From the April 2001 issue of Entrepreneur

Is bigger truly better? If you're talking about a stack of bills, then no; but if your business calls for hauling or towing heavy loads, then a big truck is what you need.

Pickups are big business these days: Ford's F-Series models are the bestselling vehicles in the United States. The reason the pickup market has shot up like a rocket is great versatility in the form of six-person quad cabs, a variety of engines and 2,000- to 15,000-pound cargo capacities. Diesel engines, which can add $4,500 to $5,500 to your price tag, have a life expectancy of well over 300,000 miles before they need an overhaul, are less costly to maintain than gas engines and deliver impressive towing capabilities.

Engines determine load capacity and the performance you can expect. The bigger the engine, the better the performance. The most powerful engine now is the GMC Sierra's Duramax 6600 turbo V8 diesel.

Need to keep cargo hidden? Your best bet is to stick with an SUV or minivan; however, some trucks, such as Dodge's Dakota, come with a hard-top you can lock.

Here are some heavy-hitting vans, SUVs and pickups and their maximum payloads and towing capacities:


Cadillac Escalade. Payload: 1,227 lbs. Towing: 6,600 lbs.
Chevrolet Silverado 3500. Payload: 5,810 lbs. Towing: 12,000 lbs.
Chevrolet Suburban K2500 4WD. Payload: 2,840 lbs. Towing: 12,000 lbs.
Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD. Payload: 1,816 lbs. Towing: 8,700 lbs.
Dodge Ram 2500. Payload: 3,498 lbs. Towing: 13,850 lbs.
Ford Econoline Wagon E-350. Payload: 4,140 lbs. Towing: 10,000 lbs.
Ford Expedition. Payload: 2,035 lbs. Towing: 8,100 lbs.

Jill Amadio has reported on the automotive industry for 24 years as an editor and consultant.