Do I Need a 1500 or 2500 Pickup?

December 13th, 2019 by

A close up of a black 2020 Ram 2500 is parked next to large cement tubes.

Ram has quickly become one of the most desired pickup brands on the road today. The Ram 1500 has been named truck of the year the last two years running, thanks to the continual improvement in towing, engine performance, and the cabin interior. But what happens when you’re on the fence between a half-ton Ram 1500 and a longer three-quarter-ton Ram 2500. Which is right for you? For some, it’s all about the size, and the Ram 2500 is larger in stature. So if that’s what you’re looking for, then go for the three-quarter-ton Ram. But what happens when you want to purchase a new truck that delivers a specific performance without buying more truck than what you need? To determine that you will need to answer the question of “do I need a 1500 or 2500 Ram truck?” Here is everything you need to know about Ram Trucks and the performance of each.

Pickup Engine Performance

Both the Ram 1500 and Ram 2500 come with several color options, trim packages, and so on. The Ram 2500 is also slightly larger. However, when deciding between the Ram 1500 and 2500, you’re probably not doing it based on the paint job. You’re doing so based on the engine, towing, and the max payload.

Before diving into the specific specs, you should have a ballpark idea of what you need to tow or carry in the bed. If you already have a trailer, boat, or camper, look into the weight of what you want to tow. If you don’t yet have the gear you want to tow, look into what you’d ideally like to buy down the road. This will give you a rough estimate of what kind of weight you need to be able to move. That will make it significantly easier to determine whether you should go with a Ram 1500 or Ram 2500.

A grey 2020 Ram 1500 with chrome accents is parked in front of a Costa Mesa, CA home.

The 2020 Ram 1500 comes with several engine options. The base engine is the 3.6L Pentastar V6 with eTorque. This engine produces 305 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque. Now, if this is the size of engine you’d ideally like to go with, there’s no need to even consider the Ram 2500.

The Ram 1500 has a 3.0L EcoDiesel V6. The horsepower does dip to 260, but the torque jumps to 480 lb-ft. If you’re serious about towing, you’ll want to go with the 5.7L HEMI V8 engine with eTorque. This engine in the Ram 1500 has 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque.

As for the Ram 2500, you’ll need to decide whether you want to max out on the payload or on towing. Different engines will provide you with different benefits. There is a 6.7L Cummins Turbo Diesel I6 engine that produces 370 horsepower and 850 lb-ft of torque. This engine will give you the max towing numbers. If you don’t want to go with the Turbo Diesel I6 engine, you can go for the 6.4L HEMI V8. This particular engine is going to give you 410 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque. The engine does see a slight drop in max towing from the diesel, but it is the engine that provides you with the max payload potential.


The amount of weight your truck can handle in the bed is important, especially if you’re at a worksite. You might need to easily toss in logs, trash, gear, or any number of odds and ends into the back of your truck. With the Ram 2020 Ram 1500’s high-strength steel frame, the pickup can handle up to 2,300 pounds of payload. As for the Ram 2500, the payload almost doubles, jumping up to 4,010 pounds. This way, you can travel with full vehicles in your truck bed (such as ATVs and other hardware) without even needing to deal with a trailer.

You will want to go with the 6.4L HEMI V8 to maximize the payload. The max payload with the Turbo Diesel is 3,160 pounds.

Max Towing

On the Ram 1500, the max towing tips the scales at 12,750 pounds. To reach these numbers, you will need to opt for the 5.7L HEMI V8 with eTorque. If you decided to go with the 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 engine on the Ram 1500 the max towing capacity would be 12,560. So the difference between the diesel and V8 is negligible regarding towing. You will see improved fuel economy with the 3.0L EcoDiesel, although the HEMI V8 has better horsepower numbers.

A white 2020 Ram 2500, which is a popular option among Ram trucks, is towing a large piece of construction equipment near Costa Mesa, CA.

To max out the towing potential on the 1500 you do need to go with the V8 with eTorque. This electronic torque feature replaced the traditional alternator on your pickup. A standard alternator pulls power off of the engine, so it is fully reliant on engine power. With the eTorque design, the new alternator will pull energy off of your truck’s brakes and store it in a separate battery. The towing difference between the V8 engine with eTorque and the V8 engine without? Towing potential jumps from 11,610 pounds to 12,750.

With regards to the 2020 Ram 2500, the towing potential takes a serious jump up to 19,680 pounds. You will need to go with the Cummins Turbo Diesel I6 engine if you want max towing. If you were to go with the regular unleaded 6.4L HEMI V8 engine, the max towing would dip to 17,540.

In Case You’re Wondering

Just in case you’re wondering, the Ram 3500 takes these numbers to even greater heights. The maximum towing potential with the 3500 is 35,100 pounds (so it almost doubles what the 2500 can do). The max pound payload for the 3500 is 7,680 pounds. So if you need a maximum performance pickup that can tow just about anything and carry just about anything, you might want to consider going with the Ram 3500.

The Right Ram Truck Is Waiting For You

It doesn’t matter if you’re considering a half-ton pickup, a three-quarter-ton Ram 2500, or even the larger one-ton Ram 3500, when it comes to Ram trucks, you’ll find everything you need and then some at Orange Coast CJDRF, here in Costa Mesa, CA. So feel free to check out the latest selection on our website or come on out to the lot and take a test drive today. If you’re on the fence between one pickup size, the test drive may be all you need to decide once and for all. And remember, if you have any questions regarding Ram pickups, trim options, and what features are right for you, all you need to do is pick up the phone and give our experienced sales staff a call at your earliest convenience.

Posted in Ram Trucks