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What is pickup payload?

A pickup's maximum payload is the weight of all of the items that it carries, including passengers and cargo. Here's how it is determined.

• Pickups are separated into classes by their gross vehicle weight rating, or the weight of a vehicle plus everything it carries. Each class has a set weight limit. For example, the Class 3 (F-350, Ram 3500, GMC Sierra 3500) weight limit is 14,000 lbs.

• Automakers establish maximum payloads by subtracting the weight of the pickup from the top limit of the vehicle class. For instance, if a Class 3 pickup weighs 8,000 lbs, its maximum payload would be 6,000 lbs.

• Ford and GM say they remove the weight of some heavy items -- spare tire (Ford), rear bumper (GM) -- from the base curb weight of their vehicles to set what they call a minimum curb weight. The subtracted weight allows the manufacturer to state a higher payload rating, what they call a maximum payload.

• Ram, Nissan and Toyota use the weights of their base pickups to establish maximum payloads, with no standard items removed.