnesota
My 2011 GMC 6.2L ran consistent 14/15 mpg city. My 2019 6.2L runs 19+ mpg city. You might be amazed by the economy of the newer engines with all the new fangled tech...like auto start/stop.
I was looking at the MPG estimates and like you, I was really impressed with the mileage the more recent 1500's are getting. They actually aren't far below what my Kia Sorento gets (about 24-25 mpg). Of course, the economy will drop when towing though.
 

Gearhead660

Member
Dec 20, 2018
195
WI
If you are doing occasional towing, a 1500 with 5.3L should do fine. Towing with any gas engine will bring MPG down. If doing frequent towing, go with a 2500. Had many trucks over the years. I personally will not buy a 1500 again due to the amount of towing I do.
 
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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
20,649
central pa
If I was understanding the engine options right, a 6.2L Max Towing 1500 actually tows more than a 2500 - at least until you start stepping up into the bigger more expensive engines in the 2500 series. Then it's back to the lousy gas mileage anyway.
There is a whole lot more to being able to tow safely than engine power. A 2500 with it's heavier suspension axles tires and brakes will be able to handle the weight much better especially if something ever goes wrong when towing.
 

stee6043

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2008
2,648
West Michigan
I was looking at the MPG estimates and like you, I was really impressed with the mileage the more recent 1500's are getting. They actually aren't far below what my Kia Sorento gets (about 24-25 mpg). Of course, the economy will drop when towing though.
Until my current truck I don't think I've ever owned a vehicle that met/beat the window sticker for fuel mileage. I have 5,000miles on this 2019 and am exceedingly pleased.

I'm getting better fuel mileage in my 6.2L GMC Sierra 1500 than my wife gets in her 2014 GMC Acadia which, I believe, is a 3.6L. It blows my mind. The only downside is that the 6.2's require premium gas. This wasn't a shock for me since my 2011 also required premium.

All bets on mileage are off on the highway, though. The snouts on these newer trucks really murder the highway mileage above 65. Even with the shutters in front of the radiators they really suck...
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
4,721
NE Ohio
No way I'd tow that much with a half ton...no matter if its "rated" for it or not...they exaggerate the tow capacity's.
Thats a pretty good jag even with a 3/4 or 1 ton!
Having bought a half ton to save fuel, I found out the hard way that's its just not true...and the F250 Superduty that I have now actually gets the same/better mileage...and handles hauling/towing much better!
 

Sodbuster

Minister of Fire
Sep 22, 2012
1,256
Michigan
I have a 2010 1500 Max towing package and it hauled our 3 horse trailer fully loaded just fine, probably about 11,000 lbs. We only towed occasionally 10 times a year or so, but we had no problems. If I were towing everyday, I'd probably bump up to a 2500, everything is just a little beefier. My 6.2 is not a gas hog, empty is will get around 17mpg on the highway. Loaded, I don't even check. You don't need to run premium in your 6.2 unless you want the engine to make maximum power. I run regular in mine and it runs just fine, I get around 14 mpg in mostly city driving.
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
3,608
Downeast Maine
No way I'd tow that much with a half ton...no matter if its "rated" for it or not...they exaggerate the tow capacity's.
Thats a pretty good jag even with a 3/4 or 1 ton!
Having bought a half ton to save fuel, I found out the hard way that's its just not true...and the F250 Superduty that I have now actually gets the same/better mileage...and handles hauling/towing much better!
I'm averaging 24 MPG right mixed driving now in my 06 quad cab, six speed, 4x4, long bed, Dually diesel ram. The last half ton I had, 08 Nissan Titan, averaged about 13 MPG mixed.
 
An 11,000lb bumper pull hitch behind a light half ton can be nerve racking if the weight isn't distributed right (as is almost always the case with a toy hauler) or driving in a cross wind. I have a 33ft 10,500lb fifth wheel holiday trailer that I pull behind a diesel F350, that has a pin weight of 1850lbs, technically on paper this trailer is half ton towable, but I wouldn't want to go very far pulling it with a half ton, especially due to the fact it is 13' 6" tall and has a lot of wind resistance.

I guess what you need to decide is how many miles you will put on it every year. Something like a basic 2500 or 3500 with a 6.0 gas is about the best for what you require if it will only be used for towing and you have another daily driver. A diesel is nice but if you are putting on less than 10k a year it probably makes more economic sense to go gas. If you want to be the fastest guy towing up hills then a diesel is required however.
 

DouglasB12

New Member
Jan 19, 2020
15
Minnesota
An 11,000lb bumper pull hitch behind a light half ton can be nerve racking if the weight isn't distributed right (as is almost always the case with a toy hauler) or driving in a cross wind. I have a 33ft 10,500lb fifth wheel holiday trailer that I pull behind a diesel F350, that has a pin weight of 1850lbs, technically on paper this trailer is half ton towable, but I wouldn't want to go very far pulling it with a half ton, especially due to the fact it is 13' 6" tall and has a lot of wind resistance.

I guess what you need to decide is how many miles you will put on it every year. Something like a basic 2500 or 3500 with a 6.0 gas is about the best for what you require if it will only be used for towing and you have another daily driver. A diesel is nice but if you are putting on less than 10k a year it probably makes more economic sense to go gas. If you want to be the fastest guy towing up hills then a diesel is required however.
I live in Minnesota and am 15 years away from retirement. Any camping trips we would likely take would be in the great plains area. The longest trip in the next several years would likely be to the Bad Lands or maybe Mount Rushmore area. Some day, I think I would enjoy traveling to and through Alaska. Outside of the Alaska trip though, I'm guessing I would put on a total of between 5 and 7,500 miles a year on the truck. For the rare occasions I would be pulling up a mountain, I can happily drop it into low gear and enjoy the scenery. A diesel would be nice, but I suspect I would run into more maintenance issues from lack of use than anything else.
 
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I live in Minnesota and am 15 years away from retirement. Any camping trips we would likely take would be in the great plains area. The longest trip in the next several years would likely be to the Bad Lands or maybe Mount Rushmore area. Some day, I think I would enjoy traveling to and through Alaska. Outside of the Alaska trip though, I'm guessing I would put on a total of between 5 and 7,500 miles a year on the truck. For the rare occasions I would be pulling up a mountain, I can happily drop it into low gear and enjoy the scenery. A diesel would be nice, but I suspect I would run into more maintenance issues from lack of use than anything else.
You are right on the maintenance part, diesel's are nice but the fuel savings I get would very rapidly vanish if I needed to replace a turbo or injectors, parts gas engines simply don't have. Diesel's shine if you have a heavy load to pull and have to get their quickly, but for a gas engine if you're on vacation when time isn't critical and you can slow down a bit the fuel economy gets better. To me it sounds like a 3/4 or 1 ton gas would suit you well.

I also happen to live just under 100miles from the start of the Alaska highway and managed to make it up as far as Whitehorse this summer. We went west to Prince Rupert, up the Cassier Highway to Whitehorse and back down the Alaska Highway home, racking up 4800km (3000 miles) in 11 days. That being said on those roads I wouldn't have wanted to be towing my trailer with a half ton, the roads are far too windy and hilly to maintain a reasonable level of stability. Especially for the snow we got the first week in August, a few hills we even needed 4x4 to get the trailer up.

When you do head up to Alaska give yourself lots of time, there are lots of sites to see, especially if you can see Jasper and Banff National parks here in Alberta at the same time. Or if you can make the west coast and run up the Cassiar Highway and check out Stewart BC/Hyder AK, the only place I'm aware of where you can cross from Canada into the US without a border crossing, there is a checkpoint coming back to Canada however.
 
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Sodbuster

Minister of Fire
Sep 22, 2012
1,256
Michigan
I'm friends with the owner of an excavating company, when he bought a new truck he opted for the Ford V-10 vs a diesel. The diesel came at such a premium and the mileage was on par with the V-10. He for the most part hauls around a Bobcat with attachments. Larger equipment is towed by a dump truck. With all the emission requirements they really sucked the life out of the diesel pickups.
 

stee6043

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2008
2,648
West Michigan
You don't need to run premium in your 6.2 unless you want the engine to make maximum power. I run regular in mine and it runs just fine, I get around 14 mpg in mostly city driving.
I won't debate this too passionately but my neighbor and I, same 6.2's, drove a bunch of miles a few years back comparing E85, regular and premium. Both of us had the same result - premium is the lowest cost fuel to use in the 6.2's. E85 was the next closest. Regular was the most expensive. Yer spending more money running regular :)
 

sloeffle

Minister of Fire
Mar 1, 2012
658
Central Ohio
If I was understanding the engine options right, a 6.2L Max Towing 1500 actually tows more than a 2500 - at least until you start stepping up into the bigger more expensive engines in the 2500 series. Then it's back to the lousy gas mileage anyway.
It isn't about pulling, it is about stopping. Three quarter and one ton trucks have much bigger brakes than a half ton. Personally, I wouldn't put much faith in depending on trailer brakes to be my main braking source for my truck and trailer. If you've ever worked on, or replaced a set of trailer brakes you'd understand why.
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
4,721
NE Ohio
It isn't about pulling, it is about stopping. Three quarter and one ton trucks have much bigger brakes than a half ton.
And the way they carry the load too...axles are MUCH heavier duty on 3/4 and 1 tons...suspension too.
 
It isn't about pulling, it is about stopping. Three quarter and one ton trucks have much bigger brakes than a half ton. Personally, I wouldn't put much faith in depending on trailer brakes to be my main braking source for my truck and trailer. If you've ever worked on, or replaced a set of trailer brakes you'd understand why.
While that is true at 10k lbs like the OP mentions you'd better have fully functioning trailer brakes. At some point traction between your tow vehicles tires and the road becomes the issue.

That being said an integrated trailer brake controller would be another big plus when shopping for the truck. The garbage inertia based or worse yet timed or simple on/off brake controllers don't even compare to the integrated ones from the OEM's.
 

sloeffle

Minister of Fire
Mar 1, 2012
658
Central Ohio
While that is true at 10k lbs like the OP mentions you'd better have fully functioning trailer brakes. At some point traction between your tow vehicles tires and the road becomes the issue.
I don't disagree with you. Guess my point is, if something were to go south ( trailer brakes fail for some reason ) I'd much rather be in a 3/4 ton or one a ton truck than a half ton. A buddy of mine has a newer one ton F350 diesel with an engine brake. He said he barely needs to use his brakes for normal stopping circumstances when towing his camper.
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
4,721
NE Ohio
And the way they carry the load too...axles are MUCH heavier duty on 3/4 and 1 tons...suspension too.
Following up on this a bit more...a 3/4 ton or larger pickup (assuming its at least 8600 GVW) will have a "full floating" axle...the weight is carried on large bearings right in the hub...like this pic.
On a half ton the weight is actually carried buy the axle shaft itself...that's the shaft that's pulled partially out in this pic...on a 3/4 and up this shaft only provides power to the wheels...it carries no weight.
Big difference in strength there.
I cant find the pic now, but somewhere in the recent past I seen a pic of a guy that had broken the rear axle on his F150 after loading a HUGE log in the back of the truck...

1581088053986.png
 

zrock

Minister of Fire
Dec 2, 2017
806
bc
i will never buy a 1/2 ton again... i just haul 2 atv's on a trailer but most of the time just one in the back of the truck... With the new machine it puts a pretty good lean on the truck. So now i have to install air bags to help it out... would never have to worry about that with a 3/4. Getting tired of always having to wonder on different things what im going to brake. And like pointed out above 3/4 and above are heavy duty and designed for loads lots of good points pointed out above
 
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Gearhead660

Member
Dec 20, 2018
195
WI
I would suggest a gas 3/4 ton also. For as little as you plan to drive it, MPG shouldn't be a big deciding factor. 1/2 tons are more of a people hauler than a truck nowadays, in my opinion. 3/4 tons are what you buy if you're going to use it like a truck is supposed to be used.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,412
Philadelphia
It will be used almost exclusively for hauling - typically with a trailer. If I'm hauling wood, the trailer weights will top out usually around 7-8,000 pounds. I'm also looking at getting a toy hauler travel trailer that will top out between 10-11,000 pounds.
You say right up front, “it will be used almost exclusively for hauling,” but then this if followed with a lot of discussion over fuel mileage when not hauling. Were you simply over-stating your case? Why would you care at all about unladened fuel mileage, if it is used almost exclusively for hauling?

I have owned numerous 1/2 ton trucks, and have owned a half dozen different trailers of various weights. I have regretted every single time I have bought any truck with less than the maximum engine size available in that platform. Every, single, time. I find the larger gassers really don’t get worse fuel economy than the smaller engines, after all fuel is just liquid energy, and the amount of energy required to haul your ass around town has very little to do with the engine that is converting that liquid energy into motion, and almost everything to do with the weight of your vehicle and your driving habits. Simple physics, removing the net efficiencies of the engines involved.
I won't debate this too passionately but my neighbor and I, same 6.2's, drove a bunch of miles a few years back comparing E85, regular and premium. Both of us had the same result - premium is the lowest cost fuel to use in the 6.2's. E85 was the next closest. Regular was the most expensive. Yer spending more money running regular :)
This really depends on your specific engine. Higher octane fuels do not always contain higher energy density, there is no correlation between octane and mileage, when using fuels above the minimum octane recommended for your engine. However, when moving into fuels below the recommended octane, efficiency does drop thanks to two factors: (1) pre-detonation or knock, causing higher fuel consumption, and (2) your engine’s computer making adjustments to minimize knock, which will cause a drop in horsepower and your right foot to respond by increasing fuel usage to make up for this loss.

So what you’re really saying is that the threshold for the 6.2L is in this range, somewhere above 87 octane, which is probably noted somewhere in your user manual. I know the Dodge 5.7L manual states the engine CAN be run on 87, but that performance will be reduced and fuel usage increased. They recommend minimum 89 octane, if I recall.
Following up on this a bit more...a 3/4 ton or larger pickup (assuming its at least 8600 GVW) will have a "full floating" axle...the weight is carried on large bearings right in the hub...like this pic.
On a half ton the weight is actually carried buy the axle shaft itself...that's the shaft that's pulled partially out in this pic...on a 3/4 and up this shaft only provides power to the wheels...it carries no weight.
Big difference in strength there.
I cant find the pic now, but somewhere in the recent past I seen a pic of a guy that had broken the rear axle on his F150 after loading a HUGE log in the back of the truck...
I’ve broken two semi-floater axles, in 25 years of driving. Scary as all hell, at highway speeds. If I were pulling a trailer with tongue weight anywhere near max spec for a truck, I’d also only want to do it with full floaters.

Do note that trucks in the last ten years are rated for higher tow capacities than the same trucks ten years ago. I believe this reflects a change in how they’re spec’d, more than any improvement in actual capability. In other words, manufacturers are getting more aggressive in their spec’s, to the point where it’s a little dangerous and deceiving. Most now rate their max trailer weight according only to max tongue weight, simply multiplying max tongue weight by 10x to derive a max trailer weight, as if one might manage load their trailer to the exact safe minimum 10% tongue weight. This is dangerous, as many folks don’t understand this, and loading a trailer to less than 10% tongue weight can make it uncontrollable at highway speeds.
i will never buy a 1/2 ton again... i just haul 2 atv's on a trailer but most of the time just one in the back of the truck...
I’d not go this far, it really depends on what you’re hauling and how fast you’re hauling it. I am running a 1/2 ton now, with heavy duty rear springs and a 3.92 rear from the factory, and the integrated proportional trailer brake system. The max trailer weight rating for this truck is 10,160 lb., and I’d be fine towing close to that at lower speeds on local roads, but would never want to use it near that capacity at highway speed for any duration. But I’m fine pulling my much lighter (2000 lb.) boat trailers all around the world with this rig, at any highway speed, as well as my 7000 lb. tandem trailer at max load for shorter distances on local roads.

Buy the right tool for your job. The OP’s present job, presently firewood hauling (assuming local) at 7 - 8000 lb. could be done with many appropriate-configured 1/2 ton trucks. If he aspires to haul that quoted aspirational toy hauler of 10,000 - 11,000 any distance, then yes... that’s 3/4 or 1-ton work.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
20,649
central pa
You say right up front, “it will be used almost exclusively for hauling,” but then this if followed with a lot of discussion over fuel mileage when not hauling. Were you simply over-stating your case? Why would you care at all about unladened fuel mileage, if it is used almost exclusively for hauling?

I have owned numerous 1/2 ton trucks, and have owned a half dozen different trailers of various weights. I have regretted every single time I have bought any truck with less than the maximum engine size available in that platform. Every, single, time. I find the larger gassers really don’t get worse fuel economy than the smaller engines, after all fuel is just liquid energy, and the amount of energy required to haul your ass around town has very little to do with the engine that is converting that liquid energy into motion, and almost everything to do with the weight of your vehicle and your driving habits. Simple physics, removing the net efficiencies of the engines involved.

This really depends on your specific engine. Higher octane fuels do not always contain higher energy density, there is no correlation between octane and mileage, when using fuels above the minimum octane recommended for your engine. However, when moving into fuels below the recommended octane, efficiency does drop thanks to two factors: (1) pre-detonation or knock, causing higher fuel consumption, and (2) your engine’s computer making adjustments to minimize knock, which will cause a drop in horsepower and your right foot to respond by increasing fuel usage to make up for this loss.

So what you’re really saying is that the threshold for the 6.2L is in this range, somewhere above 87 octane, which is probably noted somewhere in your user manual. I know the Dodge 5.7L manual states the engine CAN be run on 87, but that performance will be reduced and fuel usage increased. They recommend minimum 89 octane, if I recall.

I’ve broken two semi-floater axles, in 25 years of driving. Scary as all hell, at highway speeds. If I were pulling a trailer with tongue weight anywhere near max spec for a truck, I’d also only want to do it with full floaters.

Do note that trucks in the last ten years are rated for higher tow capacities than the same trucks ten years ago. I believe this reflects a change in how they’re spec’d, more than any improvement in actual capability. In other words, manufacturers are getting more aggressive in their spec’s, to the point where it’s a little dangerous and deceiving. Most now rate their max trailer weight according only to max tongue weight, simply multiplying max tongue weight by 10x to derive a max trailer weight, as if one might manage load their trailer to the exact safe minimum 10% tongue weight. This is dangerous, as many folks don’t understand this, and loading a trailer to less than 10% tongue weight can make it uncontrollable at highway speeds.

I’d not go this far, it really depends on what you’re hauling and how fast you’re hauling it. I am running a 1/2 ton now, with heavy duty rear springs and a 3.92 rear from the factory, and the integrated proportional trailer brake system. The max trailer weight rating for this truck is 10,160 lb., and I’d be fine towing close to that at lower speeds on local roads, but would never want to use it near that capacity at highway speed for any duration. But I’m fine pulling my much lighter (2000 lb.) boat trailers all around the world with this rig, at any highway speed, as well as my 7000 lb. tandem trailer at max load for shorter distances on local roads.

Buy the right tool for your job. The OP’s present job, presently firewood hauling (assuming local) at 7 - 8000 lb. could be done with many appropriate-configured 1/2 ton trucks. If he aspires to haul that quoted aspirational toy hauler of 10,000 - 11,000 any distance, then yes... that’s 3/4 or 1-ton work.
Very well said and I agree with it all. I will add that going with a 1/2 ton when buying used and when intended mainly for hauling there is no benifit over a 3/4 or 1 ton. And quite a few drawbacks. If it will be a daily driver as well then yes 1/2 ton trucks drive much nicer when empty. But that really is the only benifit.