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Most Light-Duty Pickup Truck Owners Tow Less Than 10,000 Pounds, Study Finds

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Years ago, people who bought trucks did so for a very specific purpose – to haul or tow things. Trucks were the workhorses of the family, while passenger cars were used to move families around. Today, that is no longer the case, as modern pickup truck owners enjoy vehicles that can quite literally do everything well, whether that be tow heavy loads, haul things, and transport entire families from point A to point B quite comfortably.

Many modern pickup truck buyers don’t even bother to use their trucks like, well, trucks. In fact, a recent Maritz CX study found that 96 percent of light-duty pickup truck owners tow less than 10,000 pounds with their vehicles.

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The claim is based on the last four quarters of available data from the company’s New Vehicle Customer Study, which surveyed light-duty pickup owners three months after they purchased their vehicles.

This data isn’t terribly surprising, but it is interesting given automakers’ continued focus on improving the payload and towing capacity of light-duty trucks with each passing generation. The current, 13th generation Ford F-150 features a max towing capacity of 13,200 pounds when equipped with Ford’s 3.5L EcoBoost V6, for example. And yet, essentially no one is actually using that capability.

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The 2021 Ford F-150 payload and towing capacities have not yet been released, but Ford has said that when equipped with its new 3.5L PowerBoost Hybrid V6, the 14th gen pickup will provide at least 12,000 pounds of towing capacity. It’s safe to assume that at least one F-150 powertrain will eclipse the prior generation’s numbers as well.

Perhaps automakers will eventually stop one-upping each other in terms of payload and towing ratings, but for now at least, it’s pretty clear that most existing light-duty pickups will never pull anything close to their respective limits.

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We’ll have more interesting insights like this to share soon, so be sure and subscribe to Ford Authority for the latest Ford F-Series news, Ford F-150 news, and continuous Ford news coverage.

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Written by Brett Foote

Brett's lost track of all the Fords he's owned over the years and how much he's spent modifying them, but his current money pits include an S550 Mustang and 13th gen F-150.

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  1. Everybody knows you can’t tow more than 8000 lbs with a half ton safely. This is a stupid article. Men that tow more than 8k consistently drive a diesel because they know a half ton is overworked and can’t stop the load….

    • In addition to being sexist, you’re also wrong about towing capacity. Manufacturers test these trucks extensively before giving them their rating.

      There is a lot of liability in telling the customer how much they can tow. These ratings always have a safety factor as well. This means that they can, in fact, tow even more than they’re rated for.

  2. I own an F150 with 3.5 eco boost and Max Tow Package. I tow 11 to 12,000lb often. Safety is not an issue and has the power to get it done. I’ve owned both gas and Diesel and no way I would spend the extra 20K on the Diesel for higher maintenance cost less fuel mileage to tow this same load.

  3. Towing the weight is not the issue. It’s stopping it in an emergency situation. You put 11000 pounds behind a 6500 pound truck and slam on the brakes and see what happens. That much weight pushing down on the hitch creates a lot of lift at the front end of the truck. Losing the front brakes of your truck makes it real hard to stop quickly. I saw an accident that killed a driver of a truck exactly this way. What was amazing is that he didn’t kill the family of 3 in the Explorer in front of him that he went over the top of. At least I think it was an Explorer, it was hard to tell.

      • Yes. In fact, the crash I witnessed the dead guy was in a dodge ram 2500 or 3500, not a 1500. He had a tractor on a flatbed that lifted his front end. That kind of weight needs to be on a fifth wheel. It’ll tow but slamming on the brakes might get you a surprise. Stay safe everyone.

    • If the truck is rated for 11,000# from the manufacturer, it can safely stop with that weight. However, when towing, you need to give a lot more room to brake.

      No vehicle on the road, including class 8 trucks (tractor trailers), can stop quickly at their full towing capacity. You need to increase your following distance as your load gets bigger. As well, you need to use the transmission to slow down to save your brakes. This is basic towing technique that anyone who tows a load needs to know.

      Modern pickup trucks have made towing feel very easy. There’s still no substitute for a knowledgeable driver.

      • I agree. I had a class A for twenty years. Big difference between a tractor/trailer w/ a 5th wheel and a pickup pulling twice its weight on a hitch. Your last sentence couldnt be more true.
        Only time I ever overloaded a hitch was when I was pulling a large tracked skidsteer behind a Dodge 2500 diesel. I don’t care to ever do that again. My ass has never been that tight.

  4. I’ve owned five F series trucks for 11yrs. Four F-150’s, one with a V8 and three with EB’s and one F-250 6.7L diesel. The difference between Lariat F-150 EB & F-250 diesel is about $400/mth after overall truck price difference, fuel mileage, DEF, oil/filter changes and fuel cost difference. I tried the F-250 for 2 yrs and I tow 15-20% of the time, which is relatively high compared to an average truck owner. I’m a residential general contractor and drive 45-50k every year, so I’m pounding on the kms!!
    I traded the F-250 in because my business didn’t justify the extra weight, wear and tear, cost differences and lack of maneuverability compared to the F-150. If I was hauling around heavy equipment often, that would be a game changer, but I’m not. I haul a 5 tonne dump trailer, 3.5tonne landscape trailer for my 3000 series JD tractor with loader and lumber, a cargo trailer and also a 34′ RV travel trailer. I had airbags installed on the rear to help out the little bit of sag once in awhile. Other than that, the F-150 EB’s do an awesome job towing everything I have and hauling a lot of weight in the 6.5′ box as well!!
    In my humble opinion, a lot of guys truly don’t NEED the F-250 when they buy and keep them. They have a little man syndrome and like the big boy feeling of the bigger truck. LoL🤣🤣

    • Totally agree with your cost and driver personality assessment of the F250!

      I considered it for a hot minute when I was truck shopping recently, but couldn’t justify the extra cost. It’s a huge difference stepping up to a 3/4 ton truck.

      I tow and haul often, probably about 20% of the time. There are times I could use the extra bed payload, but it’s not enough to spend thousands more every year.

  5. Not particularly shocking that suburban dads aren’t maxing out there f150s on the regular. I know nobody who buys a half ton to tow 5+ tons regularly. If they were designed for heavy hauling on the regular then nobody would buy a 3/4 ton or 1 ton. Also yes I have had a few loads past 10k in my f150 but very carefully and definitely not going 65 mph

  6. Two out of the six engines in the F-150 can’t tow 10K lbs. Three out of the five engines in the Silverado/Sierra can’t tow 10K lbs. The 6 cylinder (1 of 3 engines) in the Ram 1500 can’t tow 10,000 lbs. So to say most light duty truck drivers don’t tow 10,000 lbs. when many of them literally can’t is absurd.

    • Four-cylinder engines are offered because so many owners never use them like trucks. That way they don’t complain about gas mileage.

  7. Most of the half ton trucks sold are not equipped to tow 10,000lbs. Most are only rated for 7500lbs. Some are rated less than that if you bought it for good gas mileage. Manufacturers know the biggest majority of buyers are buying their trucks to haul and tow light loads. That’s why most of the one’s on the lot are more biased towards mileage.

    • As far as Ford goes, only two out of six 2020 F-150 powertrain configurations are rated to tow under 10,000 pounds. And that’s 7,700 and 9,000 pounds for the base 3.3L V6 and 2.7 EcoBoost, respectively.

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