Evolution of the Mega Haulers

By Ray Prince, NorCalCars Writer

Carrying 21 foot trailers and tugging sailboats along off roads and interstate highways is a job for mega haulers like the Chevy 3500, Ford F-Series, and Toyota Tundra. Long considered traditionalist vehicles that pride themselves in crossing virtually any type of landscape towing serious cargo weight, each of the trucks in this review are the largest in its class. Brand loyalties aside, let's analyze and provide insightful in-depth analysis on each brand using guidelines from similar articles on norcalcars.com.

When you done, stop by and check out our selection of Northern California Trucks for sale at NorCalCars.

The Chevy 3500 - Super Hauler X 10

Chevy 3500

Chevrolet first stamped the Silverado name across its cabs in 1999, later applying it to the current generation of 3500s after a design overhaul a few years later. Its signature feature is its workhorse quality with a very long wheelbase and stiff suspensions, along with its growing status as a consensus No. 1 amongst many experts in overall large truck rankings. Today's 3500 HD is a significant upgrade over previous generations and comes in three cab types: regular, extended, and crew. Extended and crew body styles come with four interior options that feature its own alignment of dashboard design and trim.

Before you continue reading - a 15 second primer on large truck cab types:
  • Regular cabs - Two doors with room for two or three passengers
  • Compact cabs - Emphasis on extra storage space instead of extra passenger room
  • Full size "crew" cabs - Seats up to three more passengers. These usually have four full size doors.
Redesigned Comfort

One knock on the Chevy has been its uncomfortable past with poor design and hard plastic. Riding the old design, I really felt restricted by this tough material. Everything seemed to rattle, including the bobblehead-like glove compartment when opened. Scuffs and scratches also seemed more prominent. Now, with the Chevy 3500'S new upholstery and asymmetrical dashboards, its ride is smoother without sacrificing too much 'grit' brand loyalists love.

F-450 - Fords Most Powerful

ford F-450

Another hot shot in the large truck lineup is the Ford F-450 series. Pound for pound, it ranks as one of the most powerful vehicles on the road with a 24,000 pound towing capacity, V8 (300 HP) or V10 (362 HP) options, and dual rear wheels to maximize pull. Unlike other Super Duty F-250 and F-350 models, the F-450 switches it up with a special chassis that relies on remodified underpinnings to haul even more weight. The F450 is a complete tank in appearance as well, with an intimidating front grille and square front features that make its lightweight F-150 sister’s curved nose look like a prom queen. During my test drive, I didn't appreciate its front width that much. The lighter duty F150 maneuvers through parking spaces and tight corners a lot better which is my own personal requirement for any car.

Like the Silverado, the F450's interior also claims a "gritty rugged" luxury feel. For starters, there are three versions: base XL, mid range XLT, and the premium Lariat. The XL is the simplest truck, with the upgraded XLT coming with newer accessories and customization room. The Lariat is the F150´s polar opposite, with climate control and leather seating. If you want to go all out, moon roofs and rear seat DVDs are available as well. On all models, dashboards and cabins are surprisingly less dynamic than the Chevrolet - split by a huge armrest down the middle.

Toyota Tundra - The Recreational Drivers Choice

Toyota Tundra

The last large truck in our review is the more mainstream Toyota Tundra. It’s a complete full size truck that has matched exceptionally with recreational minded drivers over the years, given its lesser dimensions than the larger F150 and Chevy 3500. With failed plans to concentrate solely on V8s along with a low tow rating, Toyota changed gears in 2007 and decided to concentrate on a more serious demographic = spawning a new truck in two versions: double cab and CrewMax. Mile for mile the Toyota is quicker than the F150 and 3500. In my opinion, its six-speed transmission packs extra punch, especially with large cargo haul. The only downsides are its hard plastic interior, handling, boring interior, and the company's possible misstep of putting off buyers who appreciate the Tundra's past.

All in all, expect a full size truck to run you anywhere from the low 20,000 K to the high 50,000 K range with the Tundra, Silverado, and Ford F-450 falling in between. If beds are your thing, realize full size trucks offer up to 8 foot long beds depending on the brand and whether it's a regular, extended, or crew cab. Whether it is for towing cargo or moving cross-country, these three trucks are more than capable of getting the job done.