We test the best trucks for towing and call upon the Big Three of Trucks: Ford, GM, and Dodge. They have the power to move heaven and earth.
You may have noticed more SUVs on the road, but the big sellers these days are pickups. And for the first time, in April of last year, Americans bought more pickups than cars. Whether it’s mid-sized, full-sized, or heavy-duty, the humble pickup is packing garages and driveways all over the US.
Not everyone sees them as passenger car replacements, and many people use trucks to do work. Pulling a travel trailer, cattle trailer, or construction equipment doesn’t work for a smaller pickup or even a standard full-sized truck. Instead of pulling 11,000 lbs you need something that can efficiently tow 35,000 lbs without breaking a sweat. This is the realm of the Heavy-Duty pickup.
For most applications, people call upon the Big Three of Trucks: Ford, GM, and Dodge. They’ll have what you need, and they come with the power to move heaven and earth. Let’s check out the Best Towing Trucks of 2021.
For 2021, Ram’s 3500 Heavy Duty raised the bar for the towing championship and it also leap-frogged the Chevy Silverado for second place in the sales competition. Ram increased the torque of its 6.7-liter Cummins High Output I6 Diesel to 1075 lb-ft and its towing capacity increased by an astounding 2,000 lbs. Although the extra 75 lb-ft of torque adds some extra pull, the Ram Heavy Duty’s increased towing capacity is due more to the recent gooseneck hitch update from Ram Engineering. Ram isn’t skimping on its power to haul.
This extra powerful turbodiesel isn’t the only engine option. You also have the standard output 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel that pulls 22,670 lbs with 850 lb-ft of torque and a 6.4-Liter Hemi V8 that can pull 18,210 lbs. So, unless you need the extra grunt and have $12,195 burning a hole in your pocket, the standard 6.7L will do you just fine.
But it’s not all about towing. Ram’s recent updates have put the cabins at the top of the list in comfort. Looking like a hybrid mobile office and high-end hotel, the Ram 3500 is pretty amazing. You can get active noise cancellation, a Tesla type 12.0-inch Uconnect touchscreen system, extra thick glass and numerous leather color options. Towing technology also includes category expected multiple cameras, bed lighting and a 115 volt/400-watt bed outlet. Like it’s competition, Ram has thought of everything to make life better for you while surrounding you with all that power. You’ll pay for what you get, of course. The popular Ram Big Horn Crew Cab starts at $48,000 but fully loaded 3500’s start closer to $90,000. But at that price, you won’t lack for anything.
With the Ford F-450, “Best in Class” was so last year. Ford says their Super Duty never stops moving forward, so you can expect a more powerful engine in 2022. Currently, the Ford F-450 Super Duty has to get by with 1050 lb-ft of torque out of its 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel V-8. If you can leave that extra 100 lbs of weight in the barn that would fit on the Ram, you’ll be happy with the 37,000-pound towing capacity.
While 2021 Ford‘s interior looks similar to the 2017 version, it is still a comfortable place to do work. If Ram hadn’t turned the truck interior design competition on its collective ear, we’d probably be happy with what we see in the F-450. It’s still tranquil on the road and drives like an athletic F-150 sport truck. Safety technology and towing assists are similar to Ram and GM with tow cameras and driver assists.
For those who don’t yet have a farm or haul a bulldozer for construction work, Ford also offers a 475 lb-ft of torque 7.3-liter gas engine for what they call “strenuous” activity and the 6.2-liter Flex Fuel engine for more pedestrian day-to-day hauling. Starting at $50,000, the Ford F-450 gives you a lot of power for your money. But with Fords Limited Edition starting at $91,000, it won’t be long until you price yourself over $100,000. That might be a high price to pay for an eminently capable F-450 that needs a new interior.
For 2021, the HD truck race is tight and GMC and Chevy’s maximum towing capacity rose by 500 pounds to a 36,000 lb tow rating. The engineers achieved this through some suspension, wheels, and packaging updates. Towing isn’t all about the engine and relies on the overall platform’s strength, but the 6.6-liter Duramax diesel helps.
The Duramax and 10-speed Allison transmission channel 910 lb-ft of torque through the wheels and offers more bed volume than Ford or Ram. For less strenuous work, you can get GMs 6.6-Liter V8, which pulls up to 17,310 lbs. The V8’s 464 lb-ft of torque is more than enough for hauling that boat you have. With the standard 3500 HD crew cab starting at $41,500, Chevy gives you some bang for your buck – especially with all of their safety technology and driver assists.
Once we get past the polarizing exterior and drive of our Silverado, it moves around like a beefier version of the Silverado 1500. The same lighter-than-it-weighs feeling is in the HD version too. Although it’s not a plush ride like in the Ford or Ram, GM’s HD trucks have a tight and welcome truck-like ride. Even though the GMC version has a better interior than the Chevy, that’s not saying much. GM should have replaced the cheap-feeling plastics and materials throughout the cabin long ago. The luxury-themed GMC Denali starts at $66,000, so that helps. But on most trims, everything looks so 2014 and doesn’t fit in the same league as Ford and Ram.
Even if the Ram didn’t have the highest tow rating, it would still be the choice because of the latest interior updates. At the price point for these full-strength pickups, having an interior that provides workable comfort goes a long way. It will be interesting to see how Ford and GM respond because this race for the king of towing isn’t over.