Best Truck to Pull a Fifth Wheel 2022
Daydreaming about taking your motorhome or RV on an off-road adventure? Unsure about what the best trucks are for towing your fifth-wheel RV, toy hauler, boat, camper, or fifth-wheel trailer?
On the hunt for the most cost-effective one-ton or half-ton truck that won't cost you an arm and a leg?
Then look no further, as you have come to the right place. This comprehensive guide aims to cover all the aspects relating to the researching, selecting, and purchasing of your truck.
Fifth-Wheeler Towing Checklist
Before diving into the nitty-gritty of which is the best truck for towing a fifth wheel, here are some factors to keep in mind.
Safety features on trucks for towing a 5th wheel
There are some standard safety features every long bed, short bed, or midsize pickup truck should be equipped with before they can be considered to tow a fifth wheel.
They must have a four-wheel anti-lock braking system, electronic stability system, curve control system, a rearview camera, and a fifth-wheel hitch assist function.
Take the proper safety precautions to ensure your safety and the safety of other motorists and passengers. When towing, remember to always maintain a safe following distance, slow down in badly lit areas, drive defensively, habitually wear your seatbelt and unfailingly conduct a thorough inspection of your vehicle before leaving home.
Diesel engines versus gas engine trucks
When it comes to the debate about whether to opt for a gasoline or diesel truck to haul your fifth wheeler, most ardent RVers would say that diesel trucks offer you more value for your buck.
Diesel trucks are also more fuel efficient, especially if they have to haul a 5th wheel for hundreds of miles. On the flip side, gasoline is inexpensive compared to the current price of diesel in America.
A turbo diesel engine has a multitude of safety and mechanical benefits.
Firstly, they are better for the environment as they discharge less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and the upkeep and servicing of these engines is minimal as they do not contain spark plugs like a gasoline engine.
Their better torque figures also allow trucks with diesel engines to haul more weight than gasoline-powered trucks. Diesel engines offer motorists 35% more per gallon compared to gas engines, somewhat offsetting the higher cost of the fuel.
Payload capacity and towing capacity explained
Okay, let's break it down. Wondering what the difference between the payload capacity of a vehicle is compared to its towing capacity? The payload capacity is simply the amount of weight a vehicle can carry. Towing capacity, on the other hand, is the calculation of how much weight a vehicle can haul.
New truck owners should consider a couple of factors when purchasing a heavy-duty cab to tow their fifth-wheeler. And one of them is whether the truck they plan on purchasing comes standard with a factory towing package.
Some trucks can carry loads of up to 12,000 pounds, while smaller cabs are only able to haul around 5500 pounds. Regular cabs can tow between 3000 and 7000 pounds, while several heavy-duty trucks can pull up to 31,000 pounds.
In any case, you must ensure your chosen truck can haul your fifth wheel. Firstly, you need to calculate your gross combined weight rating (GCWR) and gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and then work out your maximum loaded trailer weight.
You will find the weight capacity information on the driver's side of the vehicle, online, or in your owner's manual. A truck's maximum towing capacity is gauged by the size of its engine, the type of fuel it consumes, the size of the truck bed, and the type of drivetrain it has installed.
You must choose the most appropriate size cab to tow your fifth-wheeler. Normal cabs aren't too expensive, but trucks with larger cab sizes could prove to be pricier.
The four different cab sizes are:
- Regular Cab: Generally, these heavy-duty trucks have two doors and one row of seating.
- Extended Cab: These cabs come either with two or four doors with two rows of seating comprising three seats.
Crew Cab: The Ram 1500 TRX, GMC, Nissan, and Chevrolet are referred to as crew cabs as they have four doors and a high towing capacity rating, along with enough torque to haul fifth-wheelers.
Crew cabs are the best trucks for towing as they can generally carry the maximum loaded trailer weight of a fifth-wheeler.
- Extended Crew Cab: This type of cab comes with six seats. It has two rows of seating and an optional back door. Regular cabs don't have back doors.
The bed of any truck is usually responsible for all the heavy lifting. Theft due to an open bed is the only drawback when transporting precious cargo.
A regular pickup truck will normally have a standard bed size of about 8 feet, and an extended cab has a bed size of around 6 feet. A crew cab with four solid doors has a bed size of about 5 feet, and smaller trucks generally have a bed size of between 5 to 6 feet.
Okay, now it gets a bit technical. The axle ratio of a truck speaks to the amount of torque its engine is able to produce.
The perfect ratio is 3.5:1, which means that every time the rear wheels rotate, the main drive shaft from the transmission turns around three and a half times. A lower number helps to save fuel, and a higher number enables a half-ton truck to haul large amounts of cargo.
Can you drive the fifth wheel truck?
You should find out if you will require any special licensing when you buy a heavy-duty truck.
Check what rules and regulations are in place in your state or province. Make sure you clarify this with the car dealership and the relevant motoring bodies before you pay for the truck. Driving a heavy-duty truck is no child's play; one wrong turn or move could result in serious injury and even death.
Best Trucks for Pulling a Fifth Wheel
Ram 3500 HD
In 2022, the Ram 3500 HD won the title of the best truck to haul a fifth wheel RV. The Ram 3500 HD has a 6.4-liter V8 engine that produces 410 horsepower and 1,075 lb-ft of torque.
Ram trucks have an impressive towing capacity of 37,090 pounds, making them the best fifth-wheel towing trucks for heavy trailers.
The Ram truck also boasts a digital rearview mirror with a built-in tow mode. It also has a feature that enables it to automatically monitor the tire pressure of the trailer. Its flexible rear-end suspension allows for trailers to hook up with ease and speed.
You can pick up an entry-level Ram truck for $38,565.
Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD
This four-wheel drive gives the Ram 3500 HD a run for its money. The Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD comes with a powerful V8 gas engine that produces 401 horsepower and 464 lb-ft of torque. Silverados have a massive towing capacity of 20,000 pounds and a payload capacity of 4,398 pounds.
Its excellent safety features include front and rear-mounted airbags, an ABS braking system, plus stability and traction control capabilities. It also comes with trailering wire provisions and a gooseneck/5th wheel package option, but you will need to pay more for it.
Having these extra mechanical accessories added will make towing your 5th wheel a breeze. You can pick up an entry-level Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD truck for $44,500.
Clinching the third spot is the Ford F-150, which is another great fifth-wheel towing truck. The Ford F-150 is another four-wheel-drive truck that has high tow ratings due to its powerful five-liter V8 engine that can haul even the heaviest loads. The Ford F-150 is able to tow up to 8,200 pounds, so it's suitable for many fifth wheels.
This short bed, crew cab pickup truck has a GVWR rating of 6800 pounds and a GCWR rating of 14,800 pounds.
It comes with great safety features such as dual driver and passenger front airbags, ABS brakes, traction control, tire pressure monitoring, a backup camera, and LED lights.
The truck can also be hooked up with a trailer backup assist function that will help drivers with their blind spots and overall visibility when they are backing up their vehicle and have a trailer attached to it.
The curb weight of the Ford F-150__ __range tops out at 5684 pounds.
Its rugged but reliable engine produces 401 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque, making it a viable competitor for both the Ram 3 500 HD and the Chevrolet Silverado 3 500HD.
These pickup trucks are manufactured in Missouri and Michigan and are highly rated by most car magazines across America.
The Ford F-150 first hit the market in the late 1940s, and it has been the most highly rated and popular pickup truck in the United States for the past several decades. You can purchase this entry-level Ford F-150 truck for $30,870.
2022 Toyota Tundra
With a towing capacity of 12,700 pounds, the 2022 Toyota Tundra is certainly making people sit up and take notice of its capabilities.
However, it doesn't quite rival the enviable towing capacity of the Ram 3500 HD and Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD. That said, 12,700 pounds is more than enough for many fifth wheel trailers.
The pickup truck has a GVWR rating of 7045 pounds and a Gross Combined Weight Rating of 17, 250 pounds, making it a smart option for towing 5th wheels or fifth wheel trailers.
The 2022 Toyota Tundra has high tow ratings due to its powerful 379 horsepower twin-turbo V6 engine. Its 10-speed automatic transmission system also further enables it to transport huge amounts of weight over long distances.
This sturdy 4-wheel-drive comes with great safety components such as dual driver and passenger front airbags, an automated emergency braking and collision warning system, blind spot, driver-assist technology, and a rear cross-traffic indication system.
The starting price of these heavy-duty cabs stands at $35,950, but that figure can reach up to $37,845, depending on if you choose to add any extra accessories to your new half-ton pickup truck.
GMC Sierra 1500
Coming in fifth place, the half-ton GMC Sierra 1500 also has a high gross combined weight rating like the four previous pickup trucks and a whopping 11,800-pound tow rating. The Sierra 1500 offers 310 horsepower and 430 lb. -ft. of torque.
The vehicle is fitted with LED headlamps, taillamps, and daytime running lamps for increased visibility. The pickup truck is also available with a 5.3L V8 engine with a 10-speed automatic transmission.
The Sierra 1500, unfortunately, has a lower tow rating when in comparison to the four previous pickup trucks reviewed in this guide. To its credit, however, it has top-of-the-range trailer safety and assist technology installed.
The starting price of this vehicle is set at $35,400, but for models with better specifications and improved driver technology, you could fork out close to $56,000.
2022 Nissan Titan
The Nissan Titan boasts a strong V8 engine, and its specs indicate that it has a towing capacity of 9320 pounds and a payload capacity of 1710 pounds. This makes it powerful enough to haul a 5th wheel.
The Titan offers potential truck owners a number of convenient features to assist with towing a fifth wheel. The truck is fitted with tow mirrors, trailer sway control, and a downhill speed control function, as well as a function that will allow you to control your trailer's brakes.
The vehicle's safety precautions also include LED lights, blind-spot observation, rear sonar, and a cross-traffic alert system. It does not perform as well as the Ram 3500 HD, Toyota Tundra or Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD, but you can rest assured that it will get the job done!
The Nissan Titan comes with solid options, good driver assist features, and advanced braking technology.
The starting price for the Nissan Titan is $38,810. One of Nissan's other options is the Titan XD Crew Cab, which offers truck owners a towing capacity of up to 11,060 pounds and retails at a heftier price tag of $48,000.
2021 Jeep Gladiator
The half-ton 2021 Jeep Gladiator boasts a V6 engine that gives 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Its payload capacity is on par with the Ram 3500 HD, Toyota Tundra, or Chevrolet Silverado, giving it the ability to lug around a 5th wheel with ease.
Even though the truck is fuel efficient and tough on the road, it only has a 6,000-pound towing capacity, so it's not suitable for those with enormous fifth wheel trailers.
The truck comes with great towing features that include a trailer brake controller, a front camera, and a high-quality trailer hitch.
Its safety features include a blind spot monitoring system, a cruise control option, accident warning, drive and park assist, and a rear cross path detection component.
The 2021 Jeep Gladiator also comes with anti-lock brakes and a traction and stability control system. The truck is also easy on the eyes, so its good looks make it an appealing option for some.
A brand new 2021 Jeep Gladiator will set you back $34,960; however, potential truck owners should be aware that adding extra accessories could put you back a pretty penny.
The Toyota Tacoma has a V6 engine that produces 278 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque. It has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of 5600 pounds, a Gross Combined Weight Rating of 11,360 pounds, and a payload capacity of 1155 pounds.
Toyota Tacomas also come with a 6,400-pound towing capacity and many features which make it a great option for towing a fifth-wheel trailer. It has excellent safety features, and potential truck owners can choose from various configuration options.
This midsize pickup comes with automatic emergency braking, cruise control, high beams, a manual transmission, a top-quality tow hitch, and it takes to off-road driving like a duck to water.
Toyota Tacomas are a good option for those who want to haul small boats, campers, or toy haulers, as these trucks tend to struggle when pulling larger loads. This vehicle is sold for $27,150, but those opting for extra add-ons can expect a large price tag.
2022 Ram 1500 TRX
The 2022 Ram 1500 TRX also has a high towing capacity and is equipped with a 6.2-liter V-8 engine, commonly referred to as the Hellcat engine. Its powerful engine puts out 702 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque.
The vehicle is also able to reach 60 miles per hour in close to 3.7 seconds, making it one of the quickest pickup trucks around. Even though the TRX is no match for the towing capabilities of the other Ram models, it still has a maximum towing capacity of 8100 pounds and a payload capacity of 1310 pounds.
The 2022 Ram 1500 TRX comes standard with lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist systems, and it is also fitted with technology that helps drivers to connect their trailers to their tow vehicles much quicker.
It is also fitted with a blind spot monitoring system and has a cruise control option. This Ram 1500 TRX is sold for $78,790, making it quite a pricey option compared to the other vehicles reviewed.
Top 3 Best Trucks for Towing Fifth Wheels
A comparative look at pricing and vehicle specifications reveals that the 2020 Ram 3500, Ford F-150, and the Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD to be the best pickup trucks available on the market for towing a fifth-wheeler.
The 2020 Ram 3500 wins hand down and is a great choice. It has better fuel economy, safety features, and great parking assist technology.
The Ford F-150 has a towing capacity of 8200 pounds, a GVWR rating of 6800 pounds, and a GCWR rating of 14,800 pounds, making it more than capable of getting the job done.
It comes with great safety and towing features. Its $30,870 price makes it a bit cheaper than the $38,565 you would need to shell out for a 2020 Ram 3500.
Even though the Silverado has a splendid maximum towing capacity, the 2020 Ram 3500 still wins the title for its excellent aesthetics, comfort, and entertainment features.
What size bed do you need to tow a large fifth wheel trailer?
A long bed truck (with an 8 feet long bed) is the ideal vehicle for towing a fifth wheel trailer. 5th wheel hitches need to remain in front of a truck's rear axle so that your motorhome or RV is positioned close to the cab.
Do you need a diesel engine or gasoline engine to haul a fifth-wheeler?
A diesel engine is more efficient at towing a fifth wheel. Gasoline engines can do the job, but it will cost the truck owner more as gas burns more quickly. Diesel engines also generally produce more torque which is great for hauling a fifth wheel.
Do you need a dually to tow a fifth wheel?
A dually truck has dual rear wheels on either side, 6 wheels in total. It is usually used to pull a large amount of weight. These heavy-duty vehicles are commonly referred to as "one-ton" pickup trucks.
You don't need one of these to pull a fifth wheel, however. We have listed plenty of excellent single rear-wheel trucks above.
How big must a truck be to tow a fifth-wheeler?
There's no set answer to how big a truck has to be to tow a fifth wheel - it depends on the size and weight of the trailer. Make sure your trailer and truck are compatible by checking the truck's towing capacities before buying.
What do you need to pull a fifth-wheel trailer?
You will require the muscle of a pickup truck to pull your 5th wheel. Your fifth-wheel hitch needs to be placed over the rear axle of your half-ton truck inside the truck bed because a proportion of the fifth-wheel trailer's weight needs to be on top of it.
Do fifth wheels sway?
Yes, fifth-wheelers can sway if the correct safety precautions are not followed. Most manufacturers install technology that reduces the likelihood of your fifth wheeler to sway or roll.
There are a couple of things you can do to ensure it does not occur, first, you should try to load more than half of the cargo you are carrying in the front half of your trailer.
Don't overload your two vehicles; don't exceed the trailer's maximum weight classifications and always only load your freight or truckload on the inside of the trailer.
Always maintain an average speed of 55mph or less when towing goods over long distances. You also get something called trailer sway mitigation which is a feature that comes with some models. It indicates to the driver that the trailer's sway is gaining traction.
How long does a 5th wheel lube plate last?
On average, a plastic lube plate lasts for close to eight months or one season, depending on how many miles you cover.
How often should you grease your fifth wheel plate?
You should lubricate your fifth wheel plate every 12 weeks or 30,000 miles.
Purchasing a heavy-duty truck for towing a fifth wheel is no easy feat. Truck owners need to consider a number of key things before driving out of their local car dealership with a new truck, let alone a heavy-duty truck that you plan to haul a fifth-wheeler with.
The most important thing is to make sure your truck is designed for towing and that it can handle the weight of a large fifth wheel trailer. In most cases, a single rear wheel truck will be sufficient - we've listed some of the best above.
So what is the best truck to pull a fifth wheel overall? Our favorite is the 2020 Ram 3500 - buy it today, you won't regret it!
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