Best Trucks For Towing

The Best Trucks For Towing Trailers, Campers And More

Hanna Kielar9-minute read
January 18, 2022

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If you’re looking for the best trucks for towing, you should first consider what you’ll tow and what’s most important in a truck. While midsize pickup trucks are more versatile and offer good fuel economy, they can also tow smaller boats and snowmobile trailers easily. But bigger trucks are more appropriate if you plan on pulling a large boat or family camper.

Our top picks have been chosen based on manufacturer data and U.S. News and World Report. These ratings reflect general performance and specifications of these vehicles over the last several model runs, which will also make up the vast majority of vehicles available in our inventory. While each of these truck lines vary from year to year and even among option packages from the same year, they all have many years of proven reliability in the ultra-competitive American pickup truck market.

Table Of Contents

    The 2 Best Trucks For Towing Overall

    The Ford F-150 and Toyota Tundra are well-rounded and reliable choices for anyone looking for a personal truck for towing. They come with ample power and torque while offering excellent ride quality and amenities. Before we dive in, let’s clarify some of the terms you’ll see throughout the article.

    What’s the difference between tow rating and payload capacity? Maximum payload refers to how much the truck can carry, such as landscape stone or a truck bed camper; tow rating is how much weight the truck can pull, such as a boat on a trailer.

    Why is more torque important for towing? In simple terms, the more torque an engine has, the better suited it is to hard work such as towing, hauling or climbing steep grades. In these cases, torque is more important than horsepower because it delivers more power to the axels in low gear, making it beneficial to moving something big and heavy, such as a large truck pulling an RV.

    Ford F-150

    Payload: 2,238 pounds

    Towing capacity: 14,000 pounds

    The Ford F-150 has long been one of the most reliable pickup trucks on the road, and it's been the best-selling truck in the United States for the past few decades. When equipped with the 3.5L twin turbo V6 and max trailer tow package, it’s capable of pulling up to 14,000 pounds. The tow package comes with a class IV hitch, integrated trailer brake controlling technology, and a locking rear axle for load stability.

    With up to 430 horsepower, 570 lb-ft of torque and multiple cab options, the F-150 is completely customizable. You can also select a hybrid model if you want a full-size truck with excellent gas mileage. The F-150 comes in rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive configurations.

    Browse Rocket Auto’s Ford F-150 inventory.

    Toyota Tundra

    Payload: 1,730 pounds

    Towing Capacity: 10,200 pounds

    The Toyota Tundra offers 401 lb-ft of torque and 381 horsepower with its 5.7L V8 engine. With a maximum tow rating of 10,200 pounds, it’s a capable and dependable workhorse that's able to pull a camper or boat with ease. It offers a tow package that includes a hitch receiver, trailer brake controller and special tow mode for seamless shifting on the highway. 

    The Tundra comes with an available heavy-duty battery to make it more reliable in all weather conditions. You can select from several cab and bed sizes to find the configuration that best suits your needs.

    Browse the Rocket AutoSM Toyota Tundra inventory.

    The 2 Best Diesel Trucks For Towing

    Diesel trucks have more powerful engines and deliver greater lb-ft of torque than their gasoline counterparts. Torque is important for towing large loads because it helps the truck with initial acceleration or when powering through mud and rough terrain. For longer trips, diesel is considered a more efficient fuel because it delivers more energy per gallon.

    Ram 2500 

    Payload: 3,240 pounds

    Towing capacity: 19,010 pounds

    The Ram 2500 delivers massive torque with its 6.7L turbo diesel engine. With 370 horsepower and 850 lb-ft of torque, it can handle almost any load you could throw at it. When properly equipped, the Ram 2500 can tow up to 19,010 pounds and has a maximum payload of 3,240 pounds.

    In recent years the introduction of aluminum body panels have made newer models lighter. The change has increased the Ram 2500’s fuel economy without sacrificing power, torque or tow capacity. The available crew cab offers more interior space and a longer bed for larger payloads.

    Browse Rocket Auto’s Ram 2500 inventory.

    GMC Sierra 1500 

    Payload: 2,240 pounds

    Towing capacity: 12,200 pounds

    The GMC Sierra 1500 in its diesel package delivers up to 420 horsepower and 623 lb-ft of torque and has a 10-speed transmission. This gives it a smooth ride while allowing you to tow large loads and power through multiple terrain and weather conditions. With a maximum payload of 2,240 pounds and towing capacity of 12,200 pounds, this GMC truck is a powerful workhorse.

    The Sierra 1500 comes equipped with a carbon fiber truck bed that’s more durable and less prone to scratching and denting. When equipped with the Duramax 3.0L turbo diesel, it delivers impressive performance while remaining efficient at up to 19 mpg on the highway.

    Browse Rocket Auto’s GMC Sierra 1500 inventory.

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    The 2 Best Trucks For Maximum Towing Capacity

    If high towing capacity is your primary concern when comparing pickup trucks, the Ford-250 and Ram 3500 offer powerful engines and upgraded tow packages. These are heavy-duty trucks with superior payload capacities and are as dependable on the job as they are on the road with a boat, camper or trailer behind them.

    Ford F-250  

    Payload: 4,323 pounds

    Towing capacity: 24,200 pounds

    Few trucks can compete with the Ford F-250's 1,050 lb-ft of torque. When equipped with the 6.7L Power Stroke turbo-diesel V8 engine, the F-250 has a maximum tow rating of 24,200 pounds. Selecting a four-wheel-drive configuration knocks that down to 20,000 pounds, which is still plenty. Additionally, when properly equipped, the F-250 has a payload capacity of 4,323 pounds.

    Browse Auto’s Ford F-250 inventory.

    Ram 3500  

    Payload: 4,600 pounds

    Towing capacity: 37,100 pounds

    The Ram 3500HD delivers 400 horsepower and up to 1,075 lb-ft of torque thanks to its available 6.7L high output Cummings diesel engine. With a seemingly endless number of configurations to choose from, you can customize the Ram 3500 to your exact specifications.

    If needed, you can equip the Ram 3500 with four-wheel drive to tackle extreme weather and off-road terrain. Upgrading to a gooseneck hitch (a large ball hitch mounted in the truck bed) boosts the 3500’s maximum towing capacity to a whopping 37,100 pounds.

    Browse Rocket Auto’s Ram 3500 inventory.

    The 2 Best Half-Ton Trucks For Towing

    Half-ton pickups are lighter and more versatile than the heavy-duty trucks discussed here, but they are still very effective for hauling jet skis or a pop-up camper as well as a boat. These are among the most popular vehicles on American roads for a reason. The Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado 1500 make our list for the best half-ton trucks for towing due to their well-rounded functionality. They have the power, payload capacity and tow ratings suitable for most people’s towing needs.

    Ford F-150  

    Payload: 2,238 pounds

    Towing capacity: 14,000 pounds

    The Ford F-150 offers the best towing capacity in its class at an impressive 14,000 pounds, and you can haul up to 2,238 pounds of payload when it's configured properly. The F-150 also offers advanced trailer control technologies that make towing easier and safer over long distances, such as its locking rear axle and trailer brake control system.

    Browse Rocket Auto’s Ford F-150 inventory.

    Chevrolet Silverado 1500

    Payload: 2,310 pounds

    Towing capacity: 13,300 pounds

    When properly equipped, the Chevrolet Silverado is capable of pulling 13,300 pounds with its 6.2L V-8 engine and 10-speed transmission. It offers up to 460 lb-ft of torque, which is plenty for towing a boat or a trailered off-road vehicle. If you’re willing to accept a bit lower towing capacity you can choose the 3.0L turbo diesel, which can tow up to 9,300 pounds and offers greater fuel economy. The Silverado 1500 has a maximum payload of 2,310 pounds, making it one of the most capable half-ton trucks for hauling.

    Browse Rocket Auto’s Chevrolet Silverado 1500 inventory.

    3 Best Trucks For Towing Travel Trailers, Truck Bed Campers and 5th Wheel Campers

    When looking for the best trucks for towing a trailer, truck bed camper or fifth wheel, it’s important to understand the difference among the three so you can choose a vehicle with the ideal towing and payload capacities.

    • Travel trailers come in many weights and sizes and connect to a ball hitch mounted on the rear end of the vehicle
    • Truck bed campers are attached to the bed of a pickup, so it’s important to select a truck that has enough payload to support the weight
    • Fifth wheel campers are recreational campers with a raised section that connects to a large ball hitch in the truck bed instead of the usual rear-end hitch

    Best Truck For Towing A Travel Trailer: Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD  

    Payload: 3,900 pounds

    Towing capacity: 17,400 pounds

    The gas-powered Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD is highly regarded for towing travel trailers thanks to its ability to tow up to 17,400 pounds. It features 464 lb-ft of torque and 401 horsepower. Paired with a 10-speed transmission, the Silverado 2500HD provides the power and stability to pull a large travel trailer, which can weight up to 10,000 pounds when fully loaded, with a powerful, smooth ride on the highway or down a two-track.

    The gas-powered engine is more than adequate to meet the needs of most outdoor enthusiasts. However, if you’re looking for more power, the diesel version boasts up to 910 lb-ft of torque and 445 horsepower.

    Browse Rocket Auto’s Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD inventory.

    Best Truck For Towing A Truck Bed Camper: GMC Sierra 2500HD  

    Payload: 3,900 pounds

    Towing capacity: 14,500 pounds

    A truck bed camper mounts to the bed of the pickup, so the truck is not actually towing the camper but carrying it. The GMC Sierra 2500HD offers an impressive maximum payload of 3,900 pounds, which is enough to carry most camper units. It also delivers 910 lb-ft of torque and tows up to 14,500 pounds when configured properly, so it’s possible to bring along a camper and a boat. Its 10-speed Allison transmission offers smooth acceleration and shifting on the highway, and the interior amenities provide comfort and style.

    The Sierra 2500HD can be equipped to handle gooseneck trailers, campers and even a fifth wheel hitch. Its payload alone makes it a worthy choice if you’re looking to install a camper.

    Browse Rocket Auto’s GMC Sierra 2500HD inventory.

    Best Truck For Towing A Fifth Wheel Camper: Nissan Titan  

    Payload: 1,699 pounds

    Towing capacity: 11,040 pounds

    The Nissan Titan offers 400 horsepower, 413 lb-ft of torque and up to 11,040 pounds of towing capacity. Its tow-haul mode delivers power to all four wheels when needed, and features like Intelligent Around View, remote trailer light check and integrated brake controller make it easier to maneuver and park. When equipped properly, it supports fifth wheel towing, allowing you to pull any type of trailer you desire within its maximum towing capacity.

    Browse Rocket Auto’s Nissan Titan inventory.

    Is AWD Better For Towing?

    Many of the established heavy-duty pickup truck models do not come with an AWD system. For those that do, the driver isn’t in control of when the AWD system or four-wheel drive is activated. For mid- and full-size trucks that have AWD, check to be sure that it has enough towing capacity for whatever you are hauling. Some AWD trucks can have trouble pulling boats, particularly when encountering steeply inclined boat ramps.

    Four-wheel-drive systems allow you to control when the engine sends power to all four wheels. If you’re hauling a significant payload or pulling a trailer, this is more useful than all-wheel drive. Many 4WD trucks also have better ground clearance, making it easier to negotiate rough terrain or steep boat ramps. For this reason, most pickup trucks offer a four-wheel-drive option. If you anticipate having to tow a big RV or heavily loaded trailer, seek a truck with four-wheel drive.

    Consider Your Needs When Choosing A Truck

    Before you shop for a truck, determine what you’re most likely to use it for and search for models that offer the pulling and hauling capabilities you need. Pickup trucks are customizable and each trim level offers different towing options and bed sizes. It’s important to make sure the truck you buy is properly equipped to handle the types of tasks or trailers you’re going to use it for.

    Where you plan to travel is also important. Larger, heavier trucks are awkward in tight spaces, such as supermarket parking lots or dense city traffic, so if you’re not planning on pulling a heavy trailer or you drive in the city frequently, a midsize or full-size truck may offer what you need. Heavy-duty trucks offer larger payloads and extra towing capacities and are suitable for all sorts of work purposes, but they don't provide the smoothest ride or the best fuel economy.

    The Bottom Line: Know Your Towing Needs Before Purchasing A New Truck

    All modern trucks come with an impressive array of engines and drivetrains that can be arranged to fit different purposes. This guide breaks down all of the factors that go into finding a truck that meets your particular towing needs. Remember that the same model can differ from year to year, so be prepared to ask the key questions regarding towing capacity, engine torque, horsepower and drivetrain. Even if you’re searching for a used truck, it can’t hurt to talk to a salesperson at a car dealership about specific towing questions and modern trucks. There are so many factors and options that knowledge is essential before you buy.

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    Hanna Kielar

    Hanna Kielar is a Section Editor for Rocket Auto℠, RocketHQ℠, and Rocket Loans® with a focus on personal finance, automotive, and personal loans. She has a B.A. in Professional Writing from Michigan State University.