Heavy-duty pickup trucks are designed for towing tens of thousands of pounds of cargo. They’re designed to push the limits on what production pickups for average consumers can tow. The heavy-duty series of many of the top brand name trucks have been edging each other out over the years with new tow ratings, one after the other. However, for the 2022 model year, the 2022 Silverado 3500 HD manages to outdo the 2022 Ford F-350 in tow ratings. But how is that possible? What is the Silverado doing that the F-350 isn’t? And how did the tow-rating favor Chevy in the 2022 Silverado 3500 HD vs 2022 Ford F-350 debate so readily?
Well, there are a few key differences between both trucks that have enabled Chevy to edge out Ford in this particular avenue. Where Ford may have higher tow-rating classifications in the light-duty sector, Chevy has managed to duly take the lead on the heavy-duty front. So, what are some of the differences between the trucks, and how can the Silverado 3500 HD manage to top out the F-350 for the 2022 model year in this particular area?
For those of you who don’t know, the 2022 Chevy Silverado 3500 HD has a max trailer rating of 36,000 pounds. It also has a max payload rating of 7,442 pounds. The 3500 HD has to be configured as a regular cab with the 6.6-liter Duramax turbo-diesel V8 set in dual-rear-wheel drive and have a gooseneck hitch attached in order to hit the max trailering capacity figures. Nevertheless, it’s still impressive figures, and it just edges out Ford’s F-350 by comparison.
Speaking of which, the F-350 manages a max trailer rating of 35,750 pounds, with a max payload rating of 7,850 pounds. The F-350 can only achieve its max trailer rating with the gooseneck hitch attached while configured with a regular cab in a dual-rear-wheel drive format and paired with the 6.7-liter V8 turbo-diesel engine. It gets the F-350 close to the towing specs of the 3500 HD, but it doesn’t quite measure up.
What’s interesting is that the F-350’s engine is slightly larger and a tad more powerful than its Silverado 3500 HD counterpart, yet it doesn’t quite reach the same trailering rating. The Ford Power Stroke V8 turbo-diesel clocks in at 475 horsepower and 1,050 pound-feet of torque, while the Chevy 6.6-liter Duramax V8 turbo-diesel nestles in at 445 horsepower and 910 pound-feet of torque. Both are paired up with 10-speed automatic transmissions. So how exactly does the Silverado 3500 HD come out on top here? Well, there are a few reasons why.
Setting the Foundation to Supersede the Competition
Chevy made some tweaks to the Silverado 3500 HD for the 2021 model year, where they managed to up the trailering ante with a few key changes to the marque. However, it wasn’t just the 2021 model year that gave Chevy the edge in beating Ford at their own game. In fact, the new generation that started in 2020 set the bar for the 3500 HD’s trailering capabilities. This was coming off the 2019 model year, where the truck topped out at just 23,100 pounds for its max trailering load, which was a far cry from being anywhere near as competitive as the Ford F-350, which was able to top out its trailering rating at 32,400 pounds with a gooseneck hitch for the 2019 model year.
So what happened between 2019 and 2022 that allowed the Silverado 3500 HD to surpass the F-350 in conventional and 5th wheel/gooseneck trailering, other than a new generation getting underway? Well, a lot happened. In 2020 Chevy overhauled the Silverado HD in key drivetrain components, between the wheels, the frame, and the transmission, all of which improved the overall tow capacity to 35,500 pounds, which nearly brought it up to par with the 2020 F-350’s gooseneck rating of 35,750 pounds.
In particular, Chevy engineers upgraded the chassis with both a lighter and tougher steel. This was a key component in allowing the Silverado HD to tow larger loads without stressing the chassis. But they took additional steps in also enhancing the suspension and driveline with more durable components, including all-new 11.5-inch axle ring gears for higher load-bearing when equipped with the gasoline engine and 12-inch axle ring gears for the Duramax turbo-diesel.
The entire prop shaft was also upgraded for the 2020 model year. They increased the entire diameter by 30%, so it was larger and sturdier, able to improve the transmission’s torsional transfer to the axles more efficiently and a higher rate of reliability. What this enabled the Silverado 3500 HD to do is output more torque from the power plant to the wheels. To help with stabilizing the higher engine work rate, the Duramax received a larger fan that helped keep it cool, so it could do more work with less overheating. This would also help pave the way for additional upgrades that would funnel down into further increasing the capabilities of the Silverado 3500 HD in 2021.
Putting the Silverado 3500 HD Over the Competitive Line
The stage was set for a pretty big showdown for the 2021 model year, where the Chevy Silverado 3500 HD was coming off a previous model year upgrade, and the F-350 was already leading the way compared to the Silverado, even if only by a couple hundred pounds. However, the engineers working on the Silverado weren’t satisfied with holding a near neck-to-neck tie with the F-350. The intent was to surpass the F-350 once and for all and give Chevy the win over Ford in the heavy-duty pickup segment.
In 2021 they finally pulled the trigger by making a few changes to eke out 500 extra pounds to increase the max 5th wheel/gooseneck trailering rating. They managed to boost up the stats from 35,500 pounds to 36,000 pounds, putting the Silverado 3500 HD just over the line ahead of the Ford F-350 by 250 pounds. It’s an interesting development because in the previous year, the Silverado 3500 HD was down by 250 pounds, and now it’s up by that much.
This change may not seem like much, but it helped give the Silverado 3500 HD that little extra boost to edge out ahead of the F-350. This change has carried over into the latest model year, so even comparing the 2022 Chevy Silverado 3500 HD vs 2022 Ford F-350, you’ll note that the Silverado 3500 HD still has a higher overall tow and trailering rating when it comes to the 5th wheel/gooseneck. Simply put, Ford is now trailing behind two years in a row.
Little Changes, Big Differences
One of the things you might have noticed between the two vehicles is that the change for the Silverado 3500 HD to a lighter ladder-frame with a reinforced chassis has paid off with big dividends for the Chevy brand of heavy-duty pickups. The foundations laid in 2020 have allowed Chevy to edge out over Ford in the trailering ratings, both with the lowest max trailering rating and the highest max trailering rating. For instance, even on the lower end of the Silverado 3500 HD spectrum, the 6.6-liter V8 tops out at 17,200 pounds. Compare that to the F-350’s 6.2-liter V8, which tops out at 16,700 pounds. At the upper end of the spectrum, you have the Silverado 3500 HD managing 36,000 pounds and the F-350 at 35,750 pounds.
When looking back at the changes made over the last generation for the Silverado 3500 HD, you can see how the engineers laid a foundation to incrementally start outdoing the competition. It was a smart move to start years earlier and then adjust until the discussion shifted in the debate about who had the better trailering ratings in the heavy-duty segment. And now, when comparing the 2022 Chevy Silverado 3500 HD vs 2022 Ford F-350, it’s easy to see how the 3500 HD has come out on top.